I need to send my iPhone in for a screen repair, which quotes a 5-9 day turnaround time. In the interim, I would like to use my previous, smaller storage capacity iPhone. Ideally, I would want to be able to use all my apps with its app data. I can't just do a transfer or a restore from backup, since my new phone has more storage capacity used than the old phone's max capacity. If I were to do a transfer without the photographs, it would fit without a problem, and would be plenty acceptable.

Is there any way to transfer all data without images to the new phone, or barring that, at least the application data? I have my data backed up on my local macOS computer. I already own iExplorer, so a solution using that would be great. However, another dedicated tool may be acceptable, depending on the price.

Assume I am on the latest iOS operating system on both phones. I am using macOS 10.14 Mojave, though I would be willing to upgrade if necessary.

  • What macOS (ie do you still have iTunes)? Where is the master storage for the photos (Photos.app, iCloud..etc)?
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 13, 2020 at 8:55
  • @Tetsujin — macOS 10.14 Mojave (though I'd be willing to upgrade). I have photos copied to the macOS Photos app, though I believe they're also included in the iTunes backup. I am not using iCloud.
    – M. Justin
    Dec 13, 2020 at 9:09
  • OK, then let me drop in a quick answer & see if it works for you
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 13, 2020 at 9:10

1 Answer 1


With iTunes & already having your master Photos library in the Photos.app, you can do this without any additional apps.
I've done this when my own phone went in for a new battery - for me it was the size of my iTunes music library, but it works the same for Photos…

First ensure the Photos.app has all your newest photos.

Connect your current (big) phone to iTunes, click its icon, then from the left column Photos deselect the Sync Photos option.

Run sync.

Run Backup (from the summary tab)

Disconnect your 'big' phone & connect your 'small' replacement.

From the Summary tab, select Restore iPhone.
Set it up as the 'same phone' as the one you just backed up.

You now have an identical copy (but with a different name), without photos.

Wipe your 'big' phone & release FindMy to send it in for repair.

When you get it back, repeat the same process in reverse order, sync, backup, set up as new, then once more switch on the Photo sync option on the 'big' phone & resync one more time.

  • Thank you for your suggestion, however, this does not seem to work. Both the photos & music were already set to sync: off by default. Restoring from that backup still said there wasn't enough room on the device. I think the photos & music were still included in the backup. The size of the backup files in Finder are larger than it would be if music & photos were excluded from it.
    – M. Justin
    Dec 14, 2020 at 5:51
  • Out of curiosity: was the large music collection when you did this yourself from the iTunes store (and thus redownloadable) or non iTunes (ripped/dowloaded/etc.) songs? I wonder whether that affects the ability to exclude them from the backup/restore.
    – M. Justin
    Dec 14, 2020 at 5:52
  • 1
    Almost entirely ripped myself from my CD collection. I had to squeeze onto a 16GB 5S from a 64GB 6S, so I had a lot of trimming to do. Music, Pics, a movie or two. Music was by far the largest though.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 14, 2020 at 7:48

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