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How to Update to iOS 17 or iPadOS 17 Smoothly: Steps to Take Before and After


With each iOS update, the game is on to quickly update and take advantage of new features. This time, iOS 17 takes your iPhone experience to a new level with interactive widgets, intelligent text prediction, the Check-In feature in Messages, and other enhancements. Before you hit that download button, though, read our step-by-step guide to ensure your transition to iOS 17 is as smooth as possible.

Things to Do Before Updating to iOS 17

There are several things that shouldn’t be overlooked before making the leap to iOS 17. We’ve laid them out so that you can hit the ground running when you update.

Check Device Compatibility

Even though Apple is great with support for older devices when they push out new updates, it’s still important to note which devices are eligible for iOS 17.

iPhone 15 iPhone 13 iPhone 11
iPhone 15 Plus iPhone 13 mini iPhone 11 Pro
iPhone 15 Pro iPhone 13 Pro iPhone 11 Pro Max
iPhone 15 Pro Max iPhone 13 Pro Max iPhone XS
iPhone 14 iPhone 12 iPhone XS Max
iPhone 14 Plus iPhone 12 mini iPhone XR
iPhone 14 Pro iPhone 12 Pro iPhone SE (2nd generation or later)
iPhone 14 Pro Max iPhone 12 Pro Max

For iPadOS 17, the number of supported devices is also impressively high, spanning several device generations:

iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2nd generation and later) iPad Pro 10.5-inch iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation and later)
iPad Air (3rd generation and later) iPad (6th generation and later) iPad mini (5th generation and later)

Clean Up Your Storage

Now that you know your device is eligible for the update, this is an excellent time to eliminate unused apps and create some extra space on your device. Open “Settings -> General -> iPhone Storage” to see how much free space is available. Swipe right on any app you no longer use to delete. Ideally, you need around 8GB of free space for the iOS/iPadOS 17 update.

Separately, you can also go through photos and delete older pictures and videos that take up space. Back these up to iCloud, Dropbox, and Google Photos, then remove them from your iPhone or iPad. Delete old messages and wipe browser caches to find extra storage space.

Back Up Your Data

Backup Now Option Icloud Settings

Your next move should be to back up your data. The ideal method is to perform an iCloud backup, as it is the easiest and fastest way to restore an iPhone after an update.

1. Connect to your Wi-Fi network, then go to “Settings -> [your name]” and tap “iCloud.

2. Tap “iCloud Backup,” then “Back Up Now.”

3. Stay connected to your Wi-Fi network until the iCloud backup finishes.

Beyond iCloud, you can also utilize Finder in iOS to back up to your Mac and use iTunes on Windows 10/11. See our guide for more tips, including how to incorporate Google Drive and Dropbox.

Things to Do After Updating to iOS 17

Now that you’ve successfully updated your iPhone or iPad to iOS/iPadOS 17, it’s time to dive into the slew of new and improved features. However, before you get carried away exploring all the new bells and whistles, you may want to consider one optional, but crucial step – restoring your data.

(Optional) Restore Data

Putting new features aside for a moment, your apps and all of your data should be intact and ready to go. However, in rare cases with iCloud, your iPhone or iPad may not have properly restored all of your data, like your apps, home screen setup, logins and passwords, photos, etc., even if the iOS/iPadOS 17 update properly completed. In the event this happens (and it is rare), erase your device through “Settings -> General -> Transfer or Reset iPhone -> Erase All Content and Settings,” and restore from your last iCloud backup.

Explore Interactive Widgets

Apple has stepped up its game with iOS and iPadOS 17, finally making widgets interactive. You can now turn on your home lights, mark tasks as complete, and do much more without launching a single app.

Since support for interactive widgets is a new feature, it’s important to note that many app developers are still updating their widgets to make them interactive. If you don’t see your favorite apps taking advantage of this yet, don’t worry, as they’ll likely catch up soon.

Apple’s own widgets are already interactive. One such widget that many find useful is the Reminders widget. With this widget, you can view your upcoming tasks and even mark them as complete directly from your Home Screen. Follow the steps below to add it:

Navigate to your Home Screen, and long-press on any blank area until the apps begin to jiggle. Tap the “+” button in the upper-left corner to access the widget gallery.

