When it comes to iOS file management system, iTunes is a widely known platform. The fact that it’s designed by Apple itself makes it a very credible tool to use. Aside from app downloads, iTunes is also often used for updating and restoring iOS devices. To get all these things done, your iOS device must be connected to the computer via USB cable. Once connected, iTunes detects and syncs with your iOS device.
But here are some instances when iTunes is not recognizing your iPhone. If this happens, then you’ve got to rule out software and hardware problems on both the iPhone and the computer in use. Highlighted below are potential solutions that you can use whenever you bumped into the same issue on your iPhone. Keep reading to learn what to do if iTunes won’t recognize your iPhone.
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Troubleshooting iPhone that’s not recognized by iTunes
Before troubleshooting, check and ensure that the USB cable in use and USB port on both the iPhone and computer are working or not damaged. Switching to other USB ports or using a different cable will help you in the process.
Troubleshooting your iPhone.
The following methods will help clear out software-related factors on iOS that might have prevented the iPhone from syncing with iTunes.
First solution: Reboot/soft reset your iPhone.
Minor app errors and software glitches are usually among the common culprits. And the simplest way to get rid of these random glitches is a device reboot or soft reset. Before doing so, be sure to disconnect your iPhone from the computer. Then perform these steps to soft reset/reboot an iPhone X, XS, XS Max, or XR, simply follow these steps:
- Press and hold the Side button and either Volume button until the Power off slider appears.
- Drag the slider to power off your iPhone completely.
- Then after 30 seconds, press the Side button again to turn your iPhone back on.
To soft reset/reboot an iPhone 8, 8 Plus, or earlier versions, refer to these steps instead:
- Press and hold the Top or Side button until the Power off slider appears.
- Drag the slider to power off the phone completely.
- After about 30 seconds, press and hold the Top or Side button again to turn the phone back on.
Wait until the phone reboots and once it boots up, connect it to the computer via USB cable and see if iTunes is already able to recognize it.
Second solution: Disable restrictions on your iPhone.
When enabled, restrictions can also hinder the syncing process between your iPhone and iTunes. To eliminate this from the possible causes, disable restrictions on your iPhone then retry connecting your device to the computer. If your iPhone is running on iOS 11 or earlier version, follow these steps to turn off or disable restrictions:
- Tap Settings from your Home screen.
- Tap General.
- Tap on Restrictions. If the feature is disabled, it should say OFF and the option to Enable Restrictions is active. If the feature is enabled, it shows the opposite.
- Tap the option to Disable Restrictions.
- Enter your Restrictions passcode when asked to continue.
- Then tap on Disable Restrictions.
- Enter Restrictions passcode again to confirm.
If your iPhone is running on iOS 12 or later, follow these steps to manage and disable restrictions:
- From your Home screen, tap Settings.
- Tap Screen Time.
- Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions.
- Enter your passcode to continue.
- Then tap the switch to Turn Off Content & Privacy Restrictions.
After disabling restrictions, connect your iPhone to the computer, launch iTunes and see if it’s now able to recognize your iOS device.
Third solution: Reset all settings on your iPhone.
Invalid settings can also trigger syncing errors to occur. To clear this out, erasing customized settings and restoring the original values and options can help. To get this done, reset all settings on your iPhone with these steps:
- From the Home screen tap on Settings.
- Tap General.
- Scroll down to and tap on Reset.
- Choose the option to Reset all settings.
- Enter your passcode when asked to proceed.
- Tap to option to confirm that you want to reset all settings on your iPhone.
Allow your device to finish resetting all settings. Once it’s done, all settings and options are restored to the default or original values. This means the need for you to enable individual features so you can use them again on your phone.
Troubleshooting your computer
If everything is working fine on your iOS device, then the underlying cause of the problem must be on the computer’s hardware or software aspect. To eliminate software-related issues that might have caused iTunes to fail detecting or syncing with your iPhone, try performing these subsequent solutions.
