How Do you Fix iTunes Error 54?

The iPhone [device name] cannot be synced. An unknown error occurred (-54). Have you encountered this error code while attempting to sync your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch with your computer?

Have you had no luck in resolving the problem? Before relenting and calling Apple customer support try these simple solutions. They might save you countless hours on hold with Apple customer support. However, first, let’s go over what is iTunes Error 54 and what causes this error.

iTunes error 54 occurs whenever a file you are attempting to sync between your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch and computer is locked.

It could also be indicative of a permission error on your computer that is preventing the files from properly syncing between devices. You can click ‘OK’ to continue the sync, but more often than not, the sync will not continue and that is when you will have to start troubleshooting.

Causes of iTunes Error 54

There are several potential causes for iTunes error 54, two of which are listed in the preceding section; a locked file on your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, computer or a permission error on your computer. The issue could also be stemming from third-party security software on your computer prohibiting the sync.

This error could also be indicative that your iOS or iTunes versions are obsolete. Finally, you might simply be trying to sync either too many files or a set of overly disorganized files.

How to Fix iTunes Error 54

There are methods for troubleshooting all of the causes listed in the section above. There will be differing instructions for troubleshooting methods that work for Macs versus PC’s as well as iPhones versus iPads versus iPod Touches.

All of these instructions will be included below and if you follow the set of instructions that correspond with your devices, your issue should be resolved in no time.

1.Consolidate the Media Files in Your iTunes Library

As mentioned in the causes section, your issue might simply be a result of how disorganized your media files are in iTunes. To better organize your iTunes library, follow these three steps.

In iTunes, select ‘File’ then ‘Library’ and finally ‘Organize Library’ within the menu bar.
Select ‘Consolidate Files’.
Click ‘OK’.

2.Select Fewer Files to Sync

It might also help to simply sync fewer files at a time. The issue might be caused by an overbearing amount of files to sync and even if it is not it will make it a lot easier to spot out which file is causing the error when you are syncing fewer files at a time. 

3.Authorize Your Computer in iTunes

It also might help to authorize your computer in iTunes if you have not already done so. Authorization will allow your computer to access content that is attached to your iTunes account which might free up locked files. To authorize your computer in iTunes, follow these three steps.

Select ‘Account’ in the iTunes menu.
Choose ‘Authorizations’ then ‘Authorize this Computer’.
Enter your password when prompted and then click ‘Authorize’.

4.Change Permissions of iTunes Folder on Your Computer

If there is a ‘read-only’ permission set for the iTunes folder you are attempting to sync, your computer will not be able to properly sync the files and this error code will appear. To change the permissions of an iTunes folder on your computer will depend on whether you are a Mac user or a PC user. 

To change the permissions of an iTunes folder on a PC, follow these five steps.

Open Windows Explorer.
Go to Music.
Right click on iTunes folder.
Select ‘Properties’.
Uncheck ‘read-only’.

To change the permissions of an iTunes folder on a Mac, follow these seven steps.

In the iTunes menu, select ‘Preferences’ and then ‘Advanced’.
View the location, click ‘OK’ and close the window.
In a Finder window, find that location and open the folder.
Click on ‘File’ then ‘Get Info’ and then scroll to the ‘Sharing & Permissions’ section and hit the triangle icon.
Select the user of your choice and set the access permission.
Enter an administrator name and password.
Click the gear icon, select ‘apply to enclosed items’ and click ‘OK’.

5.Disable Third-Party Security Software

As mentioned in the causes section, some third-party software, particularly security or anti-virus software, can interfere with the sync process between your computer and your device of choice. There will be different methods of doing this depending on which third-party security software you are running; however, you should complete these five troubleshooting steps before relenting and disabling your third-party security software.

Ensure that the date, time, and time zone are set correctly on your computer.
Log in using an administrator account, do NOT use a guest account.
Ensure that you are using the latest version of iTunes.
Update your OS.
Update your security software.

6.Update your iOS and/or iTunes

As touched upon in troubleshooting method #5, you should be sure that you are using the latest version of iTunes and of your iOS before syncing media between the two. Many iTunes and iPhone errors occur when you are using older versions of the application. Updates can fix many problems and bugs in the software so ensure that you are using the latest versions of your iOS and iTunes. It would probably also help to update your PC or macOS before trying to sync again.

In Conclusion

Although this error might be annoying to encounter, as its solutions can sometimes be time-consuming, it is not an irreparable problem. If you follow whichever of the troubleshooting methods listed above that corresponds to your devices, computer, and cause then you should be able to resolve this issue.

If you are still not able to resolve this issue after following all of the troubleshooting methods listed above, only then should you call Apple customer support as you might be dealing with an entirely separate, and potentially larger, issue.