How to Back Up Your iPhone on a Mac

It is important to back up the data on your iPhone. You don’t know when your iPhone might crash, or when you might lose it in a coffee shop (if so, you should erase it immediately). When you back up your iPhone, you’re making sure that all your important data like contacts, apps, and app data are securely stored on your computer or in the cloud.

If you’re running macOS 10.14 Mojave or earlier on your Mac, you can use trusted old iTunes to back up and restore your iPhone. If you recently updated to macOS 10.15 Catalina on your Mac, you may be wondering how to correctly back up your iPhone once Apple has removed the iTunes app. Responsibility for syncing iPhone data now rests with the Finder app.

Although this is a new place, the synchronization method is similar. Here’s how to back up your iPhone on your Mac using iTunes or Finder.

How to Backup Your iPhone Using Finder on macOS Catalina

To start the backup process on your iPhone, open the Finder app on your Mac. You can do this using Spotlight Search. Press the button Request + Space keyboard shortcut and then type Finder. Press Enter to open the Finder application. You’ll also find the Finder app icon in the Dock.

  1. First, connect your iPhone to your Mac using a USB-A/USB-C to Lightning cable.
  2. If this is your first time backing up your iPhone using your Mac, you’ll see a pop-up on your iPhone asking if you trust this Mac. Here, tap Trust and enter your passcode to confirm.
  3. On your Mac, tap Trust (if prompted). Your iPhone is now paired with your Mac.
  4. Now that your iPhone is paired, you will find it in Location in the Finder sidebar.
iPhone in the Location section
  1. Click the device to see the device management screen in the Finder. This user interface is similar to the user interface in iTunes.
Device management screen
  1. Here go to Backup and switch to Back up all your iPhone data to this Mac right to buy.
  2. If you want, you can choose to encrypt this backup. Encrypted backups back up sensitive data like your passwords, Health data, and more. It is also protected by a unique password. If you forget this, you will not be able to restore the backup. Choose Encrypt local backup if you want to use this feature.
  3. If this is the first time you’ve created an encrypted backup, you’ll be prompted for a password (the password will be synced using Apple Keychain). Enter the password and select Set password option to confirm password.
  4. Then click Back up now button. This will start the backup process. You’ll see a progress circle next to the device name in the Finder sidebar.
Backup Now button with encryption and all data selected

Now, give it time. If this is your first time backing up, it may take 30 minutes to complete the backup process (and it will take more than 15GB of storage space). If you want to stop the process at any time, hover over the device name and press X button.

When the backup is finished, the progress circle will disappear. You can also check Last backup to this Mac to confirm that the backup is complete. Now you can click Push out next to the device name to safely remove iPhone from your Mac.

Last Backup of iPhone

How to Restore Your iPhone Using Finder on macOS Catalina

A backup is only good if you can restore it at the point of need. Thankfully, restoring a backup on a Mac is easy, as long as it’s still on your hard drive.

  1. Connect your iPhone to your Mac with a Lightning cable and open the Finder app.
  2. Here, select your device from the sidebar.
  3. Now click Restore backups button.
Restore backups
  1. You will now see a pop-up where you can choose a backup. Click the drop-down menu next to Backup option to choose from all available backups (you can choose them based on backup date).
  2. If it’s an encrypted backup, you’ll have to enter a password.
  3. Then click Restore to start the recovery button.
Restore button with password and most recent backup selected

Now, all you have to do is wait until the Mac goes through the process of recovering all data. Once the process is complete, you will see that the gyroscope next to the device name will stop. Click Push out next to the device name to end the process.

Now you can go back to your iPhone. Once unlocked, you’ll find that all your apps, data, and home screen are the same as you left them on the day of the backup.

How to Backup Your iPhone Using iTunes

If you’re using macOS Mojave or an earlier version, you’ll have to use iTunes to back up your iPhone.

  1. Connect your iPhone to your Mac with a Lightning cable and launch iTunes. First, you will be asked to authenticate and pair your iPhone. Click Continue in the iTunes app.
The Continue Button in iTunes
  1. On your iPhone, tap Trust and enter your passcode.
Trust button
  1. Now that your device is paired, click Iphone on the iTunes toolbar.
iPhone icon in the toolbar
  1. You should now see the device management screen. Here go to the Backup section and select This computer right to buy. Here you can choose iPhone backup encryption optional if you want to encrypt the backup. If you choose this option, you will have to set a new unique password and you will not be able to restore the backup if you forget it.
  2. To start the backup process, click Back up now button.
Backup Now Button

Now, all you have to do is wait. After a few minutes, your iPhone will be backed up. Now you can click Push out next to your device name to securely erase it.

How to Restore iPhone Backup Using iTunes

Restoring an old backup using iTunes takes just a few clicks.

  1. Open the iTunes app after connecting your iPhone. Pair your iPhone by tapping Trust on your iPhone.
  2. Then, navigate to the Backup section from the iPhone device management screen. Click here Restore backups button.
Restore Backup button
  1. From the pop-up, select a specific backup from the drop-down menu. Then click Restore button. If the backup is encrypted, you will have to enter a password.

Now, just wait until the process is complete. Your iPhone may restart during this process and don’t worry if it takes more than a few minutes.

How to Manage iPhone Backups

If you have multiple iPhones and iPads in your household, and you use a single Mac to back them up, you’ll soon find that you’re running out of storage space. In such a case, it’s best to move the backups to an external drive and delete them from your Mac.

You can find backups in the Library folder. To get there, open Spotlight Search using Request + Space shortcut and enter the following path: “~ / Library / Application Support / MobileSync / Backup /“. Then press enter Key.

Focus with command: ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/

This folder will show you all the backups, organized in different folders. The folder names aren’t obvious so you’ll have to use the date and time to figure out which backup.

Here you can just move the folder to an external drive to back it up. You can also right click on a backup and select Move to Trash option to delete it.

Go to Trash in the right-click menu

Alternatively, you can use your Mac’s built-in Memory Management tool to delete old iPhone backups.

  1. Click Apple from the menu bar and select About this Mac right to buy.
About this Mac in the Apple window
  1. Here, go to Warehouse and click Manage button.
Management button in the Memory tab
  1. From the sidebar, select iOS files section.
  2. You will see a list of all iPhone backups here. Right click on a backup and select Delete option to delete backup.
Right click on delete button

How often do you back up your iPhone? Do you use your Mac once and use nightly iCloud backups? Share with us in the comments section below.

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