How to Back up an iPhone to a MacBook

Connect your iPhone to your MacBook without iCloud

What to Know

  • Connect iPhone to Mac: Open Finder, go to your iPhone. Select Back up all of the data on your iPhone to this Mac.
  • To back up your iPhone to your Mac over Wi-Fi, select Show this iPhone when on Wi-Fi and click Apply.
  • Check if iPhone is connected: Apple Menu, hold Option key and select System Information, and locating iPhone under USB.

This article will teach you how to connect your iPhone to your MacBook and begin the backup process.

How Do I Back up My iPhone to My MacBook Without iCloud?

There are several ways to back up your iPhone photos, videos, and other files. But if you’d rather safeguard your information on a local drive rather than use iCloud, backing up your iPhone to a MacBook is a good way to do so.

To back up your iPhone to your MacBook without using iCloud, you’ll need to connect the two devices directly using a USB cable or adapter. You’ll also need to make sure your MacBook is running macOS X 10.9 or later.

  1. Connect iPhone to your MacBook with a cable.

    • If your iPhone came with a Lightning to USB Cable, you’ll need either a USB-C to USB Adapter or a USB-C to Lightning Cable (both sold separately).
    • If your iPhone came with a USB-C to Lightning Cable but your MacBook doesn’t have USB-C ports, use a Lightning to USB Cable (sold separately).
  2. If this is your first time connecting your iPhone to your MacBook, you may be prompted to install a software update. Click Install.

    MacBook screen with Install highlighted in connection message
  3. Open Finder. You should see your iPhone in the sidebar. Click Trust to begin sync (you’ll need to perform the same action on your iPhone).

    Trust device highlighted in MacBook Finder.
  4. Click General at the top of the Finder window.

    General tab highlighted under iPhone connection on MacBook.
  5. Select Back up all of the data on your iPhone to this Mac.

    Back up all data message highlighted in Finder

    To encrypt your backup data, select Encrypt local backup and create a password.

  6. Click Back Up Now.

    Back Up Now highlighted in iPhone backup on Mac.

How to Back up Your iPhone to Your MacBook Using Wi-Fi

Once you’ve successfully set up syncing between your MacBook and iPhone, you can turn on Wi-Fi syncing so you don’t need to connect the two devices with a wired connection in the future.

macOS 10.15 or later is required to turn on Wi-Fi syncing in Finder. If you’re using an earlier version of macOS, you’ll need to backup with iTunes.

  1. Select your iPhone in Finder and click General.

    General highlighted in iPhone Finder window on MacBook
  2. Scroll down to Options and select Show this iPhone when on Wi-Fi.

    Show this iPhone when on Wi-Fi highlighted in Mac iPhone settings.
  3. Click Apply.

    Apply highlighted in iPhone settings on Mac.
  4. You should now see your iPhone in your MacBook’s Finder app whenever both devices are on the same Wi-Fi network.

Why Can't I Back up My iPhone to My MacBook?

If you can’t get your iPhone to backup to your MacBook, there are several troubleshooting steps you can take to try and fix the problem:

  • Make sure your MacBook and iPhone are up to date: Check for software updates and ensure your MacBook and iPhone are running at least macOS X 10.9 and iOS 5, respectively.
  • Make sure your iPhone is turned on: Your iPhone needs to be unlocked and on the Home screen in order for your MacBook to recognize it.
  • Accept “Trust this Computer” alerts: The first time you connect your MacBook and iPhone, you’ll need to accept this prompt on both devices.
  • Try a different USB port: The USB port on your MacBook may be faulty, so be sure to try a different port if you can’t get your iPhone to connect. You can also try unplugging other USB accessories or use a different cable.
  • Restart your MacBook and/or iPhone.

You can also check to see if your MacBook is detecting your iPhone using the following steps:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your MacBook, unlock it, and open the Home screen.

  2. Open the Apple Menu and hold down the Option key. Click System Information (Where About This Mac usually is).

  3. Scroll through the list on the left and select USB.

    USB highlighted under MacBook System Information.
  4. Look for iPhone under USB Device Tree. If you don’t see it, contact Apple Support for further assistance. 

    iPhone highlighted under USB Device Tree on MacBook.
FAQ
  • How do I back up an iPhone to iCloud?

    To back up your iPhone using iCloud, open the Settings app, tap your name, then select iCloud > iCloud Backup. Toggle on iCloud Backup to automatically back up your data to iCloud. To back up to iCloud manually, tap Back Up Now.

  • How do I back up an iPhone to a PC?

    To back up your iPhone to a Windows PC, open iTunes on your PC and connect your iPhone to the computer via a USB cable. You may be prompted to select Trust This Computer or enter your passcode. Select your device in iTunes, click Summary, then select Back Up Now.

  • How do I back up an iPhone to an external hard drive?

    To back up an iPhone to an external hard drive, find your current backup by going to Finder > Locations > Manage Backups. Hold Control, select your backup folder, then choose Show in Finder. Once you've located the backup folder, drag it to the external hard drive listed under Locations.

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