There have been many occasions when a developer updates an app with changes that you might not like, or the new update removes support for an older device you own.
Having the install file for the older version of the app can be very useful in such cases, since you can restore the older version using iTunes. But how do you keep the older version if iTunes replaces the file with the newer version when you hit update? Read on.
If you update an app using iTunes, you might lose the older version, but if you update on your iOS device, iTunes will still have the older version unless you sync. App installations are internally stored as .ipa files on your PC or Mac’s storage, and you can manually copy that file to some place safe like a Dropbox folder by following these instructions:
Back up phase
Navigate to apps tab
Apps downloaded from iTunes are automatically added to your library, but the ones you install on your iOS device only appear in your library after you sync using iTunes. To see these apps, open the “Apps” tab.
Search for the app you want to backup
In the search bar on the top right corner, type in the app installation you want to back up. Click on the result to see the app in your library.
Show in Finder
Once you get to the app, right click the icon to get a menu, and click “Show in Finder” (in case of Windows, show in Explorer) to see the .ipa file.
Now that you know the location, you can simply copy the file and paste it in a safe folder, from where you can access it later. As Steveo suggests in the comments below, it might be a good idea to add the .bak suffix (or any extension really) to the backup copy, so it can’t be accidentally replaced.
Delete newer version
Delete the newer version of the app from both iTunes and your iOS device. To delete in iTunes, right click on the app’s icon and click “Delete.” To delete on iOS, long tap on an icon, and press the cross button on the top right of the icon.
Open older file in iTunes
Navigate to the place you backed up the older version of the app, and open it in iTunes.
Sync your device with iTunes so that the older version of the app can be copied to your device, but make sure the app is queued for an install. Once the sync completes, you’ll see the older version of the app installed on your home screen.
This is how you’d normally back up an app, but what if iTunes overwrites an older version of an app with a newer version, and you want the older version back? Don’t worry, even though iTunes deletes the older version of the app with the new ipa file, you can access and restore them from the recycle bin or Trash.