I'm pretty much addicted to my iPhone but I believe I would've sold it for $50 the other day. It'd been several days since I updated my installed applications so I visited the app store to see what was new. I had 10 updates. Thinking nothing of it I began downloading all 10 application updates. After the updates were ready I connected my iPhone and started a sync. Halfway through the sync iTunes crashed.

I wasn't too worried about it and thought it was an isolated instance so I fired up iTunes and initiated another sync. To my dismay, iTunes crashed again, and again, and again. I wasn't sure what was going on so I started Googling and visiting the Apple forums to see if anyone else was having the issue. I began to blame the 2.2.1 version of the iPhone software I had installed only days before. I wasn't able to find much help on the Web but I kept troubleshooting on my own. I noticed that each time I synced one application would get updated and the next app update would fail. Looking at my iPhone, each app was getting updated and would run properly, but iTunes would continue to crash. I eventually got all my apps updated and was hoping the crashing would stop. It didn't. Even with no changes on my iPhone or Macbook Pro, iTunes crashed each and every time I synced.

It was as if my iTunes installation had a bad sync preference file or something. Late in the night I made the decision to completely wipe and restore my iPhone. It took about a half hour to get my basic iPhone setup going again without all my data and customizations. The problem still reared its head when syncing. I then went to the Applications tab of iTunes after selecting my iPhone in the left pane and told it NOT to sync apps. I then hit Apply and iTunes crashed while attempting to make the settings change.

So I plugged my iPhone in again and fortunately the "don't sync Apps" setting stuck. I hit sync, and it's now installing all my music, videos, and what not from my previous backup and subsequent restore. I then took the advice of someone in the forums and systematically uninstalled all non-default applications. That didn't resolve the problem.

Someone else in the forum indicated they had success with downloading all their apps again. I did a test with two different free applications and one paid application and each app install caused iTunes to crash.

After having enough I put away my computer in complete disgust. I was hating Apple!

UPDATE: 8/30/2011
If you are reading this and you're using Windows, the solution I outline below probably won't work. Several people who use Windows have contacted me to let me know they tried these steps and were not successful.

The next day I saw another forum post which recommended deauthorizing iTunes and then authorizing again. I disconnected my iPhone from my Macbook Pro, deauthorized then reauthorized, and then plugged my iPhone in and performed a sync. No crashing!!!!! So for a final test I downloaded several applications, some of the free ones I had and some paid (by the way you can redownload applications you bought without being charged) and everything worked.

I've now reinstalled everything and reconfigured all my data including how my icons are arranged. This was super super frustrating for me and I'm sure it was for the several dozen folks I've talked to with this same problem. Ack. Apple has lost at least 100 cool points and 200 product engineering points.

If anyone wants to follow the Apple forums thread that generated the answer to this problem, go here.

Aaron West's Gravatar
About this post:

This entry was posted by Aaron West on February 8, 2009 at 6:08 PM. It was filed in the following categories: ColdFusion, iPhone, Mobile & Devices, Mac. It has been viewed 43999 times and has 19 comments.

19 Responses to iPhone Syncing Causes iTunes Crash - Resolved!

  1. dave

    You could have just done the updates straight on the phone via application update and it would have overridden you incomplete install in itunes. I would have also cleaned the cache since the crash might have been cached and really most any issues on os x can be resolved by a good cache cleaning.

  2. @dave - Thanks for your comments. A few people tried updating/installing the apps from their iPhone and experienced the same problem. Once iTunes was in a crashing state the only fix was reauthorizing with the app store. As far as iPhone cache goes I didn't think of that. What cache files are you specifically referring to? I'll definitely try your suggestion next time, thanks!

  3. dave

    I was meaning your reg cache. I would assume that like programs when they are installing they start off in a temp file cache and so if itunes were to close suddenly during this it could leave that cache corrupted and thus cause this issue. maybe when you de-authorize the computer it puts some things in the cache and then cleans it.

    Anytime I have an issue like this (and thankfully on os x there aren't many) I clean the cache and repair permission and this general fixes most things.

    One of these nights when I can get a bit of time off I am going to join you guys for a beer! Just wish I had the time....

  4. @dave - I'm still not clear on what cache you are referring to. As far as I know there isn't just one "system cache," each application has a cache. I know where many of these are I just want to know what files you are talking about deleting. If you were to have the problem, what would you delete?

    We'd love to have you out to one of the tech events. They don't take up too much time, 1-2 hrs max is about how long they last (beers afterwards omitted).

  5. dave

    I would just run a cache cleaner & get them all, I do that every day or so anyways, I know I don't need to but still a bad habit from windows days.
    Cache cleaners I have, onyx, cocktail, mac cleanse, cleanmymac, cleanapp, socks, drive genius, itool, ice clean, mac pilot, mac dust, leopard cache cleaner(very good tool), damn I buy a lot of crap lol

    Of course you can just run: /usr/bin/sudo /bin/rm -rf (i think thats the one)

    Maybe this next one I will come out to, I need to get out I get to grouchy working so much and thankfully I have so much business but I also have to much so I'm just buried. Fri night I didn't go to bed until 4 am sun and I haven't been since.. it's just that way right now. I moved from Brentwood to Gallatin as well this fall so it's a bit of a hike down there.

  6. Ed

    Thanks for that post. I was having the same problems and restored my phone 2 times as new before running across your post. Deauthorizing and authorizing cleared up the issue.

  7. Marc

    You sir are a genius! I was having the identical problem. Tried various solutions, all failed until I de-authorized and then authorized the computer. Many thanks!

  8. asinig

    help guys!!
    the authorization and de-authorization trick does not seem to work when iphone has to work with pc
    any ideas??

  9. @asinig - Sorry, I don't have much to offer Windows users. I'd recommend searching the Apple forums. Many of the things I've tried that either fixed iTunes/iPhones issues or led me to a solution were found in the forums. There's a lot of helpful users in the forums.

  10. Tony

    Your post saved me. I rarely change what's synced to my iPhone, but I was leaving on vacation and decided to load it up with some movies. The crashing started with my iPod and then nothing could sync, including my iPhone. I ran through a list of authoritative sounding sets of instructions including deleting individual files, reinstalling itunes, deleting podcasts, and formatting / restoring my devices. The ONLY thing that worked was what you suggest above.


  11. Glad I could help Tony. Thanks for your comment.

  12. Clint

    This post help me too!

  13. Biffo

    you are a genius i have spent days trying to solve the crashing issue and i cured it in 1 minute with your help

  14. Zipfox

    Wow, as Biffo said, you're a genius Aaron! Instant fix. Thank you for sharing :)

  15. Onno ter Wisscha

    Dude, you saved my day!

  16. blakefaz

    I have tried evrything you suggest and still cannot get my apps to sync I am running latest version of itunes 9.1.1 on xp and have 3gs running latest 3.1.1, please help it's driving me insane not being able to sync and having no apps. Itunes crashes even when trying to download on my pc when phone is not connected!

  17. Blake, I haven't used a Windows computer in 6 or so years. So I don't really have any suggestions. Sorry!

  18. Peter Jepsen

    Aaron, I've also tried this fix on a Windows iTunes and as the other two Windows users, without luck. I suggest you update your article adding a notice that the method described seems to only work on OSX.
    Thanks for the article in any case, you've helped many other people.

  19. @Peter - I've taken your suggestion and updated the post.