iPhone Basics: Syncing Your iPhone

Lesson 13: Syncing Your iPhone


Syncing Your iPhone

Syncing makes it easy to keep things up to date among your computer, iPhone, and other mobile devices. This way, you'll always have access to important files on any device whenever you need them. There are two ways to sync an iPhone: with iTunes and with iCloud.

Differences between iTunes and iCloud

Although iTunes and iCloud are both good ways to sync your data, you'll need to decide which option is best for you. iCloud is generally more convenient because it allows you to sync from anywhere with an Internet connection. However, iTunes gives you a bit more control overall. You can read more information in What’s the Difference between iCloud Backup and iTunes Backup?

To sync with iTunes:

You can connect your iPhone to your computer using the included USB cable. You can then use iTunes to sync music, photos, and files from your computer to your iPhone. You'll also be able to back up your iPhone's files on your computer.

iTunes must be installed on your computer to sync your iPhone. If it's not already installed, you can download it from Apple here.

  1. Open iTunes on your computer.
  2. Connect the included USB cable to your iPhone and then to a USB port on your computer.
  3. The iPhone will appear in the top-left corner of the iTunes window. Click the iPhone icon.
  4. The iPhone summary page will appear. From here, you'll be able to choose the files and settings you want to sync between your iPhone and your computer.

Click the buttons in the interactive below to learn more about syncing your iPhone with iTunes.

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If your computer and iPhone use the same Wi-Fi network, you can sync your iPhone over Wi-Fi instead of plugging it in to the computer. From the iPhone summary page, scroll down to Options and check the box next to Sync with this iPhone over Wi-Fi.

Syncing to iCloud

You can sync your iPhone wirelessly to iCloud, which will work in the background to sync important information among your mobile devices. For example, you could purchase a song in iTunes on your iPhone, then listen to it on your computer. Or you could create a to-do list on your computer, then keep up with it on your iPhone.

When you sync your iPhone with iCloud, you gain access to several features, including:

  • iCloud Photo Library: This feature syncs your most recent photos among devices. This means you can take a photo on your iPhone, then view it instantly on your iPad or computer. You can also use this feature to privately share photos with friends and family.
  • Find My iPhone: If your iPhone is ever lost or stolen, this feature can help you find it.
  • Backup and Restore: This feature backs up important files and settings on your iPhone to the cloud, including your apps and messages.

You can use these features on your iPhone and other devices, including an iPad, Mac, or PC. Review the full list of iCloud features from Apple to learn more.

An Apple ID is required to use iCloud. You should also review this page from Apple to make sure your device meets iCloud system requirements.

To set up iCloud:

  1. Tap the Settings icon on the Home screen.
  2. Tap your account name at the top of the Settings menu.
  3. Tap iCloud.
  4. A list of iCloud features will appear. Tap the controls to turn each feature on or off, depending on your preferences. We recommend keeping these features turned on to get the most out of iCloud.
  5. To set up automatic backups to iCloud, scroll down and tap Backup.
  6. Turn on the control for iCloud Backup. Your iPhone will now be backed up to iCloud whenever when it is charging, connected to Wi-Fi, and locked.

Setting up other devices

If you want to use iCloud to sync information with your other devices (like your iPad, Mac, or PC), you'll also need to set up iCloud on these devices. Review the instructions below as needed.

If you purchase something on another device from the iTunes Store or App Store, you may want it to appear automatically on your iPhone. To enable this feature, open Settings, tap iTunes & App Store, then turn on the Music, Apps, and Books & Audiobooks controls.


Even if you don't have any of your devices, you can still view your important iCloud information online. Simply go to www.iCloud.com and sign in with your Apple ID. From here, you'll be able to view your calendar, locate your device, and perform other functions.