Jailbreak basics: Everything you need to know for iPhone and iPad

We see quite a few questions in our Jailbreak Forums about jailbreak basics. So, we've decided to compile a master list of some basic jailbreak magic right here in one place. Hopefully this will help a lot of you beginner jailbreakers learn the ropes (and maybe even help some of you decide whether the leap to the jailbreak world has its advantages for you). We've included common jailbreak lingo, popular jailbreak apps and tools, and videos highlighting some awesome jailbreak utilities!

Common ways to Jailbreak

There are usually several ways to Jailbreak depending exactly when a new version of iOS is released, when a new exploit is found, and when new Jailbreaks are released. Some are one-button easy, others command-line complicated. Here are the latest and the simplest.

If you're not sure, here's how to find out which iOS software and iPhone modem firmware you're running.

iOS 5.0 & 5.0.1 (GSM/CDMA) Jailbreak (untethered)

iOS 5 & 5.0.1 (GSM/CDMA) Jailbreak (tethered)

iOS 5 & 5.0.1 (GSM) Unlock

iOS 4.3.3 (AT&T/GSM) Jailbreak (untethered)

iOS 4.2.6 (Verizon) Jailbreak (untethered)

AppleTV Jailbreak

Common Jailbreak Terms


The most obvious of all terms, but yet the most confused. Jailbreaking simply allows users to have access to certain core functionality that Apple doesn't give us stock. A jailbreak also gives users access to applications Apple may have rejected via Cydia. It also allows custom loading of apps (on Android, loading applications yourself is referred to as side-loading, just as rooting is to Android, jailbreak is to iPhone). On the iPhone you can use the SSH method or use iPhone Explorer. Jailbreaking allows customization at its core meaning, but shouldn't be confused with unlocking.


Unlocking your iPhone allows you to use it on any GSM carrier. Simply meaning, if you have an AT&T iPhone, unlocking it will allow you to use it on T-Mobile USA or even Rogers Wireless in Canada by simply inserting a different SIM card. A lot of jailbreakers will unlock their iPhones not only to use on a different carrier, but to increase resale value. The unlock process can change from firmware to firmware but typically, you'll need to jailbreak your phone and then install a program via Cydia like ultrasn0w or yellowsn0w, which will then unlock your iPhone.


Apple has the App Store, jailbreakers have Cydia in addition to the default App Store. And if you want to be technical, Cydia was THE first App Store. It was available with iOS 1.x and allowed jailbreakers to download apps before the App Store even existed. Those who jailbroke their first generation iPhones on 1.x have seen several jailbreak ideas and concepts become parts of iOS. We would mention Rock here, but seeing as Cydia acquired Rock, there's probably no point now. Another term you may hear when it comes to Cydia is repos, or repositories. These are simply sources you add in the manage section. ModMyi and BigBoss are two of the largest. They are already added when you install Cydia. You are always welcome to add custom repos if you choose. I highly advise only adding repos from trusted sources. If you have a weird feeling about adding it, I'd probably pass.

YouTube Link

Recovery Mode/DFU Mode

Many people still confuse these two terms. They ARE different. There IS an easy way to tell which mode your phone is in. If your screen shows a connect to iTunes logo with a slide for emergency option, you are in recovery mode. If the slide for emergency option is not there and you only see the connect to iTunes logo, you are in DFU mode (DFU mode can also present as a blank screen as well).

The main difference between these two modes is what they will and won't bypass for installs. Recovery mode will implement iBoot (basically a portion of the bootloader than runs an integrity check) which will not allow you to downgrade your device. DFU mode will still talk to iTunes but it bypasses iBoot which will then allow you to downgrade firmware. Most jailbreaks will require DFU mode for these reasons. To enter DFU mode, you will follow these steps:

  • Turn off your iPhone
  • Hold down your power and home buttons
  • Release the power button when the Apple logo appears, but continue holding down the home button. You should be presented with a Connect to iTunes logo.
  • Plug in your phone and iTunes should yell at you and say you must restore the device before it can be used.

SHSH Blobs

A lot of people ask about this one and why Cydia wants to save them. When you upgrade firmware in iTunes, you'll see at the top when you start a restore "Verifying restore with Apple". Apple only signs current firmware versions. If you accidentally upgrade and then try to downgrade, your restore will fail. SHSH blobs save you from this headache. It will basically give iTunes a fake hand to shake, which in turn, makes iTunes think your restore has been verified. This can be a life saver if you accidentally upgrade and need to downgrade. TinyUmbrella will save SHSH blobs to the Cydia server as well. I highly recommend saving your blobs for every firmware version in case you ever find yourself in this predicament. We have posted a guide on how to save SHSH blobs via TinyUmbrella.


