How To Get The Most Out Of Your Jailbroken iOS Device

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Jailbroken iOS Device

In the early days of jailbreaking, the benefits weren’t always that great. Nearly four years into the debut of iOS, however, the jailbreaking community has matured into something amazing. If you’ve neglected to jailbreak your iOS device, there’s no better time than now. Here’s why you should take the plunge and how to get the most out of it once you do.If you were a zebra who was born and lived her entire life in a zoo, chances are you’d be fairly satisfied with life in a cage. Those of us who don’t live in a cage would look at you and think, wow, I would not want to be that zebra.

While the freedom of a jailbroken iOS device isn’t quite the same as being freed from a cage after years of captivity, the idea is similar. Jailbreaking provides you with solutions to problems Apple takes months, and sometimes years, to fix. Jailbreaking lets you use your device the way you want, limiting you only by your own ability or interest in making your device work how you want it to. Perhaps most importantly, jailbreaking will let you discover things you can do with your phone that you didn’t necessarily realise you could do. There are risks involved, but if you’re up for it, the rewards are greater. Risk can be mitigated and problems can be solved, but freedom of choice is something you either have or you don’t. If you want to bite into the apple of knowledge and see that the better world is actually on the other side, you need to jailbreak your device. Today we’re going to look at how to do it, the many things you can do, and how to survive in a world unprotected by Apple’s cold steel bars.

Performing the Jailbreak

comprehensive guide to jailbreaking your iOS device

Tethered vs Untethered

As of this writing, the jailbreak method for the newly released iOS 4.3 is tethered; if you’re still running 4.2.1, you’ve got an untethered jailbreak.

First, depending on the current state of jailbreaks, you may encounter both tethered and untethered jailbreak options. A tethered jailbreak requires that you connect your device to your computer and perform an extra task before booting it up—every time. This is generally a dealbreaker for most people because, frankly, no one wants to have to plug in their iPhone and perform a tedious boot process every time they restart. What if your iPhone crashes and you don’t have a computer with you? Unless you’re desperate to jailbreak, waiting for an untethered option is probably your best bet. Untethered means your phone is jailbroken but can start up all on its own. This is the kind of jailbreak you want.

In Case of Failure…

If you get stuck, you should almost always be able to restore your device. All you have to do is get it into restore (DFU) mode and connect it to iTunes. Getting into DFU mode will seem familiar because it’s likely what you did to initiate the jailbreaking process the first time. Assuming your device is off, hold down the power and home buttons for 10 seconds, then release the power button and continue holding the home button for 10 seconds. (If you need a visual, this kid can show you how to do it.) iTunes will then give you the option of restoring. Do that, try the jailbreak again, and sync with iTunes to get all your content back on your device.

In the event you’re still running into trouble, you may need to try and restore on a different computer. Last year I could not restore on any computer I owned but had no trouble with someone else’s laptop. I’m not clear on the specifics of why this happened, but chances are it had something to do with settings in iTunes. If you’re having trouble, try restoring on a friend’s machine. If that’s not an option, you may want to uninstall and reinstall iTunes. If you’re still stuck after this point, you may need to take your iOS device to Apple and try to get them to fix it. Even though you’re not supposed to jailbreak, if it’s something they can fix pretty quickly they’re not going to hassle you about it (so long as you don’t walk in and announce, “Hey, my phone isn’t working because I tried to jailbreak it!”).

The Wonders of the World of Jailbreaking

Once you’ve jailbroken your iOS device, what do you do? There’s this strange new app called Cydia sitting somewhere on your home screen. Cydia is basically the jailbreak app store, featuring several paid and unpaid apps, extensions and hacks that you can install on your device. Cydia generally doesn’t refer to any of these things as apps, but rather packages. Packages are listed in various repositories, many of which are built into Cydia. Some packages are listed in their own, unique repositories, or just repositories that aren’t part of Cydia’s built-in list. If you ever need to add one, you can do that very easily by opening Cydia, tapping the Manage tab, tapping sources, and typing in the URL of the source you want to add. If you’re looking for a specific package, you can just search for it. The problem is that Cydia’s package listings are vast and there isn’t a lot of browsing you can do, so it’s nice to know what you’re looking for. Here are some of our favorites:


a handy app called Theme itmake extensive home screen customisations install SSH on your iOS device

Circumventing Restrictions

Install Frash

Functionality Upgrades

Apple’s often slow to add features to iOS — just take a look at how long it took to get some version of multitasking. Because jailbreak apps can take full advantage of everything iOS has to offer, if you don’t want to wait for Apple to develop a certain feature you probably don’t have to. For example, you can completely customise your button functionality and what various multitouch gestures do using a neat little extension called Activator. Want a better notification system than the intrusive pop-up system that Apple has in place? Try MobileNotifier. Tired of plugging in to sync with iTunes? Get Wi-Fi sync and you don’t even have to be in the same room as your computer. (With the latest beta of Wi-Fi sync, you could even sync with iTunes from another country.) Other great upgrades include adding an easy-access settings panel, extending your dock and home screen to infinity and beyond, installing a VNC server, and getting a card-based or Exposé-style multitasking screen. There are so many ways to add new or better functionality to your device. Often all you have to do is decide what you want.

The Exiled Apps

play emulated SNES games

Troubleshooting Problems

troubleshoot problems with CrashReporter

Is there anything about jailbreaking that you love that we’ve neglected to mention here? Share it in the comments!

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