The album's title was inspired by Arthur Koestler's The Roots of Coincidence. Sting was an avid reader of Koestler, and also titled Ghost in the Machine after one of his works.
The album marked a significant reduction in the reggae influences that were a part of the band's first four records, instead featuring production-heavy textures and liberal use of synthesizers that, at times, drove entire songs ("Synchronicity I", "Wrapped Around Your Finger"). The influence of world music can also be heard in songs such as "Tea in the Sahara" and "Walking in Your Footsteps".
As with their prior album, the basic tracks for Synchronicity were recorded at AIR Studios, Montserrat beginning in December 1982. The three band members recorded their parts in separate rooms: Stewart Copeland with his drums in the dining room, Sting in the control room and Andy Summers in the actual studio. According to co-producer Hugh Padgham this was done for two reasons: to obtain the best sound for each instrument and "for social reasons." Padgham also stated that subsequent overdubs were done with only one member in the studio at a time. The overdubs were done at Le Studio in Quebec during January–February 1983. During the recording of "Every Breath You Take", Sting and Copeland came to blows with each other, and Padgham nearly quit the project.
The album was published in the UK and U.S. on both LP and CD in 1983, and on Super Audio CD in 2003. In 1989, it was published by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab as a remastered gold CD.