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Even in our increasingly wireless world, iPhone owners still have to plug in to their computers every now and then. Whether it’s for backups, quick music or video transfers, or other reasons, sometimes there’s no way around it. First, you need to dig out a Lightning cable, then you have to remember how to connect to iTunes.
But this time, there’s something wrong. Whether it’s iTunes not recognizing iPhone connections at all or you’re getting a cryptic “0xE” error, you just can’t get iTunes to work. While this can be a tough problem to solve, the fix is often surprisingly easy. We’re here to help.
1. iPhone Won’t Connect to iTunes? Start Here
There are a few extremely simple factors to check before you move on to any other solutions. First, make sure that your iOS device is unlocked and on the Home screen. If it wasn’t in the first place, unplug it, then plug it back in. Also, make sure the cable is fully inserted into both your iPhone and computer.
Another simple fix is to restart your iPhone. This is a basic step, but works for a number of issues.
2. Review Trust Issues
Occasionally, when you plug your iPhone into a computer, you’ll see a prompt on the home screen asking if you trust the computer. If you don’t select Trust, you’ll have trouble with your iPhone not showing up in iTunes.
If you accidentally selected Don’t Trust in the past, don’t worry—there’s a way to fix that. On your iPhone, open Settings, then go to General > Reset > Reset Location & Privacy.
Now you’ll see the prompt when you plug your phone back into your computer. This time, make sure to tap Trust.
3. Check Your Lightning Cable
Another common problem that can lead to your iPhone not connecting to iTunes is a bad cable. First, have a look at both ends of your cable. If it seems wrinkled or frayed on either end, this is a bad sign.
However, a cable can also have connection issues even without any visual evidence. Perhaps one of the inside prongs is bent, or it came in contact with water and was ruined.
Even if your cable is in perfect shape, it can cause trouble if it isn’t MFi-Certified. This basically means that Apple has approved the cable for use with its hardware. If you have spare Lightning cables, try using a different cable to see if it solves your problem. Try buying a replacement Lightning cable if you need a new one.
4. Inspect Your Ports
Cables aren’t the only part of the physical connection that can lead to iTunes not detecting iPhone connections. Your Lightning port can get dust and debris in it, causing incomplete connections. Follow our guide to cleaning the Lightning port to remove any gunk stuck in it.
If you see lint or anything else in your Lightning port, you may need to remove it. The SIM card ejector tool that comes with most phones is the perfect size to do this. Be careful not to damage the port.
The USB port on your computer can lead to trouble as well. If your iPhone won’t connect to iTunes and you’re using a USB hub, try plugging directly into your computer instead. If you’re already plugging in directly, try using a different port if one is available.
5. Update iTunes
At this point, you’ve ruled out most of the basic issues, but there’s one left. If you’re getting errors reading “iTunes could not connect to the iPhone,” try updating iTunes.
On a Mac, click the Apple icon in the upper-left portion of the screen, then select System Preferences. On this screen, select Software Update. This will check for macOS system updates, which include updates to core system apps like iTunes and Safari.
On Windows, there are two different ways to update iTunes. Which you should use depends on how you installed the app: from Apple’s website, or via the Microsoft Store.
For the version downloaded via the Apple website, select Help in the menu bar at the top of the app, then click Check for Updates. Follow the prompts to update iTunes through Apple Software Update.
If you’re using the Microsoft Store version, it should check for updates automatically. You can run a manual check by opening the Microsoft Store app. Click the three-dot menu button in the top-right and choose Downloads and updates. Then at the top-right, choose Get updates.
6. Mac Users: Check Your System Report
If you’ve already gone through all the relevant steps above on your Ma,c and your iPhone still won’t connect to iTunes, it’s time to pull out the big guns.
Hold down the Option key and click the Apple logo in the top-left portion of the screen. Here, select System Information or System Report. Once the window appears, select USB from the list on the left.
If you see your phone displayed, but iTunes won’t connect to the iPhone, you likely have a software issue. Try updating macOS or uninstalling third-party security software like antivirus and anti-malware apps.
On the other hand, if your iPhone isn’t displayed in the USB section of the menu, it may be a hardware issue. Try connecting your phone to another computer or retry the above tips about checking cables and ports.
7. Windows Users: Reinstall the Apple Mobile Device USB Driver
If you’re running Windows and none of the above steps have worked for you, there’s a likely culprit. The Apple Mobile Device USB driver can cause problems, so reinstalling it may fix your problem. This is often the cause when your iPhone won’t connect to your computer at all, not just iTunes.
No matter which way you downloaded iTunes, start by disconnecting your iPhone from your computer if you haven’t already. Unlock your phone and make sure it’s on the Home screen.
Now reconnect your iPhone. If either version of iTunes opens, close it.
If You Downloaded iTunes From Apple
Open a File Explorer window. At the top of window, enter the following into the address bar and press Enter:
%ProgramFiles%\Common Files\Apple\Mobile Device Support\Drivers
In the panel that opens, right-click on either
usbaapl.inf(only one will be present) and select Install.
While you may see other similarly named files here, you should only install the file ending in the .inf extension. If you can’t see file extensions, expand the View tab at the top and check the box labeled File name extensions.
Once installation is complete, disconnect your iPhone and restart your computer. Now reconnect your iPhone and launch iTunes.
If You Downloaded iTunes via the Microsoft Store
Reinstalling the Apple Mobile Device USB driver is easier if you installed iTunes via the Microsoft Store. To do so, first right-click the Start button, then select Device Manager.
Scroll down until you spot the Portable Devices section. Expand this section and look for your iPhone. Right-click on the icon and select Update driver. In the window that pops up, select Search automatically for updated driver software.
After the installer runs, try opening iTunes and hopefully, it will recognize your iPhone. If you still have issues with iTunes not recognizing iPhone connections, you might try completely uninstalling and reinstalling the app.
iTunes Still Doesn’t Recognize Your iPhone?
In the vast majority of cases, one of the above tips should sort out your problem. That said, your iPhone not showing up in iTunes can have many causes. When you’ve run out of fixes to try, it’s probably time to contact Apple support.
This isn’t the only iPhone issue that can crop up. For example, you could run into file compatibility issues if you try to play AVI or MKV movies. (And in that case, you’ll need to convert the AVI and MKV files before adding them to iTunes.) Learn how to fix other common problems with our iPhone troubleshooting tips.