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How to Sync iPhone Over Wi-Fi

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iphone wi-fi sync

iPhone Wi-Fi Sync in Action, Note the Circular Arrows at the Top

For the first few years of its existence, syncing iPhone meant plugging it into a computer. But, with the introduction of iOS 5, you can forget the cables completely. If you're running iOS 5 or higher, you can sync iPhone over Wi-Fi (the iPod touch and iPad, which can also run iOS 5 and up, can also sync over Wi-Fi). Here's what you need to know to use this feature.

To use Wi-Fi syncing, you need the following:

  • An iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 5 or higher
  • iTunes 10.6 or higher
  • Your iPhone and computer connected to the same Wi-Fi network

 

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: A few minutes

Here's How:

  1. Believe it or not, to sync your iPhone wirelessly, you have to begin by using wires. That's because you need to change a setting in iTunes in order to enable wireless syncing. So, to begin, plug your iPhone or iPod touch into your computer via USB in the traditional way that you'd sync your device.
  2. In the iPhone/iPod management screen that appears as part of the standard syncing process, you'll see the Option box towards the bottom of the screen. In that box, check the Sync with this iPhone over Wi-Fi box. After checking this box, click the Apply button in the bottom right corner to change that setting.
  3. Eject your iPhone or iPod touch by clicking the the up-facing arrow next to the device icon at the top of the iTunes window. Unplug your iPhone or iPod touch from your computer.
  4. With this setting changed and your iPhone no longer connected to your computer, you're ready to sync over Wi-Fi. In order to do this, though, your computer and iPhone or iPod touch will need to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network (for instance, there's no way to be on Wi-Fi at work and sync with your computer at home).
  5. Connect your iPhone or iPod touch to Wi-Fi.
  6. When that's done, tap the Settings app on your home screen. Then tap General. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen and tap iTunes Wi-Fi Sync.
  7. On the iTunes Wi-Fi Sync screen, you'll see the computers you can sync your iPhone or iPod touch with, when it was last synced, and a big Sync Now button. To begin the sync, tap that button.
  8. The button will then change to read Cancel Sync and below it, a status message will appear. When the sync is occurring, the status message will update you on the progress of the sync and two round arrows at the top left of the screen will appear.

Tips:

  1. Syncing iPhone wirelessly is slower than via USB, so if you have a ton of content to sync, you may want to use the traditional method.
  2. 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.
  3. While the iTunes Wi-Fi Sync screen says that you need to be connected to a power source while syncing, that's not technically true. You can sync via Wi-Fi just using your device's battery. However, if your battery is low (say, less than 20%), you'll want to connect to a power source to prevent your battery from draining during the sync.
  4. You can't change your sync settings on your iPhone or iPod touch. That can only be done in iTunes.
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