What to do When iTunes Won’t Detect an iPhone, iPad, or iPod

Nov 20, 2012 - 49 Comments

Tips for when iTunes wont detect an iPhone

You’ve plugged an iPhone into a computer, and nothing happens. You look in iTunes, and the iPhone, iPod, or iPad isn’t there. Great, now what? What in the heck is going on? Don’t worry, there are usually a few simple solutions that will resolve the problem, try these tricks first in any whatever order works best for you.

5 Simple Tricks to Get iTunes to Recognize an iOS Device

  • Quit and relaunch iTunes
  • Connect the iOS device to a different USB port on the computer
  • Reboot the iPhone, iPad, or iPod
  • Reboot the computer
  • Use a different syncing cable (if possible)

The last option is most relevant for torn and frayed cables and for those using the cheapy third party cables that seem to fail .

The iPhone/iPad/iPod is Still Not Detected, Now What?

If the iPhone, iPad, or iPod is still not recognized by iTunes, the next thing you should do is delete iTunes and reinstall it with a fresh version from Apple. That process is going to be different whether the computer is a Mac or Windows PC.

Reboot and try again, it should be detected now.

Still Not Working?

If you’ve done all the troubleshooting tricks above and the iOS device is still not detected, try connecting the iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch to a different computer and see if it’s identified. This can help rule out if the problem is with the original computer, or if it’s a problem with the iOS device itself. If it’s connected to another computer and still won’t be recognized, there could be a problem with the physical connector port on the iOS device itself, or some other hardware related issue, and you’ll probably want to call Apple to sort it out. Before doing so, be sure to back up the device manually with iCloud, since iCloud will be able to backup important data in iOS even if the device can’t connect to a computer.

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Posted by: OSXDaily in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting


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  1. Budopri says:

    OK so this could be a fluke with my Mac, but for MacBook Pro owners do this: only use the USB cable closest to the power adapter. Maybe it draws more power because it’s closer? Who knows, but I had sporadic problems with my iPad not charging and not being recognized and switching to the other USB port solved it.

    • Me says:

      LOL . iOS devices can charge on from USB 3.0 ports . Most Laptops / Computers have 1-2 USB 3.0 ports and others are USB 2.0 ports . You just found the USB 3.0 port .

  2. Harvey says:

    My iPhone 4 and my old Classic iPod are quite often not found on my Windows 7 POS 64 bit. All have the latest updates. And when I connect my iPad 3 using the same cables, it’s always found. I fairly sure that the iPhone 4 and iOS 6.0.1 refuse to play well together. The more iTunes updates, the slower the Classic becomes, I guess that’s progress.

    • Bill says:

      If I was you, I would check with another PC.
      If it works with another PC then the problem is not iPhone or iOS device, but your installation of iTunes.

  3. Nevin says:

    I’ve found that USB cables without a ferrite core near the two connectors would cause problems for all sorts of devices’ recognition. My new Nikon D3100 came with two snap-on ferrite cores: one for the USB cable (not supplied) and the other for an A/V cable (also not supplied). I’d already figured out the noise-damping ferrite’s presence made the difference between my el-cheapo-supreme Olympus camera being recognized or not. Electrical noise would also account for the anecdotal account of one USB port being better than another (closer to ground).

  4. David says:

    there’s another, last-resort option not listed here. factory reset the device. i once had an iPhone that absolutely refused to be recognized, even after taking all the steps listed above. i finally did a factory reset, which completely wiped the phone but did make it recognizable by iTunes again. fortunately i had a recent backup on iTunes, so when i plugged in and set the “new” iPhone up i performed a restore from the backup. after that everything synced just fine, and the only annoying part was having to log in to all my connected apps all over again.

  5. Rich says:

    If you are on Windows and your PC beeps (recognizes the USB device) when you connect your phone, if closing and open iTunes didn’t help, open Services and restart the Apple Mobile Device service. That usually does it for me and is faster than rebooting and certainly faster than uninstalling and reinstalling iTunes.

    If your PC does not beep when you plug your phone in and trying a different USB port doesn’t help, instead of just restarting your PC, actually power it down and then turn it back on.

  6. Tai says:

    My Apple devices are detected by windows explorer but not by itunes. Tried a few tricks recommended by users but nothing helps. Something to do with Microsoft Portable Device being replaced or corrupted.

  7. IronMIke says:

    I was having an irritating problem when my itunes wasn’t recognizing my iphone 4. So after a whole bunch of websites, I finally got my answer on this one! I couldn’t seem to find out what the hell the problem was until i saw this….
    “The last option is most relevant for torn and frayed cables and for those using the cheapy third party cables that seem to fail.”
    Ahahaha I was totally using the cheap third party cables cause the original cable breaks in 1 pull :/
    I can finally destress now 😀 Thanks OSXDAILY!

  8. Mark says:

    Same problem. I thought it was related to multiple devices being on the account but the THIRD PARTY CABLE apparently was the culprit. Fine for charging. Not fine for synching, apparently.

    • Moriah says:

      Thank you. Thank you. I was freaking out and trying all the usbs I had, third party and apple. Finally I found one that works! Before I tried to reboot iTunes.

  9. Mike says:

    Running windows 7 64 bit, itunes 11. I’ve tried all of these measures and none work. Device shows up in windows and beeps when i plug it in. But when I check itunes no device shows up. Tried using the original usb cable after using the one that always worked in the past and no go. Ridiculous. Any other solutions out there?

