How to download the developer beta of iOS 13 on macOS Catalina

If you're trying to install the developer beta for iOS 13, you'll have probably noticed by now that it isn't available as an over-the-air install at this time (no button to Install Profile). This means, you have to install it as a Restore Image file instead. It also means you need to either install the developer beta of macOS Catalina or the beta of Xcode 11. If you chose the former (Catalina or bust!), its a slightly different set of steps than going through macOS Mojave. Your iPhone doesn't appear in iTunes anymore because there isn't an iTunes for it to appear in!

If you went the Catalina route and are trying to figure out how to install the developer beta of iOS 13, you've come to the right place.

If you're looking for how to install the developer beta of iOS 13 using Xcode 11, we have a different guide for you. If you're looking to install the developer beta of iPadOS using Xcode 11, we've got a separate guide for that, too.

Apple occasionally offers updates to iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, tvOS, and macOS as closed developer previews or public betas. While the betas contain new features, they also contain pre-release bugs that can prevent the normal use of your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, or Mac, and are not intended for everyday use on a primary device. That's why we strongly recommend staying away from developer previews unless you need them for software development, and using the public betas with caution. If you depend on your devices, wait for the final release.

How to download the Restore Image to your Mac in macOS Catalina

This first part is easy and works just like it does on any Mac operating system.

  1. Navigate to on your Mac.
  2. Click on the Discover tab.
  3. Click on iOS at the top of the screen.
  4. Click Download in the upper right corner.
  5. Log in with your developer account credentials when prompted.
  6. Under iOS 13 beta, click on Download Restore Images.
  7. Click on the iOS restore image for the device you're installing the developer beta on.

Wait for the developer beta to download onto your Mac. This could take a while, so grab a snack.

How to make an archived backup of your iPhone in macOS Catalina

Before you install a developer beta on your device, you should always make an archived backup. An archived backup is different than a standard backup. It makes it possible for you to downgrade if you change your mind and want to go back to the previous iOS.

  1. Connect your device to your Mac using the cable it came with.
  2. Launch a Finder window.
  3. Select your connected device under Locations in the sidebar of the Finder window.
  4. Click Pair to pair the device to your Mac.
  5. Tap Trust on the device to confirm that you want to pair it.
  6. Enter your passcode on your device.
  7. If you don't already have a backup on your Mac, click Back Up Now to make a backup.
  8. Click Manage Backups after you've made a recent backup.
  9. Right or Control click on your device backup.
  10. Click Archive.
  11. Click OK.

You now have an archived backup, just in case something goes wrong or you decide you want to downgrade back to iOS 12.

How to install the developer beta of iOS 13 on your device in macOS Catalina

With an archived backup logged and the developer beta of iOS on your computer, you can finally install it on your connected device.

  1. With your device still connected to your Mac, open a Finder window if you haven't already.
  2. Select your connected device under Locations in the sidebar of the Finder window.
  3. Hold down the Option key and click on Check for Updates. This will launch another window with your recent files.
  4. Click on the IPSW restore image.
  5. Click Open.
  6. Click Update when prompted.

Stick by your Mac and device. You'll be asked to enter your passcode to unlock it again.

After the installation completes, your device will restart. After it restarts, you'll be running the latest developer beta!

Any questions?

Are you having trouble downloading and installing the developer beta of iOS 13? Make sure you have an archived backup! Let me know what issues you're having and I'll try to help sort you out.

Lory Gil

Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books.  If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).