Never Sync Your iPhone With iTunes Again

Never Sync Your iPhone With iTunes Again

iTunes can be a useful, but it can also be a huge pain. If you’ve ever used it for sync, you’ve likely experienced problems. Fortunately, with the help of a few apps, you don’t ever have to sync with iTunes again.


Regardless of how you want to view your photos and how you want them on your phone, you have quite a few options. Recently we looked at how PhotoSync for Lazy makes for quick, automatic photo syncing with your Windows PC. Photo Sync is a cross-platform solution that lets you wirelessly copy your photos from your iPhone’s camera roll onto your computer. Apps like Dropbox are a good way of syncing photos cross-platform as well, but viewing on your iOS device isn’t all that great since the Dropbox app doesn’t provide any kind of thumbnail previews. You can flick through photos one by one, however. If you’re a Flickr user, Photo Wallet will sync your Flickr photos wirelessly (called Photo Pad for iPad users). iPicasa does the same thing for Picasa users. While not every single base is covered with photos, chances are you use a service that’ll easily let you avoid syncing your photos with iTunes.


Although you might think video’s more difficult, it ends up being pretty easy. You can either use Dropbox to sync and save physical copies of video files on your iPhone or you can use video streaming applications like StreamToMe, AirVideo, and Libox (our overview) to watch your video (that’s stored on a home computer) anywhere you have a decent connection.


Music is really where the most concessions come in, but you do have options. While, again, Dropbox will let you save files, that will get annoying fast when you have thousands of songs you want to store. StreamToMe will let you stream your music from your home machine, or you can use any of the great music-streaming services that have iOS apps (some of which are free). Unfortunately, though, if you want true music sync without iTunes you’ll either have to resort to jailbreaking your iPhone and hacking together a syncing process without iTunes using WinAMP and ml_ipod.

Podcasts and Spoken Word Content

Podcasts and spoken word content are fortunately a bit easier to handle than music. If you’re an audio book listener, chances are you get your content through Audible. The Audible app lets you purchase and download audio books directly to your iOS device over Wi-Fi with no need for iTunes. Alternatively, Apple’s iPod application, in conjunction with the iTunes Music Store, lets you update your podcasts manually and purchase much of Audible’s audio book content. While these third-party apps tend to do a better job, when it comes to spoken work content you can get by with what’s already included on your iPhone.

Other Information

For contacts, calendars, email accounts, tasks and notes, you can always make use of Apple’s $119/year MobileMe service or just use Mail2Web instead. There are plenty of individual app alternatives, however. Air Sharing lets you transfer and view files over Wi-Fi. Dropbox lets you access anything you keep in your always-syncing Dropbox, with the option to save files directly to your iOS device without trouble. Simplenote is a great option for syncing plain text and Evernote can handle richer text with graphics. The list goes on and on because there’s really no shortage of apps for wirelessly syncing documents and similar content.

Got any great ways of breaking away from iTunes while still satisfying your syncing needs? (You know, besides getting an Android.) Let's hear 'em in the comments.


  • iTunes isnt really that bad! i have never had a problem with it. There is always a backup of my phone settings stored, all my apps, music, videos, photos i sync are all kept on my computer and managed through iTunes. All you need to do is manually take control of your itunes so it doesnt automatically sync. Everything else is perfect!

  • What about Mediamonkey for syncing music to Ipods? Waaaaay more robust than anything else I have used. Only downside is that Mediamonkey can be slow to support new iOS updates

  • It appears you want more pain. Why replace one app with a multitude of apps that have varying success.
    I was a hater of iTunes back when it was first released, the only plus I saw was it ripped CDs faster than any app of it’s time. But Jumping off the windows band wagon in 94, and been using Linux and slowly migrating to OSX I have found itunes has it’s place and it works nicely in my house hold where I have 3 kids under 10 and a wife. I wanted everything to be family friendly and funnily enough iTunes is that.

  • I tell you what I really really don’t like iTunes. It’s bloated, slow, awkward to navigate, tries to sell me too much crap, need updating far too often, too few features that I actually use (what the hell is Ping?).

