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My Resolution to iOS 5 “Waiting for items to copy” Sync Issue

Sync Problem Icon

Ever since updating my iPhone to iOS 5, I was unable to complete a sync.

It backed up fine (thankfully), it did the majority of the syncing, it just got to the last ‘stage’ of the process and hung there perpetually. I saw messages such as “Waiting for items to copy”, “Waiting for changes to be applied” and so on.

It wasn’t a complete showstopper, since I could sync the majority of content, make sure I was backed up, and then just cancel the sync at the last stage, but it was something that needed a fix.

I had read various threads on Apple Support Communities — it seems that many people are having this issue.

I get the impression that this symptom is caused by various syncing issues and that some solutions have worked for some people, and not for others. Bear this in mind — this solution worked for me, but it might not work in every case. πŸ™

I believe I have now solved this problem on my iPhone.

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Delete All Copies of Voice Memos

I deleted all of the synced Voice Memos in my iTunes library, then also went into the Voice Memos app on the iPhone and deleted each and every one there. Upon the next sync, the locking up at “Waiting for items to copy” did not happen, and the sync completed successfully.

This suggests that one of the causes for this issue is Voice Memos. If you are experiencing this issue, try backing up and removing all the Voice Memos from iTunes, removing them all from the Voice Memos app on the iPhone itself, then syncing again.

(The iPhone does still sync Genius Data each time it syncs, but this does complete successfully. Perhaps this is normal — I am not really sure!)

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  1. Kevin Tevault wrote:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I had the exact same problem on my 3gs, deleted the three voice messages I had forgotten were on my phone and tried the sync again. This time it worked perfectly.

    Monday, October 24, 2011 at 15:16 | Permalink |
  2. Alek wrote:

    I owe you man! I mean, I owe you a big time. This sync problem was annoying me as hell! Removing voice memos resolved that issue superbly.


    Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 09:13 | Permalink |
  3. paul wrote:

    Didn’t work for me unfortunately πŸ™

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 14:18 | Permalink |
  4. Tristan wrote:

    Wow! This worked perfectly.. I wonder why.

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 15:54 | Permalink |
  5. Wilson wrote:

    Some random guy’s blog advice for the win.

    Don’t know how you figured this out but it worked for me.

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 17:14 | Permalink |
  6. JohnS wrote:

    Ding-ding-ding-ding… That did it for me, too… THANKS!

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 19:34 | Permalink |
  7. JackyHaruhiko wrote:

    Thanks. I will try it when I get back home.

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 08:34 | Permalink |
  8. JE wrote:

    Peter, thanks for sharing this. I spent quite a bit of time researching this issue and trying many of the suggestions I found elsewhere. In the end, your simple solution is the only one that worked. JE

    Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 02:53 | Permalink |
  9. Bryan wrote:

    This solved my problem. I didn’t realize I even had voice memos. It turns out the kids had been playing with my phone. Thanks for posting this Peter!

    Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 14:30 | Permalink |
  10. Maurice Weitman wrote:

    Mark me as another bitten by iTunes’ poor handling of voice memos.

    And more importantly, mark me as one more helped by Peter’s suggestion.

    Since I haven’t been syncing voice memos for many months, I initially dismissed this as a possible remedy, but after recalling how it fixed a similar problem six months ago, I thought I’d give it a try.

    So, many thanks, Peter. Let’s hope Apple gets their act together to fix this for good.

    To paraphrase Randy Newman, if Steve Jobs were alive, he’d be spinning in his grave at the inability of AppleCare to come close to diagnosing this.

    After reading hundreds of similar complaints about this, an AC “senior advisor” advised me that he’d never heard of this. I introduced him to Google and suggested he search for β€˜Waiting for items to copy’.

    His remedy remained doing a restore. First from a backup then from scratch.

    Thankfully, Peter’s web page drew me in and I’m a happy boy again.

    Thanks again, Peter.


    Friday, October 28, 2011 at 03:31 | Permalink |
  11. Clint wrote:

    Exact same symptoms – unfortunately didn’t work for me! I had no voice memos to begin with. It still does the sync, but it gets stuck on either “Waiting for items to copy” or “Waiting for changes to be applied”. So I guess it doesn’t matter if it’s doing the job, but a glitch Apple need to fix!

    Interestingly enough, I tried syncing to another laptop – same OS, iTunes version – everything and it synced perfectly – just not on my laptop? I wonder if there is a software conflict going on with iTunes?

    Friday, October 28, 2011 at 07:48 | Permalink |
  12. Joey wrote:

    Thanks you so much! I was very close to getting a droid phone. Thank God I found you.

    Friday, October 28, 2011 at 21:35 | Permalink |
  13. emeritus wrote:

    Deleting voice memos did not help at first. Then noticed that deleting them from library and device through iTunes did NOT remove them from PC:s iTunes library and iPhone. When deleted OUTSIDE iTunes, the problem vanished.

    Saturday, October 29, 2011 at 11:49 | Permalink |
  14. David wrote:

    Peter, you are GOOD!! Thankyou very much for posting this, much appreciated.

