Sync Your iPhone, iPad or iPod Without iTunes In Catalina

The iTunes app is gone. So how do you sync your iPhone, iPad or iPod? If you are still using a cable or Wi-Fi to sync your devices and not iCloud, you can still do it in macOS Catalina. That functionality has simply mostly moved to the Finder. You can sync music, movies, photos, books and other things this way. Ringtones is tricky, but you can still put custom ringtones on your iPhone. Even older iPods are supported by Catalina.

Comments: 69 Responses to “Sync Your iPhone, iPad or iPod Without iTunes In Catalina”

    Barry Young
    2 months ago

    Sorry Gary but on my version of Catalina, this does not work. If I want to see my iPhone6 or my iPod Air I have to go through Music or Photo’s to have them show up. The FINDER does NOT show them in the list as you described.

    2 months ago

    Barry: What version of iOS are you using on those devices? Are you sure you have expanded “Locations” in the Finder sidebar?

    joe juliano
    2 months ago

    This video on syncing iOS to new macOS is moving too fast through things that are not unfamiliar but unfamiliar a the same time. I am hoping the Guide to macOS Catalina moves a bit slower to give me time to digest your excellent knowledge.

    David Mackay
    2 months ago

    Thanks Gary – one question, in iTunes we had preferences and under this there was the Advanced button where, among other things you could change the path to the iTunes Media folder.

    This is quite useful to me because I only have a 500GB drive on my iMac, so I keep all data on external drives (especially my music & photo files) – how do we locate this in Catalina, or make changes if necessary

    Thanks

    David

    2 months ago

    joe: I don’t cover iOS syncing in that course since it isn’t strictly macOS-related (requires an iOS device). You can always pause the video here to take it more slowly. I always let me enthusiasm show through on these videos.

    2 months ago

    David: That path option is the same and is in the Music and TV apps, but not the Books app.

    Eric McMillan
    2 months ago

    I am like others Gary. Running Catalina on my MacBook Pro – 2013 with iOS 13.1.2 on my iPhone 6s. I cannot access my phone via Finder for love nor money. I have tried all I know. However I can bring it up via the Music app as shown first in your video. Is there a way I can make a link or am I stuck with this because on my dated hardware?
    Thanks – Eric

    2 months ago

    Eric: If you are running the OSes then hardware is not the issue. Are you connected via a cable? Does anything show up under Locations at all in the Finder sidebar?

    Eric McMillan
    2 months ago

    I connect via usb. The only thing in Locations is MacBookPro and Network..

    2 months ago

    Eric: How about in Finder, Preferences, Sidebar. Perhaps you have CDs, DVDs and iOS Devices unchecked?

    Cheryl Flaming
    2 months ago

    Gary, I too cannot see my iPhone XS on the sidebar. I am on the latest Catalina and IOS 13.1.2 is there something else I need to do to get it to show up in the Finder Sidebar? I have rebooted both the computer (MacBook Pro 13-inch, 2018) and my iPhone to no avail. Suggestions?

    2 months ago

    Cheryl: Do you see them elsewhere, though? Such as in the Music app? If so, did you check Finder, Preferences, Sidebar to see if you have CDs, DVDs and iOS Devices unchecked?

    Eric McMillan
    2 months ago

    Yes they were unchecked in Preferences Gary. Now checked and all working as it is supposed to. I never stop learning about my ‘puter even if we both have a few years up. Thank you very much.

    Craig Miller
    2 months ago

    This update is missing features that I used all the time
    *The sync information when syncing iOS devices now in Finder, e.g number of files syncing, title etc.
    *The Column Browser view is sadly missed in both apps.
    Also, TV app is showing “music” related metadata (artist/album) in the “Devices” screen, NOT tv/movie metadata (Ep name/ID etc). Maybe this is fixed later?

    Mark
    2 months ago

    Hey hello! I manage music manually from my Macboon air to my iPhone 11… I wanna know how can I select and delete many of the songs I have in my phone…. cause I can’t do it through my Mac Music App… how can I do it??! Thanks

    2 months ago

    Mark: You do it through the Music app. In the Music app select the iPhone from Devices on the left. Then you should see a list of songs that were manually put on it. Then select and delete any song you see in the list. Note this only works if you have selected “Manually manage music, movies, and TV shows” in the General settings for this device in the Finder.

