Manage iPhone Manually

12.01.10 |  Category: Without iTunes |  Author:
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How to set up iPhone for manual management

Note: for instructions on How to Manage iPhone without iTunes read our dedicated tutorial

If you encounter problems with iTunes 10 asking you to Erase and Sync the contents of your iPhone, try this: How to prevent iTunes 10 from syncing iPhone

In case you need to connect your iPhone to a Computer whose library is different from yours or if for any reason you need to prevent iTunes from automatically syncing your iPhone, it can be convenient to switch your iPhone to Manual Mode

Set up iTunes to Manage iPhone manually

  • Start by connecting your iPhone to your Computer ( iTunes should open up automatically. If not, launch it from Start->All Programs->iTunes->iTunes )
  • Click your iPhone in the "Devices" section on the left
  • Tick the "Manually manage music and videos" option

From now on, you can drag Songs manually from the library to your iPhone

Notes & possible issues

  • If you need to Transfer Songs from iPhone to library, just follow the dedicated procedure
  • If iTunes does not allow you to change this option without syncing and erasing your iPhone, go to iTunes > Edit > Preferences > Devices and check the "Prevent iPods, iPhones and iPads from syncing automatically" option
iPhone Expert

Mike Johnson

Founder and Editor of has a sincere desire to provide readers with honest and useful solutions for their iPhone
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50 Responses to Manage iPhone Manually

  1. Max Power says:

    My iPhone won’t let me change to manual unless I erase and sync. Is there a way around this?

    • iPhone Expert says:

      Yes there is

      – Before your connect your iPhone, go to iTunes > Edit > Preferences > Devices (tab)
      – Check the “Prevent iPods, iPhones and iPads from syncing automatically” option
      – Click OK
      – Connect your iPhone

  2. carolyn says:

    After following the instructions, iTunes still won’t let me select the manual management tab without warning me about erasing all my files.

    • iPhone Expert says:

      Dear Carolyn,

      Try to hold down the Shift + Ctrl keys while connecting your iPhone to your computer (Cmd + Option keys on Mac), this should prevent iTunes from automatically trying to sync your iPhone

  3. Michael says:

    Sorry lads but these instructions do not seem to work for iTunes 10.
    Holding down Shift+Ctrl on Windows XP and changing edit preferences to prevent from synch automatically, does nothing, once you check Manually manage and hit apply you get the dreaded iTunes message “The iPhone is synched with another computer…”

    Any other workarounds ?

    • iPhone Expert says:

      These are iTunes 10 specific instructions:

      – Connect your iPhone to your Computer
      – Click your iPhone in the “Devices” section on the left
      – In the main tab ( Summary ), scroll down to “Options” and uncheck “Open iTunes when this iPhone is connected”

  4. MB says:

    Hi guys, unfortunately, this still doesn’t work for me. I am connecting my my iPhone 4 under iTunes 10 to my second computer (OSX). After unchecking “Open iTunes when this iPhone is connected”, I am still prompted to erase all my data after checking “Manually manage music and videos” and clicking “Apply”. Any hints?

    • iPhone Expert says:

      Isn’t a “Cancel” button available?
      Could you send us a screenshot to the email address you can find in our About Us section

      • MB says:

        I just solved it:
        Problem: When you sync your iPhone on one computer, and you have checked “Manually manage music …” on it, you will not be able to check this option on the second computer (if you are using iTunes 10.x)

        Solution: Follow these steps to clone the Library Persistend ID under OSX and iTunes 10.x (works different than under iTunes 9 and earlier!):
        On your second computer:
        1. Close iTunes
        2. Locate your iTunes Music folder ( generally [home]/Music/iTunes )
        3. Backup the “iTunes Music Library.xml” and “iTunes Library” files
        4. Open “iTunes Music Library.xml” in a text editor ( for instance the Notepad )
        5. Replace the key under “Library Persistent ID” with the value from the same file of your first computer
        5. Save the file
        6. Open “iTunes Library” in a text editor
        7. Corrupt it by deleting a few lines and typing some non-sense
        8. Save the file
        9. Open iTunes

        iTunes now recognizes the corrupt file and will rebuild your Library with the new persistent ID from the .xml file. This may take a few minutes. After that, you will be able to check the button without being prompted to erase your data

        • iPhone Expert says:

          Thanks for this solution MB!
          You rock!

        • domi says:

          Thank you thank you thank you!
          Have been trying this by using Hex Editor for editing and replacing that string in “iTunes Library” file – didn’t work!
          But your solution (corrupting it so iTunes creates a new one) is great and – it works!!!
          Thank you thank you thank you!

        • hannah says:

          OMG! this actually worked!!!!!
          today i bought a new iphone 4, my very first iphone ever since i lost my ipod touch, and i only found out after i bought it that i couldnt sync music from 2 different itunes! (both on separate user accounts on the same computer) i got SO frustrated and i started to worry that i should’ve just bought the new ipod touch (4th gen.), but HOLY ! thankyou!!! it totalllly worked! i was literally praying to God that this would work while it was loading, and it actually did! i really didnt believe it at first and i thought (with my bad luck) it wouldnt work, but omygosh it did!! thankyouuthankyouuthankYOU! 😀 (i really didnt want to use any hacks or anything, and this totally worked, and i can see/understand why it did! :P)

        • Lisa says:


        • alexvg says:

          Thank you so very much!

        • M!Do Space says:

          Sir you are a genius!
          I’m amazed! You really rock!
          I’ve always want a real solution like this
          Thank you till the last day of my life
          You’re a life saver 🙂


        • Moose911 says:

          THANK YOU!!!

