Copy files from your iPhone, iPad or iPod to your Mac

“If you sync your iOS device to your Mac, you probably do back it up regularly,” Kirk McElhearn writes for Kirkville. “But if not, if you’re one of those people who just ‘forgets’ to back up your device, you may lose data.”

“When you connect your iOS device to your Mac, you can copy purchased content from that device to the Mac, but not the rest,” McElhearn writes. “So if you have a hardware problem on your computer, and don’t have a backup, you can have an iOS device full of media that you cannot easily get back on your Mac.”

“There are a number of apps that can copy media from iOS devices to Macs,” McElhearn writes. “Thanks to an article by Josh Centers in TidBITS, I discovered one today that I’d never heard of: DeTune. The advantage of this app is that it is free.”

Read more in the full article here.


    1. What’s hilarious is this article! I have an iPhone, iPad, and Macs. My iOS devices backup to iCloud automatically every night, and my Macs backup automatically to Time Machine. I never, ever, need to connect or transfer anything manually. Any individual bit of data or media which I might need to transfer can be transferred directly from its app by AirDrop, email, transfer to a cloud app, whatever. Super easy, super intuitive, all built in. Apple. It just works.

      1. Also, with Yosemite and iOS 8, all docs from all iCloud-compatible apps will be automatically synced to the iCloud Drive folder on your Mac, and any file you drop in the iCloud Drive folder will be accessible from iOS devices. Done.

      2. The article discusses copying files from an iOS device when you’ve lost the originals on your Mac. It’s not about moving files off a device by email. It’s more about media files. As you know, there’s no way you can copy them from an iOS device, unless they’re purchased iTunes Store content.

        1. So, wait, you’re worried about a person who has, say, stolen music on their iPhone that they transferred from their Mac after downloading the music from a torrent site, and they don’t have their Mac backed up, and they accidentally lose the files from their Mac? Sorry, I don’t care about that scenario.

          1. It’s one of the most common problems I get email about: people don’t back up their Macs, and they lose all their media files. Why do you assume that these are people who torrented music?

            1. Ok, gotcha. It’s just been many years since I’ve had a problem like that. All my “media files” are either from CDs I own or something I bought from iTunes. My photos go to iCloud automatically and then to iPhoto on my Mac automatically, which is backed up all the time. So… It’s just been years since I’ve needed to transfer anything manually. If you subscribe to the Apple ecosystem and set things up proper, it’s all easy.

            2. Kirk, I understand the utility. I just didn’t realize people still needed to transfer files manually. Obviously Apple is working very hard to make that unnecessary. Also, my initial response was to the first commenter leading with “You iPhone people…”

            3. It happens. I had an album disappear from my iTunes library a while back; no idea why, I’m sure I didn’t delete it. I was able to grab a copy from my Time Machine backup, but for people who don’t back up their stuff, it’s useful.

              Also, like you, most of my music files are from ripped CDs. Think how much time it would take to re-rip them. (Which is why I back up my backups….)

        2. This is a somewhat flawed scenario, Kirk. Most people have media libraries – photo, music, TV, video – that exceed the 64GB or even the 128GB of the largest capacity iOS devices. As a result, if you lose your Mac HDD/SSD and do not have a backup, then you cannot recover all of your data.

          Most people consider this data to be very important – back it up! Use Time Machine. Use a cloud backup. Clone your HDD and store it somewhere else. You cannot be too paranoid when your media library contains irreplaceable memories that may only exist in digital format and thousands of dollars in audio and video media.

          From the beginning, Apple purposely did not include the ability to transfer media from your iPod to your Mac because it would have been the ultimate vector for digital piracy. The music studios were paranoid about piracy, particularly with music encoded digitally and distributed over the internet. It took years before the industry gave up on DRM, after pressure and incentives from Apple. But you could always do it, if necessary. Many years ago I used a piece of software called senuti (iTunes spelled backward) to do this. There are ways to do this, Kirk, and there always has been.

          Enjoy your Droid, Kirk. You can copy all of the Android malware and crapware that you like back and forth to whatever computer you own. It makes no difference to me.

          1. Most people have media libraries that are smaller than you think. If they have bought movies or TV shows from the iTunes Store, they can re-download them. Same for purchased music. But for music they ripped, or downloaded in other ways, there may be to backup. I know to back up my stuff; heck, I back up my backups. But most users don’t. Hence the need for tools like this.

            I used to use Senuti too, but DeTune is free.

            I don’t know what you mean about “my Droid…”

    2. This is clearly one of the few disadvantages on iOS devices. There are not many disadvantages, but this is one of them.
      iOS devices should be much less dependent from iTunes.
      But even with some less than ideal situations, these are still the best devices on the market.

    3. While copying data between phone and computer is convenient, these kinds of file transfers are have massive inherent security risks.

      That’s the trade-off of file transfers, and iOS has chosen to sacrifice more convenience for security, while Android has chosen to sacrifice more security for convenience.

      Although I want sharing files to get easier with iOS, I think they made the right choice. Unlike file sharing, OS security is crucial to get right, for everyone, from the beginning.

      1. Sure. If you’re still using USB to transfer your data. However, I don’t like being tethered to my PC while copying large amounts of data. So I use an FTP server app on my phone to transfer files via wifi. It’s slower, but I’m free to walk around the house with my phone as I please while it transfers, and I have encryption set up on both my wifi network and the FTP server app itself.

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