How to Sync iPad To a New Computer | iPad Tips

Want to Sync iPad to a new computer? When you get a new computer, it can be a bit of a downer to plug your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch into it and be told that you’ll have to erase it and start again, all because it’s synced to a different iTunes library. Don’t despair, because there’s a away to avoid wiping your precious device provided you still have access to the computer you’ve been syncing it to. It can seem a bit fiddly to do, but it’s a lot easier than having to start from scratch with a clean device.

The secret lies in the fact that your device syncs to a specific iTunes library, not a computer. So the trick is to move your library from your old computer to the new one, and your iPad won’t know the difference!

If you’ve been using the default settings in iTunes (that is, letting it organize your media for you, as opposed to storing it elsewhere on your computer or on an external drive), what we’re going to do here should transfer your actual media files across, too. If you’ve been organizing your files in a different way, you’ll need to be sure to move those separately.

Sync iPad to New Computer

You need access to your old and new computers and a way of transferring a large amount of data between them. The fastest would be over a local Ethernet network, bit if the machines aren’t linked, an external hard drive or USB stick will do the job. We’ll show you below how to find out how much data you’re going to need to move.

Sync Your Device

Plug your iPhone, iPad or iPhone touch into your old computer for the last time and open iTunes. Right-click its name under Devices and choose sync. Once that’s done, unplug your device and lay it to one side for now.

Find The Folder

Go to Edit> Preferences (Windows) or iTunes> Preferences (Mac). Click Advanced; we’re interested in where it says ‘iTunes Media folder location’. The folder we need to copy is called iTunes (not iTunes Media).

iTunes Media Folder

Size Matters

Open Finder or Windows Explorer and browse to the location of the iTunes folder (in our case, that’s in C:/Users/YourFolder, and so on). Right – click the iTunes folder and choose Get info or properties to find out its size.

Copy The Folder

Armed with the size figure, get hold of a hard drive or USB stick big enough to fit it on. Copy the iTunes folder to it. Once everything’s across, disconnect the storage from your old computer and hook it up the new one.

Find The iTunes Folder

On your new machine, find the location of the iTunes folder as you did in step 2, then close iTunes. If you’ve got any media on this computer already, move the existing iTunes folder elsewhere to avoid overwriting it.

Open iTunes

Now copy the iTunes folder from your storage device into the exact place that we established in step 5. Once it’s copied, open iTunes. All being well, the music and apps from your old computer will be waiting for you.

Settings Tweak

If you stored media elsewhere on your old computer, add it to iTunes on the new one. In Preferences, click Devices and check the box to prevent automatic syncing, ensuring your device doesn’t get wiped when you plug it in.

Plug in Your Device

Now connect your device to the new computer and click the Apps tab. The sync box will be checked, indicating things are working well so far. Don’t sync yet, but right-click the iOS device in the left pane and choose Back-Up.


If you’d synced media automatically on your old computer, make sure it’s all present under Library on the new one, because when you sync, anything that’s missing will be wiped from your iOS device. If it’s all there, sync away!

Back up Your Computer

Now that everything’s transferred to your new computer and it’s syncing with your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, it’s a good time to back up the Mac or PC. In Mac OS X, click the Time Machine menu and choose Back Up Now.

And in Windows…

Create System Restore Point by right-clicking Computer, choosing Properties and then clicking System Protection on the left. Make sure Protection’s set to On for your hard drive, then click Create….to get started.

Deauthorise Old Machine

You can authorise five computers to use your iTunes account, so deauthorising old machines is wise. Open iTunes, click Store> De-authorize This Computer….., type in your Apple ID and password and click Deauthorize.


  1. ha14 says:

    Interesting method, so what if we dont have the old computer or old itunes and we have to sync to the new itunes without loosing the installed applications on ipad.

    1. ian g says:

      That ‘ha14′ is my question… it is unbelieable that in this day and age with the technology that we have Apple can’t give us a way of transferring all data to the new device and then reseting the old one if they like…

  2. Carol says:

    That is my question, as well how do you or can you do it, if you don’t have your old computer? My computer was stolen, so there is no way I can get any files.

    Any help would be appreciated

    Thank you

  3. monica says:

    THANKS A MILLION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AWESOME!!!!!

  4. Puna says:

    Thank you SO much! My cat knocked over a bottle of water that had, maybe, a 1/4 c of water in it onto my laptop this week. Got the water off, took it a part and let it dry for a few days and the thing was still dead as a door nail. I had almost everything backed up, except a lot of video, music & books that were on my ipad & ipod touch. I was truly dreading losing that stuff. But with your help (and a hard drive enclosure) I was able to get to the itunes files and transfer them over to the new pc. Getting a new laptop set up so it feels ‘right’ is a big enough pain but having to remember what the settings were for the ipad & ipods AND losing lots of files was something I really didn’t want to deal with. Thanks again!

  5. Tracey says:

    Thank you for such a well written step by step article showing exactly what to do to transfer your devices to a new computer. The only suggestion I would make is to state which steps to follow for the second and subsequent devices, as once I got to the end and my ipad was working perfectly, I was unsure where to start to get the same result with the iphone.

  6. Andrew Eggleton says:

    Good article, but what if the old computer died? how do you resynch the I pad?

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