12 Fixes to Make iPhone Sync With Exchange Server

12 Fixes to Make iPhone Sync With Exchange Server

Exchange server is what many business owners use to sync Outlook calendar and contacts with their smartphones. Exchange server works like a connection point between your PC and smartphone. Thanks to Exchange ActiveSync technology added since Microsoft Exchange server 2003, all synced devices can exchange data in a manner that prevents deleting, duplicating or corrupting data. You can use this technology with any version of Outlook (2003, 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016) as well as with any iPhone, including iPhone 5/5s, iPhone 6/6s/Plus and iPhone 7.

iPhone Exchange sycning

Troubleshooting iPhone Not Syncing Through Exchange

Exchange server is a perfect way to sync Outlook data but what to do if it’s not working? The first step is identifying a problem. It could be the Exchange server misconfiguration as well as smartphone configuration issues. So let us start from general issues and move to more specific problems preventing iPhone from syncing with Exchange.

iPhone Exchange Calendar Not Syncing With Outlook

If you’re having problems with Exchange calendar on your iPhone, the easiest way to pinpoint the problem is to connect your Exchange Server with another smartphone and attempt to sync the same data as you are trying to sync on iPhone. If the other smartphone works better, the problem is with your iPhone. A new iOS release often causes a variety of problems, including calendar appointments synced through Exchange ActiveSync technology not showing up on iPhone. If have a great deal of data or media on your iPhone, and factory reset is not an option, then downgrading to the previous iOS version might be your best option.

Another way to identify the problem is setting up another Exchange account on your iPhone and testing how it works with calendar. If the second account does not sync either, it means the problem is in iPhone’s operating system. However, if the second account works without any issues, you may want to check syncing calendars is enabled in Exchange account of your smartphone. Also, recheck your credentials and make sure there are no extra spaces before and after your password.

iPhone Calendar UI

Fix an Issue When iPhone Receives But Can’t Send Data Using Exchange

In most cases, iPhone can push and pull Outlook data using Exchange ActiveSync technology perfectly. However, sometimes, due to misconfiguration, iPhone can connect to Exchange and pull data but fails to push any changes back to Outlook. This one-way syncing means that your calendar events will not be updated on your PC if you change or modify something on your smartphone. This may cause variety of problems, starting with missed meetings and ending with potential problems with your work.

To fix this issue we recommend that you re-setup Exchange account and ensure you have enabled syncing everything you need (i.e. calendars, contacts, tasks and/or notes), and even mail on the very last step of setup process. Double check syncing for mail because if you don’t enable it, your iPhone could stop syncing other types of data or disturb the syncing schedule.

If this hasn’t helped you, try to connect another iPhone to this Exchange server using the same credentials. It would be better if you could do it using an Android or Windows Phone device. This test will definitely show whether it’s iOS or an Exchange problem. If the second smartphone transfers data two-way without any problems, the problem is in your smartphone and Apple will definitely release an update in the near feature to fix the issue. If both, iOS and Android devices are not able to send data to Outlook through Exchange server, skip to the bottom of this page where we describe how you can reconfigure your server to enable two-way synchronization for all connected devices. If you are not that tech-savvy, ask your IT team to help you out, or you can use AkrutoSync to sync an unlimited number of devices with your desktop Outlook via Wi-Fi or over the Internet.

iPhone Exchange account

You Can’t Sync Notes Using Exchange

At the beginning of 2016 Apple decided to discontinue this feature in its iTunes leaving thousands of Outlook users looking for alternate software to fill the gap. Now it seems that even iCloud cannot sync Outlook notes with iPhone due to this peculiar Apple policy of throwing Outlook users into the hell of migrating to other online services to manage their notes.

If you are reading this section, then it means that your Exchange server has problems with syncing notes with your iPhone. This sync issue can be easily solved with AkrutoSync that works like a PC-hosted Exchange server. With this software you can have your own Exchange server for syncing notes (as well as calendars, contacts and tasks) between your iPhone and Outlook. It takes 5 minutes to start syncing notes over Wi-Fi.

iPhone Notes

You’ve Added Exchange Account But It Fails To Transfer Any Data

If you already added Exchange account on your iPhone but it refuses to transfer anything to your iPhone, there could be few different reasons. Here’s what could help you identify the problem:

  • Confirm your email provider uses Exchange ActiveSync technology. Most common providers have this option, but it could be your cause.
  • Make sure you have setup everything using Exchange ActiveSync, not POP3 or IMAP.

