I used an iPhone 3G from May of 2009 until around the spring of 2013, at which time I upgraded to the iPhone 5. I've always been a prolific iPhotographer :) and recently pulled around 12,000 photos off my iPhone 5 for backup and to free up disk space. I've kept the old iPhone 3G, though, and suspect it has thousands of pictures on it that need to be removed from the phone and backed up on my cloud, my laptop, and an external hard drive. However, Apple no longer makes available the OSX that supports and grants access to an iPhone 3G through iTunes. I can't hook it up to my laptop (Dell XPS 15Z, if it helps to know what I'm running, with Windows 7) and access the pictures to manually move them off the phone.

How do I recover pictures from an iPhone 3G? Is there anything that can be done?

Is there anything that can be done? As it is, I can't get my computer to even see the 3G, much less charge the phone through the computer or allow me to access the phone's drives and my pics. I'm currently charging the 3G via wall plug/USB, which I think will allow me to look at my photos on the phone itself once the phone is juiced up ... but I really just want to recover and transfer my images off the iPhone 3G for safekeeping.

I did search this site prior to posting and could not find my exact question. Please don't hesitate to VTC if I've accidentally submitted a duplicate.

  • There is no need to edit the answer/solution into the question. Please upvote the answer(s) which helped you and accept the one most beneficial to you. If non of the given answers reflects the steps you took to solve the problem you can also provide an answer on your own (and upvote/accept it).
    – nohillside
    Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 14:26
  • @patrix -- Oh, man, I'm sorry -- you're totally right. scifi.stackexchange.com is a bit more tolerant of ETAs and Updates -- I sometimes forget that doing so is mostly frowned upon across the stack. Thanks for reminding me not to edit in solutions. I'll post it as a separate answer and give everyone an upvote. :) Unfortunately, my update has been removed, so I can't do a quick C&P, but I'll try to remember what I said. I appreciate that the Apple stack has been patient with me and my mistakes -- thanks everyone for all the suggestions and clarifications. Commented Nov 8, 2014 at 5:28
  • If you click on the "edited yesterday" link above the name of the most recent editor, you can access the whole history of the question, including the part I removed again yesterday.
    – nohillside
    Commented Nov 8, 2014 at 8:51

3 Answers 3


You should be able to plug any iPhone into a PC and (if the phone is generally working) it will show up as a storage device under My Computer.

On a Mac it may be a bit more problematic as you have to go through iTunes.

Perhaps you could tell us what errors show up on the Mac or PC when you plug your iPhone into your Mac or PC?

BTW I have never heard anyone refer to iPhone models as iPhone 1.0 or 5.0. For clarity and to avoid confusion if you refer to them as the model name that lowers the confusion level. Go into the iPhone, system settings -> General -> About, it will show the model number. Mine is MD640LL/A, Google that number and you will find the model you have...

  • Thanks very much! Yes, Tyson helped me to understand that what I have is actually a 3G, not a 1.0, and I'm going to edit the post to reflect that. I received it in May 2009, so a full month before the 3GS. I appreciate your advice and will check that number via Google. :) PS - so, do you mean my iPhone 5 should be called that: iPhone 5, without the 5.0? Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 17:17
  • Yes that is correct: "5" not "5.0" Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 17:54

Mac - iPhoto

Windows - Photo Gallery, part of Microsoft Essentials.

Both will offer to import photos from any connected iPhone

BTW, by default an iPhone will not appear as a device on the desktop, only in an app ready to 'talk' to it, iTunes, iPhoto etc.

  • Thank you for this info -- I use a Dell laptop and to access my iPhone 5 I typically just go down through the OS (C:) drive to access the phone. It shows up as a plug in drive. I'll definitely check the Photo Gallery -- I'm using Windows 7. :) Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 17:23
  • digging into the phone's folder hierarchy is definitely not user-friendly; it was really designed to be 'invisible' at that level & allow higher apps to access it in nice, easy to use ways;-)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 17:33

I have solved my problem!

First, I managed to get the phone to boot up by charging it straight from the wall to the device. Because Apple no longer supports the 3G, I've been unable to charge the phone through my computer (a Dell XPS 15Z laptop) for quite a long time. But when I did a basic connection to an outlet, it started charging immediately.

I have a PC, so I don't have to go through iTunes in order to access the pics on either of my iPhones; the Dell treats them essentially as an external hard drive. So I went in through the operating system: Computer --> OS (C:) --> iPhone --> Internal Storage -- > DCIM --> Folder(s) (named by the phone as a string of 7 or 8 numbers). I then opened the folder, selected my pics and movies, and drag-'n-dropped them into a new folder I created on my hard drive. I backed up the pics to my external hard drive and Google Drive and I'm all good to go!

I appreciate the assistance and helpful comments I received -- I'll definitely rec the Apple stack to friends and colleagues who use Apple products.

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