You can’t backup your iPhone or iPad to your Mac. And you don’t know why.
But it’s a real pain.
Because your iCloud Storage is full. And you want to keep a local to you backups on your Mac, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air.
In this article you’ll get some explanations why. And what you can do to solve the problem.
And if you can’t backup your iPod Touch then these solutions will work for you as well.
Just before we hit the solutions.
This may sound obvious.
But are you familiar with how to go about backing up your iPhone or iPad? If you’re not then check out this article on the site that shows you how. ‘How To Backup Your iPhone To Your MacBook‘. Click on the linked text to take a look at that article. Then come back here after if you’re still having issues.
Why Can’t I Backup My iPhone To My Mac Fixes
1. Check Finder Locations.
2. Check your USB Cable.
3. Check your MacOS version and if it backs up iPhones to Finder or iTunes backup.
4. Unlock your iPhone and click Trust on your Mac.
5. Use Another USB Port On Your Mac.
6. Shutdown and Reboot Your Mac.
You’ll find several more solutions below.
iPhone Won’t Backup To Mac – Then Check Your Mac
Solution 1: Can You See Your iPhone in a Finder Window?
One of the first things to check when you’re having trouble backing up your iPhone to your Mac is. Can your Mac or MacBook Pro or Air see your phone in a finder window?
When running MacOS Catalina or above. Your iPhone should show up in the sidebar of a finder window. And do this a couple of seconds after you’ve plugged it into your Mac.
You can take a look in a Finder window under Locations.
And if it’s not there then just check your Finder preferences is set to show it.
You do that by going to Finder Preferences.
Click on the Sidebar tab in the Finder Preferences pop up window.
Scroll down to the Locations heading and double check that the option CDs, DVDs and iOS Devices is marked.
Wait a few moments then check if your iPhone shows up in your Mac’s Sidebar.
If it does, then try your iPhone backup again.
Solution 2: Check Your Lightening to USB Cable
The next important thing to double check the USB cable you’re using. Whether it’s a Lightening to USB C cable. Or a USB C to USB C cable for your IOS device that has a USB C port.
And if you’re using one. Check your USB type A to USB C adaptor.
Because it’s often a cable issue. Even if your cable looks absolutely fine on the outside. It could have a break inside.
Check your cable is well seated into your iPhone. And into your Mac and into any adaptor you’re using. Because if your cable is broken then your Mac can’t see your iPhone. And you’ll have problems with your iPhone to Mac backup.
Does your iPhone show up now with a new cable? Then attempt to backup iPhone again.
Solution 3: Check How You’re Backing Up Your iPhone On Your Mac
Because Apple changed how you do local device backup’s to Macs. On MacOS Mojave and earlier versions of MacOS. You did your iPhone and any other iOS device backup using your iTunes app. You opened up iTunes, saw your iPhone there and did your iTune backup.
But if you’re running the latest MacOS. Anything since Catalina. You do your IOS device’s backup or sync through a Finder window.
And this will catch you out if you’ve recently upgraded an older Mac computer. You’re now running on your new Mac computer and thinking… How on earth do I do my backup now?
I know I did.
Go to this post here and that’ll walk you through how you backup now.
Solution 4: Is Your iPhone Unlocked And Trusted By Your Mac
Depending on the setting you’ve got on your iPhone. Or you may have treated yourself to a new iPhone. This little wrinkle could trip you up.
You can see your iPhone in your Finder window’s sidebar. Click on it but nothing happens. It may even looked greyed out in your finder window’s sidebar. So what’s going on? Why can’t you do your backup?
You’ll need to unlock your iPhone, or iPad before it’ll fully show up.
You’ll need to put in your iPhone’s passcode. Use Touch id or Face id depending on your generation of Apple device to unlock it.
If this is the first time you’ve tried to backup your iPhone to your Mac. Then both your Mac and your iPhone need to trust each other.
Put in your iPhone’s passcode. And in your Mac’s Finder window you’ll need to click the Trust button.
And you’ll need to tap the button to say you trust your Mac on your iPhone.
You can’t do your iPhone backup to your Mac without that.
Now try your Mac backup.
Solution 5: Try Another USB Port On Your Mac
When you know your USB cable is good. Cause you tried it out on another device.
It could be the USB port you’re using on your Mac is hung up. Plug into another port on your Mac and see if your iPhone or iPad shows up.
If it does then go ahead with your backup.
If you’re on an older MacBook Air and only have the one USB port then you’ll need to move to the next solution.
