iPhone and iPod Touch - How to update an application

There is a bug, either in the software for the iPhone or in iTunes that may cause applications on the iPhone not to update properly. I started to write this post several weeks ago, but decided to wait until the iPhone 2.1 software update was released to see if it fixed the problem. The new software has been released – and I am still having issues, so I suspect some of you are too.

This is the easiest way I have found to get iPhone and iPod Touch applications to update properly…
This article was written over a year ago. It is out of date! Please go here to learn about updating applications.

This article remains in case someone has not updated their iPhone or iPod Touch to the latest version of the software. It you have not updated, do it now! Many bug have been eliminated and many new features have been added. Updating iPhone software is free. Updating an iPod Touch costs $5.00.


There is a bug, either in the software for the iPhone or in iTunes that may cause applications on the iPhone not to update properly. I started to write this post several weeks ago, but decided to wait until the iPhone 2.1 software update was released to see if it fixed the problem. The new software has been released – and I am still having issues, so I suspect some of you are too.

This is the easiest way I have found to get iPhone and iPod Touch applications to update properly.

First just how can you tell when you have an application on your iPhone that needs to be updated? The iPhone shows you by placing a number in red on the App Store icon:



When you are in iTunes, you will see a number beside Applications in the Library:



Clicking on “Applications” will show you a list of the applications that are in the iTunes Library on your computer:



To see the updates that are available for your computer, click on “Check for Updates” in the lower right corner of the window:



The “Check for Updates” button will lead you to a screen like this. To download all the application updates, click the button in the upper right corner of the screen. To download individual application updates, click on the “Update” button by each one:


Now, the next time you connect your iPhone or iPod Touch to your computer, the application updates should transfer to your device.

However, if you luck is like mine, instead of transferring correctly, you might end up with a message box that resembles this one if you have multiple errors.



If you have just one error, it will look similar to this:



In the 2.0 through 2.02 versions of the software the “Help” button was missing. However, it was added in iPhone 2.1. Clicking the button takes you to an Apple web page. You can see it here. While the information given there can be of some help, the method they suggest is a bit convoluted. Give my method a try – it is much easier!

First, go to your iPhone and turn it on. Find the application page that contains the icon for the application or applications that will not update. Press on the icon for the application. After a few seconds, the icons on the page will jiggle and each icon will have a “X” in the upper left corner:



Press on the “X” of the program that you want to delete. You will get this message:



Click the Delete button.

Now, attach your iPhone to your computer and open iTunes. As it begins its sync you will notice that the Applications Pane will be set to download only selected applications to your iPhone and that the applications that you removed from your iPhone will be un-checked:



You can either choose the “All Applications” radio button or you can place checks in the boxes of the applications that you want re-installed (you can even do both!). Then it is time to click the “Apply” button in the lower right corner of the screen so that the updated applications will be moved to your iPhone.



This is a bug that I hope Apple will fix in the near future, but this method will help you keep your iPhone applications up-to-date.

At Bob LeVitus Consulting many of our clients have iPhones. Although we cannot easily “see” your iPhone, it is still easy to help you learn about its features and how to use them. We have both the first and newest iPhones and we follow along as we help you learn. Tutoring is $60.00 per hour and we are VERY patient! Give us a call at 408 627-7577 and we can set up an appointment to work with you or send an email to urgentrequest@boblevitus.com. We’ll get right back to you!

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