How to set up iTunes Wi-Fi sync for iPhone, iPad

How to set up iTunes Wi-Fi sync using Windows

Tired of tethering to iTunes and wondering how to set up iTunes Wi-Fi sync? It works just like traditional USB sync but without the cable! (Without the sync cable that is, you still need to be plugged into a power cable -- baby steps!) Here's how to get it going:

  • Make sure your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch is connected to your Wi-Fi network and running iOS 5. (Here's how to update to iOS 5)

  • Make sure the PC running iTunes is connected to the same Wi-Fi network and is running iTunes version 10.5

  • Plug in the device you want to setup Wi-Fi sync with
  • When its been recognized, click on it in the left column then select Summary in the header bar

  • Scroll down until you see the option for Sync with this iPhone over Wi-Fi

  • Click the box to turn it on
  • Hit Apply

That's it, now as long as iTunes is open on your PC, as soon as you plug your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad into the power outlet, it should appear in iTunes and sync over Wi-Fi.

(Yes -- It has to be plugged in to the power for this to work, so you are really just cutting the cord to the PC not to the wall!)

If you want to initiate a sync manually, you can do this from your iOS device and you don't need to be plugged into a power outlet.

  • Go to Settings
  • General

  • Click on iTunes Wi-Fi Sync
  • Click on Sync Now

That is all there is too it, you can now sync your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad without the cable. Well without a cable connected to your PC anyway!

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chrisoldroyd

UK editor at iMore, mobile technology lover and air conditioning design engineer.

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There are 44 comments. Add yours.

T-Will says:

I'm with you, I would prefer that an iCloud sync would do a Wifi sync so I can have a local backup of my data.

T-Will says:

I'm with you, I would prefer that an iCloud sync would do a Wifi sync so I can have a local backup of my data.

Frank Tha Tank says:

Yeah it is pretty buggy. I've gotten it to work like this only once and it didn't even complete. It get to the end and says it's "waiting on items to copy" and never completes. I've had to go back to the old fashioned was as well.

Frank Tha Tank says:

Yeah it is pretty buggy. I've gotten it to work like this only once and it didn't even complete. It get to the end and says it's "waiting on items to copy" and never completes. I've had to go back to the old fashioned was as well.

Frank Tha Tank says:

I got a couple of questions and I can post in the forum as well. 1) iTunes needs to be open but does the computer need to be awake and for the duration of the sync? 2) Is there a certain time it will sync or is it automatic once it's plugged into a power outlet? 3) Does the type of outlet matter, will it work with a dock/3rd party dock? 4) Does this interfere with the iClouds auto backup; will it do one then the other.
Mine doesn't work too well which make this issue one of the last things keeping me from a perfect 4S experience. Thanks for any info.

Kyle Kelley says:

Same here big Frank! Hopefully someone can answer. Just tell Jacob to toss it up against the wall a few times and maybe it will work!

FrankRow says:

What's up Kyle!! I got to watch out b/c he just may. He's got my 3GS now so I got to watch him.

Charlieaddy100 says:

Mine will not start automatically, has to be started manually every time....

Troy Donaldson says:

You CAN do backups to your local computer through Wifi, just not automatically. Just right click on your iOS device in the sidebar on iTunes and click Backup. You can also initiate a Wifi sync this way without your iOS device being charging.

Troy Donaldson says:

You CAN do backups to your local computer through Wifi, just not automatically. Just right click on your iOS device in the sidebar on iTunes and click Backup. You can also initiate a Wifi sync this way without your iOS device being charging.

Hadirajan says:

I don't get it.. why do you write that you have to have the power cord plugged in, mine syncs via wifi with both PC and Mac without any cables...
Also to respond to Mleb1: I sync with iCloud and my computer. Did a restore completely via the computer yesterday without missing anything. Also did a complete restore via iCloud 1 week ago. Everything worked and it's all there no matter if I choose iTunes or iCloud. Didn't have to disable a thing...

Karloffpropaganda says:

This is all well and good but it just ejects my iDevices from iTunes when I unplug after checking the 'Sync over wifi' button. And on the rare occasions that they don't eject, it still won't find them over wifi later. So many Windows folks seem to be having issues with wifi sync. So sad =(

Wes says:

So... I CAN sync without the cord?

Bindo says:

I didn't update my iTunes yet. But when I bgohut a song using my account, I was confronted with a new license agreement from iTunes. When I clicked Agree I suddenly got a message on my iPhone in the form of a notification that read: Turn on wireless sync to automatically sync iPhone with iTunes. I didn't think to screen capture so I just tried to figure out which settings to go to. Anybody else get this message?

Ivor says:

the native app sholud load faster as the UI is already on your phone. Also it can start while you're not connected to the internet. Other than that they're more or less the same.

BrotherJoe#IM says:

It should be noted in this article that for 'Automatic Syncing' to actually work the 'Open iTunes when this iPhone is connected' option must be selected. And yes it works with 3rd party docks, I've got a sony DB radio dock and it's works a treat.

johncblandii says:

Lmbo @ the partial cord cutting. :-)

csal80 says:

This article is wrong about something ... my iPhone does not need to be plugged in to be recognized by itunes and to sync. This happens automatically without me having to go into settings.

