Sync Your iPhone and iPad in a Few Simple Steps

Use iCloud to keep your devices synced

sync iphone to ipad

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Millions of people have both an iPhone and an iPad, and keeping the information on both devices in sync at all times is important to many of them. After a long work session on your iPad, you don't want to head out the door with your iPhone only to discover the work didn't make it onto your phone. The need to have both devices contain the same data leads many people to look for a way to sync their iPhone and iPad to each other.

In the early days of iPads and iPhones device, you had to physically connect each one to a computer running iTunes and sync them that way, but that was before iCloud. You can't physically connect the two devices, but iCloud keeps them synchronized at all times with no effort after the initial set up.

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

Can't You Sync iPhone Directly to iPad?

If you want to sync your iPhone and iPad in the same way that you'd sync them with your computer — connect the two devices with a cable or connect via W-Fi and move data back and forth between the devices — that's not possible.

There are a couple of reasons for this. Most importantly, 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 come into the picture

The other reason is that no manufacturer makes a cable you can use to connect the two devices.

The Solution: iCloud

If you want to keep all the data on your iPhone and iPad in sync 24/7, the answer is to use Apple's iCloud. The whole point of iCloud is 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 what you need to do to set up iCloud if you haven't done so already:

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

    iPad settings with account and iCloud sections highlighted
  2. Move the sliders next to every category of app and content that you want to sync between the iPhone and iPad to the On/green position. 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 check that 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 sliders 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 vast 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.

Acquiring Additional iCloud Storage Space

The iCloud service is free from Apple, and it comes with 5 GB of storage. The amount of iCloud storage you are using 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 directly in the iCloud settings screen by tapping Manage Storage > Change Storage Plan.

Updating iCloud storage on an iPhone