    Mark
    2 months ago

    Thanks Gary! I actually have selected “Manually manage music, movies, and TV shows” but if I select my device from the left list I can see the all songs inside my iPhone but I can’t manage or delete. I can select any song but I’m trying to open the window to select and I can’t… thanks!!!

    2 months ago

    Mark: Not sure what you mean by “I can select any song but I’m trying to open the window to select and I can’t.” If you can select the song, then just press the Delete key to delete that song.

    Mark
    2 months ago

    Sorry for my English… I mean I can see the list of the songs inside my iPhone, but if I am trying to select one or two songs I can do it but when I try to make click on the right button to select delete there’s no answer… and above window the title delete is on gray colour

    2 months ago

    Mark: Oh, I thought you were talking about deleting songs from your iPhone using the Music app on your Mac. That’s where you add them, so that’s where you have to delete them.

    Nicholas Manno
    2 months ago

    Hey Gary, I have installed Catalina and I have checked all the boxes you mentioned above. My iPhone X does not show in Finder/Locations on my MBPro 2019. I am using a j5Create Tbolt adapter’s USB port to connect my phone to my MBP. Help…please.

    2 months ago

    Nicholas: Hard for me to guess what could be wrong. So you don’t see it in either Music or the Finder? Then I would suspect the cable.

    Mark
    2 months ago

    Yeah I am talking to delete some songs from my iPhone using MacBook music App. When I go to left side and select device iPhone, I can see the list of songs inside de device but I can’t manage… I don’t know what to do, cause the only way to delete songs now is using iPhone settings or Music app in the iPhone

    Joachim Slikker
    2 months ago

    So, if I want to add one new song to my iphone, I MUST have a copy off all the songs already synced to my iPhone on my Mac HDD to be able to add that new song. Or else all the song NOT on my local Mac HDD will be removed from my iPhone when i sync, now that is just insane…

    Jeff
    2 months ago

    Hi Gary, I’m doing everything OK with syncing via cable to my Mac. All software updated. One question, how do I import new photo’s on my phone or iPad to my Mac?

    Eric Barnes
    2 months ago

    Gary, does this transformation from iTunes to Music App carry over all existing settings that we previously made in iTunes? Or should I screen shot ever setting I not only made in iTunes but also everything I can think of in Mojave’s settings too? I absolutely hate the fact the some settings either don’t get carried over or are just plain reset when we upgrade. It takes me forever to get settings back to the way I had things. Never happens w/incremental upgrades, but does w/new OS. Stinks!

    2 months ago

    Mark: Did you try to select a song then press the Delete key on your keyboard. That works for me as long as I have it set to “Manage manually…”

    2 months ago

    Joachim: That is kinda true the first time if you are switching from a regular sync to a manual sync. It starts you fresh and you need to put the songs you want on your device. But after that you can add and remove songs one-by-one if you like.

    2 months ago

    Jeff: Nothing has changed there. You can import in the Photos app, in Image Capture, or using iCloud Photos Library. It is the same as it was before Catalina.

    2 months ago

    Eric: It brings over settings, but I’m not sure how complete it is. In general, if a setting affects the same things in both version of macOS, then it should carry over. But if something has changed about how that item works between the two systems, then you may get the default settings since the old setting doesn’t translate to the new functionality.

    Christopher Carr
    2 months ago

    Hi, Gary! Do you know is there a way to edit playlists for an iPod? I just connected my iPod to Music and all I see is the list of songs, but no playlists. Thank you!

    2 months ago

    Christopher: I would imagine you need to sync using the non-Manual settings, then select the playlists you wish to sync. But as I don’t use an iPod on a regular basis, I haven’t tried it.

    Andy Ewbank
    2 months ago

    So with iTunes I could manually pick podcasts individually from a feed and drag-and-drop them into my iPod Nano. That ability seems to be gone now with the Podcasts app. I don’t want to do a global sync that deletes everything already on my device, just remove the played podcasts and add new ones episode by episode. Is that ability gone now?

