How do you manage a multi-platform household? Not everyone is completely loyal to Apple, Google, Microsoft, or any other tech company. You might own an iPhone and use a Windows PC. Maybe you prefer your Android’s camera and your MacBook’s keyboard. Perhaps you’re just a big ol’ geek and you love devices, period.
This week’s Tech 911 Q&A isn’t an emailed letter, per usual, but instead a tweet from Lifehacker reader Dave (no relation). He writes:
@TheDavidMurphy Just read your How I Work piece and noticed you use PC with iPhone. Wondering if you've even written about the best way to have them co-exist, particularly photos. Maybe a Tech 911 article?
— Dave Denis (@davedenis) September 8, 2020
How to make a Windows PC and an iPhone coexist peacefully
Good idea, Dave! So, here’s the hidden secret: Way, way back in the day — I can’t even tell you what version of iPhone or iOS it was — I used iTunes religiously on my Windows PC. It was my primary music player, which means this must have been pre-Spotify, and my decision was probably a holdout from my college days where iTunes was the easiest way to listen (or steal) music from your dorm buddies.
I don’t know when I switched away from iTunes, but it happened … at some point. I truly can’t recall when I stopped installing iTunes on my Windows system. It was probably also around the time I stopped jailbreaking my iPhone (remember jailbreaking?).
WWDC 2020 is over and done. And while I greatly enjoyed Apple’s virtual setup for the week-long series of events, I had even more fun digging deep into the latest beta for iOS 14 to find all the interesting features Apple didn’t talk about in its big keynote. And now,...Read more
The point is, that I haven’t used iTunes in who knows how long. And there’s good reason for that: I don’t really watch movies on my phone because I think doing so on a tiny screen is pointless, and I stream all my music through Spotify. Even if those situations were reversed, I’d probably download my purchased films straight from the iTunes Store Apple TV app and jam to music with an Apple Music subscription (or download albums I previously purchased via the similarly named app).
As for iPhone backups, I should use iTunes to make those on my computer, because you can never have too many backups. I tend to not do this for a few reasons: I don’t ever need to plug my iPhone into my computer except to make backups, so I’m forgetful. That, and I mess around with my PC enough (including reinstalling Windows more than most people) that I wouldn’t want to rely on my desktop’s phone backups if something ever went wrong with my iPhone.
Finally, and most importantly, automatically backing up a in Phone via iCloud is absurdly easy. Yes, it eats up space — take my precious $4.99 each month, Apple — but it’s very out of sight, out of mind, like any good backup should be.
So, for all those reasons, I don’t really use iTunes on Windows. It’s not even installed right now. That’s how little I care about it. If I need music, movies, TV shows, or apps, I download them directly from Apple on my phone. I’d probably only install iTunes to drop new (self-created) ringtones on my phone, and I haven’t needed to do that in some time.
You’re probably wondering how I get the various pictures and videos I take on my iPhone to my Windows computer. That’s a fair question with an easy solution. I could just sync them all with iCloud and download them that way, but Apple’s interface is annoying (and always seems to want me to two-factor verify that it’s me logging into my account).
Instead, I just back up my pictures and movies to Google Photos. It’s speedy, free, and easy enough to access from whatever desktop or laptop PC I’m using. I download photos in bulk if I need them on my desktop for any reason; otherwise, I just let them sit in the cloud and use Google’s better-than-Apple search capabilities to find anything I need.
It’s a question I get a lot from friends: Should I buy an iPhone directly from Apple, directly from my carrier, or should sign up for Apple’s iPhone upgrade program? The easy answer is a cop-out. It depends. But it’s also more accurate than telling them to write off Apple’s...Read more
And that’s it! While I wish there was a magic bullet that let me talk to my friends over Messages on Windows like Apple fans can do on macOS, I’m not holding my breath for that to ever happen. It’s honestly the biggest annoyance I have as a Windows user: I’d love to not have to pick up my phone to reply to texts all the time. Thankfully, most of my friends are chatty on Facebook Messenger, so at least I’m not getting carpel tunnel by jumping between my desktop and my iPhone all the time.
I’m trying to think if I’ve left anything out. Generally speaking, if I ever have to drop files onto my iPhone for any reason, I use apps that let me do that via the cloud. So, if I need to bring a bunch of PDFs somewhere, I’ll just sync PDF Expert with a Google Drive folder, upload my PDFs there from my desktop, and call it a day. Like I said, I basically never connect my iPhone directly to my Windows desktop or laptop for any reason, because I feel like you don’t really have to in The Year of Our Cloud, 2020.
Do you have a tech question keeping you up at night? Tired of troubleshooting your Windows or Mac? Looking for advice on apps, browser extensions, or utilities to accomplish a particular task? Let us know! Tell us in the comments below or email [email protected].