The baseband is essentially the part of your device that controls the antennae. This has everything to do with your service and signal. This is why most unlockers have to be extremely careful when upgrading. If the baseband changes, it can permanently keep them from achieving an unlock. This is the main reason most unlockers tend to favor PwnageTool. It creates a custom firmware bundle for you to upgrade to that doesn't upgrade the baseband, only the main OS. If you are running on a legitimate carrier and don't care about unlocking, the baseband it typically less of a concern. Wifi and Bluetooth don't run on the baseband either, so iPod touch or iPad owners typically don't have concerns when it comes to new baseband versions.


On a desktop you have a desktop, on an iPhone you have a springboard. It's basically the interface you constantly interact with. Another term you'll come in contact with is respringing. This is basically the act of restarting the springboard. Some jailbreak apps you install will require you to do this. All changes in the appearance of your phone via Winterboard (explained below) will require a respring as well. It's nothing more than refreshing your desktop on a computer.

Common Jailbreak Utilities


A lot of people jailbreak for the ability to change the look of their iPhone. Enter Winterboard, which is a free download via Cydia. It's a necessary utility to install themes and most customizations. Many veteran jailbreakers will remember the days of Summerboard as well. Winterboard took its place a few years back and improved upon several things. When you install a theme, all the components will show up in Winterboard. Depending upon how a theme developer decided to bundle their theme, you may have only one package in Winterboard, or you may have several. I personally prefer when developers separate theme elements. Since Winterboard works as a hierarchy, I can select a theme and if I don't like the sounds, I can download a sound pack I "do" like and apply that in Winterboard. The key is to move it above the main theme so it overrides the sounds I don't want. I highly suggest jailbreakers to become very familiar and comfortable with Winterboard. If you do, there is no limit to what you can do to your phone and you'll be able to tweak and customize even the littlest details of your springboard.

YouTube Link


This free utility allows you to add quick toggles that will drop down onto your springboard. There are also several plug-ins and themes you can download for SBSettings as well. It'll also allow you to hide icons you don't want or use. This is especially useful for hiding stock apps you can't uninstall. I hide the default weather and stock apps among others that are simply wasting space on my springboard. You'll also be able to more closely keep tabs on your memory and running processes. This was extremely useful before multitasking. It's still useful today for freeing up memory and seeing what may be eating through battery or slowing your phone down.

YouTube Link


Prior to 3.x, iOS didn't cache icons in a way that created issues. The problem now with 3.x and beyond is the way the file system caches icons. When you switch themes, sometimes you'll notice certain icons don't change or they stay stuck on the last theme you had active. Prior to iWipecache, you had to SSH into your phone and delete the cache in certain folders and respring. iWipecache simplifies this process and does it for you on the go. It's a free utility and something I'd highly recommend to anyone who likes to change UI elements and themes frequently. If there is ever a time iWipeCache doesn't work, especially under iOS 4.x, try going into Winterboard and toggling Summerboard mode on and off, then respringing. This seems force even the most stubborn icons to change.


Open SSH is a utility that allows SSH access to your device. You can then use an SSH client to access your device's main file system for editing. Simpler utilities now exist, such as iPhone explorer which you'll download to your PC or Mac. When you plug your iPhone, iPod, or iPad in, it will bring up the file system and you can edit without SSH access. I recommend using a utility like iPhone explorer over SSH as it's safer. SSH can open you up to hackers and give others access to your file system if you forget to disable it. SSH is also a huge battery hog. The only benefit is that you don't have to have your phone plugged in to SSH. You must be plugged in to use a utility like iPhone explorer. If you decide to use the SSH option, make sure to change your iPhone root and user passwords. You can visit our Jailbreak Forums if you need help doing this.

Notification Replacement Apps

There are more than a few choices when it comes to selecting a notification app. LockInfo, Intelliscreen, and Notified Pro are all acceptable selections. Most offer trials so it's really up to personal preference. I'm a major fan of LockInfo and find it much more user friendly than Intelliscreen. Notified Pro has also been gaining some ground and continues to add many improvements as well. Since Apple has yet to improve upon their notification system, I highly suggest checking these out and implementing one of them. You'll be happy you did. I've already posted a guide to setting up LockInfo so be sure to check that out as well.

