Syncing iPhone to a New Computer

sync iPhone to a new computer Did you get a new computer and now want to sync all your iTunes and iPhone data to the new computer? For anyone going through this process, take comfort in knowing that there is a simple way to seamlessly transfer all music, photos, data and iPhone apps to the new machine. There are quite a few articles discussing this but having to wade through all the technical data is daunting. In short, here is a simple process that worked for me. Note, I installed Windows 7 on a new harddrive so I still had all my old data after the new install. If you are doing an upgrade, be sure to backup all your data for the move and you will still be able to use this migration method.

    1. Upgrade to the latest version of iTunes (this will make the transition easier as the new machine will also be running the same version of iTunes)
    2. Sync iPhone on old computer for the last time
    3. Deauthorize iTunes on the old machine
    4. Copy the entire My Music folder from the old computer to the new computer
    5. Install the latest version of iTunes on the new machine
    6. Plug in the iPhone on the new machine and sync
    7. Re-setup any preferences (where to sync music, photos, videos, contacts etc…) and re-sync again on the new machine and authorize the new iTunes

My original setup on the old iTunes machine was pretty much default and I just let it control most of the settings. So by setting iTunes up on the new machine similarly, I was able to just copy the entire My Music folder (where the iTunes folder is stored in) and let iTunes re-sync everything. iTunes did not miss a beat and did not complain about any missing libraries (or anything else) on the new machine. To my delight, it just continued to sync with my iPhone as if it was running on the old machine.

So if you are moving to a new computer and want to sync your iPhone to a new computer, give the above process a try. As with any computer move, just be sure to have backups of all your data before the move. Smooth syncing!

Ian Lee
Work from home dad, marketer and photographer. Fallen in love with basketball all over again as I coach my daughter's team.

18 thoughts on “Syncing iPhone to a New Computer”

  1. I am still frustrated at not being able to find a comprehensive instruction on how to synch my iphone to a new PC. I’ve read your posts and several others, but they are not complete in their descriptions. For example, I synch my notes and contacts with Outlook, so what happens with the data on the iPhone when I synch with? Should I re-load Outlook Application with it’s back-up data first? You only mention copying the My Music Folder to the new PC. What about the Apps, are they synched from iPhone to the new PC? Do you have to deauthorize iTunes on the old PC before authorizing the new PC? I don’t understand why Apple does not publish a descriptive guide for this process that is definitely routinely required.

  2. Douglas, to give the best chance of success for maintaining Outlook contacts on your iPhone, I would setup Outlook on your new machine as you had it on the old computer before you sync with the new machine. This worked for me and I hope it does for you as well. Good luck.

  3. Hi Ian
    I’m about to get me a new windows 7 computer and it will be replacing my old XP. What I am still worried/confused about is: will all my applications with the data be as before I synced and back-upped my iphone – when doing it as you describe? As I understand you can allways get your purchased apps, but what I wanna know for sure is that all the data also is back-upped and restored. Best regards Michael

  4. Hi Michael,

    The good news is, you will have your old computer as a safety net if things don’t work out. I am not sure what apps you have and what kind of data you have stored. If I was to guess, I would imagine developers would keep the application data packaged nicely so it should migrate easily. The only way to know for sure is to try it. Just make sure you backup before the migration. Good luck.

  5. Ian,

    My problem is that my old computer crashed and the only back up I have is on my iphone. I am running Windows 7 on my new machine. I have applications that I have purchased on itunes and some songs.

    Can you please help me on that?


  6. Hi Phil, if you setup iTunes on the new computer similar to what you had on your old machine, it should sync all data you have from your iPhone to the new machine. It’s been a while since I did this so I would do more research to see if anything has changed since this article was written.

    At the very least, you should connect your iPhone to your new machine and download all photos taken with the phone. These are not sync’ed to your old computer automatically. Unless you manually backed them up, you should do this before syncing to a new machine.

    Hope that helps.

  7. Hi Ian,
    Thank you very much for the instruccions, they are really accurate and helpful.
    I had tried to copy only the iTunes Media Folders, as well as the iphone’s backups, but once I opened iTunes, they were not recognized. I will try again with the whole MyMusic folder.
    I am in the very same case you describe: upgrade to Windows 7, EXCEPT FOR …I did NOT deauthorize my computer before installing Windows 7 (sorry, did not know it).
    Any chance to fix it?

  8. @Maria, Glad the info helped. And not to worry about the de-authorization step if you already missed the chance to do so. Apple gives you 5 instances of where you can play your purchased media files. If you do reach the limit of 5 one day, Apple also gives you the opportunity to de-authorize all devices and start from 1 again. Instructions are in the link above but here it is just in case.

  9. You can also copy the itunes library into a flash drive. plug that flash drive into the new computer. go to preference in itunes and choose the folder in the flash drive. that should do the trick!

  10. Hi,
    My Laptop Crashed, I have all the apps, music, contacts, notes, etc on my i-phone4… I have got a new laptop with Windows 7.. I dont remember what version of itunes I had on the old Laptop…
    Can I backup all my apps and the music on the new laptop.. and continue using the itunes on the new Laptop without deleting any thing…
    NEED HELP..!

  11. Hi Ian,

    I have the same problem of Phil where my PC crashed and only things I have are all in Iphone 4.
    I got a new PC running Windows 7 and I installed the latest iTunes. When I plug in my Iphone I can see the data, but cannot drag & copy any new things into iPhone. I hv also transfer the purchases into iTunes and it look ok. My real concern is all the music, videos, photos contacts etc.
    I’m too fearful to sync them incase all wiped out. It happens to me once before in my old PC.


  12. Hi Ian, Thank you for a very clear procedure although I have questions that appear outside your explanation. I apologize for the long list and hope it does not exceed reasonableness.
    1.Not clear how to de-authorize i phone from old computer.
    2.I didn’t copy my i tunes folder to the new PC because I wanted to change the music on the new PC before transferring to the i phone. So I loaded i tunes on the new win 7 PC with desired music. I’ll also manually transfer several audio books (not from app store) to the new i tunes. How do I save my apps, their settings, mail (g mail with its contacts)?
    3. How, do I delete the i phone contacts list (they were my sons)and then import an Outlook Express contacts file.
    4. How do I save the pictures and notes and bookmarks.

    I Think that’s it. Thank you again leo.

  13. I found an easy way of doing things. I dont sync mine with outlook so if this is your issue sorry but i cant help, not so say my method will not work.

    I’ve just purchased a new laptop with windows 7 running on it. I still have my old laptop that has vista running on it.

    Here is what I’ve done….
    Downloaded new itunes on new machine.
    Signed in with Itunes with my account and authorized new laptop.

    Copied all my music from my itunes music folder and other various places to my new laptop

    Then copied and pasted the following files in to the itunes folder on new laptop to replace the existing ones:
    Itunes library extras.itl
    Itunes library.itl
    Itunes Genius.itl
    Itunes music library.xml

    This now makes your itunes look like your old one.
    Click one of the songs, locate it and do same for rest, now all songs should play.

    do one last backup on old pc just incase.
    hook up to new itunes and it should just sync automatically. (well mine did)

    It lets me do all the things i used to do on my old laptop.

    Hope this works for you as well as it did for me.

    By the way this was done by fluke and a late night trying to work it out.

  14. Other thing is if you lost your data on your old pc and cant do the above and all you care about is your music on your phone, just use sharepod, it will allow you to rip the music etc off your phone onto another computer.
    write all your phone numbers down, and re-sync to new pc. You can then re load all your apps through app store once you sign in, it will recognize that you have already purchased them.


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