Solution 6: Shutdown And Reboot Your Mac
Your issue could be that certain internal device registers need a reset. And you need a shutdown and reboot of your Mac.
Take out the USB cable to your iPhone.
Power down your Mac. Wait at least 10 seconds before powering on. Log in. Wait till your Mac’s desktop comes up. And then log in and plug in your iPhone or iPad and see if it turns up in a finder window.
If it does then do your local to Mac backup.
You may need to do an SMC reset of your Mac. You can check how in this Apple document here.
Solutions 7: Can Another Mac See Your iPhone?
Can you plug your iPhone into another Mac and that Mac see your iPhone? Can you get through all the steps right up to the part where you’re having your issue aok?
Then you know it’s something to do with your Mac and your iPhone talking to each other.
Run through the steps above again. Then move onto the next solution.
Solution 8: Check There Are No Updates For Your MacOS
It’s just possible that a MacOS update could fix your issue. Particularly if you’ve not tried a local backup to your Mac before.
Click on the Apple symbol top left on your desktop. Click on About this Mac from the menu. Then Click on the Software Update button to check if there are any updates for your MacOS.
When Your iPhone Won’t Backup Then Check Your iPhone
Solution 9: Check You’ve Switched Off iCloud Backup So You Can Backup To Your Mac
Is your iPhone or iPad set up to backup to iCloud? Switch off iCloud backup and then retry your backup to your Mac.
You do this by going into your IOS settings. Tap on your name, where you’d set up your Apple id and iCloud. Run your eyes down the list of options and turn off your iCloud backup.
Then restart your iPhone backup to your Mac or MacBook.
Solution 10: Restart Your iPhone
Sometimes it’s your device that’s causing the issue. Power off your iPad or iPhone. Wait 10 seconds for it to fully turn off. Then power your device back on again.
And backup iPhone to your Mac.
Solutions 11: Check For Updates To IOS On Your iPhone
Check your IOS device for a software update.
It could be that a previous software update broke the ability to do a manual backup to your Mac.
Check your iPhone or iPad setting. Tap on the General option. Then Tap on software Update to check if there’s a software update to iOS that will sort you out.
After the update, then retry your iPhone to Mac backup.
Can’t Backup iPhone Because Of An Error
Backup Is Corrupt Error
When you’re getting an error that your iPhone backup is corrupt. And that’s stopping you from backing up your iPhone again. The best thing is to get rid of that backup.
Your iPhone backup file is stored in a backup folder. Under your Home folder on your Mac. But there is an easy way to get to it.
After USB plugging in your iPhone. Open it up so that you can see your device management finder window. Scroll down to your Backups section. And click on the button Manage Backups.
A smaller popup window will come up next titled ‘Device backups’.
In that window you’ll see all the backups you’ve taken to your Mac. The device names. And the date and time of the last backup.
Click on the backup you want to delete to highlight it. Then click on the ‘Delete Backup’ button.
The picture above shows you where.
Then do your iPhone to MacBook or iMac backup.
You may feel a bit uncomfortable about deleting your last iPhone backup. What if you need it?
And that’s an understandable concern.
The best strategy is to take a backup of your Mac to an external hard drive. Do that before you backup your iPhone to your Mac.
Backup iPhone or any other iOS gadget you want to your Mac. Take another external drive backup. And for sure backup before you upgrade iOS.
That way you’ve always got several backups you can restore from external drive if you need to.
Not Enough Disk Space Error
When you can’t do your iPhone or iPad backup to your Mac because of a disk space error. Then you’ll need to free up some space on your Mac.
It’s quite common for movies and photos to be taking up large amounts of space on your Mac. And on your iPhone or iPad.
You can use an external drive to off load your Photos App library from your Mac to an external hard drive. That’s one way.
Or you can copy off your iPhone photos only via your Mac. Assuming you’ve enough space on your Mac to do that. And then offload those photos to an external drive and free up space.
You can also think about using something like Google Photos App. Use as a place to off-load your photos to reduce space on your IPhone.
You were having issues backing your iPhone up to your Mac. And now you’ve a variety of solutions to try so you can get your data backed up as quickly as possible.
Thanks for dropping by.
About Simon Irons
As an admin I spend my day helping folks with their Mac issues. From the guy at work, through to unofficial 911 support for family and friends. I swear they have me on speed dial.
For fun I like testing out and playing with new stuff. I think Apple make the best products on the planet.
In my spare time I like to fish and play around with boats.