Sync Your iPhone and iPad in a Few Simple Steps

Use iCloud to keep your devices synced

What to Know

  • On each device, go to Settings > iCloud > toggle on the app categories and content you want to sync to iCloud.
  • iCloud works with most Apple including iPhones and iPad and can be accessed on Windows devices and the web.
  • The iCloud service is free and comes with 5GB of storage.

This article explains how to sync your iPhone and iPad using the iCloud service. Instructions apply to iPhones and iPads running iOS 12 or iOS 11.

Can't You Sync iPhone Directly to iPad?

It's not possible to sync your iPhone and iPad in the same way that you sync your iOS devices to your computer (by connecting the two devices with a cable or syncing via Wi-Fi and moving data back and forth between the devices). There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • Apple didn't design the devices or iOS to work that way. One of the fundamental concepts of the way iOS mobile devices manage data is that they access data in the cloud, on the internet, or with stationary computers. That's where a web-based server, cloud storage, or your home computer comes into the picture.
  • No manufacturer makes a cable you can use to connect the two devices.

The Solution: iCloud

If you want to keep the data on your iPhone and iPad in sync, use Apple iCloud to keep all your devices in sync at all times. As long as both your devices connect to the internet and have the same iCloud settings—and you access them using the same Apple ID—they'll stay in sync.

Here's how to set up iCloud:

  1. Open the Settings app on one device, tap your name to open the Apple ID screen, then select iCloud.

    iPad settings with account and iCloud sections highlighted
  2. Turn on the toggle switches next to every category of app and content that you want to sync between the iPhone and iPad. Repeat this process with the second device.

    The settings must be set identically on both devices for the sync to work.

    iCloud settings in iOS with a toggle switch highlighted
  3. Go to Settings > Passwords & Accounts and ensure the email accounts are set up the same on both devices.

    Password & Accounts section in iTunes settings
  4. Go to Settings > iTunes & App Store and turn on automatic downloads for Music, Apps, Books & Audiobooks, and Updates on both devices by moving the toggle switches next to them to the On/green position.

    iTunes & App Store settings in iOS with a toggle switch highlighted

After you set up iCloud on both devices, they'll remain synced. This approach keeps the majority of your information identical across both devices. The iCloud is accessible on iOS, macOS, and Windows devices, and it keeps your data secure when it is in storage and when it is in transit.

Acquire Additional iCloud Storage Space

The iCloud service is free from Apple, and it comes with 5 GB of storage. The amount of iCloud storage used is displayed at the top of the iCloud settings screen. If this isn't enough space for you, or you are nearing your limit, you can purchase 50 GB, 200 GB, or 2 TB plans from Apple beginning at $0.99 per month. Go to the iCloud settings screen and tap Manage Storage > Change Storage Plan.

Manage Storage, Change Storage Plan, and Buy in iCloud for iOS
  • How do I turn off sync between my iPhone and iPad?

    Sign out of your Apple ID on either device to stop syncing between your iPad and iPhone. Alternatively, you can turn off iCloud syncing on a per-app basis in your iPad’s iCloud settings.

  • How do I sync music from my computer to my iPhone?

    To sync music from your computer to your iPhone, connect the iPhone using the USB cable, then open iTunes on the computer. To transfer automatically, select the iPhone icon > Music > Sync Music. To transfer manually, select Summary > Manually manage music and videos.

Was this page helpful?