With macOS Catalina iOS sync has moved to Finder and became very unreliable, very slow, and even adding a single song starts a very long loop of syncing:


Also when you have 20-40 GB photos and videos, you are looking for something better than iCloud Photo library or Photo stream. Like a better UX of deciding what is uploaded to icloud, what is on the mac (where space is possibly limited) and what is on the iPhone, and where it's clear, that "delete" button deletes from which of the three in the end of the day.

But slowness and not showing a progress status is also a huge issue with both Music/Finder sync and Photos app.

Is there a 3rd party project out there, who got these sync tools right between iOS, macOS and icloud? I'd be happy to support them.

  • Not sure about the iCloud part. iCloud is a syncing solution, so if you have iCloud enabled for Photos it will always delete them on all synced devices. And if you don't have it enabled there isn't a known way to push photos into iCloud.
    – nohillside
    Mar 2, 2020 at 13:59

2 Answers 2


It is hard to answer your question, as it has multiple elements to it. You're both asking about syncing between an iOS device and a Mac (over USB or WiFi), and you're asking about syncing between a Mac and iCloud Photos. In addition, the conditions for the answer is really subjective - even though I might think that somebody got sync tools "just right", you might think that they're not "right" for you.

For syncing between the iOS device and the Mac, I can recommend this third party project:


It works perfectly well for syncing. I think it's "just right" for my purposes, where the built-in syncing in macOS isn't enough.

For syncing between the Mac and iCloud Photos, there doesn't exist any 3rd party program that allows you to decide exactly what is uploaded to the Photo Library, and what stays on the Mac (outside of the ordinary controls provided to you by Apple Photos).

  • Does anything over libimobiledevice support music and ringtone syncing? I see it's good for photos and fetching music already on the iPhone, but is it good for uploading music on the iphone? Or any tool over it making it easy?
    – dszakal
    Mar 3, 2020 at 13:35
  • Well, depends on various things - for example which version of iOS software your device is running. If you have old stuff, libimobiledevice itself is sufficient. If you want to do actual syncing, you'll need something to "sync against" - i.e. you need some kind of "music database" (i.e. an alternative to iTunes). That could be something like Rhythmbox or Amarok, I've also seen some use MusicBrainz. These typically use a binding like libgpod.
    – jksoegaard
    Mar 3, 2020 at 14:26
  • I cannot find any information if libgpod supports iOS 13 - has anyone tested it?
    – dszakal
    Mar 3, 2020 at 14:53

A few thoughts. First, you could definitely use Google photos to store all of this. It's free (with slightly lower quality) and it auto-syncs everything. I never import my photos into my computer because they're all on Google Photos.

Second, for deletion, image capture (a native app) is incredibly effective. You can do a lot of manipulation and (believe) can mass delete once you've synced up with Google Photos.

I'm sure you can work iCloud cleanly, but I prefer using Google Photos.

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