I was having this exact issue after upgrading to iTunes 11. After several days on chat with different techs I was bumped up to their level 2 techs. This guy found the problem & the solution is pretty simple.
The problem is with files (music in my case) that for some reason iTunes just does not like. They play like normal, but just won't sync to the iPhone (or whatever you have.)
(Note: The tech2 guy suggested a completely new install of iTunes after wiping every trace of it from my system. I did that, but it didn't change a thing in terms of the"Waiting..." sync issue. Just thought I would note I did all of this on a fresh install & new library)
Here is what worked for me...
How to find the bad file(s).
1. Connect the iPhone (or whatever) and uncheck "Sync Music" to clear everything off the device. If it was trying to sync & giving that frustrating "Waiting..." message, X out of it & uncheck "Sync Music." Clear all music off the device.
2. On the "Summary" tab, check "Manually manage music and videos." (Note: I do not sync anything but music.)
Now the fun part. It's tedius, but works. The playlist you are trying to sync has a file (or files) that are not sycning & causing it to hang. I went thru my entire collection, but this should work with just going thru a playlist
3. Start a few new playlists for going thru files. Add everything you want to go thru in 1 big playlist (like everything in the playlist you want to sync.)
4. Move files to test into another playlist. This will help you keep track of which files are fine. The number doesn't matter, but the more files you add, the longer it will take to get a result on them. (My collection is over 50,000 songs, so I started testing my collection at about 2000 at a time)
5. Drag & drop the files from the new playlist (for example, the one with 2000 in it as opposed to 50,000) to the device you are manually managing. If the files eventually start transfering, these are all good. Remove them from the device & delete them from the playlist. Repeat moving files from the untested playlist to this one & dropping them to the device.
6. When you get a batch of files that do not transfer you will know it. It will stop trying to do anything & if you hit "Sync" you will get a familiar "Waiting..." message. Congradulations, there is a bad file in here. Move a number of files to another playlist and continue testing smaller & smaller numbers until you find the file that will not sync. Remember, one file causes the whole issue. So if you transfer two to the device and neither transfers, try them one at a time.
7. When you find the file (or files... I had 4 out of 53,567 that were bad) you will need to get rid of it. Deleting it (them) from the playlist(s) solved the sync issue for me.
8. What if you still want to sync the file(s)? Glad you asked! I found all 4 files in my system to be the same bitrate. All 4 happened to be 192/Joint Stereo. Simply deleting them from the library & reimporting them DOES NOT WORK. I had to convert them to a different format (I just used 192/Stereo) and then delete the original files from the actual folders they are stored in (placing the newly converted files into the origina folders is fine, but delete the old files first... copying over the old files did NOT solve the sync issue. Deleting the originals & replacing with the freshly converted files DID.)
9. Import the freshly converted files to iTunes. Drag & drop to your device. They should import.
Hello, JTF1972 - - I admire your persistence and dedication, and I suspect your heroic measures might work for others as well as they did for you. The question is: How many iDevice users have the persistence and moxy required to implement your proposed fix? If the answer is "less than 5%", then probably the "more than 95%" (which, sadly, includes me) will have to wait for a software fix from Apple.
I understand from this thread that the "stuck on waiting for changes to be applied" crowd includes a handful who have seen their iDevice transformed into an iBrick ... they literally cannot install *anything* on their devices as a result of the problem. It seems as though many of the rest of us can -- eventually and with considerable time & effort -- load some music on our devices. In my case it simply requires me to leave my iPhone 5 hooked to my PC and iTunes syncing for an aggravatingly long span of time. But the sync eventually is completed, if not on the first attempt, then on the second or third or fourth. (I've never had to go as high as attempt #5.) I've resigned myself to the fact that a sync may require up to 40 or 50 minutes (even when subsituting just one ebook or a handful of songs or short playlists). Advance planning permits me to do this while working on something else -- writing, responding to emails, performing statistical analysis. Of course, the time required for the operation is absurd. Still, a modest amount of planning can make the inconvenience manageable.
Hope more robust versions of the iOS / iTunes software combo will be available soon.
Yeah, Apple's tech walked me through a similar process and it didn't really resolve anything. Some days the sync seems to work, sometimes I have to restore to factory settings and rebuild the whole thing from scratch.
Thanks Apple! I was hoping to spend many additional hours of my life waiting for changes to be applied when there have been no changes to my library.
Thanks, JTF1972, I suspected it was a "bad file," but wasn't willing to try out the dump & test just yet.
After your post, I tried it with the 2,000 songs I'm currently sync'ing, but wasn't able to identify a culprit. I did experience a long sync with the current set of tunes, but there was no clear "bad file."
I have to assume, with 55,000 songs, that you're only syncing only part of your collection. Were the "bad files" among your normally synced songs?
I ask because I'm wondering whether the guilty party could be a song that I'm no longer syncing. It could still be hiding in the device's memory or backups.
Guess we'll see. I reset the device, so the current crop of songs, which all passed your test, shouldn't cause a long sync. I'll keep my fingers crossed.
But I have to admit, I don't have high hopes - I'm currently experiencing long syncs every 36 - 72 hours. If I last a week, I'll be grateful.
Yes. 2 of the 4 were in the playlist I was trying to sync. Before the tech suggested manually adding the files I had tried pairing down a new playlist with the same files in it & found one of the bad files, which disproved the theory of most techs I had chatted with that itunes just took time to process a large number of files in a playlist & if I were to just be patient it would sync. Well, waiting over 90 minutes to sync 1 file is more than patient. That's what got me to level 2.
Well, for me I have no music on my phone and no playlists and it is still getting stuck on Preparing To Sync. I have noticed under Settings -> Generals -> iTunes Wi-Fi Sync that there are two entries:
Laptop Jan 7, 2014
Laptop Jan 1, 2014
I think Jan 1 is when my syncs stopped. Could this be the issue that there are two syncs showing?
I have also never used WiFi Sync....
After upgrading to iOS 7 (and subsequent updates) my 4s was replaced due to zero audio. After being replaced I also experience the "waiting for changes to be applied" loop.
The simple solution that works for me is to transfer purchases prior to syncing. After I transfer purchases she syncs right up. Next time it sticks on "waiting for changes..." I just repeat the process and we're good again for awhile.
1. Turn On: "Prevent iPods, iPhones, and iPads from syncing automatically" in iTunes.
2. Connect iPhone
3. Open the Side Bar if it's not already
4. Right Click on your device
5. Select "transfer purchases", when finished I can then sync again with no issues
Someone once mentioned halting a sync in progress and restarting.
Lately, I've found that CAN work, but you must stop it as soon as you "smell a rat."
In other words, kill the sync when you've made few or no changes, and the "waiting for changes to be applied" still takes more than five seconds.
It seems to take the screwy sync a few moments to start "removing" all the songs from the device. If you can halt the long sync before that starts happening, the next sync may go smoothly.
In short, when you think iTunes is going to start removing/disabling your songs, THAT's when you cancel the sync.
I've done this a number of times over the past few days. It's been five days since my last long sync. So maybe it's working.