Downgrading iOS on iPod touch 2G

Q: I have an iPod touch 2G, I recently did an upgrade of the OS and have experienced a number of problems with apps such as Pandora and interaction with an Apple dock. I had resisted upgrading for a few years since I had heard that the 2G was experiencing problems with past upgrades. I guess I thought that by now the problems had been worked out, but apparently not. Anyway, my question is whether it’s possible to revert back to an earlier version of the OS, and if so, how? Thanks.

– Steve

A: You should be able to revert the iPod touch 2G back to an earlier firmware version, provided you actually have the firmware package. Unfortunately, newer versions of iTunes automatically delete the older firmware bundles following an update. iPod software update packages are stored in a folder named “iPod Software Updates” which on lives under your home folder’s “Library/iTunes” folder on Mac OS X, your home folders’ “Application DataApple ComputeriTunes” on Windows XP or “AppDataRoamingApple ComputeriTunes” on Windows Vista or Windows 7. You can check these folders to see if the older firmware package is there, but it’s likely iTunes has already removed it following the update; if you have backups of your computer however you may be able to find it there.

If all else fails, there are also sources on the Internet where older firmware packages can be found, however these are unofficial distributions as Apple does not support downgrading to older firmware versions, and in fact on newer iPhone and iPod touch models has taken steps specifically to prevent users from doing this.

Once you’ve managed to locate the appropriate IPSW file for the older iPod touch 2G firmware, you can force iTunes to use it to restore your iPod touch by simply holding down the OPT key (Mac) or SHIFT key (Windows) and clicking the “Restore” button on the Summary screen for your device. iTunes will prompt you to select the firmware package you want to use and will then attempt to restore your device using that version.

Note that this process will erase everything on your device, as you’re effectively returning it back to factory settings.