SMS Apps and Add-Ons

There are many apps that improve SMS capabilities as well. I personally use BiteSMS but apps such as TLert and iRealSMS are more than acceptable candidates as well. QuickReply for SMS is also a good app but be warned that the developer has decided to not continue with it. It's rumored to go free (if it hasn't already). So if you're okay with the current bugs and don't expect updates, it may be an acceptable option for you. Most of these apps allow you to reply quickly to texts without it interrupting your work-flow. They'll also allow you to create gestures on the springboard which will allow you to quickly send an SMS without ever leaving the current app you're already in.


Many users are left bitter when certain carriers want to charge them an additional fee just for the privilege of tethering. MyWi is a wonderful little app and in my opinion, a major reason to jailbreak on its own. MyWi alllows you to create a wifi hotspot with your iPhone. I have a wifi only iPad and I never even considered purchasing the 3G version. I simply tether my iPad to my iPhone. Just be wary of doing this if you don't have an unlimited data plan. As of writing this, MyWi currently costs $19.99. It may seem like a hefty price tag but you'll pay that in data and/or tethering fees in less than 2 months. You'll only pay for MyWi once. You do the math.


Similar to MyWi, this app is a tweak that allows you to lift certain restrictions carriers and Apple have in place. It will allow you to trick your phone into thinking you have a wifi connection when you are really on the carrier network. This trick comes in handy if you need to download an app over 20MB and aren't in range of wifi. It also allows you to use FaceTime over 3G as well. There is also another app called 3G Unrestrictor which will also allow you to make FaceTime calls over 3G.

As always, if you guys think of anything awesome you think should be on this list, shoot me an e-mail to ally.kazmucha@tipb.com or post it in the comments below!

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Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

Jailbreak basics: Everything you need to know for iPhone and iPad


Thank you for the informative article ...it was appreciated .
People that have to nit pic someone else's writing should prove what they say and do better....
And shut up anyway!

You say that "if you own MyWi, I don’t think you’d have the need to purchase My3G as well," but MyWi doesn't allow you to FaceTime over 3G, does it?

@Park if you create a wireless hotspot with MyWi and connect to it i thought that worked, but i just tried it and apparently not, will update. sorry about that.

"respiring" should be "respring". Latest Pwnagetool-created custom firmwares require you to put iPhone in DFU with Pwnagetool or redsn0w (regular DFU button sequence will result in an iTunes restore error).

@thunderkeys will check respring (iPad kept autocorrecting that i thought i caught all of them) - also, this article wasn't meant to be a "way to jailbreak/unlock" it's a guide to commonly used tools and terms, when we look at a guide for redsn0w or i do one, i will link to it but i purposely did not list it in this article.

TetherMe ($1.99) + iTether ($5) allows you to do Bluetooth tethering to iPod touch/iPad for cheaper than MyWi and more securely. However, you can only tether one device to your 3G connection at a time over Bluetooth. TetherMe also allows tethering via the USB cable for AT&T customers.
A few other nice JB apps:
- Infinifolders ($0.99) - allows more than 12 icons in a folder
- Infinidock ($0.99) - allows for a scrolling dock separate from pages
- Music Controls ($4.99) - better ipod controls from double-home tap, also enables A2DP bluetooth profiles on iOS < 4.1
- Recent/CallLog Delete ($1.49) - allows individual deletion of recent/placed calls

@iMuggle - Very nice job and well written! I guess you have to be PC to Orangesn0w, but content is what matters to most people :)This isn't English 101.
For whatever reason I've always used 3G Unrestrictor, but I'm sure My3G is just as good. Maybe mention iFile??
TeamJailbreak - what is taking Georgia so long???

Thanks guys, I'm making a list of applications as you guys give them and I'll make updates periodically to this and let you guys know on twitter when i do : )

Nice article. Good information.
Since you asked, you're confusing "it's" and "its".
Simply remember "it's" = "it is". The other is possessive.
It's a fine day when the iPhone uses its awesome power to save the world.

Jailbreaking is illegal even it is legal. Stop giving reasons why to jailbreak or I will post why not to jailbreak

If it is illegal how can it be legal, and vice versa.
Also, I would like to see your list of reasons not to jailbreak.
I just JB'd my iPhone the other day. I am currently waiting for the jailbreak police to arrive and carry me off.

Maybe explaining the term 'untethered' would be a good thing too... over and over again when I was debating the pros/cons of jailbreaking I kept running into that term and could never find a good explanation.

bah.. maybe it was (differences between a tethered vs untethered jailbreak)... arrrggg... it's been a long week and it's only tuesday... shoot me now!

Thx for the super awesome article. It helped me a lot!
Just one question, which one is better, the "iphoneexplorer" or the "phonedisk"?

