Ever wanted to quickly sync up that new song to your iOS device 2 minutes before you leave for work? I have, and in most cases I have to cancel the sync because… well instead of quickly just syncing my one song, iTunes decides that I should also have my genius results synced for all my 4000 songs. In this guide I’ll go through some tips and methods to speed up the way iTunes syncs.

Well first, I’m hoping you have a general idea of what’s causing the iTunes sync to take so long. Some people have an issue with the backup taking hours, some have issues with iTunes deciding that it needs to sync the entirety of the genius suggestion collection every time it syncs. Even if you aren’t sure what’s causing the issue I’ll try to cover as much as I can in this article, hopefully you’ll find what you are looking for.


Speed Up by – Backing up to iCloud instead of iTunes

itunes sunc taking to long speed up by iCloud faster

Backup to iCloud

I’ll start with the most common culprit. As I’m sure you know, backing up is very important, however backing up to iTunes is not the only way of backing up. To make iTunes sync faster you can have your iOS device backup to iCloud instead. Usually after syncing your new media, iTunes decides that it should also update the backup. This often takes up a bit to much time. I won’t go into detail on how to setup iCloud backup since I’ve already gone through it in another article: 2 ways to backup your iPod, iPhone and iPad


Speed Up by – Syncing Smaller Media Files

make itunes sync faster by sending smaller video and music and speed up

Sync SD Videos

Here’s a really cool feature I like about iTunes, that definitely makes iTunes sync faster! Have you ever purchased a movie or TV show from the iTunes Store and noticed that it downloads an HD and an SD version? If you are transferring that video onto your iOS device then there really isn’t that much of a need to have the large HD version transfer over as you’re most likely not even going to really notice any quality difference because of the screen size on the iPad, iPhone or the iPod Touch.

To decrease the sync time, go into your iOS devices summary page in iTunes on your computer and under “Options” check off the box that says, “Prefer standard definition videos. As an added bonus, you’ll also see a large amount of extra available space saved.

I’ve heard people say that setting the option to “Convert higher bit rate songs to” a lower quality song also speeds up the syncing process. I’m not sure how they came to that conclusion as basically what this means, is that each song will have to go through a conversion process (the songs in your iTunes library on your computer remain untouched). If anything this simply makes iTunes take way to long to sync. I canceled it before ever 2 (out of 852) songs finished converting. It does have the benefit of saving a ton of space on your iOS device though.


Speed Up by – Disabling Genius

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Turn off Genius

Genius can be one of the most frustrating syncing steps, mainly because it can take ages to complete especially when you have a large library. I personally never use Genius and actually have it completely turned off and have noticed that iTunes syncs so much faster now. Disabling genius is really easy. Just open iTunes, go to the menu bar -> click “Store” -> Turn off Genius.

But wait, what if that option to turn off Genius isn’t there? Do you have iTunes Match enabled? I hate to be there bearer of bad news, however if you use iTunes Match you can not disable genius. Apple has decided that if you use iTunes Match then you also must want to use Genius and hasn’t given the option to use Match without Genius.

You can disable Genius but you’ll also have to disable Match, here are the instructions:

  1. Open iTunes on your Mac or PC.
  2. In the menu bar click “Store”
  3. Click “Turn Off iTunes Match”
  4. Once Match has finished turning off, click the store menu again and then click “Turn Off Genius”.


Speed Up by – Not Syncing Wirelessly

speed up by syncing over wifi make itunes sync faster sync taking to long

Disable Sync over Wi-Fi

Syncing wirelessly is a pretty useful feature, however it does take longer to sync over Wi-Fi than by syncing via USB cable. How much faster is USB? Well actually quite a bit faster. To speed up the syncing process by disabling syncing over Wi-Fi:

  1. Open iTunes on your computer.
  2. Go to your iOS device Summary page.
  3. Under “Options” uncheck “Sync with this iPhone over Wi-Fi”.

Personally I still use Wi-Fi sync just because I much prefer it than syncing over USB cable. However it’s up to you to decide what fits your needs best.


Speed Up by – Not sending Diagnostic Information

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Disable Diagnostic Information

I noticed a slight speed increase by disabling the option to send diagnostic and usage information to Apple. When something crashes on your iOS device it creates a log of it; this information is useful to Apple because it tells them what they need to fix when they release a new update to iOS. It also logs some usage information that Apple finds useful because it lets them know how the device is being used. They do have a strict privacy policy so none of your personal information is sent but it can make the iTunes sync take a while longer. To disable it:

  1. Open Settings on your iOS device.
  2. Go to General -> About.
  3. Scroll to the bottom and tap Diagnostics & Usage.
  4. Tap “Don’t Send”.


Nothing Works!

“Nothing works, iTunes is taking forever to sync and I’m going bald from ripping my hair out!” I’ve heard of some people having issues where nothing they do makes iTunes sync faster. If you are one of these people who are unfortunately stuck with an iOS device that is taking hours to sync then there may being an issue that can only be resolved by restoring. Make a backup first. Restoring may seem a bit drastic, so before you do that, try simply restarting your device first. Ask any IT guy or gal and the most common solution to tech issues is a simple restart.