How to Sync Your Tablet Automatically

Depending on the storage capacity of your iPad or iPad mini — 16GB, 64GB, or 128GB — you may be able to cram all of your computer’s tablet-friendly digital content onto the device’s hard drive. If that sounds like the way you want to go, then you can take advantage of the easiest of the syncing scenarios, in which case you don’t have to pay any attention in the least: automatic syncing.

Because you know all of the tablet-able content on your Mac or PC is going to fit, all you have to do is turn on your iPad or iPad mini, and connect it to your computer.

That’s all there is to it! iTunes opens automatically, connects to your tablet, and begins syncing. Your iPad or iPad mini displays the Sync icon in the menu bar while the sync runs, as shown in this figure. As an added bonus, the USB port also begins charging the tablet battery. Note, too, that iOS offers another welcome little perk: you can use your iPad or iPad mini while the sync is running.

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When the sync is done, do the following two things:

  • In iTunes, click the Eject icon beside your tablet’s name.

  • Remove the cable from the tablet’s connector port.

Bypass the automatic sync

Sometimes, you may want to connect your iPad or iPad mini to your computer, but you don’t want it to sync automatically. You don’t have to switch to manual syncing full time. Instead, you can bypass the sync one time only.

For example, you may want to connect your tablet to your computer just to charge it (assuming you either don’t have the optional dock or you don’t have it with you), use iTunes to see how much free space is left on your tablet, or check for updates to the iOS software.

Whatever the reason, you can tell iTunes to hold off on the syncing by using one of the following techniques:

  • Mac. Connect the tablet to the Mac and then quickly press and hold the Option and Cmd keys.

  • PC. Connect the tablet to the Windows PC and then quickly press and hold the Ctrl and Shift keys.

When you see your tablet in the iTunes Devices list, you can release the keys. Note, however, that you don’t need to use iTunes to see how much free space is left on your device. On the Home screen, tap Settings, tap General, and then tap About. In the About screen that slides in, the Available value tells you how many gigabytes (or megabytes) of free space you have left.

Troubleshoot automatic syncing

Okay, so you connect your iPad or iPad mini to your computer and then nothing. If iTunes isn’t already running, it refuses to wake up from its digital slumbers. What’s up with that?

A couple of things could be the problem. First, connect your iPad or iPad mini, switch to iTunes on your computer, and then click your tablet in the Devices list. On the Summary tab, make sure that the Open iTunes when this iPad is connected check box is selected.

If that check box is already selected, you need to follow these steps and delve a bit deeper to solve the mystery:

  1. Open the iTunes preferences in one of the following ways:

    • Mac. Choose iTunes → Preferences, or press Cmd +. (period).

    • Windows. Choose Edit → Preferences (if you don’t see the menu bar, press Alt), or press Ctrl+. (period).

  2. Click the Devices tab.

  3. Deselect the Prevent iPods, iPhones, and iPads from syncing automatically check box.

  4. Click OK to put the new setting into effect and enable automatic syncing again.