    Saturday, October 29, 2011 at 12:36 | Permalink |
  15. Jose wrote:

    wow … this “waiting to copy items” have been driving me nuts ever since iOS5 update! It’s finally gone!!! whoo-hoo!

    You rock man! Glad I found your post. Thank you so much.

    Saturday, October 29, 2011 at 13:38 | Permalink |
  16. Lesley wrote:

    Tried loads of other solutions from other blogs & forums to no avail – then found this – and it works!
    To the contributor who said it didn’t work – I had to delete voice memos from both inside iTunes and also on my phone (and I didn’t think I’d got any either!).
    Thank you so much, Peter

    Saturday, October 29, 2011 at 18:35 | Permalink |
  17. Randy wrote:

    THANK YOU! I too removed my Voice Memos on my iPhone 4 and in iTunes. It worked like a charm. My iPhone can now sync with iTunes. It could be because I had a lot of them. 1.5gb of memos. I use my voice recording features to record long lectures. Thanks again.

    Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 02:10 | Permalink |
  18. Angus wrote:

    You are awesome!!! Brilliant! My syncs are now completing!! Thank you!!

    Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 18:53 | Permalink |
  19. Jr wrote:

    +1. Solved the issue.

    Monday, October 31, 2011 at 05:02 | Permalink |
  20. Despite having no new voice memos in weeks, this fixed my sync issue as well. Thanks!

    Monday, October 31, 2011 at 21:14 | Permalink |
  21. rodrigo scanavarro wrote:

    THANKS. Working perfectly after this annoying bug.

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 06:08 | Permalink |
  22. irwin wrote:

    Deleting voicememos from both phone & itunes music folder worked at first and then the problem mysteriously came back. After 4 days of scratching my head, I decided on blitzing & restoring the phone but no joy. I then thought to have a look unders the itunes folder in music & found an unknown album/unknown artist and low & behold, more duplicate copies of the voicememos I had previously deleted!

    Deleting these fixes the problem (unless the voicememos come back again!)

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 11:24 | Permalink |
  23. Gabe wrote:

    Dude… I’m shocked that this worked, but it did. UNREAL! How did you figure this out???

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 17:11 | Permalink |
  24. Jennifer wrote:

    I deleted voice memos from both my phone and my iTunes and the problem is still happening for me.

    I checked my iTunes folder under “Music” and there doesn’t seem to be anything else there.

    Disconnecting my phone during this process doesn’t seem to harm anything but the ringtone I purchased via my iPhone isn’t showing up in my iTunes library and I’m thinking it’s because it’s not fully finishing the sync process. Up until today my syncs went flawlessly and it’s quite frustrating. The only thing I did differently was delete my ringtones from iTunes (in an effort to solve another problem) and now I have this sync problem. Lovely.

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 19:06 | Permalink |
  25. Ian wrote:

    Thank you SO much! I just had this same problem tonight. First rebooted my iPhone and Macbook but to no avail. Then googling led me to your site. After reading your blog, first I tried turning off “include voice memos” under “Music”, which did not solve the problem. Then I deleted the voice memos on my iPhone, and that solved it! I did not end up needing to delete the many voice memos that are copied in iTunes. Problem solved. You are a savior!

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 06:37 | Permalink |
  26. Ky wrote:

    Boom. Fixed. Thank you!

    Friday, November 4, 2011 at 06:09 | Permalink |
  27. James wrote:

    THANK YOU!!! I’ve been struggling with this for hours and this did the trick – you’ve saved me a lot more pain and frustration…

    Saturday, November 5, 2011 at 09:16 | Permalink |
  28. Jan wrote:

    Hi Folks,

    I backed up all voice memos and deleted them from iTunes and iPhone. But the problem didn’t solve.

    How can I move those voice memos back into the iPhone voice memo app?

    Saturday, November 5, 2011 at 12:34 | Permalink |
  29. Steve wrote:

    Thanks! It worked for me too!

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 04:10 | Permalink |
  30. KC wrote:

    Wow – you, my friend, deserve an award. I was just about ready to rebuild this phone, and came across your post. Friggin’ voice memos caused the issue… how dumb. THANK YOU for the info and for sharing!!! Saved me a helluva lot of free time still chasing this lochness. πŸ˜€

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 08:01 | Permalink |
  31. Hazbro wrote:

    Hey guys. I deselected (unchecked) the voice memos in iTunes, then deleted about 6 or so of the most recent voice memos in iPhone 4. Then I went back into iTunes at sync’d again, and voila, no more “Waiting for changes to be applied.” I noticed that the number of voice memos being sync’d was about 396. Could it be that there’s a limit of 400 voice memos in the “Voice Memos” app?