  10. Dwayne says:

    I’ve got Window 7 64-bit, What worked for me was to add SyncServer to the list of allowable programs in Window Firewall. The location of the file is C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Apple\Mobile Device Support\SyncServer.exe
    Allow that and that’s all there was to it. If iTunes is slow to recognize the device after this, it also helps to go to Task manager and click the Services tab, Stop the “Apple Mobile device” service and start it again. Shortly after this, ITunes was able to find me and I exploded with glee! lol

  11. Steven says:

    Running W8.1 64-bit. Although Windows recognised my iPod touch & iPhone4, iTunes wouldn’t! Tried my old Vista PC & they were recognised in older version of iTunes.
    Back to W8.1; using ‘Add/remove programs’, twice uninstalled & reinstalled iTunes & anything with Apple in the name but problem persisted. Finally found that in my ‘Music’ folder, iTunes creates a file called ‘iTunes’. I deleted this & uninstalled all Apple stuff as previously. Reinstalled iTunes from a fresh download & my i devices are now recognised.

  12. Jennifer N says:

    Thank you so much, it WAS the third party cable (an expensive one from ThinkGeek. Works perfectly with my old apple cable.

  13. Ahmed Omara says:

    update iphone driver from Device Manager

    1 Go in to your device manager and locate “Apple iPhone” under portable devices
    2 Right click and go “update software”
    3 Click “Browse on my computer”
    4 Navigate to C:\Program Files\Common Files\Apple… and there’s a subfolder in there called ‘Drivers’.
    5 It should install an updated driver and work.

  14. Shirley says:

    Won’t sync with my PC. I want to download my photos to the PC from my IPad. What is locking this export?

  15. Ruben says:

    So my ipod is no longer detected by itunes as of last week after months of usage. I try to restore my laptop, reinstalled itunes and nothing. No devices is detected by itunes, but using the same cables and a different laptop everything works fine.
    Any suggestions_

  16. Ame says:

    My iPod isn’t being detected when I try to connect it to iTunes. I have been on various websites to try find a solution; have reinstalled it, tried other music sites but it still isn’t recognised.
    I am also using my dads iPod and it, again isn’t recognised. The USB cable is fairly new and I don’t have access to any other computers to try them. I have basically spent the whole day trying to work it and it’s frustrating!!! Any help?

  17. Someonewhohadthisproblem says:

    When we fiddle around with our PC’s, we tend to try and do the right thing by downloading updates and programs to help, only to discover things just will not work anymore. Some software programs interrupt our happy computer. GRRRRR!!!

    These programs change settings and corrupt settings and interrupt settings. Sometimes these so called programs conflict with each other for some god damn unknown reason. I mean WHYYYYYYYY????? Just so we keep spending money or waste our time in virtual reality. Why peeve people off all the time???

    All of us laymen people try to find a solution without it costing us. It shouldn’t cost us and should be the manufacturers problem. These cost could mean going without some food, which yeah! everyone says if you can’t afford blah blah blah but we didn’t invent money to take control and create slaves. This is our home(EARTH) too.

    Anyway this problem has many different repair options that people have come across and implemented; some successful and some not so successful. Well, myself………

    I started by uninstalling re-installing, doing every single thing that i had come across only to be frustrated more and more. At the same time while trying to sync my IPOD i also lost a perfectly good working printer. Now what gives?

    One solution says that the USB cable is at fault. Hmmmm! Well i thought; well if i had tried everything else, than it could be possible. Like most, i hate going out and spending money on things that are not the problem, not needed or just another waste of time. I decided to persevere.

    When i found my printer not working i became irate. I was looking in device manager, restarting, going into safe mode and every single thing i could think of. It than hit me like a paddle in the face when i had read about a reason why my printer was not working. I mean, it would scan and do other jobs but i just could not print a simple word document.

    This is where i discovered that it could be a damaged USB port or missing drivers for that port. I changed my cables to a different USB port and low and behold, i was able to sync my device and get my printer working again. Obviously a work around because i am sure the original ports will not be working, however, later, when i calm down, i will look into this.

    My ipod would not even connect to transcopy let alone itunes. Transcopy was meant to be easy. Once i changed USB ports, everything worked. Much like replacing a USB cable i guess. I used Transcopy by the way without ICRAp and Quickrubbish being installed at all and just dragged and dropped files straight onto my IPOD. Once i changed to another USB port of course, and all for free except my valuable time that these companies think is at their right or ownership to use at will….. THE END!

  18. Andrew Easdale says:

    I thought the great idea behind Apple was that it required no technical skill by its user. Shame that isn’t true. Can’t get the iTunes to acknowledge the iPod Classic and have tried everything suggested above. The lead is the original and its hardly ever been used though it might be that but the computer acknowledges the iPod only iTunes doesn’t. Just have to live without SYNC I guess.

  19. Hernan Flom says:

    I have Windows 10 and just got the iPhone 5S. I plug the USB cable in and the computer detects it, but iTunes doesn’t. I have tried all the steps listed above and nothing worked. The computer downloads and opens the photo desktop app when I plug in the device but iTunes does not recognize it. Any suggestions are appreciated. Thanks!!

  20. Jimmy says:

    Right click on drivers and hit install. It works!!!!

  21. Richard Moore says:

    Interesting; my iphone always connects to my computer but my ipad connects only once in a while – in fact rarely? Tried the 5 step plan! No dice.

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