Ios Plus Button Homescreen

Use the search bar to type in “Reminders,” or scroll down until you find it in the list.

Reminders Widget Search

Tap on the Reminders widget, and you’ll have different size options. Choose the size that best suits your needs, and tap “Add Widget.”

Add Reminders Widget Button Highlighted

Drag the widget to your desired location on the Home Screen, and tap “Done.”

Widget Placement Done Button

Once the Reminders widget is on your Home Screen, you can interact with it to see your tasks for the day or week. You can also mark tasks as complete without opening the Reminders app.

Use StandBy Mode While Charging

One of the standout features in iOS and iPadOS 17 is StandBy mode, which brings you a curated collection of useful information, such as the time, date, or the current temperature, while your phone is charging and the device is placed horizontally.

Since StandBy mode should be enabled by default, here’s all you need to do to switch to it:

Make sure your iPhone is charging via a MagSafe dock, a Qi-enabled wireless pad, or a cable.

Rotate your iPhone to a horizontal orientation.

Wait a few seconds for StandBy to automatically activate, converting your lock screen into an information-rich dashboard.

Standby Mode Screenshot

If you notice StandBy mode isn’t on, or if you’d like to disable it:

Open the “Settings” app, and scroll down until you find “StandBy.”

Standby Settings Category Highlighted

Flip the “StandBy” toggle to turn it on or off.

Standby Toggle Highlighted

Set Up Your Contact Poster

With Contact Posters in iOS/iPadOS 17, you can personalize how you appear when calling someone, right down to the image, font, and color of your name. This poster isn’t just for phone calls; it also becomes a part of your contact card, and Apple is rolling out APIs to make these personalized posters visible in third-party VoIP apps as well.

To set up your personalized Contact Poster, follow the steps below:

Launch the “Dialer” app on your device, navigate to the “Recents” tab, and click the “Edit” button in the top-left corner. Finally, tap on your name at the top.

Dialer App Profile Highlighted

Tap the “Edit” button, followed by the “Customize” option.

Contact Poster Edit Button Highlighted

Choose “Poster” and decide whether you’d like to take a new photo, select one from your library, use a Memoji, or simply go with a monogram of your initials.

Poster Button Highlighted

Customize the look of your Contact Poster by playing with the font size, style, and color. Tap “Done” to preview how you’ll appear when you call someone. If it’s looking sharp, hit “Continue.”

Poster Done Button Highlighted

Create Custom Live Stickers

Building on iOS 16’s tap-and-lift photo feature, Live Stickers can elevate your messaging game by making it easy to turn your photos and live photos into animated, interactive stickers.

Not only can you cut out the background from your photos, but you can also make them more visually appealing by adding various effects. Once you’ve crafted your masterpiece, it’s stored in the new app drawer in Messages for future use.

Follow these steps to create your first custom Live Sticker:

Launch the Messages app and open a chat. Tap the plus sign (+) next to the text input field, then select “Stickers.”

Stickers Option Messages App Highlighted

Look for a folded-over circle icon and tap it. If you haven’t created any stickers yet, select the “New Sticker” option. If you have, tap the large plus sign (+) to open your Photos app.

New Sticker Icon Highlighted

Select the photo or live photo you’d like to transform into a Live Sticker and press the “Add Sticker” button.

Add Sticker Button Highlighted

Tap the “Add Effect” button to optionally customize the look of your newly created sticker.

Add Effect Button Highlighted

Take Advantage of Safari Profiles

Gone are the days when work tabs got mixed up with personal ones. With iOS 17, you can now separate your browsing based on different use cases. Imagine having a “Work” profile where you can keep all your work-related browsing and a “Personal” profile for everything else—each with its own cookies, browsing history, extensions, and even favorites.

To create your first Safari profile, follow these steps:

Open the “Settings” app on your device, scroll down, and tap “Safari.”

