Backup iPad To MacBook Title Image

Do you have a MacBook Air, iMac or MacBook Pro?

Are you running MacOS Big Sur or MacOS Catalina? Then this is the way to get a local backup of your iPad to your own MacBook.

Because things changed at MacOS 10.15.

Before that you would use iTunes when you wanted to do a local back up of your device to your Mac.

But this way is super easy. And in less than 5 minutes you’ll have your backup to your Mac all done.

And without using iTunes. You’ll be stoked. Because this also how you back up your iPhone or iPod Touch.

How To Backup iPad To Your MacBook

1. Open up a new Finder window.

2  Use your MacBook’s USB port to plug in your iPad.

3. Click on your iPad in your Finder Window’s Sidebar.

4. Check the General tab is picked in your Finder Window.

5. Put a check in the box: ‘Back up all of the data on your iPad to this Mac.’

6. To backup health and fitness data put a check in the box to ‘Encrypt local backup’

7. Click ‘Sync’ to backup and sync your device..

Pros Of Backing Up Your iPad To Your MacBook?

Why would you backup your iPad to your MacBook computer?

Or back up your devices: iPhone, iPad or iPod.

Here are some great reasons why.

1. You just might not be comfortable with iCloud storage for your backup. And have a big corporation like Apple looking after your files.

And everything private on your iPad.

2. When you’ve filled up your free iCloud backup storage. Then you’re into paying for more.

3. Keeping a local, close to you backup, of your iPad. Means that if anything happens to your iPad. You can quickly get everything back.

And you’ve no need for a WiFi network connection. Like you do in an iCloud backup. Because you’re backing up using your USB cable. And your backup is right there on your Mac.

4.You can keep a backup of your iPad on your MacBook as another copy of your files, apps, contacts and calendars.

When your stuff on your iPad is important to you. It’s best to have 2 copies of everything on there. Just in case.

5. It’s a way to sync your contacts and calendars to your Mac at the same time as backing up.

And when you have an iPhone as well. Just backup your iPhone and iPad in order.

And by this I mean.

Backup and sync your contacts from your iPhone first. If that’s where your latest contact and calendar info is. Then backup and sync to your iPad so that as you sync you copy your latest info on to it.

Backup Your iPad To Your MacBook. The Steps.

1. First Open A Finder Window.

Log into your Mac. Move your cursor down to the bottom of your display and there you’ll find your Mac’s Dock.

Finder In Dock
Finder In Dock

Double click on Finder to open up a new Finder window.

2. Plug Your iPad Into Your MacBook

If you’ve one of the newer iPad Pros, Or iPad Air. And a MacBook Pro or Air with a USB C port on it. Then you’ll have a USB C to USB C cable and you can connect your device right on in.

USB C Cable End
USB C Cable End

Do you have an older MacBook or other iPad?

Then you’ll need the right cable or adaptor.

Let me explain.

MacBook Pros earlier than 2015 have USB type A ports on them.

USB A Cable End
USB A Cable End

And so have MacBook Air’s before the 2018 model. And iMac’s before 2017.

So if you’ve a new iPad Pro or iPad Air with a USB C port. Then you’ll need a USB C to USB type A adaptor on the end of your cable to connect your device. Or plug into your older Mac.

And older iPad with a lightening port and an older MacBook with a type A port on it?

Then you’ll find the cable you have to charge your iPad works just fine for your Mac running Catalina or later.

When you’ve an older IPad with a lightening port on the bottom and a new MacBook with USB C combination.

Then you can get yourself a lightening to USB C cable. Amazon or Apple sells them on their websites.

iPad Mini USB Hub Plugged Into MacBook
iPad Mini via USB Hub Plugged Into MacBook

You may want to consider a USB C hub with type A ports. Especially if you’ve a lot of type A gadgets to plug into your MacBook. And a MacBook with just the one or two ports.

The Satechi Multi Port Adaptor could be a good choice. Click on the linked words to take a look at a review.

Got yourself the right cable? Then plug your iPad into your Mac.

3. Find Your iPad In Your Finder Window’s Sidebar.

Look at your Finder window for a few seconds after you’ve plugged in your iPad. And you’ll see your iPad come up.

