How To Set Up Wi-Fi Sync With iTunes 10.5 And iOS 5 [How-To]



One of the neatest features of iOS 5 and iTunes 10.5 is Wi-Fi Sync, which allows you to finally leave the Apple Connector Cable in your computer desk drawer where it belongs, at least most of the time. It can be a little hard to figure out at first how to make Wi-Fi Sync work for you. Here’s our handy guide to getting Wi-Fi Sync working.

iTunes Wi-Fi Sync

  • To activate iTunes syncing over Wi-Fi, plug your device into your computer and open up iTunes.
  • Under the Summary tab, scroll down to the Options, then ensure Wi-Fi syncing is enabled. Your device should now sync automatically over Wi-Fi when plugged into a power source, but you can initiate a Wi-Fi sync manually using the steps below.
  • On your iOS device, go to the Settings app and then tap on the ‘General’ tab.
  • Select ‘iTunes Wi-Fi Sync’ and then select ‘Sync Now’.
  • Mike

    But it has to be plugged into a power source? Whats the point then? It still needs to be cabled to something.

  • Nitebird2222

    Will ios5 work with Firefox?

  • Aaron

    I have a clock radio with an iPod/iPhone dock. I can charge my phone, use it as a music source, and WiFi sync all at the same time.

  • Sam Parmenter

    That is a bit of a let down. I understand that the power source doesnt have to be a computer but it would be nice to just have it update all day as it gets used around work / home.

  • Guest

    the power source? You know to give it power.

  • Michael

    You did not mention one important point.  The iOS device and the computer have to be on the same WIFI network — not just the same network.  So, if your computer is connected by Ethernet cable to your wifi router, wifi sync will not work until you also turn the computer’s wifi connection on and authenticate to your wifi network.  Easy enough to do, just not intuitive that you have to keep two network connections open on the computer.

  • prof_peabody

    You have to plug a computer in when it’s doing a backup or installing software or anything like that.  It’s always been the case and there is no reason to expect that an iPhone or an iPad would be any different from laptops in that regard.  

  • Connor Mulcahey

    Yea I Just tried

  • Tim

    my ethernet and wi-fi are on what do you mean authenticate wi-fi? how do you do that?

  • Michael

    Connect to the wifi network.

  • Ronald Cox

    You can force a wireless sync without power, it just won’t automatically sync until you plug it in to a power source.

  • gregbraddock

    not true. my computer is on ethernet and my phone is connected via wireless (obviously). But no, I’d assume they wouldn’t have to be on the same wifi network if my case works. 

  • gregbraddock

    Actually i think an important part is that the user has to be on snow leopard or lion right? I’m curious because my brother is on Leopard… i think and the wireless option doesn’t show at all. So I’m assuming its a feature for snow leopard and above. 

  • CharliK

    Actually I believe the answer to your question is on Lion. Specifically this newest update

  • Drew

    Why should i enable this if i have iTunes match? can someone explain the difference?

  • 2fewclues

    Can’t say as I’m pleased or impressed, but then that follows a pattern for me with Apple improvements and features over the pas 6 months – AirPrint, file sharing, migration assistant, dropbox, playlist migration (yes I know they aren’t all new, but, for me, these and others all don’t work).  
    In this case, when I follow your instructions, the Sync Now button is grayed out, and a message says that the sync will “resume” when my MBPro is available…now, I’ve never synced my phone to that particular computer, never, plugged it into to it, don’t update iTunes purchases on it for hat reason…and yet, rather than syncing with the iMac I actually use for this, it inexplicably selects a computer its never had intercourse with…

  • Michael

    iTunes match isn’t released yet. There is a lot of difference between the two. iTunes match is just your songs, and syncing to iTunes backs everything else up. i.e. calendars, contacts, etc.

  • Adam Dluzniewski

    Yeah, you need to have iTunes opened for this to work. Kind of a bummer.

  • Jerry Lawrence

    This is one of my favorite parts of the new ios so far. In the morning I can hit a few buttons on the mac to download the new podcast for the day, then while I’m getting ready for work I can have the phone updating with the new shows. No need to plug it into the computer and wait for it to sync up and then eject it and put the wire away. Heck, I’m going to look into writing an Automator Script to download the shows in the morning before I get up and then just sync the phone over wifi when I go to do my morning constitutionals!

  • seby

    under  the summary/options in itunes, i don’t have the option to click of the box “sync with this iphone over wifi” ..i must of mest up in the beg. or can i get that box back?

  • Lina

    I have the same problem! Have you found a solution? I’ve been looking everywhere for help!

  • Tmellert

    I just synced my phone without being plugged into either the computer or a power source.  Mine works great….

  • Fab

    there are reportedly widespread problems for iOS5 newly-upgraded iPod and iTouch to detect and connect to wifi. No wifi connection…no sync

  • ArtisticDivaII

    I was receiving the message that sync will resume when My computer is available. I’m running an older MacBook (2005) running Leopard. All other devices (iPhone 4, iPad 2, and Apple TV) have all been upgraded to iOS 5. I also have a 2Wire router.

    What worked for me is I changed my router security from WEP to WPA. Now the wi-fi sync works as advertised and does it perfectly. I just resolve this last night. I hope this helps others.

  • Grafic House

    My iphone is asking to wifi sync with my named computer but the wifi has a different named assigned to it, my PC is connected to my router via ethernet. and the “sync now” button in settings is not clickable on my iphone even though I am connected to the network and can surf the net using it. does this mean I have to change the name of my WiFi ????

  • ncus

    Make sure you are using iTunes 10.5+

  • Bob

    or you could just download them on your phone in the morning? i dont understand why this even exists now?

  • Bob

    does anyone know the answer to this question……once the iphone is ejected do you have to reconnect it with the cord before you can wifi sync again? this has been my experience….

  • Bob

    does anyone know the answer to this question……once the iphone is ejected do you have to reconnect it with the cord before you can wifi sync again? this has been my experience….

  • Ricardo

    It’s not obvious, but ensure the “Open iTunes when this iXxxxx is connected” is checked too, even if iTunes is running all the time.

    This befuddled me for days until I noticed that most screenshots claiming success had that checked.  No clue why, but it appears to be required – validated and tested both ways.

  • Charles van der Woodsen


  • Tyler_stewart

    Thanks, but my Iphone still says “Sync Now” in gray font!  I was able to do wifi sync during the beta doesn’t seem to work now.

  • connor

    Anyone care to help? if i plug into say a wall charger or my ipod dock it wont let me sync. It says it will sync as soon as “CONNOR”(my computer name) becomes avaiible. It wont work unless i am connected directly to the computer via usb cable. Also my computer is hardwired to the router that my ipod is connecting to.

  • Deadge J

    you have to have your Mac/pc over the “wifi network” and your devices on the same “wifi network” for it wo work properly

  • Ges

    Hi i have a problem that i couldn’t find the answer anywhere !!
    i have 2 iphones,5s and 4 ,,they come up automatically under device in iTunes,,(sometimes they don’T !!! ) and i can click all the tabs (info,music,,,,,) BUT the APPs,,,whenever i tab the APP button ,,a message comes up ” Looking for iPhone ” and then my iPhone is gone from the device list !! and it never comes back ,unless i quit iTunes ,,,,
    i have no control over them ! i could only sync via wifi only once !!
    and one more thing my “Remote” app,,,sometimes works and my iTunes library shows up but most of the time ,there is nothing it just gives me the four digit code that i don’t know where to put (there is no remote Tab ,,)and believe me ,,i have read all the instructions out there ,,and all the troubleshooting and discussion groups but it seams there is nothing wrong but there’s no solution for my problem !!
    i hope you could help me