Safari Settings Category Highlighted

Tap the “New Profile” option, and choose an icon, name, and background color for this new profile.

New Safari Profile Button Highlighted

Configure the profile’s settings, and hit “Done” to save it.

New Profile Done Button Highlighted

Repeat this process for other profiles. Once your profiles are created, switch between them by tapping the “Tabs” icon in Safari (looks like two overlapping squares), then the “Profile” icon (looks like a person), and finally selecting the desired profile.

Download Maps for Offline Use

Losing Internet connectivity can feel like being stranded on a deserted island. The good news is that iOS 17 has you covered with its Offline Maps feature. Now you can download maps for use even when you’re out of Wi-Fi or cellular range.

All downloaded offline maps include hours and ratings for various places, turn-by-turn directions, and estimated arrival times for multiple modes of transportation, so they’re almost as useful as their online counterparts.

Follow these steps to download an offline map of a specific location:

Launch the Maps app, and search for your desired location.

Tap on the location in your search results, then hit the “Download” button, if available. If not, tap “More,” followed by “Download Map.”

Image 2023 09 20 155319

Adjust the size of the area you want in your offline map, and tap “Download” again.

Image 2023 09 20 155439

Should you decide that one or more of your offline maps are no longer needed, tap your profile icon in the bottom-right corner of the Maps app, select “Offline Maps,” and delete the map you no longer need.

How to Install iOS 17 from the Beta Release

If you were on either the developer or public beta release of iOS or iPadOS 17, moving to the public version is relatively easy.

For Apple Public Beta testers: if you’d rather trade early access to updates for extra stability, here’s how to make the switch:

1. Go to “Settings -> General” and tap on “VPN & Device Management.”

2. Tap the iOS Beta Software Profile, then “Remove Profile.”

3. Restart your device, then go back to “Settings > General Software Update” to see the public release pop-up for updating.

For Developer Beta users: making the transition is a bit more intricate than it is for public beta users. You’ll need to erase and restore your iPhone or iPad, then restore it from an iOS backup of iOS 16.X or older.

1. Back up your device, and make sure you have a copy of an earlier iOS backup.

2. Wipe your iPhone or iPad by going to “Settings -> General -> Reset -> Erase All Content and Settings.”

3. Restore your device from your older iOS backup.

4. Head back to “Settings -> General -> Software Update,” where you’ll find the public release.

In most cases, upgrading to iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 is a painless process that requires just a few simple taps. The first step of this process should always be to back up your device, ensuring all your data is safe and secure. Then, start exploring all the new features that iOS 17 brings to the table, such as StandBy mode and interactive widgets.

Good to know: now that your iPhone or iPad is updated to the latest version of iOS/iPadOS, it’s a good time to review and optimize your security settings. Take a look at this comprehensive guide on essential iOS security settings to ensure that your device is as secure as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I do if the iOS/iPadOS 17 software update stalls?

If the update stalls on the iPhone or iPad loading screen (black screen with white Apple logo), you can restart your phone and restart the update. Also, check Apple’s system status page to ensure you are on a reliable Wi-Fi before attempting the update.

How long will iOS/iPadOS 17 be supported by Apple?

iOS/iPadOS 17 is likely to be supported by Apple for several years. Apple releases major versions of iOS annually and has extended its update cycle in recent years. Additionally, starting with iOS 15, Apple began supporting two major versions of iOS for a short period, which suggests that iOS 17 could potentially receive updates even after the release of iOS 18 and possibly iOS 19. However, the exact duration of support for iOS/iPadOS 17 has not been officially confirmed by Apple.

Can iOS 17 or iPadOS 17 slow down my device?

Generally, newer iOS updates are designed to optimize device performance, but certain older models may experience some slowdowns due to the more demanding software features. It’s a good idea to read reviews and reports on how the update performs on your specific device model before proceeding with the update.

Image credit: Unsplash. All screenshots by David Morelo.

David Morelo
David Morelo

David Morelo is a professional content writer in the technology niche, covering everything from consumer products to emerging technologies and their cross-industry application. His interest in technology started at an early age and has only grown stronger over the years.

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