I am using iOS 10.3.1 on iPhone 5S.

When I connect to my Windows 10 PC using USB and view the device in Windows Explorer, I can navigate to the iPhone\Internal Storage\DCIM\ folder - which is empty (I recently moved all my other photos onto hard disk).

When I open Photos app on the iPhone, I see 295 images.

They all appear in "My Albums" in the album "iPhone".

I do not have the option to delete the image. When I tap tools I see "This photo is not editable. Do you want to duplicate it and edit a copy?" with the option to 'Duplicate and Edit'.

Is there any way to retrieve these images via Windows Explorer interface? Must I manually 'Duplicate and Edit' all 295 images in order to have a copy to backup via Windows Explorer file system?

I am trying to backup all images from the device before I reset to factory original settings and list for sale.

  • Are you using iCloud or the iCloud Photo Library? Are these photos being shared to you from someone else's iCloud?
    – fsb
    Apr 18, 2017 at 18:32
  • @fsb as far as I know, they are not being shared with me. I'm not positive but I think they are from a backup/restore from several devices ago (this current device has been initiated/restored from several device upgrades... iPhone 4S, iPhone 3G). I do use iCloud and iCloud Photo Sharing IS enabled. Apr 18, 2017 at 18:35
  • Could the photos be stored on your iCloud Drive and not synced to your iPhone? Have you checked icloud.com Photos? I'm just thinking they might be stored there but not synced to your device.
    – fsb
    Apr 18, 2017 at 18:54
  • @fsb thanks for this thought, at icloud.com Photos I get: "To use Photos, go to iCloud Settings on your iOS device, tap on Photos, and turn on iCloud Photo Library. On a Mac, open Photos, go to Preferences, and turn on iCloud Photo Library." Apr 18, 2017 at 19:35
  • Have you tried using iTunes for Windows or Windows Photo Library to import them to your PC? See this Apple page for info.
    – fsb
    Apr 18, 2017 at 20:16

2 Answers 2


I have no explanation for how the photos came to be read-only on the device, and hidden from the internal file system, but the solution to make a backup was:

On the device, navigate to the album.

Select All images, then choose 'Duplicate to Edit' which places copies into Camera Roll.

Once the duplicates are created, any of the usual methods for backup worked.

In my case, I could plug in with USB cord to my Windows PC, and transfer using Windows Explorer by navigating to iPhone\Internal Storage\DCIM\XXXX.


According to the iOS Security Guide to get access to your data from the PC you need to unlock your device by entering passcode. Actual citation: "Starting in iOS 11, the user is also required to enter their passcode". I have a problem when photo entering applications see zero photos like four times of five (it appeared that sometimes I actually unblock my phone with passcode).

Any chance you unblocked your phone with TouchID and see empty DCIM folder on PC?

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