Use the Finder to sync your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch with your Mac

The Finder is one of the ways you can sync your device with your Mac.

If your Mac is using macOS Catalina or later, you can use the Finder on your Mac to sync content between your Mac and your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. The experience is similar to using iTunes to sync in earlier versions of macOS.

Content that you can sync includes music, films, TV programmes, podcasts, audiobooks, books, photos, contacts and calendars.

Instead of using the Finder, you can use iCloud Photos, Apple Music and similar services to keep content from your Mac in the cloud and available to all of your devices – even when they’re not near your Mac. To keep Messages, Mail and Notes up to date across devices, you can set up iCloud for Messages, iCloud Mail and iCloud for Notes.

Sync or remove content using the Finder

  1. Use a USB cable to connect your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to your Mac.

  2. On your Mac, click the Finder icon in the Dock to open a window in the Finder.

  3. Select your device from the list in the sidebar of the window. Can’t see your device?

  4. On the right-hand side of the window, use the row of buttons below the name of your device to select the type of content to be synced, such as Music or Photos. Then tick the Sync box for that content. In the example pictured, “Sync music onto iPhone” will turn on music syncing. After you’ve turned on syncing, more syncing options will become available.

  5. Click the Apply button in the bottom right-hand corner of the window. If the syncing process doesn’t start automatically, click the Sync button. You may then be asked to authorise your computer.

Sync over Wi-Fi instead of USB

When your device is connected to your Mac via USB, you can set up your Mac so that future syncing will be completed over Wi-Fi instead.

  1. Select your device in the sidebar of the Finder window, then click General on the right-hand side.

  2. Scroll down and select “Show this [device] when on Wi-Fi”.

  3. Click Apply.

You can now unplug your device from your Mac. When your Mac and device are on the same Wi-Fi network, your device will appear in the Finder sidebar, and it will be synced automatically over Wi-Fi whenever it’s plugged into a power source.

If you need help

  • If you see a message stating that your device is synced with another library, this means your device was connected to another computer previously. Your device can only be synced with one Apple Music or Apple TV library at a time. If you click “Erase and Sync” in that message, all content of the selected type on your device will be erased and replaced with content from this Mac.

  • If you see an error code when syncing, find out about iTunes or Finder error codes.

Learn more

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