Updating an iPad for a friend with no computer
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: My girlfriend bought an iPad 2 running iOS 4.x. She loves it but she does’t have a computer to synch with which creates some problems. She cannot update the iOS version and she has no backup for the content (mostly photos, email and songs). She has her own iTunes account. I am happy to have her use my MacBook running the latest version of iTunes, but I am worried that if I connect her to my Mac it will overwrite her data and substitute mine. Is there a way to sync her iPad and retain her data?
A: You can definitely backup and update her iPad on your computer, and in fact it’s not nearly as scary or difficult as it sounds. When you plug any iPad (or iPod or iPhone) into a different library, iTunes defaults to essentially doing nothing; if the device has never before been connected to any computer, you will see the initial setup assistant appear the first time you connect it, but you can proceed to de-select all of the sync options and iTunes will basically leave any content on the device alone.
Note that if you have any iOS device backups on your MacBook, you will first be prompted to either restore a backup or set it up as a new device; simply choose the “Set up as new…” option which will take you to the initial setup screen shown above.
If the device is not already configured to make backups to iCloud, then iTunes will make an initial backup automatically as soon as you complete the setup assistant. If the device normally backs up to iCloud but you want to also make a local backup, you force one manually simply by right-clicking on it in the Devices section in iTunes and choosing the Back Up option.
Since you’re planning a major iOS update, it’s probably a good idea to make this additional manual backup even if your girlfriend is also backing up her device to iCloud. iOS updates are normally non-destructive, but there are never any guarantees of this, so a recent backup should be considered a must.
Note that this backup only includes application data and the device’s settings, so you’ll want to ensure that your girlfriend’s apps and media content are also backed up to your iTunes library before proceeding. Apps and purchased media content can be transferred into your library using the Transfer Purchases option found on the File menu in iTunes, but you’ll need to ensure that your MacBook has been authorized for your girlfriend’s iTunes Store account first. This can be done by selecting Authorize This Computer from the Store menu in iTunes.
Since your girlfriend has never synced her iPad with an iTunes library, it’s a safe assumption that she has no music or other media content from anywhere other than the iTunes Store, so iTunes’ own Transfer Purchases feature should suffice in this case. Content stored within third-party applications is already handled as part of the standard iTunes/iCloud backups or by the apps’ own third-party cloud services.
Keep in mind, however, that this process will transfer all of your girlfriend’s content into your iTunes library by default, and should you need to restore and re-sync her device after the update, you’ll end up needing to sort out which items are hers out of the newly combined iTunes library. A better alternative might be to create a new iTunes library just for her apps and content. You can easily do this simply by holding down the OPT key when starting iTunes on your MacBook and choosing the “Create Library” option to create an entirely new library.
Note that your preferences and device backups will still be shared, but the actual content, including apps, will be stored in a separate database. The actual files will get mixed into the same iTunes Media folder on your hard drive, but this shouldn’t be a major concern and if you don’t want to keep them around when you’re done, you can simply delete them from the second library and choose to remove the underlying files at the same time when prompted.
If you want to keep your girlfriend’s content in an entirely isolated library, the other option is simply to setup another user account on your MacBook. Each OS X user account gets its own distinct iTunes library, including preferences, device backups and media content folders.
For more information, check out our Guide to Transferring your Content to a new iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. While the focus of this article is on transitioning between devices, the backup procedures outlined in the first part are applicable to any situation where you want to make sure that an iOS device is properly backed up.
- 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?
- Incipio to acquire Skullcandy
- Apple confirms iOS 10 kernel was left open to improve performance
- Apple leaves iOS 10 kernel open to scrutiny
- Judge throws out ‘Error 53’ lawsuit against Apple
- Chinese company in iPhone patent fight is all but defunct
- Apple adds nine more apps to universal search in Apple TV
- WSJ: iPhone to see modest changes this year, eliminate headphone jack
- China tightening restrictions on mobile games starting next month
- Supreme Court patent ruling bodes well for future Apple cases
- Apple to pay $400M to consumers over e-book price fixing case
- Zagg Slim Book for 9.7” iPad Pro
- Element Case Ronin for iPhone 6/6s
- JBL Clip 2 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
- Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT Wireless On-Ear Headphones
- Catalyst Case for iPad mini 4
- Jaybird Freedom Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
- Zagg Flex Arc Wireless Earbuds + Speakers
- Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7NC SonicPro Headphones with Active Noise Cancellation
- Twelve South BookBook for 12.9” iPad Pro
- Spigen Rugged Armor, Style Armor + Wallet S for iPhone SE
- 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
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 9.2
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.3
- Opinion: Why Apple needs a dedicated HomeKit app