If that didn’t work for you, install this software and establish syncing over Wi-Fi.

Another possible workaround is deleting your exchange email account and then re-adding it. However, while adding it back, do not create another Exchange account on your iPhone. Select “Other” instead and manually enter Exchange settings and credentials. If you also can’t sync mail, try adding credentials to your SMTP server settings even if it says these fields are optional.

iPhone Not Syncing With Exchange Because Of Sync Timing

Imagine you have scheduled a meeting at 3pm on your PC and someone accepts it on the iPhone. If you then cancel the meeting at 3:20pm there is always a chance that event on iPhone will not be updated due to poor cellular connection or Airplane mode activated at recipient’s device. In this case, making iPhone properly sync with Exchange server is easy. The only thing you need is to do is ensure your smartphone is always online and the sync schedule is relevant to the number of updates.

To fix this issue follow these recommendations:

  • Ensure iPhone is properly synced with PC where you have Outlook
  • Use Silent mode instead of Airplane mode on your iPhone while meetings
  • Make sure your iPhone is properly configured for a two-way sync with Exchange server

If that does not fix your problems, try using AkrutoSync to transfer Outlook data to iPhone without Exchange server.

You Can’t Sync All Entries From Outlook With iPhone Using Exchange

This is a common issue when Exchange server cannot transfer all calendar events or contacts to iPhone. It often happens when you have hundreds or even thousands of contacts and past calendar events in Outlook. Because the amount of data is so large, standard syncing methods can fail when transferring to your iPhone.

What to do to ensure syncing 100% of entries with iPhone:

  • Enable syncing one type of data at a time (i.e. calendar events, contacts, tasks)
  • If the app you are using to host Outlook data fails to work with Exchange server, switch to the default and try again.

If that did not resolve the problem, try using AkrutoSync for syncing Outlook data without Exchange Server.

You Can Sync Emails and Contacts, But Not Calendars With Exchange

Generally, Exchange ActiveSync technology should transfer everything correctly without any tweaks. However, you can experience issues of this kind when your iPhone is not properly configured to sync two-way with Exchange. In this case, Exchange server will update iPhone’s calendar but changes you have made on your phone will not reflect in Outlook.

Here are few hints to help you find a workaround:

  • Ensure you have enabled syncing for all types of data in Exchange account settings on your phone
  • If you use 3-rd party apps, try switching to iOS native apps
  • In some cases you just need to wait a few minutes (or even hours if you have a huge amount of data) while Exchange server will finish transferring all the data to your smartphone

If that did not work, install AkrutoSync software and transfer all the data without using the Cloud.

First Exchange Calendar Not Syncing With iPhone, But Second One Does

You may encounter Exchange calendar from your work cannot sync with iPhone, but at the same time other calendars sync without any issues. In this case, neither reinstalling Exchange account nor restarting Exchange server works.

To solve this issue we recommend deleting Exchange account + reset network settings:

  • Go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Exchange account > Delete Account
  • Next, proceed to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings
  • Add Exchange account once again

Exchange Contacts Not Syncing With iPhone

Another common issue with iPhone and Exchange is when your contacts disappearing from iPhone. In some cases you can even sync mail and calendar but no contacts show up on iPhone. The first thing you need to do is to check if your contacts are actually on Exchange server. To do that, use Exchange Web Access. If you do see contacts your contacts through a web browser, but not on your iPhone, try this workaround

  • Go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Exchange
  • Turn Contacts on and get back to home screen
  • Go to Contacts and select Groups
  • Select All Exchange, Contacts and Suggested Contacts

Following these steps ensures your Exchange account is enabled for display on your iPhone, which should resolve the issue.

