Can't Delete iPhone Files With iTunes

By Jen Cordwainer

You can delete iPhone media and backups using your computer's iTunes software.
i Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images

The iTunes software for PCs allows you to manage files that are synced and backed up between your iPhone and computer. However, you might run into trouble deleting these files if your iTunes software is buggy or out of date. Additionally, your iPhone sync settings might need to be changed before you can remove specific types of data, such as music, movies, TV shows and apps.

Check for iTunes Updates

Installing the newest version of iTunes can correct any glitches that might be affecting your current software. If your iTunes software is outdated, it can cause incompatibility issues with your iPhone operating system. Launch iTunes on your computer and navigate to the "Help" menu. Select "Check for Updates." If there is an iTunes update available, install it and restart your computer.

Change Syncing Options

Your iPhone will automatically sync specific files that are defined within your iTunes settings. This can cause deleted iPhone files to reappear on your device after syncing. To customize file syncing and omit certain files, plug your iPhone into your computer with the USB cable. To remove apps from iTunes and prevent them from appearing in your library, click on "Apps" in the sidebar and select an app. Press the "Delete" key and click on "Move to Trash." You can remove music files from your iPhone by clicking on "iPhone" and clicking on the "Music" tab. Uncheck the artists and albums that you wish to remove from your iPhone and press "Apply."

You can uncheck media on the "Movies," "TV Shows, "Podcasts," "iTunes U," "Books," and "Photos" sections to manage and remove unwanted files on your iPhone. Once you have unchecked the media that you wish to remove, click "Apply." Wait until the iTunes progress bar shows that your iPhone sync is complete.

Manually Manage Music

If you are trying to remove individual songs that have been manually added to your iPhone, click on the "Summary" tab. Check off "Manually manage music and videos." Next, select the "Music" tab and scroll down to "Manually Added Songs." Click on a song and press "Remove."

Delete iPhone Backups

You can also delete old iPhone backup files from your computer's hard drive by using iTunes. Open the "Edit" menu and select "Preferences." Click on the "Devices" tab and a list of your previous iPhone backups will appear. Select an iPhone backup file and click "Delete Backup." Keep at least one current backup of your iPhone stored in iTunes; you'll need it in the event of data loss on your iPhone's hard drive.