Ive only used iPhone explorer. Try phonedisk. iPhone explorer seems a little "buggy" to me, at least on Mac. It loses the connection quite often and you have to refresh. I still prefer SSH.

@cardfan I probably should have paid more attention while typing. I just recently started using the iPad to write articles. I promise I'll be better going forward about checking what it's auto correcting and how I fat finger things sometimes. : )
@anonymous it is not illegal and actually please post why not to jailbreak. I'd be interested in hearing that.

Aside from all the typos and grammatical errors, this was a great post for the less-than-experienced jailbreakers. I've bookmarked this page. Now, maybe I'll be able to follow along when my geek friends talk about jailbreaks. :) Thanks TiPb!

I also, should have read the other comments before commenting...sorry for rubbing it in about the typos. :) I'd be happy to edit it for you. We're all geeks in our own ways haha.

Ally, "Another term you may here when it comes to Cydia is repos, or repositories."
it is hear, and not here.

And the fact still remains that if you've updated to 4.1, firmware 05.14.02, you can only Jailbreak and not Unlock, correct? I don't understand why the release of 4.2 will expedite the unlocking of 4.1.

Great article. This is exactly why I visit TiPb.
P.S. I could care less about the typos and I wish everyone else would too. ;-)

Great article guys, typos or not. A problem with the jailbreak community whether intentional or not is that they use so many terms the average user has no idea about. This article fills in so many of the blanks.
We are lucky here in Australia, the iPhone is avaiable unlocked off the shelf and most carriers include tethering at no additional charge with quite reasonable data plans.
Something to improve the article would be a comment about 'unjailbreaking' if you need to take the phone into Apple for a warranty claim. Will Apple know the phone has been jailbroken?

Going to go over the article right now. I swear I don't think I've ever published an article with this many typos. It was the first article I wrote on my iPad. I don't think I'll be writing on it anymore. This is fracking terrible.

Alright guys, I just re-read the article and tried to weed out as many grammatical errors as possible. I hope I got them all, but I may have missed one or two. If you guys see anything else, please let me know.
I really do apologize for all the grammatical errors. Thank you to those of you sticking up for me, but in all honestly - it really isn't acceptable. I'm a writer and a key element of a writer is knowing the English language. If I continue to write on my iPad, I will definitely make sure my articles are read over 3 times or more before submitting from now on.
I apologize again guys.

One thing I have noticed when reading these articles about jailbreaking what the various methods none of them talk about how to upgrade your jailbroken phone. I'd like to take an existing jailbroken phone and the jailbroken settings I have setup in each app and upgrade to the lastest version (the GM would be nice) and then restore all my jailbroken apps and settings.

Yes Allyson please write an article covering the basics of upgrading a jailbroken phone and restoring the jailbreak apps. I had to do that to go to 4.1 and I lost every jailbreak app.

@Allyson, what theme are you using for your LockInfo? Looks good.
Excellent article. Simple and consice. Hang in there.

Great article! I would also really love some advice on upgrading iOS on my JB iPhone. Still on 3.1.2 because not sure the best way to upgrade to 4.1 or 4.2 this month. Thanks in advance if you get the chance. I think a lot of people are in this position.

Great article. You hinted at a common misconception that has plagued the jb community for years. SSH is not a battery hog. It does nothing when it is idle that would cause the battery to drain. It is most likely some other extension that is the hog and removing OpenSSH should be your last option. It has saved me from boot loops so many times; something that USB apps cannot do.

i'll take up anonymous' cause. you should not jailbreak because the apps in the store can render your device useless and uncovered by warranty. example: i read an article about installing scrolling wallpapers and installed it because I trusted tipb and its readers. guess what? fuked my phone all the way up. that pixel double sht on the retina display caused all apps to show in one tiny corner of the screen. couldn't select nothing. no phone calls. nothing. imagine if I was in an emergency situation! plus this! when i jailbroke i changed the password so people couldn't hack my phone but iTunes doean't recognize that sht. $500 brick! had to hack a hack to get my phone working. never again!

Plus some mo sht. My iPhone is still uncovered by warranty! When I was jailbroken I installed Make it Mine and put my name where AT&T is suppose to go. It's stuck like that! I ought to sue the F out of tipb!
"All you go to do is restore" is BS! Dont jailbreak if want to keep your warranty. I can't even sell it! Who wants an iPhone with some else's weird a s s name on it!
I repeat, "DON'T JAILBREAK!"