  5. Richard says:


    My problem is similar, except when my iPhone was first sync, it crashed, so everything is deleted
    I’m using the same laptop, but it was system restore
    Is there a solution to press system restore witout deleting my files? pls help

    • iPhone Expert says:

      Dear Rich,

      If your iPhone data was deleted and you made a system restore on your laptop, your data is probably lost
      By the way, doing a system restore on iPhone does not delete its data, just hold the Power and Home buttons for a few seconds

  6. saras says:

    where is the itunes button to push? i cannot seem to get this HELP

  7. Liana says:

    Hii..kindly need ur help. I just fixed my laptop, and now when i want to manage my songs and video on itunes it can not do it manually. Must be sync. Can i change the setting into manually without erasing all of the songs and video that already on my iphone.
    Thank u

  8. Alizeh fatima says:

    When I click on my iPhone there is no option to tick off to change the setting to manual

    Plzzz give me the solution quickly. I want to add new songs without deleting my old one!! Plzz

    • iPhone Expert says:

      Dear Fatima,

      Make sure to scroll down to the Options section

      • Amy says:

        If I click the button about deleteing my stuff will it just delete my songs or everything on my phone?

  9. josh says:

    I do not have the original data as i formated my computer the iphone is assosiated with and now i cant manage my iphone at all besides adding music. it requests i erase all data from the iphone in order for me to be able to manage it, which i am not willing to do as it has my entire digital music collection on it which is no longer on said format computer

  10. Cameron says:

    Tried it with Mac and PC and it didn’t work. It recreated the library but stil gave me the erase message when I tried to manually manage. I really don’t think I ever set it up to auto synch on any computer. I have been using manually manage but need to add a new computer and it won’t let me.

  11. Sean says:

    Okay so I have done everything I could do to not have my iPhone 4 prompt me to erase and sync when I check “Manually manage music and video”.
    My issue is that it was check off before and worked fine. I then formatted my hard drive and freshly installed windows 7. When I plug in my iPhone now the box beside “Manually manage music and video” is unchecked and in order to recheck it I have to “Erase and Sync”. There is no cancel button and I do not know the “Library Persistent ID” from my previous install of windows. I check off “Prevent iPhones, IPads and iPods from syncing automatically” and I just don’t know what to do anymore. I used my iPhone as storage for all the music that was on my previous install of windows and I just want to be able to delete and add music to my iPhone. Please help.

  12. KM says:

    I’m travelling at the moment and I was trying to get some movies put on my iPhone 4 in a shop where I am now. The dude there said he couldn’t do this though because I hadn’t checked the “Manually manage” button on iTunes before I’d left. I thought I had when first setting up iTunes but perhaps I hadn’t. Anyway, now it will delete all the songs I have on it and I don’t have access to my library for the next few months. I have no movies on my iPhone and it would be great to get some for the few months travelling but I fear I’m screwed. Any advice would be much appreciated.


  13. Luke says:

    i am able to manage music manually. however, the changes i make in itunes arent reflected on my ipod? how can this be fixed???

    • iPhone Expert says:

      Dear Luke,

      Don’t forget to click the Sync button in iTunes lower-right corner to apply your changes

  14. Ayesha says:

    Hi web I click on a contact for my iPhone 4 there is no edit button and I want to delete a contact so wat do I do?

    • iPhone Expert says:

      Dear Ayesha,

      You can delete a contact straight from your iPhone: click on Edit and scroll down to “Delete Contact”

  15. eric says:

    the music in my iphone wont edit itself after i edit it in itunes, for instance i changed: Doors, the doors and Jim Morrisson to the “The Doors” in my itunes but in my iphone it still stays the same, how do i fix it?

    • iPhone Expert says:

      Dear Eric,

      Make sure to click the “Sync” button to apply changes to your iPhone

  16. edgar b says:

    Thank you MB! Not easy to figure out at all, but your file editing advice worked.

  17. afif says:

    I was just looking to retrieve my lost contacts and messages from my iphone. The itunes which I sync at first on a computer doesn’t exist anymore. Is it still possible to retrieve all my contacts and messages from my iphone.It will be much appreciated if you could guide me if there is a way to do anything

    • iPhone Expert says:

      Dear Afif,

      If you still had access to the old computer, you could use this technique to Recover lost contacts from iPhone

      Unfortunately, without this computer and its iTunes library, there’s no solution to retrieve your iPhone contacts as far as I know

  18. Belvy says:

    hi not not exactly savy at this so how do you “back up” the itunes information that you are referring to?

  19. Rosa says:

    I can’t download music to my iphone 4 without it saying “An iphone can be synced with only one itunes library at a time. erasing and syncing replaces the contents of this iphone with the contents of this itunes library” i’ve tried everything and i cant ! help!

  20. Cassie Everett says:

    I have an iphone 4, and i just got a new computer. i’m trying to use itunes, but it won’t let me put songs from my new computer onto my itunes. i don’t have the previous ID from my old itunes because the computer crashed and does not work anymore. so how do i manage my music and videos without syncing and erasing everything?

    ***it won’t let me put songs from my new computer onto my PHONE

  21. Dylan says:

    I’m on windows 7 and I have tried to copy the id from my first laptop to my second I followed every instruction to the letter I disabled the preferences to sync automatically when I connect my iphone 4 and everything but when I do it it says that the file is damaged and it says it renamed it and it completely replaced both the itunes music library file and the itunes library file so I opened it and it’s back to the original id it isn’t building off the one from my first pc it just makes two new files and deletes the ones I edited

    • Dylan says:

      I’m on itunes 10.6 and it just prompted me to update to 10.6.1 and after the update it just works and now I’m kinda angry I went through all that for nothing lol

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