How to Sync iPhone Over Wi-Fi

Sync to your computer wirelessly using iTunes

An iPhone X on a table
William Hook  / Flickr / CC BY 2.0  

The iPhone makes it easy to do almost anything wirelessly, including syncing your iPhone to your computer. The standard way to sync devices to a computer is to use a USB cable, but by changing just one setting, you can sync your iPhone over Wi-Fi to your computer. Here's what you need to know. 

Information in this article applies to iPhones and other iOS devices running iOS 5 or higher.

To use Wi-Fi syncing between your iPhone and computer, you need:

  • An iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad running iOS 5 or higher. Updating to the latest version is always best.
  • iTunes 10.6 or higher running on your computer. Again, update to the latest version.
  • Your iPhone and computer connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

Syncing iPhone With Computer Over Wi-Fi Setup

To sync your iPhone wirelessly, you need to use a cable — at least once — because you need to change a setting in iTunes to enable wireless syncing for your phone. Do this one time, and you can go wireless every time afterward.

  1. Begin by plugging your iPhone or iPod touch into your computer via USB in the usual wired way that you'd sync your device. If iTunes doesn't open automatically, open it.

  2. In iTunes, go to the iPhone management screen by clicking on the tiny iPhone icon in the top left corner to go to the iPhone's Summary screen.

    iTunes screen on computer
  3. Look for the Options section toward the bottom of the screen. In that box, check Sync with this iPhone over Wi-Fi.

    iPhone Summary screen
  4. Select Apply > Done in the bottom right corner to save the change.

    Saving the Wi-Fi change
  5. Eject the iPhone by clicking the upward-facing arrow next to the iPhone icon in the left panel of iTunes. Then unplug your iPhone from the computer.

    Ejecting the iPhone from iTunes

How to Sync Your iPhone Over Wi-Fi

With that setting changed and your iPhone no longer connected to your computer, you're ready to sync over Wi-Fi. You'll never need to change that setting on the computer again. Follow these steps to sync:

  1. If you're not sure, confirm that your computer and iPhone are connected to the same Wi-Fi network. You can't be on Wi-Fi at work and sync with your computer at home.

  2. Next, tap the Settings app on your iPhone.

  3. Tap General.

  4. Scroll down, then tap iTunes Wi-Fi Sync.

    Confirming Wi-Fi sync on iPhone
  5. The iTunes Wi-Fi Sync screen lists the computers you can sync your iPhone with when it was last synced, and a Sync Now button. Tap Sync Now.

  6. The button changes to read Cancel Sync. Below it, a status message updating you on the progress of the sync appears. A message displays when the sync is complete.

Tips for Syncing iPhone Over Wi-Fi

  • Syncing your iPhone wirelessly is slower than doing it via USB. If you have a ton of content to sync, you may want to use the traditional wired method.
  • You don't have to remember to sync manually. When your iPhone is connected to a power source and is on the same Wi-Fi network as your computer, it syncs automatically.
  • Using Wi-Fi sync, you can sync your phone or iPod Touch to more than one computer, as long as those computers are authorized with the same Apple ID.
  • You can't change the sync settings on your iPhone or iPod Touch. That can only be done in iTunes.

Troubleshooting iPhone Wi-Fi Sync

If you're having problems syncing your iPhone over Wi-Fi, try these fixes:

  • Restart your iPhone. You'd be surprised how many things this can fix. 
  • Confirm that both devices are on the same Wi-Fi network and that your computer isn't in sleep mode.
  • Check your firewall. Depending on your firewall settings, you could be blocking the ways that the iPhone connects to your computer. You want to make sure that the firewall allows connections on TCP ports 123 and 3689 and UDP ports 123 and 5353.

If you can't connect to Wi-Fi in the first place, you can't sync using it. Find out how to fix an iPhone that can't connect to wi-fi.

Syncing iPhone With iCloud

You don't have to sync with a computer or iTunes at all. If you want, you can sync all of your iPhone's data to iCloud. Some people prefer this option. For others who don't have computers, it's the only choice.