I back my iPhone up to my computer. I consider this a safer, more complete, and cheaper option than iCloud backup.

In general, this is fine, but I have noticed the “copying app purchases from iPhone” phase can take forever – certainly over half an hour. (This is especially true when it’s been a week since my last sync.)

And it’s nearly pointless: these are usually just newer versions of apps iTunes already has, but more importantly, I don’t much care if iTunes has these apps in the first place. Should I restore my backup onto this or a replacement iPhone, my phone should be able to download most of those apps from the App Store, I would think. Sure, some apps could have been removed from the store. I’m okay with that.

So tell me – is there some way to ask iTunes to stop wasting its time by copying over all the apps from my phone?

(To be clear: iTunes should still be backing up my apps’ data)


Apple has fulfilled your wish here - iTunes 9.x and later does not migrate applications between your phone and computer, per this article:

With iOS 9 or later, apps will not sync or transfer to iTunes via Transfer Purchases. If you would like to download your apps to your iTunes library, make sure to turn on Automatic Downloads for your iTunes purchases. You can also download past purchases.

iOS 12.7 further reduces this functionality (link):

The new version of iTunes adds support for iOS 11 while simultaneously removing the iOS App Store from being included in iTunes. Additionally, iTunes 12.7 removes the ability to sync iOS apps and ringtones on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch via iTunes on the desktop.

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