2011 iPhone and iPad Jailbreak starters guide

Everything you need to know to get started Jailbreaking your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, including tools, tips, Cydia, apps, themes, and tweaks!

iPhone and iPad Jailbreak starters guide

New to iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad and heard about Jailbreak, but not sure if it's for you, and how to get started if it is? No problem, TiPb's here to help! Jailbreak lets you change the look of your entire iPhone, put extra icons in the dock, reply to SMS or iMessage without leaving a game, preview events from the lock screen, toggle settings with a swipe, and much, much more. Compiled here is a master list of basic Jailbreak terms, tools, apps, tweaks, themes, and utilities, and a break down the pros and cons, so you'll know if you're comfortable taking the plunge.

Already a Jailbreak wizard? Save this link as a handy reference to shoot friends and family who are just getting started.

Note: If you need extra help or want to get into more advanced areas of Jailbreak, check out:

Common ways to Jailbreak

Jailbreak Starters Guide - redsn0w

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. We'll continue to update this page and our main jailbreak page whenever new jailbreak tools are released or updated.

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

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

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

iOS 4.2.6 (Verizon) Jailbreak (untethered)

Common Jailbreak Terms

Jailbreak

The most obvious of all terms, but yet the most confused. Jailbreak comes from "breaking open" the root "jail" that Apple uses to secure iOS against running unsigned -- aka unapproved by Apple -- code. (You might have heard this called "rooting" on other platforms.) While Apple does this for security reasons, so bad guys can't put viruses and malware on iOS, it also prevents good guys from making some incredibly useful but currently frowned upon features -- like ssh access, shortcuts, themes, side-loading, and much more.

Jailbreaking applies to iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, and at its core is about control and customization, letting you do what you want with the device you purchased.

Tethered vs. Untethered

Two common terms you'll see associated with Jailbreak are Tethered and Untethered. These refer to whether or not you need to connect your Jailbroken iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad to your PC over USB in order to reboot it.

An Untethered Jailbreak can be rebooted any time, anywhere, without having to connect to your PC. It works just like a non-Jailbroken device.

A Tethered Jailbreak needs to be plugged into your PC over USB, and you typically need to re-run your Jailbreak utility -- like redsn0w -- and choose the "reboot" option to restart your device.

Rebooting a Tethered Jailbreak without plugging into your PC could result in your device not restarting, or restarting but with no access to Cydia, or other side effects.

An Untethered Jailbreak is typically harder to develop and takes longer to release than a Tethered Jailbreak, so Untethered Jailbreaks are often only available for older versions of iOS while Tethered Jailbreaks get updated more quickly.

For example, iOS 5 can currently only be Jailbroken with a Tether.

Unlocking

If you bought your iPhone from a carrier like AT&T, or at a subsidized (on-contract) price, it will almost certainly be SIM-locked to that carrier. That means, for example, you can't take out your AT&T SIM and put in a T-Mobile SIM if you want to change plans, or put in a Rogers or Vodafone SIM if you're traveling.

While you can buy SIM-unlocked iPhones directly from Apple in many countries, and some carriers will unlock an iPhone for you after a certain period of time or for a certain amount of money, many won't, including AT&T. So, unlocking is a Jailbreak method of removing the carrier SIM-lock so you can use your iPhone on the network or networks of your choosing.

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.

Note: There are also other ways to unlock such as the Gevey SIM but they're typically frowned upon considering you've got to dial an emergency number for the process to work.

Cydia

2011 iPhone and iPad Jailbreak starters guide

Apple has the App Store, jailbreakers have Cydia in addition to Apple's App Store. (If you want to be technical, Jailbreak had Installer even before Apple had the App Store.) Because Cydia isn't run by Apple, Cydia apps don't have to be approved by Apple and you can find all sorts of highly useful themes, utilities, tweaks and other software in Cydia you simply can't find anywhere else.

2011 iPhone and iPad Jailbreak starters guide

Cydia works with repos, or repositories. These are simply the sources for the software files that Cydia lets you install. 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, however, you really want to stick to well known, trusted sources. Just because good guy developers are making great software for Jailbreak, doesn't mean a bad guy won't try to sneak in something you don't want.

There are two "modes" you might have to enter in order to Jailbreak your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad -- Recovery Mode and Device Firmware Update (DFU) mode. While they may seem similar, there are some differences.

If your screen shows a "Connect to iTunes" logo with a "Slide for Emergency" control, that's Recovery Mode. If you only see a "Connect to iTunes" (no "Slide for Emergency" control), or more commonly, a black screen, you are in DFU mode.

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's current version of iOS.

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.

SHSH Blobs

Signature HaSH or *SHSH** blobs are the signature system Apple has created to verify iOS firmware for authentication. Apple uses them to prevent iTunes from restoring older versions of iOS to iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. For example, a short time after iOS x.1 is released, Apple will stop signing iOS x.0 and you'll no longer be able to restore that version to your device.

This is important because iOS x.0 might have a Jailbreak and iOS x.1. might not yet have been Jailbroken (or may be a tethered vs. untethered Jailbreak. So, if you upgrade you could lose your Jailbreak, your untether, etc.

