Backup iPad To MacBook Title Image

Are you running MacOS Big Sur or MacOS Catalina?

Then this is the way to get a backup of your iPad to your own Mac, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air.

Because things changed at MacOS 10.15.

Before that you would do an iTunes backup when you wanted a backup of your iOS 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 MacBook

1. Open up a new Finder window.

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

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

4. Click the General tab.

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

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

7. Click ‘Back Up Now’ to backup your device.

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 new Mac 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 Apple device right on in.

USB C Cable End
USB C Cable End

Do you have an older Mac 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.

Do you have an 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 to plug in your iPad to your Mac.

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.

Or 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.

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

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. And a few seconds after you’ve plugged in your iPad. And you’ll see your iPad come up under the Locations heading.

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 passcode or touch id.

4. Make Sure You’ve Chosen The General Tab.

Your finder window changes to show details about your iPad.

Backup iPad Finder Window

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 you’ve picked the ‘General’ heading tab.

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

Scroll further down to the ‘Backups’ heading.

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

By the Backups heading you’ll find two boxes.

The first box you see the text ‘Back up your most important data on your iPad to iCloud’.

You check mark 2nd box to ‘Back up all of the data on your iPad to this Mac’.

The arrow in the above picture shows you where.

6. iOS Backup Health and Fitness Data.

One more thing.

If you’ve an iPad app with health and fitness info in the app. Your MacBook won’t back that up. Unless you do an encrypted backup. And to do that you check mark the 3rd box to ‘Encrypt local backup’.

If you check that box you’ll need to put in a password.

Now to kick off your iOS device backup.

7. Click on the ‘Backup Up Now’ button.

And your iPad backup to your MacBook starts.

Ipad To MacBook Backup

Your Mac runs through the steps of backing up your iPad to your Mac. You’ll see a circle animation of arrow by your iPad while your backup happens.

And you’re shown how far along the backup is. Along the bottom of your finder window. The arrows in the picture above shows where.

When the colors return to the progress bar you’ve done your backup.

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.

When You’ve Done Your iPad To Mac Backup

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

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

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

Pros Of Backing Up Your iOS Device To Your Mac

Backing up with Finder is also how you backup your other iOS devices. Like your iPhone or iPod.

And unless you’re running MacOS Mojave. You’ve no iTunes anymore to back up to. Because Apple killed off iTunes in MacOS Catalina. And with that iTunes backup.

Here are some great reasons why you’d pick to backup your iPad. Or your iPhone to your Mac as one part of your backup solutions.

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

And everything private on your mobile device.

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

3. You’ve no need for a WiFi and Internet 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.

When you’ve a patchy network. An iPad or iPhone backup to the cloud are a problem.

Keeping a local, close to you backup, of your iPad or iPhone. Means that if anything happens to your iPad. You can quickly get everything back whether your network is working or not.

4. When you back Up Your Mac to an external hard drive. You backup the folder that contains the backup file of your iPad or iPhone as well.

5. You can sync your iPad or iPhone data.

Like the files you have in your iPad’s Files app.

Your contacts. And the info in your calendar app. You can copy them to your Mac at the same time as backing up. And sync across all your devices if you want.

You do this by backing up your Apple iPhone and your iPad in order.

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. That way you’ll sync your latest info onto your iPad.

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

There aren’t many. It’s a good way to keep a 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 or iPhone. It’s a quick and handy backup. But you must have a full backup of your MacBook onto an external hard drive or SSD drive as well.

So, 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 An External Hard Drive For Backup‘ article.

In Closing: An iPad and MacBook Backup Strategy For You

An excellent backup strategy is to:

Backup your iPad to your MacBook. You may want to backup your iPhone first. If that’s where your store your main contact and calendar information.

After that. Backup your MacBook to an external drive. That way you backup and keep a copy your device backup folder outside of your Mac.

Your Mac holds one copy of your device backups.

And doing your backups in this order. Means that folder is definitely backed up before the next time you backup any of your devices.

You can take a look at the best external drive picks. And choose a good Mac backup drive in the related article below.

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Other Resources

Apple is shutting down iTunes