Look down your sidebar too locations.

And your iPad will be listed there.

IPad Listed In Finder Locations

There’s a mini iPad like icon right by your iPad’s name.

Click Your iPad.

And your finder window will change.

Is it the first time you’re plugging in your iPad into your MacBook?

Then your Mac will ask you a question.

Do you trust this iPad?

Click on the ‘Trust’ button.

Then open up your iPad by using your touch id. Or put in your passcode.

4. Click On The Check Box To Backup Your IPad To Your Mac.

Your finder window changes to show details about your iPad.

Backup IPad to Macbook

Towards the top of the finder window you’ll see a breakdown of the total storage you have on your iPad. The amount of free space and how charged your iPad is.

Under that is a row of headings.

Out of all the headings on that row be sure the ‘General’ heading tab is.

On the ‘General’ tab you’ll see the iOS software version your iPad is running.

You see the button ‘Check for Update’. You can Click on the button to check for iOS device software updates. But don’t do that yet.

It’s best to have a backup before you update iOS on your iPad.

As iOS device updates have been known to break iPads or the applications on them.

You’ll also notice alongside the ‘Check for Update’ button a ‘Restore iPad’ Button. You’d use that button to restore the last backup you took of your iPad. To your iPad.

But that’s not what we’re doing now.

Scroll further down to the ‘Backups’ heading.

You’ll find two radio buttons.

You’d pick the first to backup up your iPad to an iCloud backup. But that’s not that we’re doing here.

Pick the second button to ‘Back up all of the data on your iPad to this Mac’

The arrow in the above picture shows you where.

One more thing.

If you have health and fitness info on your iPad. Your MacBook won’t back that up unless you encrypt your local backup.

So if you need to backup that info as well then also click on the 3rd radio button to ‘Encrypt local backup’

One last thing to kick off your backup.

5. Click on the ‘Sync’ button.

And your iPad backup to your MacBook starts.

iPad To MacBook Sync
iPad To MacBook Sync

Your Mac runs through the steps of backing up and sync-ing your iPad to your Mac.

You’re shown how far along it is along the bottom of your finder window. In a progress bar.

When the colors return to the progress bar the backup is done.

And you’ll see the date of the last backup in the backup section of your finder window.


You’ve done it. In less than 5 minutes you’ve taken a backup. And synced the data on your iPad to your MacBook.

When You’ve Done Your IPad To Mac Backup

Don’t forget to Eject your iPad before you pull out your USB cable.

Click on the Eject arrow.  The circle in the picture shows where.

Eject i Pad After Backup To Your Mac
Eject Your iPad After Your Backup To Your Mac

What Are The Drawbacks Of Backing Up My iPad To My MacBook?

There aren’t many. It’s a good way to keep a local backup of your iPad. But:

1. It does assume that you’ve enough free space on your MacBook to hold your iPad’s backup.

And that may not be true.

2. It’s best not to rely on it as your only backup of your iPad. It’s a quick and handy backup. But you must have a full backup of your MacBook as well.

Because if anything happens to your MacBook you risk losing your iPad backup as well.

To get yourself a full backup of your MacBook including the backups of your iPad. And if you’ve backed those up as well, your iPhone or iPod.

You choose and buy yourself an external drive for your MacBook.

You can find out how to go about picking one in the ‘How To Choose’ article.

Scroll down and you can use the link to the post. It’s under the related articles heading.

For You An iPad and MacBook Backup Strategy

An excellent backup strategy is to:

Backup of your iPad to your MacBook.

After that backup your MacBook to an external drive.

And if you’ve two external drive’s you back up to. That’s even better.

You can have one as a copy of the other.

Then you’ll be well covered.

You can take a look at the best external drive picks in the related article below. On what’s the best external drive for Mac.

Related Articles

Backup iPhone To MacBook [With Pictures]

How To Choose An External Hard Drive For Backup On A Mac

What’s The Best External Hard Drive For Mac. Find A Great One Fast

How To Backup MacBook Pro To External Hard Drive

Other Resources

Apple’s Backup To Mac Help Guide