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How to restore iOS backups in MacOS with Finder (Big Sur & Catalina)

How to recover an iPhone or iPad

As you probably know by now, iOS and iPadOS backups of devices are handled differently in macOS Big Sur and MacOS Catalina compared to Mojave and earlier running iTunes. Instead of iTunes for device management, device synchronization, backup, and recovery are now handled in Finder instead.

We’ve already explained how to back up your iPhone or iPad using the Finder, but how about restoring that iOS or iPadOS backup? The hope is that you will never need it, but this is how you do it if you use macOS 10.15 or later.

How to restore iOS / iPadOS backups in macOS Finder

Ready to restore an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch backup in MacOS Catalina or macOS Big Sur? Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Get started by opening a new Finder window. Click the Finder icon in the Dock or press Command + N on the desktop.

    Click the Finder icon

  2. Connect your iPhone or iPad to your computer using a USB cable. Click on it when it appears on the left side of the window.
  3. Click the “General” tab at the top of the window.
  4. Click the “Restore Backup” button.Click Restore Backup
  5. Select the backup you want to restore from the drop-down menu, then click the “Restore” button to start the process.

The recovery process may take some time, depending on the device you are restoring and the amount of data that needs to be transferred.

Be sure to leave the device connected to the Mac until the recovery is complete and it restarts, ready for you to enter the device password.

Once the device has been restored from a backup, it should be usable exactly as expected again.

And to be clear, this process is the same regardless of whether the backup of the device you restore is an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, and regardless of the iOS and iPadOS version as well (although significantly older versions are probably not compatible with MacOS Big Sur , Catalina and later releases of macOS).

With so much that has changed in newer versions of macOS, it’s easy to feel a little lost. Fortunately, we’ve covered most of the major changes you need to be aware of – whether it’s syncing music to your iPhone or iPad, backing things up to the Finder, or deleting unwanted backups to save space on your Mac. And those are just things that are related to iPhones and iPads. There’s a lot to learn, so why not dig into some general Mac tips as well?

What do you think about restoring iOS and iPadOS with macOS Finder? Do you miss iTunes, or are you happy with the new approach? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

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