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Why is my iPhone not showing up in iTunes?

Answer: Apple's iTunes is the only program that allows you to sync and backup your iPhone. Therefore, it is a pretty major problem if the device does not show up in iTunes when you connect it to your computer. I recently experienced this issue with my own iPhone 4. While it took me awhile to figure out what was going on, I was able to fix the problem. I hope the following advice will be helpful if your iPhone isn't showing up in iTunes.

First, try the following troubleshooting steps:

  1. First of all, make sure the iPhone is correctly connected to your computer. To do this, check the battery icon in the upper-right corner of the iPhone display. The battery icon may either include a lighting bolt, which indicates the iPhone is currently charging, or an electrical plug symbol, which means the iPhone is plugged in and fully charged. If either of these symbols are present, the iPhone is connected properly. If only the regular battery meter is displayed, the iPhone is not connected.
  2. If your iPhone is connected, make sure iTunes is open. iTunes opens by default when an iPhone is connected, but this preference can be changed within the program. If iTunes is not set to launch automatically when you connect your iPhone, you will need to manually open iTunes either before or after you connect your iPhone to your computer.
  3. If your iPhone is connected and iTunes is open, but the iPhone is still not showing up in iTunes, something is not working correctly. You can try disconnecting your iPhone, then reconnecting it to your computer again. If that doesn't work, quit and reopen iTunes. If the iPhone still doesn't show up, you can restart your computer and see if that fixes the problem.

When my iPhone didn't show up iTunes, I tried all of the above troubleshooting techniques, but they didn't fix the problem. Finally, I visited Apple's website and downloaded iTunes, even though I already had the latest version (which was iTunes 10.1.2 at the time). I ran the installer and reinstalled iTunes. When I reconnected my iPhone, it finally showed up iTunes.

Therefore, reinstalling iTunes fixed the problem.

I believe this issue happened because I installed Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) after I had already updated to iTunes to 10.1.2. The Snow Leopard installer apparently overwrote one or more iTunes files with older versions that the new version of iTunes didn't recognize. Therefore, while iTunes still opened correctly, the program was unable to recognize the iPhone. When I reinstalled iTunes, I believe the installer overwrote the old files with new ones, and therefore fixed the problem.

If your iPhone is not showing up in iTunes, and you have tried all the basic troubleshooting steps above, reinstalling iTunes seems to be a good solution. You can download the latest version of iTunes from Apple's website. I hope this helps!

Published: March 3, 2011 — by Per Christensson

Answer from the PC Help Center