How to fix iTunes error 54 on Apple iPhone XS Max, unable to sync iPhone on Windows

Like any other computer programs, iTunes also has its own directory of error codes and messages. Each of these codes serves as the primary indicator for an occurring problem when using iTunes to manage your iOS device. One of the errors encountered by Apple users when trying to sync their iPhone through iTunes is the error code 54. And this is the main problem addressed in this post. Read on to learn what to do if you’re getting the same error code and failed to sync your iPhone XS Max in iTunes.

The iTunes sync error 54 usually occurs when syncing photos, audio files or other contents on your iOS device with iTunes. What happens is that something impedes your iPhone from syncing with iTunes. To let you know that your content doesn’t sync, iTunes prompts an alert message that says, “The iPhone [device name] cannot be synced. An unknown error occurred (-54).” Oftentimes, the problem is due to a file on your computer or iOS device that is locked or restricted. Before you begin to troubleshoot your phone and computer system, check and ensure that you are using the latest version of iTunes and your iPhone software is up-to-date. If you’ve met the said requisites but are still getting the same iTunes error 54, then here are some workarounds you can try on.

First solution: Restart your iPhone and computer.

To clear out minor system glitches on your iPhone XS Max that might have impeded the syncing process, carry out a soft reset or restart your phone with these steps:

  1. Press and hold the Side/Power button and either Volume buttons simultaneously for a few seconds.
  2. Release the buttons when the Slide to Power Off command appears and then drag the power off slider to the right.
  3. After 30 seconds, press and hold the Power/Side button again until the phone reboots.

Alternatively, you can force restart your iPhone to forcibly clear all erratic services that might have caused the battery to drain faster. Here’s how a forced restart is done on an iPhone XS Max:

  1. Press and quickly release the Volume Up button.
  2. Press and quickly release the Volume Down button.
  3. Press and hold the Side/Power button until you see the Apple logo.

After restarting your phone, restart your computer through its Start menu or using the shortcut key combos. Then reconnect your iPhone to the computer and try syncing files with iTunes again.

Second solution: Run iTunes in administrative mode.

If you’re not logged in as Administrator on your computer, then your access to files, programs and other services would be limited or restricted. To solve the problem, restart your computer then sign in as administrator to have full access to your computer system, programs and iTunes services. Here’s what you should do then:

  1. Restart your computer and log in as Administrator.
  2. Right click on iTunes icon.
  3. Click on Properties.
  4. Select Compatibility.
  5. Then check the option to Run as administrator.

Also ensure that iTunes is authorized on your computer. Here’s how to check and manage this information:

  1. Open iTunes on your computer.
  2. Select Store from the menu options.

Then follow to given instructions to authorize your computer.

Third solution: Change iTunes folder permissions on your computer.

If you’re using a Windows 10 computer and you can’t sync audio or music files on your iPhone, try to change permission for iTunes folder from Read Only to other option. If the file or folder you are trying to sync is Read Only, the only thing you can do is to open and read it. This means that you can’t copy, delete, change or rename the file. File copying will also fail if the existing destination path or file is Read-only. To fix this problem, try and follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to Windows Explorer-> Music folder.
  2. Right click on the iTunes icon.
  3. Select Properties.
  4. Then remove the check on Read Only.

Restart your computer and then retry syncing music files on your iPhone.

Fourth solution: Disable security software on your computer temporarily.

If you have any security software installed and enabled on your computer, try to disable them before connecting your iPhone. Your security software might have sensed some security threats the moment you connect your iPhone to your computer or iTunes. As security measure, it hinders your iPhone from syncing and thus this iTunes error occurs. To rule this out, try to disable any antivirus or firewall on your computer and then try syncing your iPhone contents to iTunes. By doing so, you will know if the problem is caused by your computer’s security software or not and thereby allows you to make necessary actions.

Fifth solution: Remove any PDF documents from the sync process.

Syncing errors may also occur when you attempto sync iTunes purchases from your iOS device to your computer. The same thing can happen when trying to sync with Apple Books as it follows the same process. If this is the case, you may need to remove any PDF contents. There might be a problem with a PDF document saved to the Books app on your iPhone XS Max. As a result, your iPhone won’t be able to sync the file to iTunes. So here’s what you can do to fix this problem:

  1. Open the Books app on your iPhone.
  2. Then find and select the Share option to email the PDF documents to yourself.

Doing so creates and saves a copy of the PDF in your email account, which you can share to your other email address and access from your computer.

After creating a copy of the PDF on your email, you can delete the PDF contents from your iPhone XS Max and then try syncing with iTunes again.

You can also try syncing a small amount of content at a time and then add more content until the unknown error 54 shows up in iTunes again. By doing so, you can identify the content that triggers the error and causes the syncing process to fail.

Meanwhile, if you’re getting the same iTunes error 53 when trying to sync media files in your iTunes library to your iPhone XS Max, consolidating your files into the iTunes Media folder will likely fix it. The files you are trying to sync might be saved in different locations, making it hard for iTunes to access and so syncing fails.

Other options

  • Check and install all available Windows update service packs. Usually you will be prompted with a notification on your computer saying that a new update service pack is available. If that happens, follow the onscreen instructions to implement the update on your computer. Windows update service packs usually contain driver updates. This will potentially fix the problem if that iTunes sync error code 54 you’re getting is caused by incompatible driver on your Windows computer.
  • Contact Microsoft support. For more advanced solutions and detailed troubleshooting procedures for Windows syncing problems, call Microsoft help desk for further assistance. Just let them know exactly about the problem you encounter and how you ended up getting an iTunes error 54 when trying to sync files on your iPhone XS Max. That way, they’ll get some clues on where to begin troubleshooting.

If all else fails, then you can try using iTunes alternatives or non-Apple iOS data transfer tools compatible with your iPhone and computer system. There are actually a lot of other alternative software that allows you to sync data between your iPhone and iTunes easily. Just download and install your preferred software on the computer and then start extracting all your iTunes library files and sync them to your iPhone or vice versa.

I hope that we’ve been able to help you fix the problem with your device. We would appreciate it if you helped us spread the word so please share this post if you found it helpful. Thank you so much for reading!