How to Stop iTunes from Starting the Auto Picture Sync Wizard when the iPhone is Connected to a PC
Since purchasing my iPhone back in August 2008, every time I connected my iPhone to my PC (originally Vista, now Windows 7 RC), iTunes would automatically start the Windows ‘Import Pictures and Videos’ wizard (“IPVW”), regardless of whether or not there were any new pictures on my iPhone to import.
Since I connect my iPhone to iTunes every day (to update my podcasts, backup data, install new apps etc.), I had to cancel out of the IPVW every time I connected. This was a daily frustration!
Along the line I had collected up some 30ish pictures in my iPhone’s ‘camera roll’ for the following reasons:
- Originally, I had not set the ‘delete from iPhone when importing’ option in the IPVW, so those pictures remained on the camera roll even after syncing; and
- For some good pictures, I just wanted to keep a copy on my iPhone for viewing.
Strangely, there is no way to move pictures from the iPhone’s ‘camera roll’ to an album in the iPhone’s native Photos app.
Most of the time I want pictures to be copied off my iPhone when I sync. As a result I had set the IPVW’s Import settings (see link in picture above) accordingly. To my mind, the iPhone should only automatically pop-up the IPVW when there are new pictures that a user might want copied over to the PC. That is not how it works.
The Solution (sort of) – Emptying out the ‘Camera Roll’
As it turns out, if you have Windows AutoPlay set to import pictures from the iPhone, the IPVW will pop-up and bug you, needing you to cancel out of it before your iPhone will otherwise connect to iTunes, day after day, for so long as their are any pictures in the Camera Roll.
I finally figured that out today. So I copied all the pictures off my iPhone’s ‘camera roll’ onto my PC, leaving the camera roll empty (as you can see from the picture on the left).
That solved it (sort of)! Thereafter, when I connected my iPhone with an empty camera roll to iTunes, it went about its business of syncing podcasts, updating, backing-up, etc. business without the IPVW popping up, annoying me and needing me to exit-out-of-it. Whoot!
The Ultimate Solution
However, this ‘solution’ resulted in their being no photos left on my iPhone. After a little further Googling and Binging I discovered that I can put pictures back onto the iPhone’s native Photos app – outside of the camera roll – with the result being that I can view them on my iPhone at any time, without IPVW popping up each time I connect my iPhone to iTunes.
- Create a separate folder on your PC where you can copy the pictures that you want left on the iPhone. I created a folder called ‘iPhone Pics’
- Copy the pictures you want on your iPhone into that folder
- Connect your iPhone to iTunes
- Select your iPhone from the ‘Devices’ list on the left side of iTunes (see picture below)
- Click on the ‘Photos’ tab
- Check the ‘Sync photos from:’ checkbox
- Click on the button to its right and select ‘Choose Folder…’
- Select the folder you created (in my case ‘iPhone Pics’)
- Click ‘Apply’
ITunes will then copy the pictures in the selected folder back into the iPhone’s native Photos app (see icon to the left), and not back into the ‘camera roll’. From then on you can view your pictures as desired through the Photos app. Any pictures you add into that directory in the future will automatically be copied onto the iPhone and if you remove pictures from that directory they will be removed from the iPhone.
I would really prefer that Apple make one of the following two changes:
- Provide a way on the iPhone itself to directly move pictures from the camera roll to an album in the iPhone’s Photos app (and sync those pictures back to your PC behind the scenes); or
- Allow users to keep pictures on the camera roll but pop-up the Import Pictures and Videos wizard only if there are new pictures on the iPhone since the last sync.
Either of these solutions would make managing photos on the iPhone simpler without the tedium of having to close out the IPVW every time the iPhone is connected to iTunes.
Copy and Paste Doesn’t Work: Strangely, with the iPhone OS v. 3.0, you can copy a photo out of the camera roll to, say, paste a photo into an email, but you cannot paste that photo into an album in the Photos app. My guess here is that Apple wants the Photos app to be one-way-only. Meaning, Apple wants you to manage your photos on the PC only. Perhaps they fear that if someone edits/deletes photos on the iPhone they wouldn’t realize that doing so would modify/delete them from their PC after a sync.
Pictures Above from v. 126.96.36.199, the pictures and instructions above are for iTunes version 188.8.131.52 as of July 28, 2009. The approach may be slightly different for different versions of iTunes.