How do I transfer data to my new iPhone without an old phone?

Transferring data from an old iPhone to a new one is usually very straightforward – you can use Apple’s Quick Start setup process to automatically transfer your apps, accounts, settings, photos, and more between two iPhones. But what if you don’t have your old iPhone anymore and need to set up your new iPhone from scratch? Here are some tips for transferring important data to your new iPhone without having your old phone.

Transferring Contacts

Your contacts are one of the most important pieces of data you’ll want to transfer to your new iPhone. Here are a few ways to transfer contacts without your old phone:

  • Use iCloud – If you previously had iCloud Contacts enabled on your old iPhone, all of those contacts are safely stored in your iCloud account. Simply sign into iCloud on your new iPhone and your contacts will sync automatically.
  • Export from Gmail or Outlook – If you store your contacts through Gmail, Outlook, or another email provider, you may be able to export those contacts as a CSV or vCard file and then import them to your new iPhone’s Contacts app.
  • Use a SIM card – If you still have the SIM card from your old iPhone, you may be able to put it into your new iPhone temporarily to transfer contacts stored on the SIM to your new phone.
  • Third-party apps – Apps like CopyTrans Contacts can transfer contacts from an iCloud or iTunes backup file without needing your old phone. You can also use it to import contacts from CSV files.

Transferring Photos and Videos

Photos and videos are another crucial piece of personal data you’ll want on your new iPhone. If you used iCloud Photos on your old phone, your entire iCloud Photos library should automatically sync to your new phone once you sign in. If not, here are some other options:

  • Import from a computer – Connect your new iPhone to a computer containing your photo/video library and import the files to your new phone using Finder or iTunes.
  • Use online storage – If your photos or videos were backed up to an online storage service like Google Photos, Dropbox, or OneDrive, download them to your computer then import them to your new iPhone.
  • Extract from backup – Use a third-party tool to extract photos and videos from an iTunes or iCloud backup file, then import them to your new iPhone.

Transferring Music

To transfer your iTunes music library or other music files to your new iPhone, you have a few options:

  • Use iCloud Music Library – If you subscribed to Apple Music or iTunes Match on your old iPhone, your music library is already stored in iCloud. Log into Apple Music on your new phone to stream your library.
  • Sync with iTunes – Connect your new iPhone to the computer you used with your old iPhone. iTunes will sync your music library automatically.
  • Copy files manually – Manually copy music files from your computer to your new iPhone using Finder or iTunes.
  • Use a cloud storage app – Download a cloud storage app like Dropbox to your new iPhone and download music files stored in the cloud to your new phone.

Transferring Calendars, Reminders, and Notes

If you used the built-in Calendar, Reminders, or Notes apps on your old iPhone, here’s how to transfer that data:

  • Use iCloud – If you had iCloud sync enabled on your old device, your calendar events, reminders lists, and notes are already stored in iCloud. Just sign in on your new device.
  • Import from Outlook or Gmail – If you used Outlook or Gmail calendars and tasks lists, you can import your data into the iOS apps.
  • Export and import – Manually export calendar, reminder, and note data from your old iPhone using iTunes, iCloud, or a third party app, then import the data to your new iPhone.

Transferring Safari Bookmarks

To transfer Safari bookmarks from your old iPhone, you have these options:

  • Use iCloud – If iCloud Safari sync was enabled on your old device, your bookmarks will appear automatically on your new iPhone after signing into iCloud.
  • Import from computer – Manually export bookmarks from your old iPhone, transfer the bookmark file to your computer, then import it to Safari on your new iPhone.
  • Send to yourself – Email yourself the bookmark file from your old iPhone, then open the email and download the attachment on your new iPhone.

Transferring Messages

SMS text messages can be a bit tricky to transfer without your old iPhone on hand. But here are a few potential options:

  • Use iCloud – If you had iMessage in iCloud enabled, you can access your iMessages on new devices when you sign in with your Apple ID.
  • Restore from iTunes backup – Restore an iTunes backup containing your message history onto your new iPhone (you’ll need the backup on a computer).
  • Third-party apps – Some third-party apps claim to be able to transfer regular SMS messages between iPhones. Do research to pick a reputable one.

Transferring Documents and App Data

Documents, PDFs, ebooks, and app data can usually be transferred in a few ways:

  • Restore iTunes/iCloud backup – Restore a full backup from your old iPhone to your new one to transfer app data and files.
  • Sync with cloud storage – If files were synced to a cloud storage service like Dropbox or OneDrive on your old device, you can access them by signing in on your new device.
  • Email files to yourself – Email documents and files from your old iPhone to yourself so you can download them on the new iPhone.
  • Use AirDrop – If you still have temporary access to your old iPhone, use AirDrop to wirelessly transfer files and data to your new iPhone.

Transferring Health and Activity Data

Health and activity data from your old iPhone, like Apple Health, Activity, Workout data, and more, can be transferred by:

  • Restoring an iCloud backup – Health data is included in encrypted iCloud backups, so restoring one to your new iPhone will transfer the data.
  • Syncing with Apple Health – If you had your old iPhone configured to sync health data to Apple Health, set up the same sync on your new device.
  • Using third-party apps – Some apps promise to transfer health data between iPhones without a backup. Research them thoroughly before using.

Transferring App Layouts and Settings

To transfer app layouts, folders, and settings from your old iPhone:

  • Restore an iCloud or iTunes backup – App layouts and settings are saved in backups, so restoring one will configure your new iPhone the same.
  • Manually arrange apps – If you don’t have a backup, recreate your old iPhone’s app layouts and folders manually on your new device.
  • Sign into accounts – Signing into the same accounts on your new iPhone will download your apps and restore associated settings.

Transferring Home Screen Customizations

Any home screen customizations like wallpaper, widgets, icons, and shortcuts can be transferred by:

  • Restoring backups – iCloud and iTunes backups contain home screen settings, so restoring one will replicate your old iPhone’s look.
  • Manually customizing – You can manually set wallpaper, add widgets, create Shortcuts, and arrange icons to match your old iPhone.
  • Using AirDrop – Quickly AirDrop yourself photos, custom icons, or widget screenshots to help recreate your old home screen.

Transferring Accessibility Settings

To transfer accessibility settings like text size, VoiceOver, display accommodations, and others:

  • Restore iCloud backup – iCloud backups store accessibility settings, so restoring one transfers the configurations.
  • Manually re-enable – Go through the Accessibility settings on your new iPhone and manually re-enable and configure the options you had on your old phone.
  • Use AirDrop – Quickly AirDrop screenshots of your old accessibility settings to refer to as you recreate them.


While transferring all of your iPhone data and settings without your old device on hand can be tricky, hopefully these tips give you a good starting point. The key things to try are restoring an iCloud or iTunes backup from your old phone, manually recreating settings and transfers, using iCloud sync, and taking advantage of AirDrop if possible. With a little time and patience, you should be able to get your new iPhone working just the way you want.