SHSH blobs save you from this headache. It will basically give iTunes a fake authentication, which in turn, makes iTunes think your restore has been verified.

Cydia will save SHSH blobs for you but occasionally their servers get flooded and they disable it for a period of time. If that happens, you can use TinyUmbrella as well. I highly recommend saving your blobs early on in case you ever find yourself in this predicament.

Baseband

The baseband is essentially the part of your iPhone that controls the antenna. 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 again. 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 the same carrier you bought your iPhone from 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 wi-fi only iPad owners typically don't have concerns when it comes to new baseband versions.

Springboard and Re-Spring

New Cydia tweak Graviboard adds zero gravity to your Springboard! [Jailbreak]

On a computer you have a desktop, on an iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad you have a Springboard. That's the technical name of the iOS Home Screen system, and it's basically the interface you constantly interact with. Another term you'll come in contact with is respringing.

Which leads us to Re-Spring, or the process 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.

Popular Jailbreak Utilities

Winterboard or Dreamboard

A lot of people jailbreak for the ability to change the look -- aka theme -- of their device. Enter Winterboard and the newly released Dreamboard. Both are free downloads in Cydia. When you install a Winterboard 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 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.

Dreamboard is a relatively new tweak to the jailbreak scene but one I've already decided to include it on my must have iOS 5 jailbreak list . It gives you even more theming ability straight from the device. Swap out icons, customize your theme, and simply apply it. Even though it's in its early stages, it shows a lot of promise so far.

SBSettings

SBSettings is a free utility that 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.

Notification Replacement Apps

Even though iOS 5 introduced Notification Center, some users may still feel there's a lot to be desired when it comes to customizing their notification preferences. Jailbreak developers have stepped up once again to provide other options such as IntelliscreenX. Developers such as Intelliborn and David Ashman (creator of LockInfo]) have frequently stepped in to fill the gaps. I think jailbreak tweaks and customizations for Notification Center will just get better and better.

SMS Apps and Add-Ons

There are many apps that improve SMS capabilities as well. Again, iOS has come a long way in terms of how messages are handled but I'm still waiting for that magic quick reply button to appear as a stock option. Until then, apps like BiteSMS have kept me content. There are other options like TLert available via Cydia as well. Before iOS offered a default option for custom text tones, BiteSMS was reason alone for me to jailbreak.

MyWi

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.

If you aren't to keen on paying tethering fees every month to your carrier for the same bits and bytes of data, MyWi may be a better solution. Just keep in mind a lot of carriers are cracking down on unauthorized tethering. This isn't a viable solution for heavy data users but if you only need the ability here and there, this is a good option if you jailbreak.

Jailbreak next steps

Once you're comfortable with the basics, you can start jumping into the Jailbreak deep end. Here are the best places to start.

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!

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

2011 iPhone and iPad Jailbreak starters guide

21 Comments

Because not all of us are blind sheep. Some of us refuse to blow $$$ on a half-baked upgrade.

Oh, I so bad wanna keep up with the Jones'.....I want it now now now now now!!!!
NOT
Living debt free and having a nice home, cars, & gadgets, is the life for me. This kind of living only comes from spending money responsibly, not from getting caught in the yearly upgrade cycle.
Have fun chasing your revolving debt, sucker.

I've reached a new low arguing with a "guest" lol
I've spent 200 once on an iphone 3G. Each year, i've sold old device and bought upgrade and usually pocket the extra change.
I'm a partner at a CPA firm. I probably make more in a day than you do all month.

better camera, better 1080p video recording, 64 GBs of storage, Siri, New notification system? They had me at 64GBs. I'd love a 4 inch screen but actually there is nothing more i want in a phone. Other then that 4 inch screen there it is perfect for me. I'm not gonna whine cause they didn't get one thing i wanted.I think it's a great upgrade. Maybe it's you that is blind.

New notifications? That's available for the 4 via software upgrade. 64GB storage? Nice but that's a lot of money. Upgrade in camera? This is a marginal upgrade in my eyes because I don't use it everyday. You forgot to add one of the most important improvements, "dual core processing" which I will admit, is nice.
The problem is, Apple's main focus when giving the sales pitch for the 4s was Siri, which is also happens the-most discernible difference between the 4 & 4s. The 4 can run Siri just fine and Apple knows this. Apple simply used Siri as leverage to sell a half-baked upgrade.
In saying all this, I'm sure next year's phone will be what Steve would call, "An A+ upgrade."

i do think the first line then should be that there's not jailbreak for a 4S. i kinda thought a starters guide would be aimed at the new users. The first line does say "new to the iphone...?" I'd guess that most people new on an iphone or ipad would have the latest versions. I'm not saying there's no point to the article but if it's aimed at new people they are likely to not have a devices that this is useful for. They should be warned about he content before. I'm like Wile E. Coyote so i deduced that it lacked anything useful merely by scanning it do to my superior intellect. After all I am a Suuuuupa Genius. lol. But seriously though it should probably say up front. Doesn't work for the 4s yet.