How to Save Everything on Your iPhone to Your Computer
By Danielle Fernandez
You can configure iTunes to automatically transfer all apps, music, videos, photos, contacts, calendars, bookmarks and notes when you synchronize the device to your computer. The software also facilitates manual file sharing, which means you can also transfer content that's not automatically accessible from within iTunes, such as Keynote files or PDFs. This data transfer completely backs up your iPhone's settings and preferences so that you can quickly restore your device or initialize a new one. Before proceeding, ensure you have the latest version of iTunes installed on your computer; if you do not, download and install it from Apple (link in Resources).
Connect the iPhone to the computer using the iPhone's USB cable. ITunes launches automatically; if it doesn't, open iTunes manually.
Select your iPhone from the list of available devices.
Select the "Info" tab and ensure that your contacts, calendars, emails and bookmarks are checked to be included in the synchronization. Also ensure that iTunes is configured to transfer the data to the appropriate software on your computer. For example, if you use Outlook to manage your address book, select "Microsoft Outlook" from the "Sync Contacts With" drop-down menu.
Access the remaining content tabs -- "Music," "Movies" and "Podcasts," for example -- and ensure that all of your content is set up to transfer with the sync session. For example, click the "Music" tab and ensure that you have the "All Songs and Playlists" option checked and that you have not inadvertently checked the box to "Manually Manage Music."
Authorize the transfer of any content purchased through iTunes by clicking "Store," and then selecting "Authorize Computer." Enter your Apple ID and password when prompted, and then click "Authorize."
Select the "Apps" tab, and then scroll to the File Sharing section at the bottom of the window.
Select an app on the left to view any associated files on the right that are stored on your iPhone. Drag-and-drop files from the Documents list to your computer. Alternately, highlight individual files, select "Save To" at the bottom, and then specify a location to which you would like them saved on your computer.
Click "Apply" or "Sync" to synchronize and completely transfer your iPhone's remaining content to your computer.
- Apple: iOS: How to Transfer or Sync Content to Your Computer
- Apple: iOS: About File Sharing
- Apple: iTunes 11 for Windows: Sync Contacts, Calendars, and Other Info with iPod, iPhone or iPad
- Apple: iTunes Store: Transferring Purchases From Your iOS Device or iPod to a Computer
- Macworld: Get to Know iOS 7: Changes in the Settings App
- Tech Hive: How to Share Files on iOS 7 Using AirDrop
- While the AirDrop feature included with the iOS 7 upgrade allows you to share files with other iOS devices, as of September 2013, it does not support sharing files over Wi-Fi with an AirDrop-enabled Mac computer.
- If you don't see a File Sharing section listed in the Apps tab of iTunes, you don't have any apps installed that support file sharing.
- Some tabs may not appear at the top of the iTunes window if your iPhone does not have the corresponding content in your library. For example, if you do not have podcasts loaded on your iPhone, you will not see a Podcasts tab.
- While working within iTunes, you can also enable Wi-Fi syncing: select the "Summary" tab, and then check the box next to "Sync with this iPhone over Wi-Fi." From this point on, as long as your iPhone and computer are on the same wireless network, your iPhone will appear in iTunes and be available for synchronizing.
- The capacity bar at the bottom of the iTunes Summary tab indicates how much storage space is in use -- and how much you have left -- on your iPhone.
- You can enable iCloud backup on your iPhone and computer, but it only synchronizes your apps, music, videos, photos, contacts, calendars, bookmarks and notes. To transfer the other content -- like your word processing documents or PDFs -- you have to utilize File Sharing in iTunes.
- Deleting an app that enables File Sharing also deletes its related files on the device. To avoid losing these shared files, copy them to your computer before you delete the application from your iPhone.
- Information in this article applies to iTunes 11.1 and iPhones running iOS 6 or iOS 7. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions or products.
Based in Tampa, Fla., Danielle Fernandez been writing, editing and illustrating all things technology, lifestyle and education since 1999. Her work has appeared in the Tampa Tribune, Working Mother magazine, and a variety of technical publications, including BICSI's "Telecommunications Distribution Methods Manual." Fernandez holds a bachelor's degree in English from the University of South Florida.