How To Archive An iOS 7 App
Jan 13, 2024 • Extra Ordinary
Apps are often removed from the App Store when developers aren’t prepared to handle a big technical change, which can lead to a mass extinction event. If these apps aren’t preserved, they could be lost forever.
This is how you can contribute to the digital museum by archiving an iOS 7-era app from an iPhone 4. This is a distilled version of everything I tried, the golden path, an updated set of instructions that you can follow using a modern Mac running macOS 14 Sonoma.
I was recently asked by friend Sam Henri-Gold if I happened to purchase the Facebook Paper app ten years ago, when for a brief moment the Apple-centric world of designers, journalists and engineers warmed up to Facebook.
This couldn’t possibly last, of course, so Facebook killed it a year later.
Since I had the purchase in my App Store history, I was able to download it again on a compatible device, create an unencrypted archive of it in the form of an IPA file, transfer it to my Mac and upload it to archive.org for preservation. There’s not a lot that can be done with a client app that had its servers pulled years ago, but this process can be repeated for other apps that could otherwise slip through the cracks of time.
People who’ve never purchased the app from the App Store could reinstall these archives onto a fresh device, keeping their memory alive.
Jailbreaking an iPhone
Jailbreaking will vary based on device and operating system. I presume there are a lot of iPhone 4 devices out there running iOS 7.1.2; it’s a sweet spot as the last update released on a popular phone that’s old enough to run many legacy apps.
The Pangu jailbreak app still runs on macOS Sonoma, incredibly, though it inexplicably did not succeed on the first try. It took a few rounds turning it off and on again to get all the way through to the end.
Pangu also has an untethered jailbreak for iOS 8 and iOS 9. The latter, however, is cut off at 9.3.3; a different tool is needed to jailbreak iOS 9.3.6 that I have not tested.
Reinstalling your old apps
This is pretty straight forward. Open the App Store, tap the Updates tab and tap Purchases. Hit the Download button for any old obscure apps that may need archived.
When you’re browsing the App Store on an older device, you may even be able to purchase new apps that otherwise don’t appear on the modern App Store. I was able to add Smash Room 3D Free, which amazingly, targets iOS 2.2.1.
I believe this may work even if you’ve enabled advanced data protection.
I recommend cross-referencing apps in your purchase history with The IPA Software Archive to see if anyone else has archived it before.
Create an archive and transfer it
The foolproof method, in my experience, is creating the archive on-device. Don’t bother futzing around with SSH. I followed these instructions for iOS 6 – 10 which I will rewrite here in the interest of creating an all-in-one guide.
- Open Cydia, go to Sources, tap Edit and tap Add. Type or paste in
http://repo.kawaiizenbo.me/and tap Add Source.
- Tap into the repo and install Clutch 2.0.4.
- Install MTerminal and Filza File Manager from BigBoss.
- Open the Terminal app, type
suand press Return. The default password is
clutch -ito list archivable apps.
clutch -dfollowed by the number of the app. It may take a few minutes to create the archive.
- Open iFile and navigate to
/var/root/Documents/Cracked/. Tap and hold on the IPA and tap Copy. Navigate to
/var/mobile/Media/, tap the Clipboard button and tap Paste.
- On your Mac, download iFunBox and plug in the iPhone.
- Tap Raw Filesystem in the sidebar. Select the IPA and click Copy To Mac.
- Upload the IPA to archive.org
Together, we can make sure that this exciting period of time isn’t completely lost.
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