When iTunes is already running and I plug in my iPhone or iPad, the device appears correctly in iTunes but it doesn't sync automatically. I'm sure it always used to sync automatically on connection, but now I need to start the sync manually (i.e. by selecting the device and clicking the Sync button). Does anyone know how I can get it to sync automatically as soon as the device is connected?

My details are as follows:

  1. iTunes on Windows 7 64-bit
  2. iPhone 4 and iPad 2, both with iOS 5.0.1
  3. iTunes > Preferences > Devices > "Prevent iPods, iPhones and iPads from syncing automatically" is unchecked.
  4. For both devices, the iTunes setting "Open iTunes when this iPhone/iPad is connected" is unchecked.
  5. I'm syncing via a USB cable. (I did try Wi-Fi sync but iTunes hardly ever found the devices so I disabled it on both iPhone and iPad. This may have been around the time auto-sync stopped working too but I can't be sure.)
  6. I don't use iCloud for sync or backup.
  7. It's the same laptop and library I've always synced against (so this answer doesn't seem to be relevant in my case)
  8. iTunesHelper.exe and iPodService.exe are both running normally.
  • 1
    Does it change anything if you check the option from step 4?
    – nohillside
    Commented Dec 7, 2011 at 9:36
  • Ah, yes it does. So it auto-sync only available with that option checked? How stupid and unintuitive! Plus I'm still sure it used to work without that checked. Commented Dec 7, 2011 at 22:33

3 Answers 3


Your list holds the answer, specifically #4. The problem is the fact that when iTunes it prevented from automatically opening when a device is connected, there's a whole list of actions that simply don't happen, sync triggering is one of them.

Re-enable 'Open iTunes when this iPhone/iPad is connected' and your syncs should work normally, and automatically, again.

  • I must admit that seems the most likely explanation, even though it's poor usability. Can you link to any info from Apple that backs that up, or is it just a hunch on your part? Commented Jan 8, 2012 at 22:25
  • 1
    I can't link to specific comments. But if I could, I would link to your own comment confirming the behavior. Commented Jan 9, 2012 at 2:23
  • @JasonSalaz apple.stackexchange.com/questions/33091/… The link is contained within "Dec 7 '11 at 22:33". :) Interestingly, the link only works if you don't get there from this page to start with… hm.
    – Tuesday
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 1:30
  • The poor UX of this option has been updated by the look of things in iTunes 11.2, as the option is now called "Automatically sync when this <device type> is connected". Commented Jun 13, 2014 at 2:04

Check that C:\Program Files\iTunes\iTunesHelper.exe is not disabled from running on startup. You can do this by using a free tool like CCleaner and accessing the startup list via Tools>Startup.

  • iTunesHelper is running fine but I think that's a red herring. A problem with iTunesHelper might prevent iTunes from starting when a device is connected, but I'm talking about connecting a device when iTunes is already running. As I said, the device appears in iTunes fine, it just doesn't auto-sync. Commented Dec 7, 2011 at 8:53

I had the very same problem and did the following to resolve:

Go to "Preferences" on the iTunes menu (top left of the iTunes screen) Select "Devices" Untick the "Prevent iPods, iPhones and iPads from synching automatically" box and submit with "OK" Thats IT!

  • 1
    Hi, welcome to AskDifferent, your answer is already included in the original accepted answer. If your problem is the same as the question above you should upvote the question, as you can see it has been answered already, so you should also upvote the relevant answer. Please take time to read the help page.
    – Deesbek
    Commented Dec 6, 2013 at 14:15

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