Now that iTunes has been removed from macOS Catalina, syncing your iPhone or iPad to your MacBook requires the use of the enhanced Finder app. Some users have reported that they are unable to sync their iPhone / iPad with their Mac after updating to macOS Catalina.
The Finder app doesn’t seem to recognize the connected iPhone or iPad.
If you are experiencing this issue, here are some tips that can use to fix this sync issue on your MacBook running macOS Catalina.
- How to sync music and videos in macOS Catalina
- How to update iOS and iPadOS using Finder and macOS Catalina
- No More iTunes. How to use Finder in macOS Catalina to Sync and Restore iPhone
- How to transfer Custom RingTones from macOS Catalina to iPhone
Use an Apple-branded cable!
First, connect your iPhone or iPad with its original cable to your Mac. If the original is not available, try using an Apple-branded cable instead of a third-party cable. Many people discover that simply swapping the cable to its original or an Apple one makes the difference!
Once you have connected your iPhone to your Mac, Click on ‘Trust’ and enter your passcode on the iPhone to proceed and then check the steps below.
We also suggest trying out different Apple cables to connect your iPhone or iPad to your Mac in order to rule out any cable-related issues.
macOS Catalina not connecting to iPhone or iPad
Please try each of these simple steps and check if the Finder App on macOS Catalina is able to detect and connect to your iPhone or iPad.
- Check Finder app preferences. Click on Finder > Preferences… at the top menu
- Go to the SideBar tab on Finder’s preferences
- Under ‘Show these items in the sidebar:’, make sure you have enabled iOS Devices.
- You will not be able to locate your iPhone /iPad on Finder’s sidebar if this is not enabled
- Using the ‘General’ tab on Finder app’s preferences, disable ‘Open folders in tabs instead of windows’
- When you click on the connected iPhone, it should open a new Finder window
- Locate and delete the preference list file for the Finder app.
- Open Finder app
- Click on Go > Go To Folder from the top menu
- Type in ‘~/Library/Preferences/‘ without the quotes and press enter
- Locate the file ‘com.apple.finder.plist’ and drag it out to the trash
- Restart Finder App
- Check if you are able to connect your iPhone / iPad to Finder
- If all the settings above are fine and you still cannot access your iPhone,
- Disconnect your iPhone / iPad from your MacBook
- Restart your Finder App. Press the ‘Option’ key and right-click on the Finder icon on the dock and choose ‘Relaunch’
- Connect your iPhone or iPad again using the cable
- Check if Finder app is now able to detect your iPhone or iPad
- Shutdown your Mac and iPhone completely (not restart)
- Restart your Mac followed by your iPhone and then launch Finder App and see if it detects your device
Check the Permissions in your Home Folder on your Mac
We have seen this issue before with other macOS apps that require read/write permissions. In the past iTunes would report that your device cannot be synced. When facing these issues in the past, we have been successful in resolving them via resetting permissions on the Home Folder. Here’s how you do it.
- Using the Finder menu bar, click on Go > Home
- Choose File > Get Info
- Go to the Sharing and Permissions at the bottom of the window and open it
- Click on the action menu at the top and choose ‘Apply to enclosed items’
- Please remember to click on the ‘lock’ button at the bottom right and enter your credentials before applying the action.
- Click OK to confirm the action
- Log out of your MacBook and log back in and try again
The Home folder reset permission is an important troubleshooting Mac tool that users should know about. This is helpful when applications such as Preview, textedit or Photos quit unexpectedly on your Mac.
Still Not working?
If you are still having issues with your macOS Catalina detecting your iPhone or iPad, you may want to reach out to Apple Support and have them help you out. You can directly chat with Apple Support and they will be able to access your issue and provide support.
In our experience, we have found that many users had this issue because their Finder preferences were not enabled by default to show the connected iPhone or iPad. The other common sync related issue requires multiple attempts at Unplugging and plugging the device with the Mac and then trying to sync.
Sync and Transfer Home Videos over to iPad or iPhone using macOS Catalina
Several readers have asked how they can use the Sync process in Catalina to transfer over their home videos that are in old iTunes Movie libraries. Dragging and dropping does not seem to work with the Sync.
In the older macOS, when iTunes was supported, the user could easily sync their home movies by dragging and dropping them from the original iTunes folder which houses the movies.
With macOS Catalina, it appears that syncing content such as Home movies has moved to the TV App now. All Home movies are now synced using the TV App on macOS Catalina.
In order to sync your home movies
- Open TV app on your Mac
- You will find only the folders ‘Recently added’, ‘Movies’ and ‘TV Shows’ by default.
- Drag your Home movie out of the iTunes Folders to TV app OR
- Right-click on the file and choose ‘Edit With’ > Select TV app
- This operation automatically creates a new ‘Home Videos’ library on the TV app
- The imported home video gets moved to this new folder
- Connect your iPhone or iPad to your MacBook using the cable
- Launch Finder app and head to ‘Movies’ tab
- Choose the Home Video from the folder and apply Sync
- Now When you open up the TV App on your iPhone, you should find the home video in its own library.
Two key observations for this process: Sometimes when you transfer the video file over to the TV app on your Mac, it doesn’t show up immediately and takes time. What we found is that force-quitting the TV app, and then using the ‘Edit with TV app’ function on the movie file brings up the movie content immediately in the TV app.
Please let us know if you have any questions or if you would like to share a tip that helped you fix this issue on your MacBook.
Obsessed with tech since the early arrival of A/UX on Apple, Sudz (SK) is responsible for the editorial direction of AppleToolBox. He is based out of Los Angeles, CA.
Sudz specializes in covering all things macOS, having reviewed dozens of OS X and macOS developments over the years.
In a former life, Sudz worked helping Fortune 100 companies with their technology and business transformation aspirations.