    2 months ago

    Andy: Looks like the ability to manually manage podcast episodes with old iPod devices is gone. You’ll have to use the regular sync now.

    Ray
    2 months ago

    So I have a classic Ipod (160GB) and when I connect to my Mac, I cannot see my four playlists inside my Ipod, neither in Music or Finder. I understand you commented to Christopher Carr about this, but not sure if you have figured this out since yesterday or not. Thanks.

    2 months ago

    Ray: I think you are just going to have to switch to the regular sync, not the manual sync, to use these older iPods with Catalina.

    Mark
    2 months ago

    Gary: thank you so much! Problem erased! Hahahahaha thank you for your patience!

    Charles
    2 months ago

    I can’t think of a practical use for the Files functionality in Catalina’s new Finder/iPhone setup. Does this add something useful that I am overlooking?

    2 months ago

    Charles: Well, I use it to grab massive 4K video files from a 4K camera app that I use. These files are usually a few gigs in size and transferring via any other method is slower. It allows you to manage documents used by some apps, and for some apps it is the only way to transfer between the phone and Mac.

    Emma
    2 months ago

    Hi Gary! Everything works for me, except… that I can’t sync some tunes that I created with the RINGTONES app. I can see the app in the apps list, then I can open the app and see the tunes list, but there’s no way to sync them. They don’t appear in my cell after I click on the “synchronize” button… I you guys have an idea! Thanks for sharing Gary!

    2 months ago

    Emma: Who makes this app? Have you contacted them to ask?

    C Wright
    2 months ago

    This latest Catalina IOS is a disaster for syncing iPhoto to an iPad. Apple need to sort it urgently because it is totally unacceptable in its present form. Several others seem to have a similar issue. Most annoying.

    Evan Burroughs
    2 months ago

    I cannot sync either my old iPod nano or iPod Classic in the Catalina era Music app. “Loading” goes on forever and nothing else. Using Finder, the same results, a spinning wheel. Are these music players now throwaway obsolete according to post-Jobs-era Apple?

    2 months ago

    Evan: I can sync my 5th and 6th generation iPad nano, so what you are experiencing isn’t obsolescence, but a issue perhaps with your devices, cable or Mac.

    Rick
    2 months ago

    I have an iPod classic that won’t sync with Catelina. It keeps saying the audiobooks aren’t authorized for my Mac yet I had them on that device with no trouble from audible for over a year now. I’ve deleted and renowned those and also re authorized my iMac but the iPad classic keeps refusing to accept the majority of my audiobooks. I can play those audiobooks just fine from the books app on my iMac.

    Tomas
    2 months ago

    I have an iPod Classic 7th Gen without songs, totally empty. When I connect it to my MacBook Pro with Catalina, I see it in Finder, but I cannot relate any action because the screen that allows me to synchronize or restore the iPod never appears. What’s going on?

    2 months ago

    Tomas: Try things. Try restarting both devices. Use a different cable. Avoid any adapters/hubs. If it still doesn’t work, Genius Bar.

    Chinedu Obinwa
    2 months ago

    Hi Gary, the issue i have is that the after putting my passcode on my phone to ‘trust’ my mac, it syncs for forever. If i leave the phone there for another year it continues thus. Sometimes it disappears entirely from the sidebar. I just want my playlist on my macbook air on my phone, thats all.

    thanks

    2 months ago

    Chinedu: See my message to Tomas above yours.

    D Jack
    2 months ago

    iPod shuffle

    You wrote the solution to my problem “check Finder, Preferences, Sidebar to see if you have CDs, DVDs and iOS Devices unchecked”
    Thank you very much

    Charles
    1 month ago

    I would like to be able to occasionally go into General and switch to Manual Sync to deal with one or two items, a video perhaps, but I am terrified that the act of choosing Manual will delete all the music that is on the iPhone. Is it safe to switch to Manually Manage to perform that kind of act AS LONG AS I DON’T CHOOSE TO SYNC, i.e., change to manual, move a video, change back to automatic, and then choose Apply or Sync?

