Its come to my attention that a lot of people are having issues syncing iPads, iPhones and iPods to iTunes. It would seem that even though the device is set up to sync with iTunes correctly, sometimes it just feels like being a jerk and not syncing. I’m a big fan of Apple products, but it’s no secret that syncing with iTunes can be a little buggy. In this article are a bunch of methods that have worked for other people, and hopefully will work for you.

First if you simply need help understanding how to sync with iTunes or how to set it up you can check my other post, Sync your iOS device with iTunes over Wi-Fi.

These fixes are what I have found through hours of reading articles and forums, as well as speaking to people through twitter and other online resources to find out what has the highest chances of working. These instructions may work for you, however nothing is guaranteed as it’s pretty much trial and error. Try each solution, then attempt to sync, if it doesn’t work, go to the next solution and so on. I will put them in order of easiest and quickest methods, down to the more drastic.


iTunes can’t find my iPad, iPhone or iPod over Wi-Fi
  • If syncing over Wi-Fi, make sure both your computer and iOS device are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
  • Restart your iOS device, restart computer and restart your wireless router if your device syncs over Wi-Fi.
  • Plug in your iPad, iPhone or iPod into iTunes. Uncheck “Sync with this [your device] over Wi-Fi”. Click Apply. Check “Sync with this [your device] over Wi-Fi”. Click Apply. It also may help to disable “Home Sharing” and then re-enable it.
  • Uninstalling iTunes and then re-installing it may work. If you take this route make sure to do a backup first.
  • If you just want your iOS device to sync and don’t care if it syncs over Wi-Fi or by plugging it in with the cable, then just deselect “Sync with this [your device] over Wi-Fi”.
itunes sync

Devices pane

Remember that with the new iTunes (11) the devices tab has moved from the left side to the top right hand side of iTunes. If none of the above made iTunes recognize or connect to your device you could always restore your device (wipe everything off it then restore it with a backup). I have heard many people fix most syncing issues with this method. However make sure you have made a backup if you take this route, so that you can restore all your settings and apps ect, when you’re done restoring.

Instructions for restoring your device are at the bottom of this article.

If you want to bring back the left side-panel that shows all the devices connected, Music, Movies ect. Then go to the menu bar in iTunes -> View -> Show Sidebar.


iTunes connects but doesn’t sync everything
  • If you have “Manually manage music and videos” checked, try unchecking it and then syncing. After recheck it and try syncing. Also make sure you have the music or video selected when syncing.
  • If your apps aren’t syncing properly try to deauthorize and then reauthorize your computer. To do this, open iTunes, go to the menu bar and select -> Store -> “Deauthorize This Computer”. After it’s done, simply select “Authorize This Computer”.
  • In your device window under the Summary tab, check to see if “Sync only checked songs and videos” is checked, if it is make sure you have the music or video selected when syncing.
  • If your music isn’t syncing, go to the Music tab in your iOS devices window in iTunes and uncheck “Sync Music”. Click Apply. Once done, check “Sync Music”. Try the same thing if it’s something else like your Movies that isn’t syncing.
  • The only options that I have selected under the iTunes summary page is “Sync this iPhone over Wi-Fi” and “Prefer standard definition videos”. Syncing working well for me with these options selected, maybe it would also work for you.
  • Restoring your device may work. Instructions on how to do this are at the bottom of the page.


My music is greyed out on my device
  • iphone device window

    Device Window

    Go to the devices window and select the “On this [your device] tab. Make sure the song is checked, once checked it should change from grey to black and then be playable.

  • An issue that is surprisingly common when trying to sync with iTunes via the USB cable is simply that the USB cable is faulty. I know it may sound strange, but if nothing here works, then you may need to use a different/new USB cable or even trying syncing over Wi-Fi.
  • If when/after you sync you notice that the song is greyed out on your iOS Device then the song may not be in the proper format. Right click on the song in the iTunes and select “Create AAC version”. This will create a new version of the music file. Delete the original song file and sync the newly created AAC version.
  • Check to see if you have “Manually manage music and videos” or “Sync only checked songs and videos” selected in the Summary tab of your devices window, if it is make sure you have the music or video selected when syncing.
  • Go to the Settings app on your iOS device and then tap “iTunes & App Stores”, turn off Automatic Downloads for Music, Apps and Books. Connect your device to iTunes, go through the device page and uncheck “Sync Music”, then click Apply. After it’s done check “Sync Music”. Turn Automatic Downloads back on if you like.
  • Sign out of all iTunes accounts on your iOS device and iTunes, then sign back in.
  • There is a very good chance that restoring your iOS device will also fix this issue.


How to restore iOS device

Restoring your device will wipe everything off of it, so if you want to restore everything make sure you make a backup!

  1. Disconnect the USB cable from the iPad, iPhone or iPod
  2. Launch iTunes
  3. Turn off your iOS device. (Press and hold the Home and Power button until it turns off)
  4. Press and hold the Home button while you reconnect the USB cable
  5. Keep holding down the home button until iTunes shows an alert saying that a device in recovery mode has been detected.

Sometimes restoring your device and setting up as a new device instead of restoring from a backup works as well, however this should be only used if nothing else works.

If you need help backing up and restoring check out my other article: 2 ways to backup your iPod, iPhone and iPad

If you had a problem syncing and have found a different method that works, please post it in the comments section below.