I am looking for a way to prevent iTunes from synching app to the iphone.

Current situation: I only back the iphone up with iTunes - icloud backup is not feasible to me - and connect it to iTunes a couple times a week. During this time I add/delete apps on iphone: every time I synch it to iTunes it will copy every new apps AND install app that were present the last time I synched but have now been deleted.

How I wish it would behave: every time I synch I would like only the app data to be backed up and the apps left alone. Plus, I would like to regain the 4-5 gb of space that the useless ipa files are using in the main drive.

Any hint?

1 Answer 1


I have many devices that sync with my Mac and carry no apps on iTunes, so it's possible. I don't back any of them up to iTunes though and use iCloud for that.

  1. Make a back up of your Mac/PC in case the iTunes changes need to be reversed.
  2. Uncheck the box in iTunes that says "install new Apps automatically".
  3. Choose to back the phone up to iCloud rather than to the computer
  4. Delete all apps from iTunes so your Library looks like this when you view apps (you can move them to trash now or leave them in the library folder as you choose) enter image description here
  5. Test a sync of the phone to see if the apps transfer back

Going forward, purchased apps will not transfer back to iTunes from the device. Backups only back up user data and not apps - independent of whether apps themselves sync.

Once you've turned off syncing of apps for all iOS devices, you can empty the trash and rejoice that iTunes doesn't get apps unless you download them explicitly. Also, if you didn't move the apps to the trash, you can go in and delete or file them elsewhere since iTunes isn't tracking those files as part of your library now.

  • where exactly is the box that you mention? in iTunes/iphone 4/ apps/ i only have a box that says: "install new applications automatically".
    – nick2k3
    May 2, 2013 at 16:46
  • It looks like the sync apps button is gone in iTunes 11.0.2 - I'll upload what I see and amend the answer. You might need to reverse the order and/or back up to iCloud to avoid app syncing once you have started syncing them (or transferring them from the iOS device to iTunes on a specific computer.)
    – bmike
    May 2, 2013 at 17:28
  • 1
    thank you - that means I am not crazy not finding it - however iCloud synching is a no-go for me. My photo roll occupies too much space. Is there a way to forbid iCloud to back up photos?
    – nick2k3
    May 3, 2013 at 8:21

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