First solution: Reboot the computer.
When the computer is experiencing random glitches, various symptoms could manifest. And this is usually the time when some features and functions aren’t working as intended. Should this be just a minor glitch on the computer’s OS or iTunes app, then rebooting the computer will likely be able to correct it. The steps to reboot a computer vary depending on what type of computer in use or operating system the device is running on. Just follow the standard reboot procedure or use the shortcut methods as you would prefer.
Second solution: Disable security software.
Among the common access barriers to external devices are security tools like antivirus software and firewall installed on the computer. If enabled, the security software can halt your iOS device from accessing the computer’s system especially when security threats are perceived. This is possible to occur because your iPhone will be recognized among other external devices the moment you plugged it into the computer’s USB port. If the antivirus or firewall is programmed or configured to bar access to your iPhone, then neither iTunes nor the system is able to recognize it.
Third solution: Update USB drivers.
A USB driver refers to a special file that allows external (USB) devices to communicate with the computer’s operating system. Without a USB driver, MP3 players, flash drives, printers, cameras, keyboards, external hard drives, mouse, and smartphones other USB paraphernalia won’t be able to work with a computer.
If you’re using a Mac, refer to these steps to update USB drivers:
- Connect your iPhone to the computer and make sure it’s unlocked.
- On your computer, hold down the Option key then click the Apple menu and select System Information or System Report.
- Select USB from the list of options on the left.
- Under the USB Device Tree, find your iPhone.
If it’s there, install the latest software updates for your Mac then uninstall any third-party security software. If your iPhone isn’t in the list, contact Apple Support for further assistance.
If you’re using a Windows computer and it does not recognize your iPhone, then it’s possible that the required USB driver needs to be updated. The required driver for Windows computers to detect and communicate with Apple devices like the iPhone is the Apple Mobile Device USB Driver. Thus, this driver must be installed on your computer beforehand. Here’s how to check and update the Apple Driver on a Windows computer:
- Click the Start button then select Device Manager. Navigate to the Portable Devices section. Click the right arrow to expand the section if needed.
- Find and select Apple iPhone in the list.
- Then right-click on Apple iPhone name. A list of options will appear.
- Click the option to Update driver.
- Choose the option to Search automatically for updated driver software.
- Wait for the software to install then go to Settings-> Update & Security-> Windows Update menu.
Make sure that there are no other updates available. Otherwise, install new updates.
Another possible reason as to why your computer doesn’t recognize your iPhone is that the Apple Mobile Device USB driver is missing. To check if the Apple Mobile Device USB driver is installed on your computer, follow these steps:
- Press the Windows and R key on your keyboard. Doing so will open the Run command screen.
- From the Run command screen, enter this filename: devmgmt.msc then press the Enter key on the keyboard or click the OK button. This opens the Device Manager screen.
- Navigate to the Universal Serial Bus controllers section then find the Apple Mobile Device USB driver.
If the Apple Mobile Device USB driver isn’t in this list, try using a different USB cable when connecting your iPhone to your computer. Or try connecting your iPhone to a different computer. If your iPhone is still not recognized on the other computer, escalate the problem to Microsoft Support or Apple Support for further assistance.
Fourth solution: Uninstall then reinstall iTunes.
It’s also possible that the iTunes app on your computer gets corrupted and so it’s not working. In this case, you need to uninstall the app then reinstall it on your computer. To uninstall an app on Windows computers, simply refer to these steps:
- Click Start to get started.
- Click Settings.
- On the Settings menu, click System.
- Select Apps & features on the left pane.
- Find and select iTunes.
- Click the Uninstall button.
You can also uninstall or remove the app from the Microsoft Store. Just find and select the iTunes app from the Start menu, right-click on the app, and then select Uninstall .
Also make sure that your computer is running on the latest version of operating system. If it’s not, then you should consider installing the latest OS update available.
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