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How to link and sync your iPhone to your Windows 11 PC

With Microsoft's Phone Link app, you can make phone calls, send texts, and view notifications right from your computer. Here's how this works.
Written by Lance Whitney, Contributor
Making a phone call from Windows 11 with Phone Link
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Want to be able to access phone calls, text messages, and notifications from your iPhone directly on your Windows 11 computer? One handy tool that makes this possible is Microsoft's built-in Phone Link app. With Phone Link, you can make and receive phone calls, send and receive text messages, and read notifications on your computer.

Also: The best Windows laptop you can buy: Dell, Samsung, Lenovo, and more

Phone Link supports the iPhone only in Windows 11. Sorry, Windows 10 users. But if you are running the latest flavor of Windows and want to sync your iPhone and your PC, here's how this works.

How to sync your iPhone to your Windows 11 PC

1. Update your iPhone

To use Phone Link, your iPhone must be running iOS 14 or higher. If you need to confirm this, go to Settings, select General, and then tap Software Update. You'll be told that iOS is up to date or prompted to install the latest update.

Update your iPhone
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

2. Enable Bluetooth on your iPhone

To link your phone, you'll need Bluetooth enabled. To check your iPhone, go to Settings, select Bluetooth, and confirm that it's on.

Enable Bluetooth on your iPhone
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

3. Update Windows 11

Microsoft added full iPhone support for Phone Link in Windows 11 in early 2023. To make sure your OS is up to date, head to Settings, select Windows Update, and click the button to check for updates. Allow the latest updates to download and install.

Update Windows 11
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

4. Make sure Phone Link is updated

You should also ensure that you're running the latest version of Phone Link. The easiest way to do this is to update all the Microsoft Store apps installed on your PC. Open the Microsoft Store app from the Start menu and click the Library icon. Click the Get Updates button and allow all your installed apps to be updated.

Make sure Phone Link is updated
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

5. Enable Bluetooth in Windows

Make sure Bluetooth is enabled on your Windows 11 PC. Go to Settings, select Bluetooth & devices, and confirm that the switch for Bluetooth is on.

Enable Bluetooth in Windows
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

6. Open Phone Link

Click the Start button, go to All Apps, and select Phone Link from the list. The first screen prompts you to select your device. Click the button for iPhone.

Open Phone Link
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Also: The best iPhone models you can buy right now (including the iPhone 15)

7. Scan the QR code

A QR code appears in the Phone Link app. Launch the camera on your iPhone and scan the code. On your iPhone, tap the link at the bottom of the camera screen to pair your devices. If you can't scan the code for any reason, click the link to continue manually without a QR code and follow those steps.

Scan the QR code
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

8. Use the Link to Windows app

At the screen to pair your devices, tap Link to Windows to download and install the Link to Windows app. After the app has been installed, tap Open to launch it.

Use the Link to Windows app
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

9. Scan QR code

In the Link to Windows app, tap Scan QR code and scan the code displayed in the Phone Link app on your PC. Next, tap Continue to kick off the pairing of your phone and PC.

Scan QR code
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

10. Pair your phone and PC

You should see pairing prompts on both your iPhone and your Windows 11 computer. Select the Pair button on both devices and wait for the two to pair.

Pair your phone and PC
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Also: After three years without a case, this is my iPhone now

11. View the requested permissions

The next screen on your computer explains which settings and permissions you need to enable on your phone to fully access notifications, phone calls, and text messages on your PC.

View the requested permissions
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

12. Sync your iPhone data

The screen on your phone asks if you want your PC to receive the notifications from your iPhone. Tap Allow to OK this. Go to the Bluetooth settings screen on your phone, tap the Info icon for your computer, and turn on the switches for Show Notifications, Sync Contacts, and Share System Notifications. Doing so will allow you to fully access and use the apps and data from your phone on your PC.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

13. Run Phone Link

The Phone Link welcome screen pops up on your PC and asks if you want to open the app each time you log into Windows. If so, check the box.

Run Phone Link
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

14. Access your recent messages

To access your iPhone's text messages in Phone Link, tap the Messages heading at the top. You should see any recent messages that have been sent to you since Phone Link has been active. If so, type a response to a message and send it. You can then carry on a back-and-forth conversation from either your iPhone or your PC, and the two should sync with each other.

Access your recent messages
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Also: Windows 11 FAQ: ZDNET's upgrade guide and everything else you need to know

15. Start a new chat

You can also start a new conversation. To do this, select one of your displayed contacts and then compose and send your text. To chat with someone else, click the New Message icon and type the name or phone number of the recipient. Write and then send your message.

Start a new chat
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

16. Make a phone call to a recent contact

To make a phone call from Phone Link, tap the Calls heading at the top. To call a displayed contact, select their name and then tap the blue phone icon. After the call is connected, you can view and manage it through the Call on PC window. Here, you're able to mute the call, send it to your phone, display the keypad, or place the call on hold. When done, tap the red phone icon to hang up.

Make a phone call to a recent contact
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

17. Make a phone call through the keypad

To call someone not listed among recent calls, type their name or phone number at the top of the keypad. Alternatively, type the person's phone number via the keypad and then tap the green phone icon to place the call.

Make a phone call through the keypad
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

18. Receive a phone call

To answer a phone call on your PC, make sure the Phone Link program is running. When the call comes in, tap Accept in the notification at the bottom of the screen. You can also decline the call or leave the caller a message. The Call on PC window then pops up where you can control the call.

Receive a phone call
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Also: Windows 11 setup: Which user account type should you choose?

19. Access your notifications

To see the notifications from your phone in Phone Link, click one of the Notifications icon on the left. Click a specific notification to respond to it.

Access your notifications
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

20. Tweak the Phone Link settings

Finally, you can play with key settings for the Phone Link app. Click the Gear icon in the upper right. The General category lets you control settings for notifications, the visual theme, and the app's startup options. The Devices category lets you add or remove a phone in Phone Link. The Features category lets you enable or disable access to notifications, messages, and phone calls.

Tweak the Phone Link settings
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET
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