iTunes can be a chore, but here’s some happy news. In macOS Catalina, you no longer need to use iTunes to backup and restore your iPhone or iPad. And if you’re running a previous version of macOS, you can use a third-party app.
Backup and Restore in macOS Catalina and Newer
In macOS Catalina, iTunes has been disbanded into multiple apps: Podcasts, TV, and Music. The responsibility of backing up and syncing the iPhone and iPad goes to the Finder app.
After connecting your iPhone or iPad to your Mac, open the Finder app. Here, you’ll see your iPhone or iPad in the “Locations” section. Select your device from the sidebar.
If this is the first time you’re syncing your iPhone or iPad, you’ll be prompted to trust the device. If prompted, click on the “Trust” button on the Mac. Then, on your iPhone or iPad, click the “Trust” button from the prompt and then enter the device passcode.
Once authenticated, you’ll see the device management screen for your iPhone or iPad right in the Finder window. If you’ve used iTunes previously to sync your iOS or iPadOS device, you’ll feel right at home.
To back up your iPhone or iPad, go to the “Backups” section and switch to the “Back Up All the Data on Your iPhone/iPad to This Mac” option.
Then, if needed, choose the “Encrypt Local Backup” option. This ensures all your private data—like health data, passwords, and more—is backed up as well.
If this is the first time you’re doing this, you’ll be prompted to create a password (you can also add this password to your Keychain). Click on the “Set Password” button to save the password.
Click on “Back Up Now” to start the backup process. The progress wheel next to the device name in the sidebar will start spinning.
If at any point you want to stop the backup process, hover over the spinning wheel next to the device name in the sidebar. It will turn into an “X” icon. Click on it to stop the sync process.
To confirm that the backup was completed, take a look at the “Last Backup to This Mac” section.
If you want to restore an old backup on the iPhone or iPad, click on the “Restore Backup” button.
From the popup, select the backup and then click on the “Restore” button to start the process.
To safely eject the iPhone or iPad after the backup or restore process, click on the “Eject” button next to the device name in the sidebar.
Alternatives for Previous macOS Versions
If you’re not running macOS Catalina and you don’t want to use iTunes to back up and restore your iPhone or iPad, you can use a third-party app. A couple of iOS device managers are out there (like dr.fone). We recommend you take a look at iMazing. The app is simple to use and is filled with features you won’t find in Apple’s own backup tool.
Using iMazing, you can individually sync photos, apps, and other data. This is a two-way sync, so you can just as easily export music, photos, or other data from an iPhone or iPad back to the Mac.
iMazing’s free version lets you take unlimited backups for free. But to restore a backup, you’ll need to buy a license for $44.99. Download the iMazing app from the website and once it’s installed, open the app.
Connect your iPhone or iPad to the Mac using a cable and then select your device from the sidebar. From the menu, click on the “Back Up” button.
From the next screen, change the settings and destination folder if needed. Here, click on the “Back Up” button.
Now the backup process will begin. Once the backup is finished, you can go back to the main screen and individually sync photos or music.
To restore a backup, click on the “Restore a Backup” button to start the process. From the next screen, you’ll be able to choose a particular backup.
If you’ve just updated to macOS Catalina, take a look at our list of best features.