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How to connect an iPhone to a Mac

There are many reasons why you may want to connect your iPhone to your Mac. You might want to sync content, back up your device, remove data, or use the Continuity features. Whatever the reason, you can connect an iPhone to a Mac easily.

Whether you’re using a physical cable to make the connection or the air waves to do it wirelessly, each process is simple. Your reason for connecting the two should determine which option you choose. Let’s walk through them both.

Difficulty

Moderate




Duration

10 minutes

What You Need

  • iPhone

  • Mac

  • Charging cable (optional)

  • Port adapter (optional)

  • Wi-Fi

Show 1 more item

Contents

  • Connect an iPhone to Mac using a cable
  • Connect an iPhone to Mac wirelessly

Connect an iPhone to Mac using a cable

To sync content, remove data and settings, or update your iPhone, you can use a cable to connect it to your Mac. You’ll simply use the charging cable for your iPhone to make the connection. However, depending on which device models you own, you may need an adapter.

If your iPhone uses a Lightning to USB cable and your Mac has a USB port, you can simply plug it right in. But if your Mac only has a USB-C cable, for instance, a MacBook Pro 2021, you’ll need an adapter. On the other hand, if your iPhone uses a USB-C to Lightning cable and your computer only has a USB port, like with the MacBook Air M1, 2020, you’ll also need an adapter.

The bottom line is that unless you have an iPhone cable and a Mac port with matching connectors, you’ll need to grab an adapter to physically connect it.

If you’re able to make this connection, whether with an adapter or not, you can use Finder on MacOS Catalina or later to work with your data as well as update your iPhone. You’ll find these steps below.

If you’re running an older version of MacOS, before Catalina, you’ll use iTunes to perform these actions.

Step 1: Plug your phone into your computer and open Finder.

Step 2: In the sidebar, select your iPhone in the Locations section.

Step 3: You may be asked to Trust the device or update your iPhone to the latest iOS version if you haven’t already. Simply follow the prompts for these actions.

Step 4: Then, use the various tabs at the top, directly below your iPhone details, to work with the content you need in Finder.

Step 5: When you finish and want to disconnect your iPhone, click the Eject icon to the right of it in the Finder sidebar. You can then safely unplug the cable from your iPhone and Mac.

Connect an iPhone to Mac wirelessly

To make a wireless connection from your iPhone to your Mac and take advantage of features like Handoff, AirPlay, AirDrop, Continuity Camera, Instant Hotspot, and Universal Clipboard, make sure the following are in place.

  • Your iPhone and Mac have Wi-Fi turned on.

  • Your iPhone and Mac have Bluetooth enabled.

  • Your iPhone and Mac are signed into iCloud using the same Apple ID.

  • For features like Handoff and Universal Clipboard, you’ll need Handoff turned on.

  • For features like AirDrop, you’ll need your devices to be within range, 30 feet or nine meters.

Then simply follow the processes to use the Continuity features you need. Each differs and may require specific versions of iOS or MacOS to use the particular feature.

Whether you need to connect a physical cable to work with data in Finder or want to connect wirelessly to use the Continuity features, it’s easy to connect your iPhone to your Mac.

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