Multiple iDevices? Multiple iTunes Libraries Are an Answer

Do you have more than one iDevice with different versions of iOS? Syncing them on the same Mac can be difficult, but here is a simple trick.


I love my iPhone 4s. At present it is running the latest version of iOS, and all my apps are backed up using iTunes on my MacBook. But being a low end fan, I love older iPhones too. So sitting in my box of Apple goodies is an iPhone 3G that runs a maximum of iOS 4.2.1.

My iPhone 4s runs the latest version of the Facebook app, but the iPhone 3G runs an older version. This creates a problem when syncing both iPhones on the same Mac, as you can only have one version of an app in your iTunes library.

If you backup the newer iPhone first, when you backup the older one it will say ‘the FaceBook app was not installed on the iPhone because it requires a newer version of iPhone software’.


If you backup the older iPhone first, when you then backup the newer one to your Mac it will update the FaceBook app version on your Mac to the newer version, leaving it incompatible with your older iPhone, and then you will be faced with ‘the FaceBook app was not installed on the iPhone because it requires a newer version of iPhone software’ message once again when backing up the older iPhone.

This is a problem that has annoyed me for a long time – only to find out recently there is a fairly simple solution. So what do you do?

A Second Computer

One option would be to use a different computer to sync each device. This is an okay work around, but not if you don’t own another computer or you own a lot of different devices.

Different Users

Another option would be to set up different users on the same computer, but once again this could get complicated if you have a lot of devices. It also seems like a lot of wasted hard drive space just to sync an iDevice.

I also have to point out that I haven’t tried this method out.

Different Libraries

The final option is to set up different iTunes libraries. When you start iTunes hold down the Alt key. You will be faced with a menu asking you about your iTunes Library.


You then either Create Library or Choose Library. Creating a library will make a completely new one leaving your existing one intact. Name it something you remember as it makes it easier when selecting them in future.

Once created, you can backup your apps from your older iPhone without any issues.

Then when you want to backup your newer iPhone, simply open iTunes with Alt held down, click Choose Library, and pick the one that says ‘iTunes’. This will be the original library.



A simple solution that a lot of people don’t know about.

Be aware though, a new library won’t contain any playlists, etc. So you will need to re-add and sync any music you want on each device in each library.


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