Apple’s new iOS10 (with its associated new iTunes program) has a lot of good features. However, there was one major problem that I found. It broke Windows Explorer! I can’t open the iPhone/iPad in Windows Explorer to copy photos and videos to my Windows computer.
The previous versions of Apple’s iOS (including the 9.x versions) loaded an Apple driver that recognized, or allowed Windows’s own driver to recognize, part of the iPhone (and iPad) as a Windows portable drive.
Specifically, the driver set up the device’s internal storage as an Internal Storage portable drive, which held the photo/video subdirectories within it. This means it functioned like the removable drive that you see with a USB flash drive, but was limited (by Apple’s iOS) to photo files and folders only.
Previously, when I would plug in the iPhone or iPad, I would hear two "bonk" sounds.
One was the Apple device driver recognizing the iPhone/iPad so that iTunes would start automatically (assuming that setting was enabled in iTunes for that device). The other bonk was the Windows device driver recognizing part of the iPhone/iPad as a Removable Drive.
After upgrading to iOS10, that no longer happens.
Or, such has been my experience with an iPhone 6 and iPad Air on Windows 7 Ultimate desktop and with my wife's iPad Pro 9.7(inch) and iPhone 5S on her Windows 10 computer.
As you can see in the image below, the Apple iPhone does not appear in the Portable Devices section of the "Computer" details in Windows Explorer — or anywhere else in the drives shown!
Note: "Devices with Removable Storage (1)" is collapsed in the image. It is my empty DVD-RW drive.
Am I sure tha the problem came with iOS10 and the drivers that loaded with it? Absolutely.
All I have to do is to uninstall iTunes 10 to prove it. Even without rebooting, the Windows driver recognizes and sets up the Removable Drive.
After some experimentation, the problem actually occurs when the new version of Apple Mobile Device Support is installed. Really, all I have to uninstall is Apple Mobile Device Support in order to get my iPhone/iPad portable device back.
Of course, the new Apple Mobile Device Support driver package is required for iTunes 10, so we have to reinstall it later.
As soon as the Apple Mobile Device Support is uninstalled, Windows will see the iPhone is connected, install its driver, and open its usual removable/portable drive dialog box:
Click on Open device to view files. This will show Windows Explorer and a directory "Internal Storage". Double-click on the Internal Storage directory.
Unfortunately, Windows Explroer will display an empty directory. Don’t worry, it’s not really empty. You’ve just run into iOS10 protecting you from accidentally sharing the device’s contents with the Windows computer. Easy fix…
Now is the time to turn on the iPhone or iPad and enter your passcode or use the TouchID to log in. You should get a query dialog box on the device, like this one:
Click the Allow button. Now, you can go back to your Windows computer and see the subdirectories and the photo and video files on the iPhone/iPad.
At this point, you can easily use Windows Explorer to copy them to your computer.
Why did this break? Is Apple trying to force everyone to use iCloud for Photos? If they are, we’ll all have to sign up and pay monthly fees for more iCloud space! That would probably be the "Conspiracy view."
I suspect that it was just sloppy handling on Apple"s part. Or, maybe the Apple Mobile Device Support previously included a Windows drive driver too, but they left it out this time, either intentionally or by accident.
Maybe they just forgot about the need to make the Photos visible to Windows. Maybe they just forgot about all of us using pre-iPhone-7 models. Obviously, it wasn’t all the teams, since the iOS10 dialog box (Allow this device…?) shows up.
Of course, to use iTunes, you need to reinstall Apple Mobile Device Support. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work by itself.
iTunes has to be uninstalled and reinstalled. The best solution is to download iTunes again (http://www.itunes.com). The new version will include the necessary drivers, except the Windows portable drive driver (until they fix the problem).
I suggest that you reboot after uninstalling iTunes, before reinstalling it. This is just in case some part of the package was in use and uninstallable.
Sometimes a file has been loaded into Windows operating system and can’t be uninstalled while its running. When that happens, Windows will create a list of uninstalls and installs to do early in its startup process.
Earlier versions of Windows often had to be restarted after program installation or un-installation because of conflicts because they needed to replace a version that was active. That issue has mostly gone away.
However, I would always reboot before reinstalling a program. In this case, you don’t want to uninstall, have Windows log that it needed to delete at its next startup, and then reinstall before that startup. Windows could delete one of the files you just reinstalled!
You should find the Apple Mobile Device Support installer here so you can reinstall it:
- Directory: C:\Users\[UserID]\AppData\Local\Apple\Apple Software Update\
- File: AppleApplicationSupport64.msi (for 64-bit Windows)
Note that UserID is your user log-in name/ID on that computer. Normally, Windows is installed on the C: drive. AppData is a Hidden directory by default. You may need to change windows settings to display it, but you should be able to copy and paste the directory from above into the address bar in Windows Explorer and jump directly there.
If you want to display hidden files and directories, see my article Showing Hidden Files and Folders.
Hopefully, Apple will fix this in an upcoming iOS update. I started iOS10 with iOS10.0.1. Broken. iCloud update, still broken. iOS10.0.2 still broken.
Strangely, I have not been able to find any other reports of the problem, despite it happening on multiple computers and multiple devices for me.
Surely I’m not the only one trying to use Windows Explorer to copy photos to my computer.