    I recently decided I have had enough of it and I was going to switch to another media player/application to sync with my iPod (not an iPhone, but and iPod classic). After digging around and trying to configure FooBar 2000/SongBird/WinAmp to sync with my iPod nicely I gave up. The effort to make my life easier was in fact making it more difficult. Reading above on how to sync music with your iPhone this seems to still be the case.

    Why can’t someone come up with a lightweight app that will simply keep your music synced in either direction. I’ve tried all the SharePod’s and alike and they are good up until a point but when they start crashing you loose faith in them and I can’t really trust them to automatically do things for me when they can’t handle simple tasks.

    • “Why can’t someone come up with a lightweight app that will simply keep your music synced in either direction”

      Everyone I know that doesn’t like Itunes, I send to Winamp(& they all love it). I’ve been using it for years, music and video’s. It sync’s most iPod’s(not iPhones) with ease. you dont actually sync it, you just send stuff to it, either a single file or multiple files at once. I find its quicker and easier then itunes for iPod devices.

  • I only sync my iPhone with iTunes to back it up occasionally and for OS updates. I use:

    Podcaster- for grabbing Podcasts via RSS feeds

    ZumoCast – which is currently free for grabbing files, photos, music and video off my PC. It does streaming or converting and downloading in app and works fantastically.

  • As an ex-iTunes hater (and i mean hate with a passion), i have come to love the simplicity (as long as you don’t wanna do something apple doesn’t want you to).

    I sync with itunes pretty much once a day (my main method of keeping phone charged), never had a problem and its much easier to manage your music with iTunes than by copying files.

  • As much as I loathe iTunes, and class it in a category akin to malware and a hate-crime by Apple against Windows users… I do use and enjoy my iPod, iPhone and iPad devices.

    iTunes on the Apple operating system is much nicer. You still have the AWFUL HORRIBLE user interface. It’s still essentially just a spreadsheet front end UI for the equally awful and dated QuickTime platform. But at least it runs smoohtly and doesn’t (usually) slow the computer down to unusable when it’s doing something. And you still get the Apple restrictions on what you can and cannot do.

    Having said all that… I agree with others that replacing iTunes with several other alternatives and fragmenting the problem doesn’t seem very “simple and easy” to me.

    And what about when you have to update the devices OS (as Apple likes to do freqeantly). At least with iTunes, it will update the device, then re-sync all your stuff back exactly the same as it was before without you even having to be there.

    What iTunes sadly lacks is WIRELESS SYNCING over WiFi. Apple needs to get over what ever bug is up thier *** on this and join the rest of the world in 2007, which is how long Zune has had wireless sync.

    Being tethered by physical cable to a computer makes the iTunes experience feel worse than it is. Think how nice it would be to walk in the door and have your phone detect your WiFi network and then check in with iTunes and AUTOMATICALLY sync the iPhone/iPad.

    Anyway… we all know what we are getting into when we choose to buy and support Apple.

  • My biggest hatred with itunes… the several running processes it installs into windows; ituneshelper, applemobiledevicehelper, applemobiledeviceservice, ipodservice.. none of which can be shut down, or stopped from services.exe without itunes not working..

    Whats the deal apple?? why does your software require so many background processes!!

  • I also was an iTunes hater from the moment I knew of it, being an early adopter of mp3 and its devices like mp3 cd walkmans. I never owned an iPod due to the superior nature of devices that supported plug’n’play drag and drop of files in the very least, not to mention additional codec support (e.g. FLAC) and inbuilt radio tuners.

    However now having recently becoming an iPhone owner, I am now hands and feet deep in iTunes. Am halfway through creating / correcting tags (via MediaMonkey) of about 150GB of mp3s so iTunes will recognise them correctly in its library. What pushed me over?

    – iPhone ‘Remote’ app. Win win win. I’m outside, want to change volume, artist, playlist whatever.

    – iTunes DJ. It so happened my partner got an iPhone at the same time, and others in the house already had one, and many visitors do also. Everyone using the ‘Remote’ app to access iTunes DJ is great.

    – Smart playlists and live updating thereof. I want to play dinner/party music. I’m always adding music to my library. Do I manually have to update my ‘acoustic’ or ‘head bang’ playlist, no.

    From an absolute hater, to a grudging respect of what can be a useful all-in-one tool.

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