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Why won't my iPhone sync with iTunes?

So you’re having problems with getting your iPhone to sync properly with iTunes? It happens to the best of us, don't worry. Here’s a quick and easy guide to help you troubleshoot this frustrating issue and get your iPhone to sync with no hassle.

Why wont my iPhone sync with iTunes?

The first thing to bear in mind is that in the overwhelming majority of cases, the issue doesn't lie with the iPhone, but usually with iTunes itself. This is why there is very little listed below regarding the device, but lots about the computer you're connecting it to!

Also while this guide is ostensibly all about iPhone sync issues, the same principles apply to both iPod Touch, and iPad too.

Check the connections

Before going any further, you need to make sure that there are no issues with connecting the phone to your computer in the first place.

Check there is no damage to your iPhone's charging port - physical and water damage can stop your iPhone from connecting to, and maintaining a connection with, your computer. Also check that your PCs USB socket isn’t damaged by connecting the lead into a different USB port. If you can use a different cable as well, this will help ensure that the problem is not one of physical connectivity.

Update iTunes

Make sure iTunes is fully up-to-date. iTunes will usually check for updates when opened, but you can force a check through the program's menus:

  • On a PC, on the iTunes menu bar click Help then click Check for updates. If the menu bar isn't visible, press Ctrl+B to enable this
  • On a Mac, on the Menu bar click the Apple symbol, and click Software Update

If an update is available, make sure that your iPhone is NOT connected to the computer, before installing the update and restarting your computer.

Check your credentials

Check your computer is signed into iTunes and authorised. To do this, open iTunes, select Store and then Sign in to log into your iTunes account. When you're logged in, select Store from the menu bar and then select Authorise this computer, signing in again when requested, to authorise.

Check the sync settings

It is important to remember that iTunes sync is a one-way process of moving data from your computer to your portable device, with the exception of contacts (where selected). Also, iTunes won't sync with certain types of content stored on your iPhone unless you tell it to.

Once you’ve hooked up the iPhone, and iTunes can see the handset, click on the phone's name and you’ll be presented with a Summary page for the device. Along the top of this page you can see headings for each type of content that can be sync'd. Clicking on each of these in turn bring you all of your sync options up.

Info, for example, will show sync options for Contacts, Calendars, Mail, Notes and more. Make sure that the boxes are ticked for the data that you want to sync.

Clicking Music allows you to select some, or all, of your iTunes library of music; Photos allows you to sync from a folder on your PC to your iPhone, and so on.

Reset sync settings

Important: This is a somewhat more technical fix for aWindows PC. Please try this only if you are technically competent! If not, come into see us at a Carphone Warehouse store and we'll help you, or call our UK freephone number for 24/7 assistance.

You can completely reset your sync settings, without destroying any of your data, by performing the following actions:

  1. Disconnect your iPhone and then close iTunes.
  2. Reboot the PC. When it restarts, do not open iTunes.
  3. Open Task Manager (Ctrl + Shift + Escape) and kill all Apple processes (Bonjour, SyncServices, iCloud, iTunes, iTunesHelper, MobileDeviceService, anything starting with Apple).
  4. Either open a Run box (Windows+R) and in the box enter %appdata% and click OK, or in Windows Explorer, Browse to C:\Users\(username)\AppData\Roaming. (The AppData folder is hidden, so you will need to enable viewing of hidden folders)
  5. Once in the Roaming folder, go into the AppleComputer folder.
  6. Rename the folder “SyncServices” to “OldSyncServices” (Don't delete it in case something goes wrong, and you then have the old folder to rename back).
  7. Reconnect your iPhone and reopen iTunes.

Again, I need to stress that you should only attempt this if you feel confident in your technical ability, if not you can always ask an Agent to perform this.

Reinstall iTunes

When reinstalling iTunes to help fix sync settings, you need to make sure you follow these instructions in order - if you don’t do it in this order, there is a chance it will not fix the issue.

On a Windows PC, uninstall programs in this order:

  1. iTunes.
  2. QuickTime (XP only).
  3. Apple Software Update.
  4. Apple Mobile Device Support.
  5. Bonjour.
  6. Apple Application Support.

On a Mac, it's much simpler, as the support functions that Windows uses are built into OSX:

  1. Open the Applications folder.
  2. Delete iTunes by dragging it into the Trash.

Once you have done this, re-start your computer. When it has rebooted, you can re-install iTunes directly from the Apple website.

Restore the iPhone

Important: Before restoring your iPhone, try to ensure you've backed up your data. iCloud is the preferred method simply because it does not require the device being physically connected to the computer. If you can't do this, be aware that you may lose any new content added to your iPhone since the last sync with your computer.

To restore your iPhone, connect the iPhone to your computer, and in iTunes click on the name of the phone to open its summary page. Once this opens there should be a Restore button. Click this and it will completely wipe the phone, update and restart it.


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