Getting iPhoto to recognize your updated iOS 5 device

It’s almost embar­rass­ing that I had­n’t tried trans­fer­ring my pho­tos off of my iPhone 4—running iOS 5— in near­ly a month since upgrad­ing. I sup­pose with the iCloud ser­vice, many users won’t ever have an issue with this. How­ev­er, Angela and I share a iTunes account and don’t real­ly care to have our pho­tos dou­bled on one anoth­er’s com­put­ers. She does­n’t care about my goofy Insta­gram pho­tos and don’t need to see the pho­tos of some office baby show­er. There­fore, we still back up our pho­tos on our com­put­ers man­u­al­ly via iPho­to, or at least we’d planned to.

When we plugged our phones into our com­put­ers today, we real­ized that the iPhone device or cam­era roll weren’t show­ing up in iTunes. Even check­ing the Image Cap­ture on the mac did­n’t show the cam­era. After some hunt­ing around, I final­ly found the solu­tion. It’s not one I would have ever thought to do and it real­ly strikes me as odd that Apple did­n’t ham­mer this out already with all the oth­er upgrades required for using iOS 5.

To get iPho­to to rec­og­nize your iOS 5 device, do the following:

  1. Eject your iPhone or iPad if it is connected.
  2. Using Find­er and select the iPho­to Library file in the Pic­tures fold­er in your home directory.

  3. Right click and select Show Pack­age Con­tents from the pop-up menu.

    The inter­nal fold­er struc­ture of the file is displayed.

    Tip: It may be help­ful dis­play items in a list, as there are quite a few files in the iPho­to Library.

  4. (Option­al) Right click on the fold­er named iPod Pho­to Cache and select Com­press “iPod Pho­to Cache” from the pop-up menu.

    This will give you a back up copy, in case some­thing should go wrong. How­ev­er, this is an auto­mat­i­cal­ly gen­er­at­ed fold­er so you real­ly should­n’t lose anything.

  5. Right click on the fold­er named iPod Pho­to Cache and select Move to Trash.
  6. Recon­nect your iPhone or iPad to your computer

    You should see the device appear in iPho­to, where you can import pho­tos and videos as with pre­vi­ous ver­sion of iOS.

    If you hap­pen to still have the con­tents of the iPho­to Library still show­ing in Find­er, you’ll notice that the fold­er you just delet­ed gets gen­er­at­ed using the new data­base struc­ture used in iOS 5.

Accord­ing to Roy­al­wise Solu­tions, this issue stems from a change in the data­base used by iOS ver­sions 2 through 4.3.3 is no longer used in iOS 5.0. Thanks to them for pro­vid­ing the details on how to fix this issue. Easy solu­tion but not some­thing most users are like­ly to fig­ure out on their own (I know I could­n’t, anyway).

Categorized as Apple

By Jason Coleman

Structural engineer and technical content manager Bentley Systems by day. Geeky father and husband all the rest of time.


  1. Worked per­fect­ly, thank you. I think this is just a ploy to get peo­ple to buy the new iLife…

  2. THANK YOU! I hunt­ed every­where last night for a fix for this. I final­ly found your solu­tion this evening!

  3. Thank you for pro­vid­ing this solu­tion to a prob­lem that it took me 6 hrs. of search through Apple dis­cus­sion group and oth­er web­sites with­out success.

    Keep the good work and I sug­gest you might post a link in Apple Dis­cus­sion to this.

  4. Fol­low­ing these steps did not solve my prob­lem. Still iPho­to shows no devices. I’m using Moun­tain Lion and IOS 6.0.1.

  5. The above did not work for me. Moun­tain Lion + 6.0.2
    HOWEVER I did fig­ure it out like magic.

    First, the above did not rebuild my iPho­to library. How­ev­er I dis­cov­ered hold­ing down Com­mand-Option-Shift while launch­ing iPho­to presents you with sev­er­al options for rebuild­ing the library. I chose the bot­tom one as it appear the most extreme.

    It had no effect. I tried clos­ing all top menu bar util­i­ties one at a time.
    No effect.

    I tried flip­ping my con­nec­tor cable the oth­er direc­tion. No effect.

    I tried using a dif­fer­ent con­nec­tor cable for my iPhone 5. WORKED instantly.
    Went back to 1st cable. DID NOT WORK.

    Used 1st cable in oth­er USB PORT (flipped ports) — DID NOT WORK.
    Used 2nd cable in the oppo­site port — STILL WORKED.

    It’s the USB cables.

    Now. I don’t know which is which. Which was pro­vid­ed by Apple and which came with my car charg­er adapter pack — but one is clear­ly deficient.

    You might try adding this to your solu­tion above… thank you for get­ting me on the right track.!!! You don’t know how aggra­vat­ing this has been.

  6. In short — do not use 3rd par­ty USB con­nec­tor cables with the iPhone 5. Well, they appear to work for charg­ing, but for what­ev­er rea­son iPho­to does­n’t like them.

  7. Actu­al­ly no, wait — I take that back — I don’t know which cable is which. They look slight­ly dif­fer­ent though. Any­ways hope­ful­ly this puts some­one else on the right track.

  8. Actu­al­ly now that I think about it — I have nev­er been able to get iPho­to to work with the iPhone 5 right from day 1. And I did not buy the car charg­er until a cou­ple weeks lat­er. I’m sus­pi­cious that it’s the APPLE cables that don’t work… Try going and buy­ing a $20 car charg­er adapter and use THAT cable to see if it makes iPho­to work.

  9. Thank you so much for the tip! I’ve had the most dif­fi­cult time get­ting iPho­to so “see” my iPad to upload my pic­tures and your tip final­ly helped me do it! Thanks so much for posting!!!!

  10. Thanks a mil­lion, this thing was dri­ving me mad and you are the only one who had a solu­tion that fixed it.

  11. You are the great­est!!! I was total­ly stuck try­ing to get my pic­tures into a pre­sen­ta­tion in a time crunch. This is an awe­some solution.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *