How to Sync Mac With iPhone

By J.T. Barett

Describes how to sync music, movies and other media on your iPhone and Mac using USB docking cable or Wi-Fi connection with iTunes.

Things You'll Need

  • Data cable

The iTunes program, included as part of the Mac OS X operating system, has a sync feature that shuttles information between your Mac and iPhone using a USB cable or a Wi-Fi connection. Syncing ensures that content on your iPhone, including music, movies and app data, is up-to-date with corresponding files on your Mac.

Sync Using USB Cable

Step 1

Connect the iPhone docking cable to a USB port on your Mac computer. Plug the other end into the iPhone.

Step 2

Launch the iTunes program on your Mac, and click the iPhone device icon. This icon does not appear unless an iPhone is connected to your Mac.

Step 3

Click Music. Set the sync options for music files. Click the Sync Music check box to sync music files between the Mac and iPhone. Click the Entire music library radio button to sync all music. To sync music files selectively, click Selected playlists, artists, albums, and genres. Perform this step only when changing music sync settings; you don't need to do it for every sync operation.

Set sync options

Warning

When you click the Entire music library radio button, iTunes prompts you with a warning. The first sync first deletes music files from the iPhone, save for those purchased from iTunes, then copies music files from the iTunes library on the Mac. If you have music on your iPhone that isn't in your library or hasn't been purchased from iTunes, the files are lost.

Step 4

Set the sync options for Movies, TV Shows, Tones and Photos in iTunes, changing the sync settings according to how you want to manage your personal media library.

Step 5

Click the Sync button. Allow some time for the iTunes sync to complete; the time varies depending on the size of your media library.

Sync button

Sync Using Wi-Fi

Step 1

Plug the iPhone into your Mac computer’s USB port using its docking cable. This step is necessary only for setup; once set, you can plug your iPhone into a wall charger to sync through Wi-Fi.

Tip

For Wi-Fi sync, your Mac and iPhone must be on the same Wi-Fi network.

Step 2

Launch iTunes on your Mac, and click the iPhone device icon.

iPhone icon in iTunes

Step 3

Click Summary in the list of iPhone options.

iTunes: iPhone list of options

Step 4

Click the check box, Sync with this iPhone over Wi-Fi if it is not already set. Click the Apply button.

Wi-Fi sync option

Step 5

Click Music and set the sync options for music files. Click the Sync Music check box to sync music files between the Mac and iPhone. Click the Entire music library radio button to sync all music; to sync music files selectively, click Selected playlists, artists, albums, and genres. Perform this step only when changing music sync settings; you don't need to do it for every sync operation.

Sync music options

Step 6

Set the sync options for Movies, TV Shows, Tones and Photos in iTunes, changing the sync settings according to how you want to manage your personal media library.

Step 7

Click the Sync button. Allow some time for the sync to complete in iTunes; the time varies depending on the size of your media library.

Wi-Fi sync

Tip

When you use Wi-Fi sync, the iPhone automatically syncs with your Mac whenever the two devices are on the same Wi-Fi network, when iTunes is open on the Mac, and when your iPhone is plugged into a charger.