I am trying to restore a new 16 GB iPhone from my old 64 GB backup, and am getting the error message that the old backup is too large (for the record, I don't believe it's very much over 16 GB)...the old phone is broken, so I cannot try to make a new backup smaller (this was one solution I found here).

Any idea how I might go into the backup that is saved in iTunes and eliminate portions manually? Any help greatly appreciated. Thanks!

2 Answers 2


This is not possible within iTunes, which deals with backup and restore as a single block. Keep in mind that syncing apps is different from a backup and restore - so you could remove some apps to free up space and try the restore.

The backup is stored under ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/, but the files not in an easy-to-use form.

If you wish to explore your backup and see what can be selectively extracted or used, there are some paid applications to do that (check the free trials to see if they're helpful):
iBackup Extractor
iPhone Backup Extractor

Also see:
Processing iPhone / iPod Touch Backup Files on a Computer

  • As the author of the second tool linked in this answer, I'd point out that you could use it to delete files in the backup prior to restoring it. In theory this will work, as the backup will be in a consistent state post-deletion. You'd have to be very careful which files you deleted -- and take a backup first! Dec 26, 2018 at 20:43

You can restore a large iTunes iOS backup to another iOS device with less storage.

I answered this question elsewhere on the web as seen here:


Here's how:

  • Using iTunes, start the process of restoring your big iOS backup to another iOS device with less storage.

  • iTunes will eventually show a message letting you know the backup is too big to restore.

  • At this point, slow down and pay attention to the tabs at the top and the storage meter at the bottom of the iTunes window. Click through the tabs and deselect the items you do not want such as apps and media that take up too much room for your replacement device.

  • Click or tap the 'Sync' button after you've made your selections and the restoration process will complete.

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