How to Sync an iPad With iTunes

Transfer movies, music, and other content to your iPad

watching clips online

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Now that the iPad can be backed up to iCloud, it isn't as important to sync it to a Mac or PC. However, you may want to move files or songs from iTunes on your computer to your iPad. If you have a media library on your computer, move a few selected items at a time to save space on your mobile device by syncing only the music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, or audiobooks you need. Beginning with iTunes 12.7, Apple removed the iOS App Store from iTunes, so apps cannot be synced to iPad using iTunes on a computer.

Instructions in this article apply to iPads running iOS 12 or iOS 11.

Connect Your iPad to Your Computer

Before you sync your iPad with iTunes:

  1. Connect the iPad to a PC or Mac using the cable that came with the device.

  2. Launch iTunes manually if it doesn't open automatically when you connect the iPad.

  3. iTunes automatically syncs the iPad based on the options you set up or the default settings.

  4. If iTunes does not automatically begin the sync process, select File > Devices > Sync to manually sync the iPad.

    Sync menu option in iTunes

If the iPad did not sync automatically, change the settings. Open iTunes, select the iPad icon, go to the Settings pane, and select Summary. Then, go to the Options section and select the Automatically sync when this iPad is connected check box.

Automatically sync when this iPad is connected checkbox in iTunes

How to Sync Music From iTunes to the iPad

Transfer selected music when you sync the iPad by changing the settings in iTunes. This allows you to listen to music on your iPad wherever you go.

  1. Connect the iPad to a PC or Mac, then launch iTunes if it doesn't launch automatically.

  2. In iTunes, go to the top menu bar and choose the iPad icon to open its Summary screen. 

    iPad icon in iTunes
  3. In the Settings pane, select Music.

  4. Select the Sync Music check box, then choose to sync your Entire music library.

  5. If you prefer to specify which music to sync, choose Selected playlists, artists, albums, and genres. Then, go to the Playlists, Artists, Genres, and Albums sections and place a check mark next to the items to sync with the iPad.

  6. Select Done.

    Done button in iTunes

How to Sync Movies From iTunes to the iPad

The iPad is a handy device for watching movies. The process of syncing movies from iTunes is straightforward, but because the files are large, it can take a while to sync. Don't sync your entire movie collection at one time.

  1. Connect the iPad to a PC or Mac, then launch iTunes if it doesn't open automatically.

  2. Select the iPad icon.

  3. Choose Movies.

  4. Select the Sync Movies check box.

  5. Select the Automatically include check box, select the drop-down arrow, then choose all to sync all movies or make a different selection such as 1 most recent or all unwatched.

    1 most recent option in iTunes
  6. To control which movies are synced, clear the Automatically include check box, then select movies from the list that appears. Each movie selection displays how long the movie is and the file size.

    iTunes movie information
  7. After you make your selections, select Apply.

If you are at home, watch movies on your iPad without downloading them from iTunes. Find out how to use home sharing to watch movies.

How to Sync Other Data to the iPad From iTunes

To sync other data, follow the same general steps as when syncing music. Use this method to sync TV shows, podcasts, books, audiobooks, and photos.

  1. Connect the iPad to a PC or Mac, then launch iTunes.

  2. Choose the iPad icon.

  3. In the Settings pane, select the type of media to sync. Choose either TV Shows, Podcasts, Books, Audiobooks, or Photos.

  4. Select the Sync check box for the media type you chose. For example, select the Sync Podcasts check box if you want to sync podcasts.

    Sync podcasts checkbox in iTunes
  5. Select the media files to sync. Sync all files or make individual selections.

  6. Click Apply or Done.

    Done button in Podcast sync screen in iTunes