Transferring (old) purchased apps from one iPhone to another

I have an old iPhone that I am replacing with a new iPhone. I used iTunes to back up the old iPhone, then restored that backup to get the new iPhone set up, moved the SIM card over, everything is mostly working.

EXCEPT that there are a few apps that I (legally) purchased which are on my old phone and have not moved over to my new phone. It appears to be the case that these are old enough apps that they are no longer for sale in the iTunes store.

There seems to be a bunch of infrastructure built into iTunes for transferring purchased items, including apps, onto my PC, and then onto my new phone. But none of it seems to work, despite my best googling.

I also tried an app called AnyTrans, which seems precisely designed to do this kind of thing, but it failed, saying that it was incompatible with the new version of iOS.

Anyone have any idea what I need to do?


Why would you want apps on your new phone that won’t work?

Sorry, to be clear, that was a PC app, whose purpose is to make it easier to move stuff around between iPhones. I know that the iPhone app will work on the new phone, because the new phone is identical to the old phone, including the same OS version. (The old one’s screen is starting to fail.)

You have the apps in iTunes, correct? You can verify this in the apps tab of iTunes.

When you connect the iPhone to iTunes, and click on the iPhone icon, on the left right below the iPhone’s info you should see:


Click on Apps. You can scroll through the list of apps, or do a search on the app name in the little box to the right. All of the apps in iTunes should be listed, and if the app is indeed compatible with the OS on the new iPhone, you should be able to install it from there.

That’s the problem. I can not figure out how to get the apps actually into that list. That screen has two sides… on the right side are images of all the home screens on the phone, with all the apps arranged as they actually are, presumably so I can move them around to different places. On the left side of the screen is a list that appears to think it’s a list of apps… but it’s always empty, no matter what. So it feels like I ought to be able to drag apps into that list from the screens on the right, or something like that, but nothing I’ve tried seems to work. (The documented commands is to do “transfer purchases”, but that only seems to want to transfer music and movies and stuff, not apps.)

You should be able to backup your old phone, and then restore to your new phone. That will install everything.

That’s exactly what I did. And it installed everything… except for a few apps.

Have you tried the App Store app on your new iPhone? Tap the ‘Puchased’ icon (or the ‘Updates’ icon at the bottom, then ‘Purchased’). You should get a list of available apps - if it has a ‘cloud’ icon, tap it to download it.

If the missing apps are not shown, then there is no compatible version.

For me, the apps get into that list when I buy them via iTunes on my Mac. Are you buying your apps exclusively from your iPhone? I have always purchased apps via iTunes, they download on my iMac, and then I sync my iPhones to get the apps loaded.

I would think that if you are regularly backing up your iPhone, the difference between buying apps on your phone vs. iTunes should be moot, as iTunes should back up your apps from your phone to iTunes.

In thinking about it further, I wonder if your iTunes username/password is the same as your iPhone’s username/password, and that’s why it’s not syncing properly.

Sadly, Apple has done away with the ability to transfer apps from your device to your iTunes library.

It’s starting to look like this may be impossible… I was on the phone with apple tech support for a half hour this morning with no luck.

It looks like there are some tools that let you inspect your phone’s file system directly. Can you copy apps just by moving files around? I’m guessing probably not, as that would seem like something Apple would clearly not want.