I have bought a number of apps on my iPhone. When I try to set up syncing with iTunes it says that this will remove all of the apps.

How do I make iTunes not want to replace all of the apps and instead just make a backup of the existing ones?

  • 1
    Are you saying you have either never synced your phone with iTunes, or that you don't have access to the copy of iTunes that you used to originally activate your phone? Sep 13, 2010 at 15:07
  • I do not have access to the iTunes I used to originally activate the phone.
    – Niklas
    Sep 15, 2010 at 13:43

3 Answers 3


I had this same issue after I recreated my iTunes library. This may be totally off because it was about a month ago, but I think I did this:

  • canceled the sync
  • clicked on the iPod under devices or whatever (maybe I secondary clicked)
  • I think after I clicked (or secondary clicked) on it, there was an option to copy purchased items

Sorry this is so vague, it's been awhile :)

on edit:

I just tested this out by alt clicking iTunes, creating a new library, and connecting my iPod. It's pretty much exactly how I described.

  • cancel the sync
  • secondary click the iPod on the left
  • click "transfer purchases"

Afterwards, you can sync, and everything will be erased and rewritten to the iPod.

I'm not sure why Apple makes this so confusing. The only reason I can come up with is that they want people to have to repurchase stuff but that seems a little over the top even from Apple.

  • "The only reason I can come up with is that they want people to have to repurchase stuff…" — incorrect reasoning, since if you try and repurchase an app with the same account, the app store will recognize this and download the app without charging you. (I wish they would do this with music too…)
    – ghoppe
    Sep 14, 2010 at 16:23
  • but doesn't that mean that if you purchase music on your ios device and then sync to a new library, the store would allow you to repurchase the content if you screwed up and didn't transfer it into your new library? Sep 14, 2010 at 20:27

When you plug your iPhone into your computer and sync it with iTunes, it will first copy purchased apps to iTunes (it shows this on the status window), then complete the sync.

I purchase apps on my iPhone/iPad all the time and don't worry about it, just plug in and sync.


I asked the same question on SuperUser a while ago, and nobody could give me a solid answer.

What I ended up having to do is just download all the apps that I wanted in iTunes then sync my iPhone. I cannot remember if iTunes actually removed the apps that I did not already have in iTunes, but in the end it worked.

PS. I hope you don't have too many apps :)

  • I just answered your question on superuser. Too little, too late? oh well :P Sep 14, 2010 at 1:01

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