Fix iTunes Wi-Fi Sync

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iTunes sync button

Those of us using iTunes wi-fi sync know all too well that it is buggy. The most common issue is the inability to sync content over to your iPad or iPhone. Doing the opposite, transferring content from your iPad to iTunes, is horribly defective. This how-to article assumes that you have followed Apple’s instructions for configuring wi-fi sync. This article presents further configuration options to make wi-fi sync more robust and work every time. For simplicity, I will refer to the iPad, but this how-to guide also applies to the iPhone.

The Problems:

The main problem is when you start iTunes, the iPad is not fully detected. When this happens, you will see the iPad detected in the left panel, but you will not see the contents of the iPad after several minutes. Clicking on the expand button (triangle to the left of the iPad label) doesn’t do anything. iTunes finds your iPad, but it is not fully “docked”.

iPad not fully docked

To get sync to work properly, you need to see the expanded contents of the iPad.

Your iPad is not fully “docked” because iTunes is downloading purchases. You may have bought an album or video from iTunes on your iPad. When you start iTunes on your Mac or PC, it will attempt to download the same content from iTunes. This doesn’t make sense. It should download the iTunes content from your iPad, not iTunes. This is both in the consumers’ and Apple’s interest. If they just copied the content from your iPad, you would not only save time, but Apple’s servers would not encounter traffic from redundant downloads. The whole Internet would benefit from less traffic, as iTunes files are often huge!

The other issue is that your iPad may not show up at all. This is much more mysterious, as there are no error messages.

Furthermore, transferring content from your iPad to iTunes is very buggy, especially if your iPad is almost full. You may have to resort to extreme measures to fix this.

The next pages cover how to solve these problems…

next page →

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  1. I was unable to reliably use wifi sync on my Windows 7 box for a couple of years. Everything I tried (from countless pages like this one) failed. Wifi sync would maybe work once after a reboot, or after I restarted the Bonjour service, but it would only work once. I think I finally discovered the cause: I removed a desktop widget called “Network Monitor” from I discovered this when I tried to completely uninstall Bonjour; the uninstall wouldn’t continue until I terminated the network monitor widget. I’ve removed the widget from my desktop and, since then, I’ve been able to wifi sync my iPhone and iPad about 4 times, with no problems.

  2. If you want to work on Windows iTunes sync via Wi-Fi, in any case, do not install iCloud! Tested on 100% … If you have already found it necessary to take down and clean the registry!

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