This is fantastic! I think you did a great job and I love the photos- it's extremely helpful. I have had ipod's and touches and every iphone, but I haven't ever jb any of the devices. I just recently did for my daughter's phone and your guide is extremely helpful! Thanks. I'm not the brave sort when it comes to my devices. I love them and I would rather not run the risk of destroying them so your guide is so very helpful- thanks.

@farbod, agreed.
People that I have helped with similar issues don't bother following the instructions all the way. I am not saying that this is the case with OldDirtyHacker but 90% have been the case that I have encountered.

@OldDirtyHacker I also meant to say that I am sorry to hear you had a bad experience with jailbreaking.

Does anybody know if there is a tool to jailbreak iPhone 4 with iOS 4.2GM? Will there be? Or will I have to "upgrade" from 4.2GM to the regular public 4.2 to jailbreak my phone. Sorry if this is a redundant question but I can't find the answer anywhere. Thanks for your help.

Christoph, No one knows yet. My guess is that you will have to upgrade to the regular 4.2. But with Cydia saving beta blobs, it could be different this time.

For those asking, I believe the LockInfo theme was called LockInfo gloss. If you search that in Cydia it is the only thing that comes up.

I own an iPhone 4 currently with iOS 4.0.1 jailbroken. Cydia has not fed that once jailbroken not to update since it will lock the iPhone for good. Now iOS 4.2 Is out and would like to update to this version but am wary and unsure if the iPhone will turn out to be blocked. Is it possible that a jailbroken can be update and jailbreak again without updating the baseband....? I appreciate your response!!!

I personally find the Terminal app worth mentioning, and I'm surprised it's not on this list. Maybe it's not as useful on 3.2 and above (I have a first-gen iPhone with 3.1.3), but I use it regularly for command-line tasks, including manual repair of Cydia's APT/dpkg backend and dependencies when things go wrong. I also use it for quick file browsing, and for unzipping archives I've downloaded. Best of all, it's free :)

I had to upgrade my 3 gs to 4.2.1, now i need to know how i can get ik back to 4.1, i have all my sshblogs here.

IF you have an old bootrom you can use redsn0w to get an untethered jb. AGAIN: IF YOU HAVE AN OLD BOOTROM.
IF not get tinyUmbrella (or what's it called now).
TinyUmbrella will change you're hosts file to trick iTunes in thinking, that its checking against its own server, while its acutally getting the SHSH-Blobs from Cydia.
You also need the old 4.1 ipsw file.
Google for: iphone 3GS restore old firmware
This will deliver several pages on how to do it.

Is there any updated information regarding upgrading a jailbroken device (4.0.1) to the latest iOS version ?

how can i undo a jb? i recently jb and decided it's not for me. im trying to undo the jb and followed all the steps, but when trying to restore, i keep getting a message stating 'iphone could not be restored. uknown error occured (3194).'

Very new at jailbreak and cydia...what is the process for getting a SB setting, is it activator, and if so how do you use this. I went into Addons and installed SBSetting Tethering Toggle. I'm not sure what this does, but hoping it allows me to drag down a window from the top of the screen to have quick access to
toggles. You stated by default if you swipe it will drop down. I need basic help with this, to make it functional, then I can use the video you have above on SBSettings,
Thanks for your patience

will this change things drastically on my iphone..such as the way i read email and get my email..face book and such? the only hting i really want to do is use my iphone as a hotspot for my ipad...nothing else.

This is a very good article and gave me some really good information to know. I am looking for a site that will show me how to JAILBREAK my LG Smart TV Upgrader. If you know where one is, then send me an email at MsRoundabout@gmail.com

Depending on your baseband you might just need to get a gevey sim card. I got mine from a phone kiosk at my local mall that says they unlock phones.

i need your help with my iPhone 4, after restore and JB my iphone, and also install few Cydia Apps, my springboard getting crashed and restarting in every few minutes.. what happened to it? i already looping my action (restore+JB) for few times but it always like that.. please help me?
thx :)

I am curious to find out what blog system you're using? I'm having some small security issues with my latest website and I would like to find something more secure. Do you have any suggestions?

I will immediately snatch your rss as I can not to find your email subscription hyperlink or newsletter service. Do you have any? Please permit me realize so that I may just subscribe. Thanks.

Love this! The videos are awesome and really really helpful =) I've been often thinking about Jailbreaking my iPhone, but there were always the "what-if"s standing in the way. Now that I watched these few vids and read a few articles by you, it's clear that Jailbreaking is only as risky as you allow it to be.
And I am a customization freak, so this is simply PERFECT! Thanks for sharing :)