How to Change the iPhone Backup Location on Mac

How to Change the iPhone Backup Location on Mac

The Mac’s lack of a built-in option to change the default iPhone backup location is puzzling. It becomes even more peculiar considering that iTunes was completely removed in macOS Catalina. Fortunately, we have discovered a way to change the location for iPhone backups on a Mac.

How to Change the iPhone Backup Location on Mac

I will discuss a workaround that allows you to change the iPhone backup location to an external drive or another internal directory on your Mac. Let’s begin.

Changing iPhone Backup Location on Mac

Starting macOS Catalina, the Finder app backs up your iPhone to the Mac via USB or Wi-Fi. Backups are stored in a hidden location labeled Backup inside a folder named MobileSync. To switch backups to another location, use a workaround involving symbolic links (symlinks). A symlink allows you to create a dummy folder that points to another location. The folder, which looks like a shortcut, becomes a ‘wormhole’ where anything copied to it appears within the pointed location. Sounds cool, right?

We will ‘trick’ Finder into backing up your iPhone to a different location, such as an external drive or another directory. Follow these steps:

First, copy existing backups to the new location. Then, use Terminal to create a symlink that connects the default iPhone backup folder to the new location.

The entire process is lengthy and requires multiple steps, including granting Terminal permissions to create symlinks. Pay close attention.

Note: It’s advisable to create an iCloud backup of your iPhone before starting, as an additional backup option in case of any issues.

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“The concept of wireless synchronization, also known as iCloud, plays an important role in modern technology. It is a process that enables the transfer of data between devices without the need for physical connections. The importance of wireless synchronization cannot be overstated, as it simplifies data management and enhances collaboration. Are you struggling to keep your devices in sync? Take into account the benefits of wireless synchronization. In conclusion, choosing the right synchronization method is crucial for efficient data transfer. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages will help you make an informed decision. And if you like the convenience of wireless synchronization, then you’ll love the ease of use it offers. With these factors in mind, you’re looking for a reliable and secure method of data transfer. Look no further than wireless synchronization. In today’s fast-paced world, where connectivity is key, wireless synchronization is the answer to all your data transfer needs.”

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Revised text:

Wireless synchronization, also known as iCloud, simplifies data management and enhances collaboration by enabling data transfer between devices without physical connections. Its importance cannot be overstated. Are you struggling to keep your devices in sync? Consider the benefits of wireless synchronization. Choosing the right synchronization method is crucial for efficient data transfer. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages will help you make an informed decision. If you value convenience, wireless synchronization offers ease of use. With these factors in mind, look no further than wireless synchronization for reliable and secure data transfer in today’s fast-paced, connected world.

How to Change the iPhone Backup Location on Mac

A Finder window will open the MobileSync folder, which contains the Backup folder that stores your iPhone and iPad backups.

Right-click the Backup folder, and then click Copy “Backup.”

Open a fresh instance of Finder, and navigate to the location where you want to store iPhone backups. It can be an external drive or another directory on your Mac’s internal storage drive.

Once you’re there, right-click an empty area, and select Paste Item. I’ll choose the root of an external drive called “Files” as my preferred location.

How to Change the iPhone Backup Location on Mac

Step 4: Wait for the Backup folder to fully copy to the new location, which may take some time depending on the size of your previous backups.

How to Change the iPhone Backup Location on Mac

Step 5: Return to the Finder window from Step 1, which opened to the MobileSync directory. Right-click the Backup folder, and choose Rename.

How to Change the iPhone Backup Location on Mac

Rename the folder to Backup.old.

Note: You can delete this folder, but it’s best to hold onto it for now in case something goes wrong.

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How to Change the iPhone Backup Location on Mac

Step 7: Open the Apple menu, then select System Preferences.

How to Change the iPhone Backup Location on Mac

In Step 8, click the Security & Privacy tile.

How to Change the iPhone Backup Location on Mac

Step 9: Click the ‘Click the lock to make changes’ option in the lower-left corner of the screen. Authenticate to enable changes to your Mac’s privacy settings.

Step 10: Scroll down the left-hand menu, select Full Disk Access, and click the ‘+’-shaped icon.

How to Change the iPhone Backup Location on Mac

Step 11: Click Utilities, Terminal, and Open.

How to Change the iPhone Backup Location on Mac

After including Terminal in the Full Disk Access list, close the Security & Privacy window.

Step 12: Open another Finder instance, go to the Utilities folder.

How to Change the iPhone Backup Location on Mac

Step 13: Double-click Terminal.

How to Change the iPhone Backup Location on Mac

Step 14: Insert the following command into Terminal after making the adjustments listed below:

ln -s /Volumes/Files/Backup/ ~/Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync/

  • Modify the ‘/Volumes/Files/Backup/’ portion of the command above with the actual path of the location where you copied the Backup folder. For example, if the folder was copied into a folder called iPhone, located in a volume or drive called Vault, the folder path should look like ‘/Volumes/Vault/iPhone/Backup/’.

Tip: If you are unsure about the exact folder path that leads to the Backup folder, simply open it in Finder, go to View (on the menu bar), and click Show Path Bar. You will then see the entire path at the bottom of the Finder window.

How to Change the iPhone Backup Location on Mac

  • If any name within the folder path contains multiple words, use a backward slash with a single space between the words. For example, if the external drive is named “My Files,” the folder path should be ‘/Volumes/My\ Files/Backup/’.

Once you’ve executed the command, the symbolic link should be active.

Step 15: Open the MobileSync folder from Step 1. You will find a shortcut folder labeled Backup inside. Test the symlink by double-clicking this folder. If it works properly, you will be taken to the actual Backup folder in the new location.

How to Change the iPhone Backup Location on Mac

Everything looks fine? Then you are ready to start backing up your iPhone to the new location.

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Step 16: Connect your iPhone (or iPad) and perform a backup. It should seamlessly back up to the Backup folder in the new location.

How to Change the iPhone Backup Location on Mac

Once a successful backup is done, you can safely delete the renamed Backup.old folder in the MobileSync directory. This is useful if you want to free up space on your Mac.

If you move your backup to an external drive, remember to connect it while backing up. Otherwise, the symlink will not work.

Note: To revert to the previous location of iPhone backups, remove the symbolic link created in the above steps. Go to the MobileSync folder and delete the Backup shortcut folder. Then, copy the Backup folder (from its previous location) back into the MobileSync folder. Future backups will occur at the original location again.

Take a Backup

With symlinks, it’s possible to back up your iPhone to another location on your Mac. The process may seem tedious and complicated, but it’s actually straightforward. Just follow the steps above closely, and you should have no trouble shifting locations. If you have any questions, drop a comment and let me know.

Next up: Have a PC? Here’s how to shift the iPhone backup location on Windows 10.

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