Wacky Wabbit says:

i would love itunes to stop crashing with wifi sync.

mw22 says:

When you say wi-fi, you really mean it. It looks like a Desktop PC connected by ethernet cable to a wireless router isn't good enough. The phone doesn't seem to ever "see" it on it's wifi connection.

mw22 says:

When you say wi-fi, you really mean it. It looks like a Desktop PC connected by ethernet cable to a wireless router isn't good enough. The phone doesn't seem to ever "see" it on it's wifi connection.

Jovek11 says:

I dont get it why does the screen shot above say sync to itunes while iphone is plugged to power and wifi? My ipad 2 says the same thing and when not connected to power i press sync now and nothing happens?

FrankRow says:

yeah it should but it may take a few syncs. It took about 4 for me to get all my songs and at. A lot of songs would be grayed out and not work after the first couple syncs.

MuhammadM says:

Does the wifi sync work on windows XP?, as I have read that you have to be running windows vista or windows 7...

Chris Thomas says:

I use XP on an e510 and it works. However it took a while to figure out.
My final steps was to restart the machine...
Start iTunes...
Plug in your device...
Once iTunes recognizes your device unplug the device... don't eject it via the triagle... just unplug it
Then go into the device and do a manual iTunes Wi-Fi sync from the device and it should work.

Mail4chef says:

I sync on xp, Mac and vista they all worked the only issue is sometime iTunes can't find my iPhone fix is to just plug it in

sadlybrokeboy says:

I too am finding problems - tried to sync some new albums with my phone with wi-fi sync switched on and the phone in the dock and it just wouldn't sync the new albums!
It'd tell me that it'd done it but when I looked on the iDevice it wasn't there at all :(
Ended up switching off the wifi-sync - resyncing the music and hey presto it worked!!
Had similar problems on my better halfs iphone too - something just isn't right about the wi-fi sync! :(

CutDaCordMax says:

well i sync my iphone 4 wirelessly with no cords at all with or without a power source so yes i did actually cut the cord...

John Saunders says:

I'm sorry but Apples Wifi Sync just doesn't seem as attractive now...
1: Computer has to be on and connected to iTunes
2: iPhone has to be plugged in (albeit to the wall, but my charger is next to my laptop anyway)
So what is the actual benefit of this? I might as well move the cable 2 inches from the wall into the laptop and do it normally! Why can't I just connect to the same wifi network and sync completely wirelessly?!

Jay B says:

This... just doesn't work. I'm at about 4/30 for Wi-Fi sync'ing music to my iPad and iPhone 4S. And the four times it worked it didn't even come close to bringing over all the music.
Most of the time it just says "could not be synced because the sync session failed to start"
Um. thanks? I guess I'll check back next time iOS or iTunes is updated, but for now it's back to the USB cable.

Chris says:

Is it possible to select the frequency of the auto wi-fi sync? I don't want my iTunes to boot multiple times per day. Thanks!

Gizmocivic says:

I wish iTunes 10.5 gave u the "backup to disc" option like it does in iTunes 10.3. The "backup to disc" option allows you to backup your iTunes to CDs or dvdrw. Backup to an external source gives me a more secure backup versus iCloud.

Alice says:

Thought this might be the tip I was looking for but found a gnarilg problem with it. Itunes won't allow you to select a subfolder specifically, only the parent. I pointed the sync entry to My Pictures on my pc and then scrolled thru the list to select folders I wanted. Discovered it only shows the primary folders under the root path and wont' let you click into a folder to select just the subfolder under it. Weak. Very Weak Itunes.

Ian says:

I have a problem that i think is the same topic as this, my father and I is shareing a itunes-ID
And always when i am downloading an app he is getting that app to... Is there a way to turn this thing off so my dad dont get the apps that i am downloading?
Thank you!

lollypop101 says:

thanks for that! my sister set it up and we wanted to get rid of the wifi syncing because it was putting on old apps that we have deleted ages ago back on to our phone and ipod! We couldn't figure out how to stop it! THX:)

John says:

Apple I tv is not useable because no on one can give you a Step by Step on how to do it. Not even the Apple store.

khubaib says:

That was it , What happens Next ??
and after synchronizing ?? cause nothing appeared in my phone or my iTunes!

apple ipad 2 wi-fi says:

I do trust all the ideas you've introduced for your post. They are very convincing and can certainly work. Nonetheless, the posts are very brief for starters. May just you please extend them a bit from subsequent time? Thank you for the post.

Kemal says:

If you use the email and calendar wiihtn Exchange, there is not need to sync your email or calendar as your calendar and email are automatically pushed to your devices.

Sathi says:

Hi, have you been accepting any kind of adirntisveg in your blog? I would like to buy a banner for a few months linking to my personal website which is closely related. Let me know, or give me an email address that I can reach you at. Thank you!

Rohit says:

Hiusually iTunes accept multpile connections for ipods and iphones with no problem, I have 2 ipods, iphone 2G and iphone 3G all sync with the same pc using the same itunes with no problem,and on one account as well, download the new itune may be this will solve your issue.don't delete your account you can still use it

RCharles1 says:

I've set up iTunes to automatically synch with my iPad although I don't think it has ever synched.
Sometimes I find iTunes running and asking me to log in, which means log into the apple iTunes server. Is this required to get a local, wi-fi synch to run? (I'm trying to use a local wi-fi synch to avoid having anything get sent to the cloud.)
THX
Ray

myka401 says:

Hello newbe here is there a way to this between IPhone 4S to a iPad !!!