iPad Outline with Dock on a Blue Background

If you own an Apple iPad, it’s good to know whether you’re using the latest version of the iPad operating system (called “iPadOS”). Here’s how to check—and how to update if there is a new version available.

Check for iPadOS Updates Using Settings

The easiest way to check for iPadOS updates is by using the Settings app. Make sure that your iPad is connected to the internet, and then tap the gray gear icon to launch Settings.

When Settings opens, tap “General” in the sidebar on the left.

Tap "General."

In “General,” tap “Software Update.” (If there’s a number in a red circle with a number beside “Software Update,” then that’s your first clue that there’s an iPadOS update available.)

Tap "Software Update."


If a new version of iPadOS is available for download, you’ll see it listed at the top of the “Software Update” page. You’ll also see a “Download and Install” or an “Install Now” button.

If there's an iPadOS update available, you'll see a "Download and Install" or an "Install Now" button.

If you’re ready to update now, first, connect your iPad to a charger if possible (and consider performing a backup just in case). After that, tap “Download and Install” or “Install Now” and follow the instructions that appear. It’s an easy process, but it can take a while to download a large update and then install it.

RELATED: How to Update Your iPad to the Latest Version of iPadOS

Tap "Download and Install."

If there are no updates available for your iPad, the “Software Update” page will show the current iPadOS version number, and you’ll see a message that reads “iPadOS is up to date.”

If there are no updates, you'll see "iPadOS is up to date."

As long as you’re connected to the internet when you load the “Software Update” page in Settings, you can be confident that you’re running the latest version of iPadOS available for your device. If you think that you should be seeing an update but you’re not, read the troubleshooting section below.

Check for iPadOS Updates Using iTunes or Mac Finder

It’s also easy to check for iPadOS updates using iTunes (on Windows or macOS 10.14 or earlier) or Finder (on macOS 10.15 or later). Before you get started, plug your iPad into your Mac or PC using the appropriate USB cable.

Once you’re linked up, if you’re using an older macOS installation (prior to 10.15) or running Windows, open iTunes and click the “iPad” icon in the toolbar.

If you’re using macOS 10.15 or later, open Finder, look in the “Locations” section of the sidebar, and select the name of your iPad.

Click your iPad in Finder.


Once you see information about your iPad appear on the screen, select the “General” tab (if you’re using Finder) or select Settings > Summary (if you’re using iTunes). Then, click the “Check for Update” button.

Click "Check For Update."

If there’s no update available, you’ll see “Your iPad software is up to date” listed under the current iPadOS version number. But if there is an update available, perform a backup, and then click the “Download” button. The onscreen instructions will guide you through the update process.

RELATED: How to Back Up and Restore Your iPhone or iPad without iTunes

If an Update Isn’t Showing up as Expected

If you’ve heard that there is a new version of iPadOS available, but you don’t see it listed when you check for updates, there are at least two well-known reasons why this might be the case.

The first is that when Apple releases a new version of iPadOS (especially major versions), the company releases them in different regions throughout the official release day. So if you don’t see an update that you expect yet, check for updates again later.

Also, you might have an older iPad that Apple is no longer providing iOS (as it was called on older iPads) or iPadOS updates for. Apple usually supports iPads with OS updates for around three to five years depending on the model. After that time, you’ll need to buy a new iPad to run the latest version of iPadOS.

If you’re still confused and want to check for the latest updates from Apple directly, Apple lists the official latest iPadOS release for every device on its support website. Using that list, you can locate your device and the latest iPadOS update version, and then compare it to the current iPadOS version information on the Settings > General > Software Update screen. Good luck!

RELATED: What's the Latest Version of iOS for iPhones and iPadOS for iPads?

Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is an Associate Editor for How-To Geek. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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