How to Fix It When iTunes Is Not Recognizing Your iPhone

When you can't connect to your music, these solutions can help

Man using iPhone and computer and a desk

Stevica Mrdja/Getty Images

iTunes is Apple's entertainment hub, the place to store all of your music, movies, TV shows, and more. To enjoy iTunes across your devices, Apple allows you to sync iTunes on your computer and your iPhone by connecting via USB. When your iTunes doesn't recognize your iPhone, it's a source of frustration.

iTunes is being phased out by Apple and being replaced by Apple Music.

Causes of iTunes Not Recognizing iPhone

There are a few different reasons why your iPhone isn't being recognized by iTunes:

  • It could be an issue with something physical, such as your USB cable or a USB port on your computer.
  • It might be your iPhone port needs a quick cleaning.
  • It might be linked to an issue with your computer or iPhone software.

How to Fix It When iTunes Won't Recognize Your iPhone

Most of the time, iPhone to iTunes connectivity problems are caused by issues on your end. Here are some fixes you can try:

  1. Make sure iTunes is installed on your computer. If you don't have iTunes, the program can't recognize your device. You can install iTunes by visiting Apple online.

  2. Check your USB cable. Make sure the USB cable you're using is in good condition. If it's frayed or cut, try using a different USB cable to connect your device.

    Try using a genuine Apple USB cable if you have one. USB cables made by other companies may not trigger a connection between your devices.

  3. Check your iPhone's port. Sometimes, debris build-up can cause an iPhone port to fail. Use a dry, anti-static brush or toothbrush to gently clean it out. Then, try connecting again.

  4. Check the USB port on your computer. Start by unplugging all USB devices from your computer. Move your iPhone's cable to another port and try to reconnect. If this works, it's an issue with that specific port and will require repair.

    If you're using an external USB device for your cables, you can try disconnecting it and connecting your iPhone's cable directly to your computer. It might be a connection issue between the USB device and your computer.

  5. Restart your iPhone. A small software glitch may be the cause of the faulty connection. Restart your device and try connecting again.

  6. Restart your computer. A mild software bug or malfunction may cause your iTunes to not work properly. Turn off your computer and let it sit for a few minutes before turning it back on again.

  7. Make sure your iOS device is unlocked and on the Home screen. Connect your device, immediately unlock it, and ensure it's on the Home screen.

    Try unlocking your iPhone and leaving it unlocked for a few minutes before trying to connect.

  8. Download the latest version of iTunes. An old version of iTunes may not recognize your iPhone.

  9. Update the software on your computer. Make sure your Mac or PC has all current updates installed. Software glitches and hidden bugs can occur when updates are ignored.

  10. Tap "Trust This Computer." If you're connecting your iPhone to your computer for the first time, you should see this alert on your Home screen. When you see this alert, make sure you unlock your device and tap it immediately.

    Did you accidentally tap Don't Trust? There's a fix. Go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Location & Privacy. Once you connect your iPhone, you'll see the pop-up again.

  11. If you're a Mac user, check your System Report. With your iPhone connected, check your report. If you see your iPhone displayed, but you still can't connect, the issue is probably with your software.

  12. Uninstall third-party software. If you're a Mac user, have checked your System Report, and you did see your device listed, try uninstalling your third-party security software, such as antivirus software.

    Third-party antivirus software can block external USB devices, such as the cable connecting your iPhone to your computer. This helps protect your computer data in the event an unknown USB connects to your device.

  13. If you're a PC user, reinstall the Apple Mobile Device USB Driver. This driver is specifically for PC users, as it tells the PC what to do with Apple devices. When it malfunctions, it won't read your device correctly.

  14. Uninstall and reinstall iTunes. A malfunction deep within the iTunes program can sometimes be resolved by uninstalling and reinstalling the software.

    You won't lose your music and other content by uninstalling iTunes. However, if you're concerned, create an iTunes backup before you move forward.

  15. Reach out to Apple Support. If you've followed all of these steps and your iTunes still won't recognize your device, it's time to reach out to Apple Support. You can reach out to Apple online or in person at your nearest Apple Genius Bar. Or, you can call Apple at 800-692-7753.

To expedite your Apple Store service, go ahead and make an appointment before you go.

Apple's Update From iTunes to Apple Music

iTunes is being phased out and being replaced by Apple Music with the next update, but this shouldn't interfere with your iPhone's connection at this time.

All of your music will be automatically transferred to Apple Music from iTunes when the update is complete. The only difference will be in how your music files are organized inside the Apple Music app.

If you want to make the switch early, you can do so by subscribing to Apple Music now.