Moving from iPhone to Android whilst using a Mac

So you want to move from iPhone to Android and you’re using a Mac? If you’re used to syncing everything either by using iCloud or via iTunes then unfortunately Google does not make it as simple for us Mac users. However they do make it so you can change pretty much whatever you like on your phone and to be honest I’ve never looked back. We’ll go over a few processes that you might do on your iPhone and see how you can now do similar things on your Android device.


Apps are synced with your Google Play account, which you will have had to create when you start downloading apps. Another app to use is App List Backup which saves a list of installed apps so you can re-download them from Google later on. Useful if you don’t want all of your apps to be re-installed after restoring your phone.

You also have the option to auto-update apps, which you can do when connected via Wi-Fi or on the move. This occurs in the background.


Now, I’m lucky as I only have either Gmail or Google Apps email accounts and the standard Gmail account on Android is fantastic. Remember to ensure your email is set to IMAP so that it stays in sync with all devices.

I’ve tried other apps such as Aqua Mail, MailDroid and K9-Mail but they really are very poor, look terrible, always miss a feature or 5 and the user experience is just dreadful. Each phone has it’s own stock email app so it might be that you’re lucky and have a great one from the start. I would be interested in knowing your views on the email apps available for Android.


Go to the iSyncr website and follow their step-by-step guide to installing iSyncr on your phone and your Mac. With this in place you will now be able to sync iTunes with your phone. The app costs £2.99 which is money well spent.

Although you can use any other music player, Rocket Player by the same company is by far the best around. This was the one disappointing area when moving from the iPhone as I’ve always loved the simplicity of the iTunes interface and it seemed the vast majority (and there’s a lot to choose from) had absolutely no designers working on their interface and so it was a painful process simply playing music.


Movies can also be synced using iSyncr (see above), but if you have videos lying around on your Mac then you can simply plug in your phone to your Mac and using Android File Transfer you can drag and drop movies into the Movies folder. Play them using Rocket Player, VLC Player or MX Player.


If using the stock Android Camera then your photos will be stored in the DCIM/Camera folder (accessible via Android File Transfer). If using another camera app then photos are seemingly stored randomly in other areas. This is one thing that I think should be neatened out on the device so developers have to store their app’s photos in the same DCIM folder. You can sync your photos to Google+ but, obviously, if you take a lot of random photos you may not want every one of those uploaded to your account.

Photos can be viewed in the stock Gallery app but I found that a bit limited and opted for the fantastic F-Stop Media Gallery.


Along with the calendar, contacts was the one area I had to change how I worked on my Mac so that everything stayed nice and in sync. I wanted everything to stay in sync from my Mac to Google to Android to iPad so here’s how I went about it…

– On your Mac ensure you have your Contacts app synced up with your iCloud account (Contacts > Preferences > Accounts > iCloud > Enable this account). This will then ensure that the contacts on your Mac are in sync with any other iOS device you have i.e. iPhone, iPod, iPad.

– In the Apple App Store, on your Mac, download and install Contacts Sync for Google Gmail (£2.49) and enter the Google account details you’re using on your Android device. I then leave this set for Auto Sync so you never forget to sync the contacts. Remember that you need Sync set up on your phone. This is found under Settings > Google > Accounts (click the account you want to sync) and make sure Contacts is checked.

– On your phone install Smoothsync for Cloud Contacts (£2.99).

Now, as I did this a while ago, I’m not sure whether it’s necessary to install the Smoothsync app as it appears you’re already syncing your Mac contacts with Google and then Google to your phone so I can’t actually remember why I did this. Might be worth not installing that to start with and then installing if required.

I use Contacts+ for managing and viewing contacts.


Firstly, if you have any calendars in use in your Google account then set these up in the Mac Calendar App under Calendar > Preferences > Accounts. This will ensure that the Google calendar stays in sync on your Mac.

– On your phone make sure sync for calendar is set up so this then syncs your Google calendar to your phone. This is found under Settings > Google > Accounts (click the account you want to sync) and make sure Calendar is checked.

– Next, install Smoothsync for Cloud Calendar (£2.19) and enter your Apple ID. This will then keep your iCloud calendar in sync.


Simple and effective app is SMS Backup and Restore.

Backing up

By far the worst thing about Android is the backup and restore feature or rather lack of one. Install Helium on your phone and Helium Desktop on your Mac. Follow the instructions on both phone and the Mac app for how you get them to speak to each other. Now, there are a number of ways of backing up your data i.e. via Dropbox, Internal Storage but as the backup file can be quite large I prefer to do it on my Mac. For that click on the icon in the top right corner of the phone app and select PC Download. Enter the url into your web browser on your Mac and then decide what you want to back up. I generally just back up the app data.

Backing up of photos is again, a painful process. To Auto-backup your photos with your Google+ account (don’t worry they won’t be visible for the world to see) then go into the Gallery or G+ Photos app, go to settings and enable auto-backup. Remember to check the only backup on Wi-Fi if you have a slow mobile connection speed or simply don’t want your data allowance to be swallowed up.

For the more manual process of backing up photos then use Android File Transfer and locate the photos that way and simply drag and drop to your Mac. Watch out though as they’re not always stored in the DCIM folder. You need to check other folders depending on the apps you’re using to take photos with i.e. Instagram stores it’s photos in Pictures > Instagram, AgingBooth stores photos at root level.


So is all of this worth the change from iPhone to Android? Let’s just say I can see why people that like to have everything in sync continue with Apple. They make the whole process very easy and pain-free. That said iOS is so far behind the stock Android experience now that I doubt if I would change back. In general people that still have issues with Android, that use iOS, have probably not used it recently. It’s come on leaps and bounds over the years.

Obviously the iPhone/Android debate will continue with fan boys arguing for both sides but let’s just say I paid £199 for my Google Nexus 4 and the cheapest iPhone is the new “cheap” is £469.

I digressed slightly there… Is all of this setting up so that you can keep your Android device in sync with your Mac actually worth the change and hassle? Yes, it is. If you follow the steps above you’ll have a phone that remains perfectly in sync with your Mac and won’t really have to think about too much stuff with the possible exception of backups.

  • vali

    Thank you for clear and solid advice. I was struggling to find best way to sync all my apple devices with my new android phone. Nothing worked from the mac and apple forums and my telecom operator was offering microsoft as the in-between platform at 4 pounds per month. I paid as much today to solve the issue once and for all following your advice. great post!

    • daretothink

      No worries at all. Glad it helped you. If only there were easier ways to sync and backup Android devices then I think more people may make the leap.

      • Nate

        Can’t you just set up icloud as carddav on android for contacts?