How to Transfer Apps From an iPhone to iPad

The iCloud makes it easy to move apps to your iPad

If you've purchased a large number of apps on your iPhone, you may be wondering what will happen when you add an iPad to your home or office. The iPhone and the iPad both run versions of iOS, which is Apple's operating system designed for mobile devices. The tablet's operating system changed its name to iPadOS 13, rather than iOS 13, but it still shares much in common with the iPhone system.

Most apps at the App Store are compatible with both the iPhone and the iPad. 

Instructions in this article apply to devices running iPadOS 13 or iOS 13 through iOS 8.

Types of Apps in the App Store

When it comes to compatibility, three kinds of apps are available in the App Store:

  • Universal: These work on both the iPhone and the iPad. When running on an iPad, universal apps conform to the larger screen. Often, this means a different interface than on the iPhone. 
  • iPhone-Only: A few apps are designed specifically for the iPhone, especially older ones. These can still run on the iPad. However, they run in iPhone compatibility mode, which enlarges the iPhone app somewhat. 
  • Phone-Specific: Finally, some apps use unique features of the iPhone, such as the ability to place phone calls. These are unavailable to the iPad even in compatibility mode.

How to Copy iPhone Apps When Setting Up Your iPad

If you're buying your first iPad, the best way to transfer apps to it is during the setup process. To bring over apps from your iPhone, create a backup before you set up the tablet. Next, during the setup of the iPad, choose to restore from the backup you made of the iPhone.

The restore function during the setup process doesn't actually copy the apps from the backup file. Instead, it downloads them again from the App Store. This process keeps you from needing to manually download the app.

How to Copy an iPhone App to the iPad Without Restoring

If you aren't setting up a new iPad, you need to download the app from the App Store manually.

It's free to download an app to multiple devices as long as those devices are registered to the same Apple ID. If the app is universal, it will run great on the iPad. If the app has an iPhone version and a specific iPad version, you can still download the iPhone version to your iPad. 

  1. Open the App Store on the iPad (or iPhone) by tapping its icon.

    The App Store app on an iPad
  2. On the Today tab, tap your picture.

    Tap your profile picture on the Today tab
  3. Tap Purchased.

    Account page in App Store on iPad
  4. If you're using Family Sharing, tap a name on the next screen to pull up the apps that Apple ID has purchased.

  5. Tap Not on this iPad to restrict the results to apps you don't already have installed.

    Not on this iPad button in App Store
  6. Scroll down or use the search bar to locate the app you want to install.

  7. Tap the Download icon (it looks like a cloud) to install an app from the list.

If you want all future purchases (including free apps) on your iPad or iPhone to automatically download to your other device, go to Settings > iTunes & App Stores. In the Automatic Downloads section, move the slider next to Apps to the On/green position on both the iPhone and iPad.

What If I Still Can't Find the App?

Unfortunately, there are still a few iPhone-only apps out there. Most of these are old, but there are still a few newer and useful apps that only work on the iPhone. The most popular of these is the WhatsApp Messenger. WhatsApp uses SMS to send text messages, and because the iPad only supports iMessage and similar text messaging apps rather than SMS, WhatsApp won't run on the iPad.