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Grow Your Business Technology

How to Sync and Transfer Files From an iPhone to Your PC

How to Sync and Transfer Files From an iPhone to Your PC
Credit: Phone image via Shutterstock

As simple as it is to use the iPhone, managing content between an iPhone and a PC can be a surprisingly challenging and frustrating task. Here's how you can tackle it without wanting to throw your phone against the wall.

The easiest way is to use Apple's iCloud, which gives you 5GB of free storage for photos, videos, documents, apps and data and will keep all your devices up to date automatically.

  1. Make sure your iPhone is running the latest version of iOS. To check, go to the Settings menu. Tap General > Software Update.
  2. Turn on iCloud on your iPhone. The setup assistant should walk you through this process as soon as your OS is updated. But if you skipped that, tap Settings > iCloud. Enter your Apple ID.
  3. Click Settings > iTunes & App Store on your iPhone and enable automatic downloads.
  4. Download iCloud for Windows to your PC from Apple's website.
  5. Open iCloud and sign in with your Apple ID.
  6. Click any of the iCloud services you'd like to enable and click Apply. iCloud will create folders in Windows Explorer for files. When you save files to those folders, the same data will appear on your iPhone, and vice versa.

[See related stories: Best Windows 10 Apps for Business]

If you'd prefer to sync your music, videos, photos, contacts, calendars and device backups via your iTunes account, there are two methods: over USB or over Wi-Fi.

  1. Open iTunes and make sure you've got the most recent version.
  2. Connect your iPhone to your PC via USB. You should see a device appear in the upper left corner of iTunes under connected devices.
  3. Click on the device icon.
  4. Click on Settings on the left side of iTunes to see the types of content you can sync.
  5. Click on the content you want and then click on Sync in iTunes.
  6. Click Apply in the lower right corner of iTunes. It should start to sync automatically. Now each time you connect via USB and have iTunes open, your devices will sync.

If you've already confirmed your PC is running the latest version of iTunes, and that your iPhone and PC are running on the same Wi-Fi network, you can set your iPhone to sync over Wi-Fi. But you'll still need your USB cable to set it up.

  1. Connect your iPhone to your PC via USB. You should see a device appear in the upper left corner of iTunes under connected devices.
  2. Click on the device icon.
  3. Click on the Summary tab and click "Sync with this device over Wi-Fi."
  4. Click Apply and disconnect the USB cable.
  5. Select the content you want to sync.
  6. It will automatically start syncing, which is what it will do moving forward if iTunes is open and the iPhone is charging.

Want more control of where your files are backed up from your iPhone to your PC? Try Windows AutoPlay, and grab that USB cable again.

  1. Plug in your iPhone via USB.
  2. Open the Settings menu on your PC and click Devices.
  3. Click on AutoPlay on the left side of the screen.
  4. Click on Choose AutoPlay Defaults to tell your PC where to put your photos, files and music.
Anna Attkisson

After getting infected with the tech bug at Wireless World and Cellular Business magazines as an intern in 1998, Anna Attkisson went on to dabble in all sorts of publications covering everything from children’s fashion to financial planning, cars and travel. During the last 10 years, she’s returned to her roots where she’s been writing and editing for Laptop Mag and Tom’s Guide, before moving on to Tom’s IT Pro, Business.com and Business News Daily. She has a B.S. in journalism from the University of Kansas.