Where Do Macs Store iPhone Backups?

Whenever you back up your iPhone, the files are stored in a secret place somewhere on your Mac. While you don’t need to know this location to recover or delete the backups, it’s still handy to know where they go.

Where Do Macs Store iPhone Backups?

Read on to learn where your iOS backups are stored on Mac and PC and how to change the backup location to your external drive.

Where Does Mac Store iPhone Backups

Your iPhone and iPad backups are kept in one assigned location. Follow these steps to find out how to access it:

  1. Access “Finder,” then press “Cmd + Shift + G” on the keyboard. Or click the magnifier icon in the top right.
  2. Enter the following syntax in the text field:
    ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/
  3. Hit “Enter,” and the backups directory will display.

How To Change the Backup Locating with a Symlink

If you want to change the location of your backups, this step is crucial because if you don’t tell your computer where the new location is, it will stop making iOS backups. Next, we’ll create a “symlink” or “symbolic link.” This creates a new path for “Finder” to get to the backup location.

If you have macOS Mojave or earlier installed, you’ll have to change the Terminal’s permissions first. Otherwise, you won’t have permission to complete the process. Here’s how to change the Terminal permissions:

  1. Access “System Preference” via the Apple menu.
  2. Click on “Security & Privacy.”
  3. Choose “Privacy.”
  4. At the bottom left, if the screen is locked, choose “Click the lock to make changes.” Otherwise, go to step 6.
  5. Enter your password, then click “Unlock” via the popup.
  6. On the left, select “Full Disk Access.”
  7. Click on the “+” sign to include Terminal in the list of applications with complete control.
  8. Now in the “Finder” search box, enter “Terminal.”
  9. Highlight “Terminal” and click “Open.”

Adding the Right Path in Terminal

The pathway needs to be correct for the system to know the new location. Your hard drive and backup folder name will be different. Here is the structure of the Terminal code we’ll use:

ln -s /Volumes/Harddrive/ios_backup ~/Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync/Backup/4f1234a05e6e7ccbaddfd12345678f1234b123f

Here are the meanings of the different sections of this command:

  • ln -s” – this part of the command tells macOS the new location
  • Volumes” – a hard drive
  • Harddrive” – this needs to be replaced with your external hard drive’s name.
  • ios_backup” – the renamed backup folder now on your hard drive, and the new destination for storing your iPhone and iPad backups
  • ~/Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync/Backup” – this part tells macOS where the backup resides
  • 4f1234a05e6e7ccbaddfd12345678f1234b123f” – this is the device backup folder name. This folder will be named “Backup” if you’re moving all your backups. Use your hard drive’s backup folder name if you’re transferring one device. And here again, just change the backup folder name to the folder name you’re transferring.

Here are the steps to inform macOS of the new backup location:

  1. Open “Spotlight” and enter a search for “Terminal.”
  2. In Terminal, enter the following syntax with your hard drive and back up folder name:
    ln -s /Volumes/**Harddrive**/ios_backup ~/Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync/Backup/4f1234a05e6e7ccbaddfd12345678f1234b123f
  3. Hit “Enter,” then quit Terminal.

Your symlink folder will appear in the MobileSync folder named either “Backup” or a sequence of letters and numbers to represent your hard drive. The folder will have a little arrow in its bottom left corner.

Next, confirm that the new path works before removing your “old_backup” file.

Confirm the New Link Works

  1. Launch “Finder.”
  2. On the left, select your external device.
  3. Under the “General” tab, select “Back Up Now.”
  4. Now on your external hard drive, launch the “ios_backup” folder.
  5. Check the time and date of the last backup to verify whether it’s the one you’ve just requested.

Once you’ve confirmed the backups work as expected and go to the new folder on your external hard drive, you can remove the “old_backup” folder on your Mac.

Resetting iPhone backup location to Default in Mac

To reset the iOS backup on your mac to the default location, you only need to remove the symlink you added above. The PC does the rest.

  • Launch “Terminal.”
  • Type the following command:
    rm [full path to symlink here].
    rm /Volumes/[Harddrive name]/ios_backup


How do I find a specific iPhone backup location in Mac?

Follow these steps to find a location for a particular backup:

1. Connect your iPhone or iPad to your Mac computer via a USB cable.

2. Launch “Finder,” then on the left pane, select your iPhone or iPad.

3. Select “Manage Backups” for a list of your backups.

4. To find the location of a backup, right-click it, then choose “Show in Finder.”

5. The following screen will display the backup folder and files.

Secret Back Up Location Found

Knowing the location of your iOS backups is not a requirement if you want to restore or delete them. However, if you’re going to move the backups to a different location, you’ll need to know the current location’s path to advise Mac of the new path location. Mac makes finding your backup location easy using the “Finder” app.

How useful do you find your iOS backups? Have you ever needed to use them to restore data? Tell us about your iOS backup experiences in the comments section below.

One thought on “Where Do Macs Store iPhone Backups?”

Angie says:
Hi how do I change it back to the original backup location on mac? What’s the terminal command for it? Thanks.
Steve Larner says:
The default is always present and cannot be changed. So, you basically created a symlink to redirect it to another location. Therefore, all you need to do is remove the symlink, and you’re back in business. The macOS PC will revert to the original iPhone backup location. To do it in the terminal, simply type “rm [symlink location address here],” such as “/Volumes/Harddrive/ios_backup.”

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