Syncing iPhone content from different computers
Ask iLounge offers readers the opportunity to get answers to their iPod-, iPhone-, iPad-, iTunes-, or Apple TV-related questions from a member of the iLounge editorial team. We'll answer several questions here each week, and of course, you can always get help with more immediate concerns from the iLounge Discussion Forums. Submit your questions for consideration using our Ask iLounge Submit Form. We reserve the right to edit questions for grammar, spelling, and length.
Q: I recently purchased a new Verizon iPhone 4. My question is whether it’s possible to sync my new iPhone to two different computers for different sets of information. For example, computer #1 (IBM XP) is where my entire iTunes library is located and computer #2 (iMac) has all of my contacts, photos and email accounts.
A: Actually, yes, with a few caveats. You can only sync a given category of content with a single computer, however you can sync different categories of content from elsewhere. The specific content types that iTunes groups into sync categories are:
- Music, Movies, TV Shows, Books and Ringtones
- Podcasts and iTunes U content
- Contacts, Calendars, Bookmarks, Notes, e-mail account settings.
This means that you can sync your music and audiobooks from one computer, your contacts and calendars from a second and even sync photos from a third with no problems. However, you would not be able to sync music from one computer and movies from another, or contacts from one and calendars from another.
It is relatively straightforward to set this up; all you need to do is configure the specific sync settings that you want to use on the first iTunes library, leaving the other areas unchecked. You can then move the device to the second iTunes library and choose the items you want to sync from that computer. If there are any conflicts you will be presented with a confirmation dialog box and be given the opportunity to cancel your changes. For instance, attempting to sync movies from a second computer will present a warning advising you that syncing movies will remove all other existing media content as well.
Attempting to enable contact and calendar info on a second computer works a bit differently in that you will be given the opportunity to merge or replace the info on your iPhone. A cancel option is still available here, however, should you prefer to do neither.
Note that the iPhone also presents another unique case for media management. While all other iOS devices and traditional iPod models offer a manual mode that can be used to load media content onto your device from multiple iTunes libraries, the manual mode on the iPhone continues to only support transferring content manually from a single computer; attempting to enable the “Manually manage music and videos” option in a second iTunes library will prompt you to erase all of the existing media content on the iPhone in order to enable manual mode with the new library. Note that even in this case, however, apps, photos and contact/calendar info will not be affected.
- Will removing a credit card from Safari also remove it from Apple Pay?
- Can I mute Handoff calls coming into my Mac from my iPhone?
- How do I keep my iPhone calls from ringing on my Mac?
- Why doesn’t Traffic show up on my Today Notifications Screen?
- Why doesn’t my iPhone reconnect to Wi-Fi after I turn it on?
- Why can’t I see the iPad-style landscape view on my iPhone 6 Plus?
- Elgato announces HomeKit-enabled Eve Light Switch
- Apple delays AirPods release
- Report: iPhone 8 likely to come in three glass-backed sizes
- Report: New Apple TV app to provide show recommendations
- Apple’s German website adds Apple Pay support page, but still no launch
- Notes from Apple’s Q4 2016 earnings call
- Apple Q4 2016: $46.9B revenue, 45.5M iPhones + 9.2M iPads sold
- Apple reportedly hiring engineers from BlackBerry, developing car operating system in Canada
- Apple releases PowerBeats3 Wireless earphones
- Apple Pay launch in Japan encounters major problems
- Creative iRoar Go Portable Bluetooth Speaker
- Bowers & Wilkins P3 Series 2 Headphones
- Incase Icon, Pop, and Textured Snap for iPhone 7/7 Plus
- Philips Hue Motion Sensor
- Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature Headphones
- Tech Armor FlexProtect and Shock Flex for iPhone 7/7 Plus
- SwitchEasy Flash and Fleur for iPhone 7/7 Plus
- Blue Microphones Raspberry Mobile Microphone
- Incipio Haven for iPhone 7 and Reprieve Sport for iPhone 7 Plus
- Mophie Hold Force Magnetic Case System for iPhone 7
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of watchOS 3
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 10
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 10
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Photos gets Advanced Computer Vision
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Music app delivers ‘clarity and simplicity’
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Maps gets a major redesign
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 shakes up the user experience
- Inside the betas: watchOS 3 promises a real speed boost
- Inside the betas: A sneak peek at what’s new in tvOS 10
- Filling the Gap: A look at third-party HomeKit apps