Here’s how to take complete control of iOS and iPadOS updates

Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

When Apple releases a software update for the iPhone or iPad, the default option when going to the install page in the Settings app is to download and install the update on demand.

However, there is a simple – but very hidden – trick to show more installation options, giving you complete control over when the update is downloaded and installed.

You can use this shortcut to instruct your Apple device to only download the update or download it now and install it later. both are in addition to the standard download and install option.

Here’s what you need to do.

Here’s how to find your iPhone’s hidden update menu

To get started, go to the software update screen as you would normally to install an update. You can get there by going to Settings > General > Software update.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

To reveal the hidden options, instead of tap Download and Install, instead long-press it until you see a pop-up at the bottom of the screen.

You can select the option to download the update but not actually install it by selecting Download Only. This is a handy option for those who might not have a reliable or fast Wi-Fi connection at home but can’t install an update in the middle of the day – so you’d download the update at the office, or maybe a coffee shop for example, then install it it at a more convenient time.

Also: No more dead spots: The best WiFi extenders

The other option is Download and Install Tonight, which should do exactly what it says. Download the update immediately, but instead of installing it once the download is complete, your iPhone or iPad will wait to install the update while you sleep. (It’s a good idea to charge your phone that night so that the installation can continue without problems.)

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If you selected the delayed option, you will be asked to enter your PIN code to pre-authorize the installation.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/ZDNETShould I install iOS updates as soon as they are released?

Honestly, that’s up to you. Some people like to wait a few days after an update is released to make sure there aren’t any major bugs or issues. However, many updates like the recently released iOS 16.3.1 include security fixes for exploits, and those are the types of updates you should install right away.

Also: How to Update (and Keep) Your iPhone, iPad, and Mac Now

I tend to install updates as they become available. It’s been years since Apple had a major issue with a release.

Why wasn’t the update installed overnight?

This has happened to me a couple of times. I chose to install an update that night while I was sleeping, only to wake up with the update still pending.

The main reason? Because I also forgot to plug this device into the charger overnight or I didn’t have a Wi-Fi connection. So if you encounter the same problem, make sure your device is charging and connected to Wi-Fi.