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How to sync your iPhone or iPad to iTunes

While you've been able to use an iPhone and iPad PC-free since the days of iOS 5, plugging in is still an option for those that don't trust iCloud and other such services for syncing their information between an iOS device and a Mac or PC. And aside from syncing your device and backing it up, there's a myriad of things that you can sync through iTunes.

Follow this guide to learn how to syncing apps, media, and more to your iPhone or iPad with iTunes.

How to sync your iPhone or iPad to iTunes with a cable

This one's pretty basic. Just plug in and keep iTunes and your phone in sync.

  1. Connect your iPhone or iPad to your Mac with a Lightning or 30-pin connector cable.
  2. Open iTunes from your Dock, Applications folder, or Finder.
  3. Click the phone or tablet button next to the media selector near the upper-right corner of iTunes.

  1. Click Sync.

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

Of course, nowadays you don't even need to physically plug in your iPhone or iPad to sync with iTunes.

  1. Connect your iPhone or iPad to your Mac with a Lightning or 30-pin connector cable.
  2. Open iTunes from your Dock, Applications folder, or Finder.
  3. Click the phone or tablet button next to the media selector near the upper-right corner of iTunes.

  1. Check the box next to Sync with this iPhone over Wi-Fi
  2. Click Apply.

You can then sync your iPhone over Wi-Fi like so:

  1. Open iTunes from your Dock, Applications folder, or Finder.
  2. Click the phone or tablet button next to the media selector near the upper-right corner of iTunes.

  1. Click Sync.

How to sync apps to your iPhone or iPad with iTunes

Keep your device's apps in sync, removing and installing them without having to paw at your iPhone or iPad.

  1. Connect your iPhone or iPad to your Mac with a Lightning or 30-pin connector cable.
  2. Open iTunes from your Dock, Applications folder, or Finder.
  3. Click the phone or tablet button next to the media selector near the upper-right corner of iTunes.

  1. Click Apps.
  2. Click the Install button next to an app that you want to install on your iPhone or iPad.

  1. Click the Remove button next to an app that you want to uninstall from your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Click Sync to sync changes.

How to transfer files between iOS apps and your Mac

You can also move files between individual iOS apps and your Mac or PC.

  1. Connect your iPhone or iPad to your Mac with a Lightning or 30-pin connector cable.
  2. Open iTunes from your Dock, Applications folder, or Finder.
  3. Click the phone or tablet button next to the media selector near the upper-right corner of iTunes.

  1. Click Apps in the sidebar.
  2. Scroll down to File Transfer and find the app you wish to transfer files from or to.

  1. Click the app.
  2. Click Add…

  1. Click on the file or folder you wish to transfer to the app.
  2. Click Add.

  1. Click on the file from the app you wish to save to your Mac.
  2. Click Save to…

  1. Click on the location that you want to save the file to.
  2. Click Save To.

  1. Click Sync.

How to sync media to your iPhone or iPad with iTunes

You can sync all sorts of media from iTunes to your iPhone or iPad, such as music, movies, TV shows, books, and podcasts.

  1. Connect your iPhone or iPad to your Mac with a Lightning or 30-pin connector cable.
  2. Open iTunes from your Dock, Applications folder, or Finder.
  3. Click the phone or tablet button next to the media selector near the upper-right corner of iTunes.

  1. Click the name of the media type in the sidebar.
  2. Click the checkbox next to Sync [Media type].

  1. Click the checkbox next to Automatically include to automatically sync a certain number of movies, TV episodes, podcast episodes, or iTunes U courses.
  2. Under Books and Tones, click All or Selected to choose what to sync.

  1. Click any available drop-down menus to select the criteria for automatically syncing a particular media type to your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Click the checkboxes next to the artists, albums, movies, shows, courses, or podcasts that you want to sync.

  1. Click the checkboxes next to specific episodes or classes if you're syncing TV or podcast episodes, or iTunes U course items.
  2. Click Apply.

How to sync photos to your iPhone or iPad with iTunes

Don't like iCloud Photo Library? No problem. Sync photos from your Mac or PC to your iOS device in iTunes.

  1. Connect your iPhone or iPad to your Mac with a Lightning or 30-pin connector cable.
  2. Open iTunes from your Dock, Applications folder, or Finder.
  3. Click the phone or tablet button next to the media selector near the upper-right corner of iTunes.

  1. Click Photos in the sidebar.
  2. Click the checkbox next to Sync Photos.

  1. Click the drop-down menu.
  2. Choose between copying from Photos or any other photo folder.

  1. Choose to sync All photos and albums or Selected albums.
  2. Check the boxes to only sync your favorites, include videos, or automatically include photos from a certain period.

  1. Click the albums and people you want to sync if you chose to sync selected albums.
  2. Click Apply.

How to sync contacts and calendars to your iPhone or iPad with iTunes

If you don't like to entrust your contacts and calendars to a cloud service provider like Apple or Google, you can sync them manually with iTunes.

  1. Connect your iPhone or iPad to your Mac with a Lightning or 30-pin connector cable.
  2. Open iTunes from your Dock, Applications folder, or Finder.
  3. Click the phone or tablet button next to the media selector near the upper-right corner of iTunes.

  1. Click Info in the sidebar.
  2. Click the checkboxes next to Sync Contacts and Sync Calendars.

  1. Under Contacts, choose between syncing All contacts or Selected groups.
  2. Choose any available groups if you're only syncing some contacts.

  1. Check the box next to Add contacts created… (etc.) to choose where to add contacts created outside of groups on your device should go.
  2. Under Calendars, choose between syncing All calendars or Selected calendars.

  1. Choose any available calendars if you're only syncing some of them.
  2. Check the box to stop syncing events a set amount of days after they've taken place.

  1. Click Apply.

Questions?

Be sure to tell us in the comments if you have any other questions about syncing your iPhone or iPad to iTunes.

Joseph Keller is the former Editor in Chief of iMore. An Apple user for almost 20 years, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.

1 Comment
  • Hi how do you sync contacts from your iphone to your ipad? anyone know how to? Thanks