Some users report an issue in which Photos (or iPhoto on older OS) no longer recognizes the iPhone as a camera. Consequently, you are unable to import images from the device to your Windows or Mac computer. We see this problem most often after an iOS, macOS or OS X software update, or following a firmware update. And of course, sometimes it’s just totally random.
- 1 Fixes for Photos or iPhoto Won’t Recognize iPhone
- 2 Restart!
- 3 Reader Tips
Fixes for Photos or iPhoto Won’t Recognize iPhone
Change Photo Settings
If using iOS 11, it’s possible that your Mac doesn’t recognize the new HEIC format for images. So turning off the new HEIC image file format often does the trick. On your iPhone, go to Settings > Camera > Formats > and select Most Compatible.
Plug Directly into a USB port on Mac
If you use a Hub or plug into your keyboard’s USB ports or via another device, try plugging directly into a USB port on your Mac–this often solves the problem! If you’re already plugged directly into one of your Mac’s USB ports, try a different port.
Check Your Cables!
Make sure that you use the original cable that came with your iPhone. If that’s not available, check that your cable is Apple Certified Made For iPhone (MFI.) Many cables purchased via third-parties no longer work with Apple Products.
A few readers tell us that simply switching the lightning plug ends around worked–so remove the cable from both the Mac and the iPhone, then swap sides. So plug the end that was going into the Mac into the iPhone and vice-versa.
Reset Location and Privacy Info
On your iPhone, go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Location & Privacy. Performing this action resets all connections between your iPhone and your Mac.
Sometimes it’s as simple as restarting your iPhone and/or your Mac. This action refreshes the connection between the devices and forces iTunes to scan for all connected devices.
If a restart didn’t do the trick, try a forced reboot on the iPhone while it’s connected to iTunes.
Perform a Forced Restart
- On an iPhone 6S or below plus all iPads & iPod Touches, press Home and Power at the same time until you see the Apple logo
- For iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus: Press and hold both the Side and Volume Down buttons for at least 10 seconds, until you see the Apple logo
- On an iPhone X or iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus: Press and quickly release the Volume Up button. Then press and promptly release the Volume Down button. Finally, press and hold the Side button until you see the Apple logo
It appears that the presence of some imported images or strangely enough screenshots taken on the iPhone can cause this problem. Try deleting all pictures on your iPhone except for those that were made with the device’s camera, then disconnect and reconnect your iPhone.
Close and quit from iTunes, then unplug your iPhone from the cable, reopen iTunes, and after it’s fully open reconnect your iPhone to your computer. Turns out that for many readers, just quitting iTunes and restarting it solved the problem.
Quit Final Cut or iMovie
In some cases, Final Cut or iMovie interferes with Photos’ ability to recognize the iPhone. Try quitting both of these applications then disconnect and reconnect your iPhone.
Turn your iPhone off then back on while it is connected
Failing the above, try opening iPhoto and connecting your iPhone, then turn the iPhone off. Wait a few seconds then turn it back on.
- Hover over the Photos App sidebar where it says Import. Your iPhone or iPad may only be hidden. When you hover, if it says show, click on that. If you still don’t see it, try going to the View menu and choose Import
- Open iTunes and wait for the phone to come up. Then eject the phone. I had Photos running in the background, and as soon as I ejected it from iTunes it showed up in Photos
- Select the View menu in Photos then choose Devices. Look for your iPhone there and select it
- Check if there is a pop-up on your device to “trust this computer.” Select “Yes” for your device to connect via the Lightning connector cable to your Mac
- On Import options, uncheck Enable camera uploads for and under Sync options, uncheck Photos from iPhoto
- My workaround is to use Image Capture instead of Photos App. Image capture, for whatever reason, sees my iPhone and then I just copy all photos from my iPhone over to my Mac
- Check that there are no other users logged into your Mac. If so, log out of those users and then try again. You may need to restart your Mac with just that single user account active
- Close both iTunes and Photos apps on your Mac, and then reopen just the Photos app
- It might sound stupid, but make sure your Mac has enough free space to import any photos!