Office 365 Exchange Calendar Issues

When your iPhone can’t sync exchange calendar with Outlook 365, this is probably caused by the misconfiguration of your iPhone. You can identify where is the problem by syncing another phone with your Exchange server. If syncing works, then the problem is in your iPhone. Another thing you should do is check OWA for your calendar events. If you can see them there, then go to your iPhone’s settings and do following:

  • Check if a calendar event added in OWA syncs with your iPhone
  • Try removing your iPhone in OWA, removing the account and re-adding it on your phone. To do that, log in to OWA and go to Settings > Options > Go to the earlier version > phone > mobile devices. Find your mobile device and delete it
  • Restart your iPhone

In some cases, syncing can be renewed immediately after deleting your iPhone from OWA. If this is the case, you don’t have to delete Exchange account from your smartphone.

How To Properly Configure Exchange Account on iPhone

If you are here to find a general guide on how to setup Exchange account on your iPhone, then here is it:

Step 1: Go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Add new account and tap Exchange.

Step 2: Add email address, password and description (optional) for your account and tap Next.

Step 3: Enable syncing mail, contacts, calendars, reminders and notes.

That’s it. From this point on, all of your contacts, calendars, tasks (reminders), and notes will be synced with your iPhone.

How To Reconfigure Exchange Server to Sync with iPhone in 6 Easy Steps

This is a last resort workaround. If you tried everything mentioned above, here’s how you or your IT team can attempt to give additional permissions for your Exchange server to work with iOS devices:

Step 1: On a Domain Controller, click on StartAll ProgramsAdministrative ToolsActive Directory Users and Computers.

Step 2: Click on View and Select Advanced Features.

Step 3: Select your mailbox that is not working with Active Sync.

Step 4: Double click on the account and select the Security Tab and then the Advanced Button.

Step 5: Select Exchange Servers, and tick the Include inheritable permissions toggle.

Step 6: Press Apply and OK.

Share this post


Join the discussion

  • Jes December 13, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    Can I sync outlook notes with Exchange?

    • Akruto Support December 16, 2016 at 9:16 am

      Hi Jes,
      If what you want to ask is that if AkrutoSync can sync Outlook notes to your phone/devices, then the answer is YES! You should be able to try it free for 7 days. Download it from the download page.

  • Alex August 20, 2017 at 5:56 am

    Hi! Can help with iCal. How sync events with exchange server 2013 account calendar from ical? ‘Cause LTE connection sometimes lost and not added events. Iphone 7

    • Akruto Support August 20, 2017 at 10:55 am

      Alex, which iCal are you referring to? A web-based calendar, the calendar app on the Mac, or something else?

  • Carol January 11, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    What does it mean when you change the sync times in the exchange settings on an iphone? Is it syncing only information for that time frame? Say if its set at 7 days, its syncing the past 7 days, email, calendar entries, etc?

    • Akruto Support January 12, 2018 at 7:12 pm

      AkrutoSync syncs your entire Outlook calendar. If you do not want to sync old appointments, you can use Archive feature in Outlook.

  • Jens February 19, 2020 at 11:09 am

    I had a problem setting up email on a colleagues new iPhone. All settings were accepted by the server but nothing came through and I only got a “server error” response when trying to sync. Neither of the above mentioned workarounds worked. I finally figured out that there is a max of 10 devices allowed to access the account – this was a problem as all his previous phones and tablets were registered on the server. His new phone was the 11th device. I accessed the OWA (Outlook Web Application) and could delete the old phones in the settings – phone. After that I added the account again and everything worked fine.

    • Akruto Support February 19, 2020 at 3:54 pm

      Thank you, Jens. Very useful piece of info.

  • Fero February 2, 2021 at 4:57 pm

    Include inheritable permissions did the trick for me. Thanks

    • Akruto Support February 3, 2021 at 1:01 pm

      Thank you. I am glad to know that our article was helpful to you.


  • Ginnie May 27, 2022 at 2:55 pm

    My iPhone did not sync after a phone upgrade. The problem: the server sees the old phone until it is rebooted, or the old phone is removed from the server. Also, if you have limit on the amount of devices on your server account, Mail will not sync until you remove another device.

    Also, I initially had a “ no service” on my new phone. The Provider/Carrier did not activate the SIM card. I had to use my old SIM card to trouble shoot the exchange problem/fix, then called the Carrier to activate the new SIM card. Nothing is easy in life☹️