I saw this when backing up my iPhone, and I have no idea what it means. It is in the space where the X/cancel symbol usually is, and it had no tooltip when I hovered over it.

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  • This has mystified me for a long time, too. It looks like an evil eye staring at me. I don't know what Apple has to gain by writing in ciphers on its GUIs, aside from making a lot of people confused.
    – Barry
    Aug 2, 2017 at 8:09

1 Answer 1


This symbol appears during the process of syncing between an iPhone, iPad or iPod with iTunes on a Mac or PC. I can't recall the official name of this iTunes symbol, but I can tell you what it does.

While iTunes is performing a sync it works through a number of steps. This symbol appears when the "Backup up" step commences (usually Step 2). By clicking on this symbol iTunes will skip this step and move on to the next step. In a nutshell it is a skip backup symbol, although I can't recall if that's the offical name.

This is a great option if you just want to quickly sync some purchases etc without waiting for iTunes to first do the backup, especially if you've recently done a backup or are in a real hurry.

  • I'm going to accept your answer, but I'd love for you to provide some kind of reference to support what you've said.
    – jsejcksn
    Oct 3, 2016 at 10:24
  • I'll see what I can find. I saw this documented somewhere a few months back, although I'm not sure which updated actually introduced the change. Previously the function still existed, but users needed to click the small gray "X" icon at the top of the iTunes window when they saw the words "Backing Up." From a user experience perspective this caused confusion because users interpreted this (i.e. clicking on the "X") as meaning it would stop the entire sync process, not just the backing up step.
    – Monomeeth
    Oct 3, 2016 at 10:40
  • I'm with you on everything. I just want to see some documentation. Thanks for your explanation!
    – jsejcksn
    Oct 3, 2016 at 10:42
  • What's the status on the documentation?
    – jsejcksn
    Oct 5, 2016 at 11:33
  • 1
    So Apple introduced a way to skip this using a cross symbol, but users didn't use it as they thought it would cancel the whole sync process. Apple then opted for two changes to improve the UX: (1) adding the symbol you asked about and (2) locating it on the lefthand side of the display window so it stood out more. The case study was about the use of imagery and location, as well as whether icons should be used without text. Your question actually illustrates the example that the symbol alone wasn't enough for users to 'get it', although its location invited curiosity/experimentation.
    – Monomeeth
    Nov 15, 2016 at 9:58

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