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Basic Question re Jailbreaking

HandyMac

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 27, 2014
32
4
If I jailbreak my iPad, would it then be possible to copy an app (.ipa file) off it to my Mac?

I have an oft-used app on my iPad Air (iOS 12.4.8) which is no longer in the App Store – which means if I need to reset the iPad for any reason, there's no way to get the app back (since iTunes no longer includes apps in backups). I want to download the app (.ipa file) to my Mac so I have a backup to reinstall if I need it.

I got the iMazing utility, whose web page says "Keep old apps in case they disappear from the App Store. Hang on to a specific version." Only it turns out it doesn't do this, directly contradicting what the web page says. Though iMazing might work to reinstall the app if I can get a copy of it.

So I'm wondering if I can get to the app and copy it by jailbreaking the iPad. I have no experience in jailbreaking, and understand it might damage the OS, maybe even brick the iPad, which I certainly don't want to do.

I see a pinned "Universal Guide to Jailbreaking" thread above, but note it discusses jailbreaking iOS 8 & 9, while my iPad is on iOS 12. Can anybody tell me where to find instructions for a novice re iOS 12? I'm not interested in installing any other software, just in getting this one .ipa application file.
 

eyoungren

macrumors Core
Aug 31, 2011
22,652
15,613
ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
A few things.

Back when jailbreaking was a 99+ step process involving arcane electronic devices connected to the phone, it was possible to brick your device. Those days are long gone - although Apple still floats that idea out there to scare people away from doing something they don't want you to do.

Yes, it is still possible to brick your device - but you have to be working damn hard with the full intent to brick it to do that. Might as well smash your device, you'll 'brick' it faster.

Anyway, yes, you can get an app off. It's not straightforward though. You cannot just mount the iPad as a shared drive on your desktop and copy it off. Way back in iOS 8 and before that was possible, but not now. Fileza, which is a tweak, can connect to Dropbox or an FTP server. You'd use that feature to zip and copy your IPA to, and then use your computer to access that and copy it to the computer.

Getting it back ON the iPad is the tricky part. There is a database that maintains installed apps. Generally, if you restart the device after copying the app back, the app will appear, but if not, it's because the database isn't recognizing that it's been installed.

You do realize of course, that once you've downloaded an app in the past, the App store realizes that and even if that app is removed from the App store you can still download it?

Finally, if you still want to jailbreak see the jailbreak matrix: https://www.reddit.com/r/jailbreak/wiki/escapeplan/guides/jailbreakcharts

You need to determine first if you can jailbreak (based on your device and firmware) and then select the JB that is available for that device and firmware (if it exists). Then just download the JB an follow the instructions.
 
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HandyMac

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 27, 2014
32
4
eyoungren,

Many thanks for your clear explanatory response. I've found a lot of information about jailbreaking, but somehow it all seems to assume a basic familiarity with the subject which I don't have. You've given me something to start with.

Anyway, yes, you can get an app off. It's not straightforward though. You cannot just mount the iPad as a shared drive on your desktop and copy it off. Way back in iOS 8 and before that was possible, but not now. Fileza, which is a tweak, can connect to Dropbox or an FTP server. You'd use that feature to zip and copy your IPA to, and then use your computer to access that and copy it to the computer.

Thanks; I'll see how it works when I get there. I note the "Universal Guide to Jailbreaking" says "Use iFile from Cydia", so I'll look for that.

Getting it back ON the iPad is the tricky part. There is a database that maintains installed apps. Generally, if you restart the device after copying the app back, the app will appear, but if not, it's because the database isn't recognizing that it's been installed.

I think maybe iMazing can do that.

You do realize of course, that once you've downloaded an app in the past, the App store realizes that and even if that app is removed from the App store you can still download it?

Does the App Store keep copies of apps that have been removed from it so people can download them? I thought if an app is no longer in the App Store and you lose the copy you have, you're out of luck?

In fact, the app I want to save is on the App Store, but the current version (the only one I could download, so far as I know) is missing some features I rely on, so I want to stay with the older one. Thus all this hassle.

But jailbreaking is also intriguing; after 32 years on the Mac, including 15 years making my living as a support consultant, having a computer that I can't get into is increasingly annoying. I understand why Apple does it this way – the iPad is, after all, the realization of Steve Jobs' dream for the original Macintosh, a computer anybody can use and even the ignorant can't mess up – but it'd be nice if there were a choice to open it for those who understand it well enough not to mess it up.

Finally, if you still want to jailbreak see the jailbreak matrix: https://www.reddit.com/r/jailbreak/wiki/escapeplan/guides/jailbreakcharts

Thanks; that looks like a good place to start. Figure I'll start with my iPod 6G, which has nothing crucial on it, see how that goes before I try the iPad – which contains the only copy of the app I want to save.

Again, thanks for your help.
 

eyoungren

macrumors Core
Aug 31, 2011
22,652
15,613
ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
eyoungren,

Many thanks for your clear explanatory response. I've found a lot of information about jailbreaking, but somehow it all seems to assume a basic familiarity with the subject which I don't have. You've given me something to start with.
If there is anything you do not understand, just ask questions. Part of the problem you will find is that you are coming in to this some time after the peak of popularity with jailbreaking. There's stuff that we all used to be able to take for granted that due to time and the departure of devs and their work is no longer viable.


Thanks; I'll see how it works when I get there. I note the "Universal Guide to Jailbreaking" says "Use iFile from Cydia", so I'll look for that.
iFile is one of those things I am speaking of. Fileza does the same thing iFile does (or did) but Fileza is more up to date. There was a problem with using iFile because the registration servers were down. I've heard that it's been fixed, but I long ago move on to Fileza - which I know is maintained.


I think maybe iMazing can do that.
I've never used that before so you probably know more on that then I do.


Does the App Store keep copies of apps that have been removed from it so people can download them? I thought if an app is no longer in the App Store and you lose the copy you have, you're out of luck?

In fact, the app I want to save is on the App Store, but the current version (the only one I could download, so far as I know) is missing some features I rely on, so I want to stay with the older one. Thus all this hassle.
I know of at least two apps that I have that were removed from the app store. I can still download them to iPhones that can run them. It's a bit of work, I have to look through the list to see WHEN I downloaded it, but it's there. That's all I can say about it.

But jailbreaking is also intriguing; after 32 years on the Mac, including 15 years making my living as a support consultant, having a computer that I can't get into is increasingly annoying. I understand why Apple does it this way – the iPad is, after all, the realization of Steve Jobs' dream for the original Macintosh, a computer anybody can use and even the ignorant can't mess up – but it'd be nice if there were a choice to open it for those who understand it well enough not to mess it up.
I got into jailbreaking because I wanted to do something with my iPhone and I couldn't believe that Apple would not let me. It was also necessary when the iPhone 5 launched because Apple chose that moment to stop syncing with PowerBooks and PowerMacs which are (until May of this year) the predominant Mac I own and use.

Thanks; that looks like a good place to start. Figure I'll start with my iPod 6G, which has nothing crucial on it, see how that goes before I try the iPad – which contains the only copy of the app I want to save.
I got started with an iPhone 3GS. It was not my primary phone at the time and I spend a LOT of time screwing the damn thing up. Multiple restores and hassle, but I learned. By the time I got my iPhone 5 I knew what I should and should not do.



Again, thanks for your help.
No problem, good luck!
 
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