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Issue #843: September 17-23, 2023

Q: I’ve been using PCs since using MSDOS commands, and now for many years Windows. I was interested in MAC but the professional software I needed was only available for PCs. I’m now retired and decided to get my Mac; so I’m learning. I saw your article on backing up an iPhone (Geek Note: I.G.T.M. #830, June 18, 2023), which I have had now for years. I went to your web site as suggested, how to back up your iPhone on your PC, not a Mac. I may be demonstrating my ignorance, but my question is: how do I back up my iPhone to my Mac?

 – Bob R.
Niceville, Florida

A:  You’re making me nostalgic, Bob!  Many years before I ever put my fingers to a keyboard to write It’s Geek To Me, I ran a dial-up bulletin board system (BBS) named SolutioNet back in the heyday of such things.  My BBS was bridging e-mails to the burgeoning Internet, hosting a plethora of the most popular text-based games, and I was even the Region 1 (USA) coordinator for PixNet.  One feature of my BBS was a Q&A forum named “Ask Dr DOS” and I’ll leave it to your imagination to guess who played the role of the DOS Doctor.  Wow, that was a long time ago.  Wow, I’m old!

So, now that you know more about me than you probably ever wanted, let’s get on to your question.  Would it surprise you to know that there is a version of iTunes for Mac?  You could use that to perform your backup if you so choose.  However, since both the iPhone and the Mac are Apple devices, there is native support for the iPhone built right into the Mac’s operating system.  The only caveat is that you must be running macOS 10.15 or newer, which I certainly hope you are, as that version is circa late 2019, and there have been numerous releases since then.  If the version you’re running is earlier than that, then you must use iTunes.  For the sake of this explanation, I’m going to assume you’re using the native mode, and not iTunes.

The first thing you need to do is connect your iPhone to your Mac with a USB cable.  The charging cable that came with the phone should do nicely.  The first time you connect the phone it will ask you whether it should trust this computer.  Naturally, answer in the affirmative. If you’d like to learn more about the ramifications of telling your phone to “trust” a computer, check out this article on the Apple Support Forums: TinyURL.com/IGTM-0843.

Next, select your iPhone in the Finder sidebar of the Mac.  At the top of the Finder window, click General.  Select Back up all of the data on your iPhone to this Mac.

You’ll now have an option to encrypt the backup and protect it with a password.  If you are comfortable that your Mac is secured from anyone that might want to clone your phone by restoring your backup to their own phone, you can skip this part.  However, it’s not really that difficult to enable the feature.  If you want the extra protection, just select Encrypt local backup.  Note that this applies only to the data stored on your Mac.  It will have no effect on your phone.

Once you’re all set, just click Back Up Now and let the process proceed.

Beyond backing up, there is also the concept of syncing your device.  Unlike doing a full backup, syncing transfers only new or out-of-date files between the devices. For example, you might add a movie to your iPhone, then perform a sync to make the movie available on your computer.  One of the cool things about this whole process is that after you have set up syncing between your devices using a cable, you can move on to configure them up to sync automatically without the wire whenever they’re connected to the same Wi-Fi network.  When you arrive at that point, you should truly feel like a Geek!


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