How to Upgrade Your BlackBerry Operating System

So you got a new BlackBerry or you are simply tired of your old operating system on the device and want to want to upgrade it? If you have never done this before, there are a few things you need to know. The first thing is that there are two different types of OS that you can install: one is the official OS, released by a carrier, and the other one is a leaked OS, meaning that it has not been approved by the carriers to be installed. You can install an official OS using Desktop Manager, but usually it will not let you install a leaked OS unless you do some tweaking. This is something RIM implemented with the latest updates to the Desktop Manager.

These instructions are for Windows users. For BES users, your IT needs to issue an activation code unless you can generate one yourself or have Desktop Manager set up with the BES option, it will do it the next time your run DM.

*You should know that if you decide to install a leaked OS, you’re doing it at your own risk.

*Always do a backup of your Settings and Contacts using Desktop Manager and 3rd-party apps, Use BBSAK. Download_BBSAK


Software that you will need to download:

  • Desktop Manager – at his link you can download for windows and Mac. What does Desktop Manager do, you may ask. It lets you load your OS to the BB, add applications, back up your data, custom settings and contacts, sync music, switch devices and more. When setting up DM, choose the option for personal account, not the one which associates it with your work email, unless you have access to changing settings on BES. BES is the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which is mostly used by companies to deliver company emails and settings to your BlackBerry.
  • BlackBerry Swish Army Knife (BBSAK): this application is for both novice and advanced users, but make sure you don’t go around clicking random buttons, you could really do some damage to the BlackBerry. With this application you can install or back up third-party applications, or launch the Application Loader to install your OS. You can read more about the features and find the download link in our previous post.

*Remember to always back up your data before doing this. On DM, select Backup and Restore.

*If you have a password on you BlackBerry, you will need to type that in before it lets you do anything.

Official OS install: To load an official OS, all you need is to download and install the Desktop Manager. It will detect the official OS if it is issued by your carrier. When you connect your BlackBerry via USB, it will prompt you to install the new OS. Simply follow the wizard and select the applications you want to install. Once this is done, you just have to click “Next” until the process is finished. Never unplug the BlackBerry while the device is upgrading. That would render it useless. If you do, there are ways to get it working again, but it’s troublesome.

Official OS from other Carriers and Leaked OS:

Why is DM not detecting the update after installing on PC? You can install the OS issue by other carriers or a leaked OS, but with the latest DM, RIM has blocked that feature. So even if you have installed the OS update, DM will not detect it. Sometimes, it will give you the option to install older versions of the OS.


  • Delete the vendor.xml file found at this location on most Windows PC machines: C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Research In Motion\AppLoader
  • A quick fix can be disconnecting your Internet so that DM is not communication with the Web. This will force DM to look for the update on your PC.
  • If the above fix is not working, then you need to launch App Loader by itself. And you need to close DM completely because sometimes it will stay running in background and will prevent App Loader from detecting the update as well. You can find App Loader in the same location mentioned above.
  • Another tool that will help you with OS installs is BBSAK . If you don’t feel like going through all the steps above, simply download this application. It has a quick, one-click way to launch the standalone App Loader. Make sure that your BlackBerry shows it is connected to BBSAK. If it does not show it is connected, that probably means that DM is still running is background and is preventing you from connecting to it, or vice-versa. Like I said before, this tool has many useful features, but it has some advanced features that could wipe your device completely. STAY AWAY from these features if you don’t know what they are or what you are doing.

Once you have launched the App Loader, it should detect the OS update. You then simply select the applications and features you wish to install and follow the wizard until you are done with the upgrade.

I NUKED MY BERRY: something went wrong with the upgrade. Simply follow the steps mentioned above if, for any reason, the App Loader is not detecting your BlackBerry. Take out the battery and connect the BlackBerry via USB. Launch App Loader and wait for it to detect the BlackBerry. Sometimes it will display your PIN or say the device is unknown. This will allow you to get to the step in which you choose what apps and settings you want to install on your BlackBerry. Carefully place the battery back in the BlackBerry without unplugging it from the USB port.

I don’t recommend doing any of this if you are not comfortable with the instructions. If you have other tips to share, please leave a comment. I did not write an in-depth explanation for every step to avoid writing an excessivel long article. Let us know if this one has helped you.