Enable or Disable Automatic Downloads on Your iPad

You can set your iPad to automatically download content.

If you have a Mac, an iPhone, and an iPad, it's possible you use the same app on multiple devices. One convenient feature of iOS is the ability to automatically download content such as music, books, and apps onto every device logged into the same account.

These instructions apply to devices running iOS 10 or later.

What Are Automatic Downloads?

Automatically downloading content can be a great feature if you own multiple Apple devices because it can keep your content in sync across all—or even some—of them. For example, if you purchase music on your MacBook, that music is also available on your mobile devices.

If you have a family account, you and your family members don't have to individually purchase the same apps, ebooks, music, or digital magazines, and when automatic downloads are on, new purchases will download to these other family devices so they can use them, too.

What Are Some Problems with Automatic Downloads?

However, there can be a downside to having automatic downloads turned on: lack of storage space. If your devices don't have a lot of room, they can quickly fill up with content like music or apps that you won't use on that device.

For example, you may enjoy reading ebooks on your iPad, but using the small screen of your iPhone may not be enjoyable. You'd prefer not to use up storage space with items you're never going to use.

Turning off automatic downloads for some content can save your storage space.

How to Turn Automatic Downloads On or Off on Your iPad

Turning on automatic downloads will download new purchases that you make on other devices.

  1. Open Settings on your iPad.

    How to delete movies from iPad
  2. Tap iTunes & App Store.

    Turn on Automatic App Updates on iPad
  3. On the right panel under Automatic Downloads, tap the switches next to the content that you want to sync across all of your devices.

    Automatic updates on iPad
  4. You can use automatic downloads for a variety of content types: music, apps you download, books and audiobooks, and app updates. You can keep your music synced between devices, for example, but keep your iPhone apps from automatically downloading to your iPad.

You Can Still Download Content You Purchased on Other Devices

Disabling automatic downloads on your iPad or other devices doesn't stop you from downloading that content to another device, however. If you decide you want that book, song, or app you purchased on your iPhone on your iPad, too, you can manually download content purchased on other devices.

Should You Disable Automatic Downloads for Updates?

While it may be useful to turn off automatic downloads to keep your iPad from filling up with apps and music you may not use, the ability to automatically download and install app updates from the App Store is a handy feature to keep enabled.

When this setting is on, you only have to update an app on one of the devices you use it on. For example, if you have YouTube installed on both your iPhone and iPad and Automatic Downloads for updates is on, you won't have to update it both places. Installing the latest version on your iPhone will prompt the iPad to grab the new build without having to go into the App Store to do it manually.