iOS 5: iPhone, iPad Wi-Fi Syncing

| TMO Quick Tip

With the release of iOS 5 and iTunes 10.5, Apple finally gave iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users a feature they’ve been clamoring for for years: Wi-Fi syncing. The feature is disabled by default, but it’s easy to activate and lets you cut yet another wire out of your mobile routine.

iTunes Summary tabYou’ll find the Wi-Fi sync option under the iTunes Summary tab

First, make sure you have iTunes 10.5 installed on your computer, and iOS 5 installed on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. To enable Wi-Fi syncing, do this:

  • Launch iTunes 10.5.
  • Connect your iOS device to your computer with a USB dock cable.
  • Select your iOS device in the Library column on the left side of the iTunes window, then click the Summary tab.
  • Now scroll to the bottom of the Summary view and check Sync with this iPhone over Wi-Fi. Of course, if you connect an iPad or iPod touch, iTunes will list that device instead.

iTunes Wi-Fi sync settingWith Wi-Fi syncing enabled you don’t need to connect iOS devices via USB 

Once Wi-Fi syncing is enabled, you don’t need to connect your iOS device to your computer to perform sync operations any more. Backups and syncing will happen only when your iOS device is connected to a power source, so you don’t have to worry about accidentally draining your battery when you need it most.

iTunes keeps track of Wi-Fi sync settings per device, so you’ll need to enable the feature for each device you plan on syncing wirelessly.

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Comments

Rick

Jeff,

I am trying to figure out if this happens automatically at some regular interval when plugged in and connected to WiFI or does it need to be self-initiated any time I want to sync?  Any thoughts?

Thanks for the post.

Brian Pattison

It doesn’t seem to happen on at a regular interval. Not that I’ve found anyway. I personally created a cron job that runs AppleScript to sync at 7am every day.

And your device doesn’t need to be connected to a power source to sync via WiFi.

Steven

It may not automatically sync while not connected to a power source, but with the phone in the my pocket, if I click sync in iTunes, the phone will sync.

1stplacemacuser

It may not automatically sync while not connected to a power source, but with the phone in the my pocket, if I click sync in iTunes, the phone will sync.

Steven, where are you clicking sync on iTunes?  Is it on the phone or the Mac’s iTunes app?  And would it sync if the iTunes on the Mac is quitted, does it still sync?  I generally don’t have the iTunes app opened.  But would like to auto sync addresses and calendar events as they’re often updated.  Lastly, where on the computer does Notes memos go to?  Seems to me Mail.app, but might go somewhere else?

Steven

where are you clicking sync on iTunes?? Is it on the phone or the Mac?s iTunes app?

Clicking in iTunes on the Mac, click on your phone under devices, and click the “Sync” button

I generally don?t have the iTunes app opened.  But would like to auto sync addresses and calendar events as they?re often updated.

you can sync your address book and calendar via iCloud, that doesn’t require iTunes at all, it’ll also push new events and contacts to your phone.

quote author=“1stplacemacuser” date=“1318547707”] Lastly, where on the computer does Notes memos go to?  Seems to me Mail.app, but might go somewhere else?

The Synced notes show up in Mail.app on your mac, they can also be synced to all your devices and Mac via iCloud

1stplacemacuser

1stplacemacuser said:

where are you clicking sync on iTunes?? Is it on the phone or the Mac?s iTunes app?

Clicking in iTunes on the Mac, click on your phone under devices, and click the ?Sync? button

Except you said that while your phone is in your pocket, which led me to believe that the phone isn’t tethered to the computer.

1stplacemacuser said:

I generally don?t have the iTunes app opened.? But would like to auto sync addresses and calendar events as they?re often updated.

you can sync your address book and calendar via iCloud, that doesn?t require iTunes at all, it?ll also push new events and contacts to your phone.

That’s good to know!

Steven

Except you said that while your phone is in your pocket, which led me to believe that the phone isn?t tethered to the computer.

If you set up Wi-Fi syncing like it tells you in this article, your phone will always be in the Devices section of iTunes. Even when not tethered.

1stplacemacuser

Under iTunes.app’s preferences?  It’s not in the Library column or indicated anywhere else.

Steven

Under iTunes.app?s preferences?? It?s not in the Library column or indicated anywhere else.

Literally follow the direction at the top of this page. Has pictures and everything.

1stplacemacuser

Except the above directions and pictures assume the device is PLUGGED IN with a USB cable.

Steven

Your have to set up wireless sync by plugging your phone in the first time.

1stplacemacuser

Yes, I followed the directions.  Still no sign of the device on the iTunes library after I’ve unplugged it.

Did you follow directions and see a device in the library column after unplugging?  Maybe I double clicked the sync-by-wifi button or something.

Russ Tolman

I got it to work doing the following; which is probably assumed.

I plugged in my iphone 3gs; slected sync over wifi; then clicked apply; then I synced.

It worked with both my iphone and my ipad.

I just clicked on sync on both and it appears to sync.

I will need to do some more testing to see.

thanks for hints about what to try.

Craig Beeman

Ok, if i sync my calendar to the cloud will i lose Google calendar syncing to it? Is says something about closing or stopping server based calendars if I sync my calendar to the cloud. anyone know?

wab95

Excellent tip.

Many thanks, Jeff.

Shawn

I’m having trouble with the new iPad/iTunes wifi sync. I’ve been able to set it up just fine, but now iTunes will periodically try to “Set up your iPad” even when the iPad is untethered and not plugged into a power source. The iPad itself seems fine (doesn’t say it’s in the middle of a sync). It’s unclear what would happen if I let iTunes continue with the setup (delete my backups? Wipe the iPad?). I can eject the ghost iPad, but it will just pop back up after a minute or so. Is anyone else seeing this? Any advice on how to make this behavior stop?

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