Today, Apple released iTunes 12.7. Surprisingly for a point-release this version removes the iOS App Store and iOS app management features: https://www.macrumors.com/2017/09/12/apple-itunes-12-7-no-app-store/

Apps can now only be downloaded on an iOS device using an iOS device, and the same goes for ringtones.

I have diligently saved IPA backups of apps I have purchased from the iTunes / iOS App Store for the eventuality of when an app publisher removes an app from the App Store - or if the developer of an app changes a feature in a way that I don't like. This happens regularly:

  • Electronic Arts has a poor reputation for removing its games from the App Store when they stop being notable, including apps that you needed to pay for to download.
  • And many non-game apps often add new features that users don't like, or remove features that are useful to many users (either for making things simpler for other users, or for a copyright or patent infringement reason).

Unfortunately, with iTunes 12.7 removing the ability to backup and restore IPA files I seem to be now SOL. Fortunately I still have iTunes 12.6 installed on my computer, but here's my question:

"If I have saved an IPA backup of an app that has since been removed from the iOS App Store, or if I have saved an older version of an app that has been upgraded such that I want to continue using the older version, how can I install that on my new iPhone 8?"

  • Can you please ask the second question separately?
    – nohillside
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 11:30

3 Answers 3


This looks reasonably promising - but I don't know how it will work for future releases...

Manually add items from your computer

If you have media on your computer that you can't redownload from the App Store or iTunes Store directly on your iOS device, such as custom ringtones or iOS apps, you can drag and drop the media from your computer to your iOS device using iTunes.

  1. Connect your device to your computer.
  2. Open iTunes. Make sure that you have the latest version.
  3. On your computer, find the item you want to add to your device. If you're looking for Apps, Tones, or Books (for Windows) that previously appeared in your iTunes library, you can find them in your iTunes media folder.
  4. Drag the item from your computer to your iOS device in the left sidebar of iTunes.

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  • 3
    This shows how to install IPAs I've already saved - but how can I create a new backup IPA?
    – Dai
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 16:26
  • I've no idea - hence my caveat.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 16:57
  • 4
    This doesn't work for ipas, i cannot drag an ipa and put it into iTunes, any leads...
    – Ashwin G
    Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 14:18
  • I think the solution is to a) stay on 12.6 & b) yell at Apple. I really feel this was just the latest in a recent series of really dumb moves on their part. I am really feeling the gap between what I want from a computer & what the OS is offering me widening in the past couple off years.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 14:28
  • 3
    @Tetsujin I had a support chat session with Apple recently about this and they said the they removed the feature so users can't install older versions that won't work on modern phones but also because iOS now "cannot verify the signing headers of the files" (I think they thought I was talking about iOS IPSW files, not IPA files). But they did say that they will refund every app I've purchased that I can't reinstall. This is still a letdown because countless games and art are now lost, permanently. We're losing culture! Think about how we'll recall Angry Birds or Pocket God in the future
    – Dai
    Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 1:51

Yesterday (almost a month after my initial question), Apple quietly released iTunes 12.6.3 - a build of iTunes with the same iOS management features as previous builds before iTunes 12.7:


If you've already installed a newer version of iTunes, you can download this version of iTunes on your Mac, PC 32-bit or PC 64-bit* and run the installer. After installation is complete, you can continue to deploy apps with iTunes.

You won’t be prompted to download new versions of iTunes after you install this version. Learn how to update to the latest version of iTunes when you're ready to upgrade manually.

So it seems Apple does recognize that their customers need the ability to manage iOS apps from a desktop - but their language implies this is not a long-term solution (i.e. having two separate branches of iTunes). I wonder if they're working on first-class iOS management tool for desktops, like iSync, but for Windows.


If you have a Mac, the ability to load .ipa files is still available in Apple Configurator 2. After you connect your device, Add button -> Apps -> Choose from my Mac...

To download .ipa's from the App Store, see How do I download an iOS App (IPA) file to my Mac after iTunes 12.7 update?

For reference, you have not been able to save .ipa files from a device since iOS 9, see Can't transfer purchases from iPhone to iTunes in iOS 9

  • Any option for Windows / PC users? Does this work for IPAs from the App Store as opposed to IPAs built from within Xcode?
    – Dai
    Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 2:29
  • 1
    I believe, but I am not sure, that Configurator doesn't do any validation of the .ipa. So if the .ipa is from the App Store and is not valid on your device, the system will try to get a receipt from the App Store automatically.
    – user71659
    Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 2:35

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