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How to back up iPhone without iTunes on macOS Catalina

iTunes is no more. When you upgrade to macOS Catalina, the iTunes app will be removed from your system. It’s hard to say anyone will miss it. It did not age well, and users grew tired of its sluggishness over the years. That said, iTunes had one very important job; backing up your iPhone, or iPad. It also let you restore your iOS device from an older back-up which leaves you wondering how that’s going to work with Catalina. The answer lies with the Finder app. Here’s how you can back up an iPhone without iTunes on macOS Catalina.

Back up iPhone without iTunes

Launch Finder and connect your iPhone to your Mac. In the column on the left, you will see the device appear under your MacBook. Select it.

In the preview pane on the right, click the Pair button. You need to allow your Mac to access files on your iPhone, and the permission will have to be granted on your phone. Unlock it, allow your Mac access from the pop up, and enter your Passcode if prompted.

Once your Mac is allowed to access your iPhone, the preview pane will be replaced with a familiar interface; the iTunes device details interface, with some changes.

Of course, this isn’t iTunes. Apple has just fashioned the new feature after iTunes so that it is easier to use/learn. Select the General tab, and click the Sync button at the bottom. Allow it to back up your data and sync it to your Mac.

This is how it works in the Catalina public beta. There’s one rather glaring shortcoming here; Finder gives no indication that the back up is complete or in progress. The Sync button appears greyed-out/is un-usable but there is no progress bar or anything like that. To check if your phone is still syncing, look at the status bar for the syncing icon. Once sync is complete, the Sync button will be ‘clickable’ again. No notification is shown when sync completes.

To restore your iPhone, you will do what you always did with some small amendments. Put the iPhone in restore mode, connect it to your Mac, and select the device inside Finder. Once selected, you will see an option to Restore iPhone much like you did in iTunes.

With respect to selecting what is synced to your iPhone, all the same options that iTunes had to offer are there in Finder. Look through the different tabs under your device; Music, Films, TV Programs, Podcasts, Audiobooks, Books, Photos, Files, and Info, to select what to sync.

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