    1 month ago

    Charles: No. If you switch from regular sync to manual sync and sync, it will erase all media like it says. If you want to add one or two items, add them to the regular sync and sync. Or, add them to a playlist that is already included and sync.

    Jane
    1 month ago

    I have updated all of my devices and Mac to Catalina all devices are are only 2 years old or less I have cds, dvds and iOS checked but neither my phone nor my pad show up in finder I have rebooted all of them still no luck

    Andi
    1 month ago

    Gary, I have mp3 files on my iPod classic that I added to iTunes. Converted YouTube music files, and mp3 files of music I purchased from other websites, including Amazon. Will these still be available in Catalina?

    1 month ago

    Andi: I have many mp3 files I created myself and ones I downloaded from other sources, like directly from band websites, Amazon, eMusic (RIP) and others. There was no problem for me.

    Donato
    1 month ago

    Hi Gary, nice video. I am experiencing the same problem that some have had so far with the iPods. If I want to add just one album, should I do the “regular” sync? Did I understand right? Yesterday I made the mistake of choosing “manual sync” (I though the manual would erase all the music), I lost +80GB of music. I do not keep music on the Mac, I use it just as a tool to transfer music to the iPod. Having a ton of music on my external HDD, I don’t want to fill the Mac with music…

    1 month ago

    Donato: Keeping music on an external drive is the way a lot of people do it. So you didn’t really lose any music, right? Just use regular sync from your Mac (includes external drive) to your iPod. Change what gets synced and re-sync when you want to add something.

    Donato
    1 month ago

    Hi Gary and thanks for the reply. No I didn’t loose any music from the external HDD. What I do everytime is I copy the album on the app (Music now, iTunes back in the days), I fix the metadata (covers, song info) to make sure each album is one whole “unit”, then I transfer the music to the iPod. Then I remove the album from the Mac. However, I will try what you suggested. Fingers crossed. Again, thank you! 😊

    1 month ago

    Donato: Why do you remove the album? Just set the Music app to NOT “Copy Files to Music Media…” in Preferences. Then add ALL of your music to the Music app. Organize, etc. Select what you want to sync and sync. No need to remove the music from the Music app afterwards.

    CD
    4 weeks ago

    I can not open iTunes “because it is being updated”- running a 2011 w/ High Sierra 10.13.6. This is as far as it lets me upgrade- since I can not upgrade to Catalina, how do I get finder to recognize my iPhone6s+ to transfer/ clean off files?

    4 weeks ago

    CD: It should work as before, but if iTunes can’t be opened, and a restart won’t help, then you may need to visit the Genius Bar.

    Felipe
    2 weeks ago

    How do I unsync (english is not my native idiom.. so is this word right?) ONLY ONE song? I can’t delete the song directly from Music and syncing using the Finder I can select albuns or bands, but not songs.
    Thank you!

    2 weeks ago

    Felipe: You can sync artists, albums, genres or playlists. So if the song is a part of one of an album, artist or genre that you have set to sync, then you can’t just unsync the song. So instead, sync only playlists. Then make one (or more) playlists with the songs you want and sync those. To remove any one song, remove it from the playlists you have synced.

    Jason York
    2 weeks ago

    I have an iPod nano 5th GEN I believe, and the audiobooks are not showing up in the finder for this device. The music, movies, tv shows, and even podcasts show up but nothing in audiobooks. Same with my iPhone XS.

    Carolyn Kelly
    6 days ago

    Gary, I have and iPod nano 5th gen & one 7th gen. I want to upgrade to Catalina, but really like my nanos. I called Apple to make sure they were compatible. I was told they are not so am afraid to upgrade. Any advice?

    6 days ago

    Carolyn: Watch the video and I’m using a 5th and 6th gen.

    Carolyn Kelly
    3 days ago

    I did watch it, but have also been aware of all the remarks about it actually loading. I saw the “spinning” wheel as you were connected. Were you able to actually play podcasts or music on the device after you updated? In other words, did it actually work as before?

    3 days ago

    Carolyn: It loaded and played fine for me.

    Carolyn Kelly
    2 days ago

    Many thanks Gary for your responses. I truly appreciate it. I have the confidence now to upgrade my computer.

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