iPhone not showing up in Finder? Here's the fix!

iPhone connected to MacBook
(Image credit: Adam Oram / iMore)

For a few years now your iPhone has connected directly to your Mac via Finder with no iTunes in sight. This is a much more streamlined way to connect your iPhone without using any extra software.

The changes initially arrived with macOS Catalina back in 2019, so most Macs nowadays will connect to an iPhone this way. If you're on an older Mac you'll still need to use iTunes.

Sometimes, though, you might run into a problem where Finder doesn't recognize your device even if you're using one of the best iPhones, like the iPhone 15 Pro on iOS 17. This can be an issue for people who absolutely rely on manual backups, but there are steps you can take to get your device working with your Mac again.

How to troubleshoot your Mac not recognizing your iPhone or iPad

The first thing you'll want to check if your Mac isn't recognizing your iPhone is to make sure that its USB ports are still working properly. Unplug everything except your device from your Mac then test every port with the cable plugged into your iPhone.

While the problem could relate to a hardware failure, it's more likely that you're experiencing a software issue. If you've tried all of your USB ports and your iPhone or iPad still isn't showing up, you can check to see if your iPhone shows up in the System Information rundown. Here's how:

  1. Plug your iPhone or iPad into your Mac
  2. Click the Apple logo on your Mac
  3. While holding down the Option key (Alt on some keyboards), click System Information

Troubleshoot Mac not recognizing iPhone showing how to click the Apple logo and click System Information while holding the Option key (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click USB in the sidebar

Troubleshoot Mac not recognizing iPhone whosing how to Click USB in the System Information sidebar (Image credit: iMore)

If your iPhone shows up under the USB menu, that means that your Mac is registering the iPhone as connected, but macOS is not. To rectify this, your best bet is to update macOS to its latest version.

How to get your iPhone or iPad to show in Finder

If you've gone through the troubleshooting steps and your device still isn't showing in the Finder sidebar, here's what you can do to sort things out.

  1. Plug your iPhone or iPad into your Mac
  2. Click Finder in the Menu bar
  3. Click Preferences

Show iPhone in Finder showing how to click Finder, then click "Preferences" (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click the Sidebar tab
  2. Click the checkbox next to CDs, DVDs, and iOS Devices to check it if the box is empty. If the box is already checked, still click it to uncheck it and wait a few seconds

Show iPhone in Finder showing how to click the Sidebar tab, then click the CDs, DVDs, and iOS Devices checkbox (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click the checkbox next to CDs, DVDs, and iOS Devices again to check it off and wait a few minutes

Show iPhone in Finder showing how to click the checkbox for CDs, DVDs, and iOS Devices again to check it (Image credit: iMore)

After a few minutes, your iPhone or iPad should appear in the sidebar of the Finder under Locations. 

One more thing... lost and found

Backing up your iPhone or iPad via Finder on macOS Sonoma is incredibly simple, allowing you to manage your iPhone and iPad backups easily. While it's super easy to use, the tips above will help solve any niggles in the backup process.

I use iCloud as it's the easiest way to ensure all of my Photos and precious data are consistently backed up without worrying about plugging into my Mac. If you want to learn more about iCloud, we have loads of information in our iCloud Ultimate Guide.

John-Anthony Disotto
How To Editor

John-Anthony Disotto is the How To Editor of iMore, ensuring you can get the most from your Apple products and helping fix things when your technology isn’t behaving itself.

Living in Scotland, where he worked for Apple as a technician focused on iOS and iPhone repairs at the Genius Bar, John-Anthony has used the Apple ecosystem for over a decade and prides himself in his ability to complete his Apple Watch activity rings.

John-Anthony has previously worked in editorial for collectable TCG websites and graduated from The University of Strathclyde where he won the Scottish Student Journalism Award for Website of the Year as Editor-in-Chief of his university paper. He is also an avid film geek, having previously written film reviews and received the Edinburgh International Film Festival Student Critics award in 2019. 

John-Anthony also loves to tinker with other non-Apple technology and enjoys playing around with game emulation and Linux on his Steam Deck.

In his spare time, John-Anthony can be found watching any sport under the sun from football to darts, taking the term “Lego house” far too literally as he runs out of space to display any more plastic bricks, or chilling on the couch with his French Bulldog, Kermit.