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How to back up your iPhone in MacOS Catalina

With MacOS Catalina, Apple completely revamped its desktop iTunes app. In fact, it did more than revamp it: iTunes was replaced by Apple Music and the Apple TV app, splitting up music and video into their own dedicated spaces. 

For iPhone users who held on to the tradition of making physical backups on their Mac, this posed something of a problem. Thankfully though, Apple hasn’t just left you without a solution to backup your iPhones, it just moved it to a more generalised space. 

So if you’ve updated to MacOS Catalina recently and want to make physical backups or sync content, you can still do it in a few simple steps. 

Plug in and “trust devices” 

The first thing you need to do – of course – is actually plug in your iPhone to your MacBook or Mac running the latest software. 

If you have a modern Mac, you’ll need to either use a USB-C to USB-A adapter, or use the USB-C to Lightning cable. If you have an iPhone 11 Pro or 11 Pro Max, this cable comes in the box. 

Once plugged in, your iPhone will display a pop-up window asking you to trust the computer. Make sure you select to trust it, then input your iPhone passcode. 

Find your iPhone

Rather than showing up in iTunes now (because it doesn’t exist), your iPhone will appear in your Finder window. 

Open Finder and you’ll see your iPhone listed under the Devices or “Locations” tab, along with any external memory cards and drives. 

Click on it, and again click on the option that tells your Mac to trust the iPhone. 

Sync away

What you find next is a screen that looks virtually identical to the syncing screen you’d find in the old iTunes desktop app. 

Click through the content categories at the top of the window to choose which media you want to sync to your iPhone. 

To back up all the local data on your iPhone to your Mac, just click the option that says “back up all the data on your iPhone to this Mac”.

If you want to encrypt the backup, select that option underneath, and set a password. 

You’ll notice further options allowing you to customise how you sync and backup. For instance, having the “automatically sync” option toggled on means it’ll backup and sync every time you plug it in. 

The “backup now” button is also self-explanatory. Click it to manually back up your phone. 

Finally, click “Apply” at the bottom and your iPhone data and settings will be backed up physically to your computer. 



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