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 03:27 | Permalink |
  32. Pete Kettell wrote:

    I’ve had the same probe, tried various web suggestions but as of 12/11/2011 this method worked for me. Delete the iTunes voice memos, then delete them on your phone and the sync should work. Thanks Peter, good man

    Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 11:16 | Permalink |
  33. Stephane wrote:

    thanks for the tip. However, as you mentioned the possibility, it did not work for me. I think Apple is in a spot now, because there are many many people having this kind of issue. In my case, my iPhone has this problem, but not my iPad. And looking at the solutions offered elsewhere, it looks almost like works of magic: step into the hoop from the right side, skip twice on your left leg, restore your prefs, put on a green hat, delete his library item, close your eyes… Apple people are making us waste almost as much time as Bill Gates in his heydays. Thanks for all the great posts anyway πŸ™‚

    Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 11:40 | Permalink |
  34. Mike H wrote:

    thanks man

    Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 20:17 | Permalink |
  35. Voytek wrote:

    Thanks a lot. It really works!

    Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 11:25 | Permalink |
  36. Paul wrote:

    Worked for me too, thanks so much. Should I be shocked that the solution came from a blogger and not from Apple who seems loathe to even admit that their products ever have any defects? Steve is gone guys, quit the shady stuff. By the way the fix worked in iOS 5.0.1.

    Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 19:29 | Permalink |
  37. Ian Threlkeld wrote:

    Wow, thanks. It worked for me. How on Earth did you discover this ??

    Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 23:45 | Permalink |
  38. Rob wrote:

    Add me to the list. Thanks so much.

    Friday, November 18, 2011 at 18:26 | Permalink |
  39. Phil Cohen wrote:

    Is there a way to get the voice memos back into the voice memo app after deleting them on the phone? It’s much easier to play individual memos from the vm app than from the music app.

    Sunday, November 20, 2011 at 01:41 | Permalink |
  40. Adrian wrote:

    Didn’t work for me. iPod photo cache wasn’t the culprit either.

    I think my dodgy files were some PDF books I was syncing.

    Upgrading to the recent iOS and iTunes versions did fix it though.

    Sunday, November 20, 2011 at 01:46 | Permalink |
  41. mandeep wrote:

    thankuuu very much………………….. it worked fa me

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 10:04 | Permalink |
  42. Ian wrote:

    Worked for me, too! Thanks a lot!

    Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 20:26 | Permalink |
  43. Mark wrote:

    Don’t know how you figured it out but it worked like a charm. Thanks for saving me hours of frustration.

    Monday, December 26, 2011 at 19:04 | Permalink |
  44. Peter wrote:

    I wish this worked for me – I have the same problem, but on an ipod touch. And because it’s a touch, I have no voice memos whatsoever. Anyone have any ideas? Absolutely nothing works, including restoring my ipod.

    Friday, December 30, 2011 at 00:34 | Permalink |
  45. Alfie wrote:

    Thankyou! I had this problem, im on a windows laptop, and i have ios 5.0.1, you would of thought they would of fixed it by now πŸ˜› but thanks to you its fine for me!

    Sunday, January 1, 2012 at 22:41 | Permalink |
  46. Wil Robbins wrote:


    Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 21:56 | Permalink |
  47. Phil wrote:

    What’s the solution if you’re getting this message but don’t have any voice memos on the device, as in, I’ve never even launched that app?

    Monday, March 12, 2012 at 07:20 | Permalink |
  48. Abdallah Osama wrote:

    Thank you very much. even though I didn’t have any voice memos on my iPhone 4, but turning off the include voice memos in iTunes solved the problem.
    Worked for my iPad also.
    Thank u again.

    Monday, April 2, 2012 at 23:32 | Permalink |
  49. AB wrote:

    Worked for me as well! A BIG THANK YOU!

    Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 13:12 | Permalink |
  50. Mia wrote:

    thanks a million. spent some time researching and trying to find a fix. resoring to factory setting didnt seem to help and then saw this!!!! Problem solved. thanks again.Just curious how did you discover it?:)

    Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 06:00 | Permalink |
  51. Sure wrote:

    I don’t have any voice memos still i am the same problem please help me… I can’t tolerate that waiting for items to be copied…

    Friday, June 15, 2012 at 21:09 | Permalink |
  52. Todd wrote:

    Wow. Amazing. Thanks so much! That was really annoying to try and get around.

    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 00:48 | Permalink |
  53. Seth wrote:

    This helped me too… it came from a voice memo that was recording when the phone died. I guess it was corrupted and iTunes couldn’t handle that.


    Monday, January 7, 2013 at 02:01 | Permalink |
  54. Andrew Parker wrote:

    Worked, thanks! Now, do you have a solution for the Exchange password and Cannot Connect To Server errors, please?

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 23:20 | Permalink |
  55. john Fischetti wrote:

    Dude, that worked — thank you so much!!!

    God bless the internet!

    Friday, March 15, 2013 at 01:26 | Permalink |
  56. Tina wrote:

    But I don’t have any voice memos.

    Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 03:00 | Permalink |
  57. Aye wrote:

    OMG..It work for me too.
    Thank you so much!

    Friday, June 14, 2013 at 18:45 | Permalink |
  58. Charlie wrote:

    Awesome! it worked! Thanks man!

    Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 00:45 | Permalink |

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. Waiting for changes to be applied (Jarrett House North) on Thursday, November 10, 2011 at 14:02

    […] Aaaand just as soon as I pushed Send to Blog, I found the answer: voice memos. Specifically, deleting all voice memos on the phone was sufficient to fix the problem and allow […]

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