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How to Backup iPhone to Mac with/without iTunes

By Emily Watson, Wednesday, December 20, 2017

This story has been updated as of July 29, 2019.

Backing up an iPhone to a computer regularly is the best way to protect iPhone data from losing. This article will show you how to backup iPhone to MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac in three ways: using iTunes, iPhone backup software or iPhone transfer software. You can back up iPhone 5/6/7/8/X to Mac with or without iTunes.

Part 1: Backup iPhone to Mac with iTunes

iTunes can back up almost everything on your iPhone to Mac OS. But you should know an iTunes backup doesn't include the following contents:

  • Apps, music or other content from the iTunes and App Stores;

  • Content synced from iTunes, like imported MP3s or CDs, videos, and photos;

  • Photos synced to My Photo Stream, iCloud Photo Library.

To use iTunes to back up iPhone on Mac:

Step 1 Open iTunes on your Mac computer or laptop.

Step 2 Connect your iPhone to Mac.

Step 3 iTunes should quickly detect your iPhone. Click your device.

Step 4 If you would like to encrypt your backup, tick Encrypt iPhone backup. Only the encrypted backup will include the Health and Activity data from your iPhone.

Step 5 Press on Back Up Now. iTunes will begin to create a backup of your iPhone on Mac. To locate iTunes backup on Mac, check where is the backup of iPhone stored in Mac?

iTunes Backup iPhone to Mac

Backing up iPhone with iTunes is easy, however, it doesn't allow you to selectively back up only the data you need, for example, to back up only iPhone photos to Mac. Moreover, you need to factory reset iPhone to restore an iTunes backup from Mac, which means that data not in the backup will be deleted. That's why many iPhone users want to back up iPhone to Mac without iTunes.

Part 2: Backup iPhone to macOS Catalina without iTunes

If you have updated your Mac to the latest macOS 10.15 Catalina, you won't be able to back up iPhone to the Mac with iTunes as Apple has removed iTunes in Catalina.

Although iTunes is eliminated, you can still back up iPhone to macOS Catalina via Finder. Here is how to create a backup of iPhone on Finder.

Step 1 Plug your iPhone to the Mac with a lightning cable.

Step 2 Start Finder and find your iPhone under Locations. Click on your iPhone

Step 3 This will open a page that is similar to the Summary page on iTunes.

Back up iPhone in Finder

Step 4 Select iCloud or This computer as the location to save this iPhone backup and click Back up Now to start a backup.

Backing up iPhone in Finder

Backing up iPhone to Mac with Finder is much like that with iTunes. And just like iTunes, Finder won't let you select which data can be included in the backup and you'll need to restore a backup from Mac after factory resetting your iPhone. If you are not happy with the built-in backup method provided by Apple, read on to learn a more flexible method for backing up data from iPhone on Mac.

Part 3: Backup iPhone 5/6/7/8/X to Mac without iTunes

FonePaw iOS Data Backup & Restore is an iPhone backup software available on both Mac OS and Windows system. It can backup everything (photos, messages, contacts, WhatsApp messages, etc.) on your iPhone to Mac. Comparing to iTunes, it is a better tool to backup iPhone data to Mac because:

  • It allows you to select only needed data to back up;

  • You can preview your iPhone backup before restore;

  • Restore backup to iPhone without erasing your current data.

Download the trial version of iOS Data Backup & Restore on your MacBook/iMac. The tool is compatible with Mac OS 10.15/10.14/10.13/10.12/ 10.11 / 10.10 / 10.9 / 10.8 / 10.7.


Step 1 Run iOS Data Backup & Restore and connect iPhone to Mac with a USB cable.

Step 2 When your iPhone appears on the program, select iOS Data Backup.

Step 3 There are two backup modes: Standard backup and Encrypted backup. With Encrypted backup, you will need to enter the password you created when you want to restore the backup.

Choose Backup Mode

Step 4 Select the contents that you want to back up to Mac, for example, you can tick photos, contacts to only back up iPhone photos and contacts. When you are done, click Next to back up your iPhone.

Select Data to Backup


  • You can click Menu > Preference to choose where to store iPhone backup on your Mac.

Select Location to Store Backups

  • To restore iPhone backup, choose iOS Data Restore, click View Now to view data on a backup, then select your needed data to restore to iPhone or Mac.

Restore iPhone Backup from Mac

Part 4: Transfer iPhone contents to Mac selectively

Another way to back up an iPhone is to transfer iPhone contents to Mac, which will also enable you to use iPhone contents on Mac.  FonePaw iOS Transfer can transfer your data from iPhone to Mac so that you can store important photos, videos, music, etc. on Mac to create a backup. The method is simple and straight-forward.

Step 1 Download, install and launch iOS Transfer on Mac. Then, connect your iPhone to Mac.


Step 2 All your iPhone data will be displayed on the program. You can select your needed files to back up. For example:

Backup iPhone music, movies, audiobooks, voice memos, Podcasts Mac: Click "Media", select wanted media files and click "Export to" > "Export to Mac" to back up the files to your chosen folder on Mac.

Expert iPhone Movies to Mac

Backup iPhone photos to Mac: Click Photos and choose photos from Photo Library, Camera Roll and albums to export to Mac.

Export iPhone Photos to Mac

The program can also save contacts, messages, call logs, books, videos from iPhone to Mac.

Step 3 The program also allows you to save all files on iPhone to Mac in one click. Choose "To folder" on the bottom line of the program window. Then, the program will scan your iPhone. After scanning, click "Start" and choose a folder to backup all iPhone data to Mac.

Copy iPhone Data to Mac

Can I Backup iPhone to my Windows Computer?

Yes. You can download the Win version of iTunes, iOS Data Backup & Restore, iOS Transfer to backup your iPhone, iPad or iPod to your computer.

Do These Methods Work to Backup iPad or iPod?

Yes, this guide is exactly the same for all iOS devices, whether how to backup iPad to Mac, or how to backup iPod touch to Mac.

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