Apple has put a lot of effort into making the iPhone and iPod touch as easy to use as possible. Still, there are plenty of challenges that can trip you up, from mystery attachments to confusing sync options. The good news is that there are solutions to most of these problems. Here are answers to some of the more common conundrums. If you’re experiencing a problem that’s not on this list, try Apple’s troubleshooting assistant (apple.com/uk/support/iphone or apple.com/uk/support/ipodtouch).

1. Sync your data

Syncing your device with iTunes is the only way to get all your media onto your pocket-sized player. It’s also the most convenient way to add contact information, bookmarks, and calendar events. If you find yourself stumped by how your device syncs, read on.

If you have a computer at work with your contacts and calendar information, and a machine at home that has all your music, you can set up your iOS device to sync different content to each of these.

Apple has conveniently organised mobile data into discrete blocks, each of which can be synced with different machines. These blocks are shown as a series of tabs such as Info, which may feature your MobileMe account, bookmarks contacts, calendars and notes, and Music, which includes playlists and music videos. For this to work, you’ll need to go through each tab and uncheck any items you don’t want to sync with the new computer. For example, to keep music that you’ve synced with your home machine, uncheck the sync options in the Music tab on your work computer.

Although you can’t plug an iPhone or iPod touch into another machine and have it incorporate media – music, videos, photos and podcasts – from that other computer, it can merge data found in the Info tab. To do this, on the second machine, deselect the sync options in all but the Info tab. Click on the Info tab and select any items you’d like to add to your device – Contacts and Calendars, for example. When you click on the Apply button to update your device, a dialog box will appear asking if you’d like to replace the information with that from this computer or merge it. For the latter, click on Merge Info.

If you want to add audio files to your device from a different machine than the one you primarily sync music with, select the Manually Manage Music And Videos option in the Summary tab in your primary machine. Then, when you connect your device to a second computer, you can drag songs or playlists onto the device in iTunes.

2. Device doesn't appear in iTunes

If your device isn’t showing up in iTunes’ Devices list when you connect to your computer, it’s time to run through the reliable fixes covered at the beginning of this chapter. But first check the connection and make sure that your device is charged. If it’s powered up, try restarting it, and then restarting your computer. If that doesn’t work, try using different cables. If your computer still won’t recognise the device, you should reinstall iTunes.

3. Problems with Apps

To permanently delete an app, you must remove it from both your device (above) and iTunes (below).

The App Store has turned the iPhone and iPod touch into a kind of pocket-size Mac, thanks to its huge library of apps that expand the devices’ powers. But those capabilities do come with a few downsides. In particular, third-party apps can freeze, crash, and otherwise cause your device problems. Luckily, the remedies for these common problems are fairly straightforward. Here’s the best of our app advice.

Delete Unwanted Apps If an app is giving you problems or has just lost its novelty, you may choose to delete it. However, a copy will remain on your computer, so you can retrieve it if you change your mind. To delete an app completely, you’ll need to delete it from both your device and your computer.

To remove an app from your device, tap and hold an icon until all the apps begin to shake. For the one you want to delete, tap the cross that appears in the top-left corner of its icon (note that you can’t delete Apple’s default apps). You’ll get a warning that removing the app will also delete all of its data; then you’ll be asked to rate the app before deleting it. You can choose a star rating or tap No Thanks. Once you’re done, press the Home button.

To remove an app from iTunes, connect your device, click on the Apps entry under Library, right-click (or Control-click) the desired ­application, and select Delete. A dialog box will then appear asking you whether you are sure that you want to remove the selected app from your iTunes library. To continue simply click Remove.

Alternatively, with your device connected, go to the Applications tab in iTunes. Assuming you are using the Selected Applications option, deselect the application you no longer want on your device – this should keep it from reappearing, regardless of whether you delete it from iTunes.

Should you completely delete an app and later have a change of heart and decide that you want it back, just go to the iTunes Store and download it again. If it’s an app you purchased, the Store will remember that you previously paid for it and will allow you to download it for free.

Update Your Apps The likelihood of application crashes on your device has increased significantly with the explosion of third-party software now available in the App Store. Most of these crashes are the result of bugs in the software, and updated releases will eventually squash the majority of these. That’s why it’s a good idea to check periodically for updates – this is especially the case after Apple has released a new version of its iOS.

To check for and install updates in iTunes, select Applications in the iTunes Library and click on the Check For Updates button. Here you can download updates one by one or all at once. For the best results, we recommend updating from iTunes whenever possible. However, if you’re on the go, you can check from your device by going to the App Store and then the Updates button. If any updates are listed, your device gives you the option to install them. Try to refrain from doing anything with your phone while waiting for the update to finish. While the device remains operational during an update, whatever you attempt will be affected and run slower. Impressively, the installation process appears to survive such a restart and picks up where it left off. Still, matters will go more smoothly if you update from iTunes.

If you have an updated app that keeps freezing or crashing, try these steps in order. If an app is frozen, force quit until you are back at the Home screen. If you are running iOS 4 on an iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, or 4G iPod touch, going back to your Home screen may not be enough. The multitasking capabilities on these models mean that the next time you open the app, you will immediately return to the same place you were stuck last time. The solution is to remove that app from the list of apps that have multitasking enabled. To do this, double-click the Home button to bring up the multitasking bar. Tap and hold on the problem app until it begins to shake. Finally, tap on the minus sign that appears in the upper-left corner of its icon. The next time you launch the app, it will start from scratch.

If the app continues to act up, restart your device. Next, try reinstalling the app. First, delete it from device and from iTunes, then and download the program again in iTunes. Next sync your device and install the new copy of the app. You should note that you will lose any data you saved with the program – text you added, high scores, game progress, and so on.