iPhone users are extremely loyal to the Apple brand, with more than 90% sticking with iOS when a new model of the iPhone launches. With all the years of history, they have on their devices, there’s a lot of digital files to transfer to a new phone.

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File transfers aren’t only necessary for upgrades though. There are a lot of other situations where you might want to move information from one iOS device to another.

Let’s look at how to transfer files between iPhones and iPads so you can move your data around when you need to.

Use the Quick Start Feature

The QuickStart feature that Apple introduced in iOS 11 is one of the easiest ways to transfer data from one device to another. It’s meant for transferring everything from one iPhone or iPad to another.

All you need to do to start the transfer is to turn on your new device and place it near the old one. The Quick Start window will appear automatically.

It recognizes your Apple ID from the old device and lets you set up the new one using the same credentials. An animated image appears on the new device and you scan it with the camera on the old one. Enter your Apple ID password and the transfer starts.

Restore From a Backup

Restoring from a backup is another iOS file transfer option that moves everything from one device to another. iOS is smart enough to adjust for different models of iPhone and iPad so you can restore your files on a completely different model with no problems.

There are two back-ups and restore options for iOS devices:

  • iCloud Backup
  • Backing up to a Mac or Windows PC

iCloud Backup

When you turn on iCloud Backup in the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad, all your apps and data get saved every day. When your device is charging and connected to a wifi network, the backup happens automatically.

If you get a new device or need to restore the data on your current one, you can restore from the iCloud backup. This will get your iPhone or iPad back to the state it was in when the backup ran, including all your data, saved passwords, and apps.

Keep in mind that the free iCloud storage that’s included with every Apple account is relatively small and isn’t enough space to back up most devices. You’ll likely need to upgrade to a paid plan to use this option.

iCloud Backup is different than iCloud Drive, which we’ll cover shortly.

Backing up to a Mac or Windows PC

If you don’t have enough space in iCloud or you’d prefer to keep your backups on your computer and not in the cloud, you can use either a Mac or a Windows PC.

On the Mac, you can back up your digital files using iTunes if you’re running macOS Mojave or earlier and Finder if you’re running macOS Catalina. On Windows, you can use iTunes to save your data.

Use AirDrop to Send Files

If you need to transfer a small number of files from one iOS device to another, AirDrop is a great option. All recent iPhones and iPads, as well as Macs from the last several years, have this feature built-in.

AirDrop uses your wifi or Bluetooth connection to send files to another device that’s connected to the same network. You can send a file with the iOS share sheet by tapping on the share icon (the square with an arrow pointing up) and then AirDrop.

When AirDrop opens, you’ll see a list of all the nearby devices that you have permission to send files to. Tap the one you want and the file will transfer to that device.

If you want to transfer files on a Mac instead of another iOS device, you can read more about how to AirDrop to your Mac.

Cloud Storage Options

Cloud storage is another option for transferring files one-by-one or in small numbers. There are various cloud storage options available, including:

  • iCloud Drive
  • Google Drive
  • Microsoft OneDrive
  • Dropbox

These services all offer free plans as well as paid options with more storage. If you only need to transfer a few files at a time, the free plans should have plenty of space.

These services all have iOS apps that let you access your files from the cloud. You can save the file you want to transfer on one device then open it on another one once it syncs across.

Most of them also integrate into the iOS Files app so you can use them from within any apps that work with the native Files app.

Specialized Software Tools

Another option for transferring individual files from one iOS device to another is to use a specialized app, such as AnyTrans. These iOS file transfer apps run on your Mac and give you a window into the data on your iPhone or iPad, similar to a Finder window on the Mac.

You can use these apps to transfer files, apps, instant messages, and many other types of data that get stored on your device. Simply copy the files to your Mac, connect another device, and copy them back to the new one.

Knowing How to Transfer Files Avoids Leaving Your Data Behind

Whether you recently bought a new iPhone or iPad or you simply need to send some files to a friend, family member, or co-worker, knowing how to transfer files in iOS will ensure your data doesn’t get locked up on your device.

Most of us have our entire life documented in our iPhones and iPads – pictures, chat conversations, notes, email, and much more. That information is too valuable to lose so take some time to learn how to get it safely backed up.

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