In the past I was able to use iOS devices as USB drives.

(It may have been on Windows only, and/or the devices may have had iOS < 9)

At present my iPods / iPads / iPhones do not appear in my Mac's:

  • Desktop
  • /Volumes

The complicated guides to trick-mount iOS devices, such as this one from lifewire, that mounted devices on desktop do not work. (with iTunes 12 on macOS High Sierra)

Similarly, the devices do not appear in the /Volumes folder anymore, neither in Finder nor Terminal. (The only volume I see there is my SSD - the system drive volume)

I have set my system volume to show all files - using a Terminal command:

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles YES

Is there any way to access the iOS files in macOS directly?


2 Answers 2


In the past I was able to use iOS devices as USB drives.

You appear to be mistaken. This has never been possible without third-party software and/or jailbreaking.

It was possible to use older iPods in "disk mode" as storage devices. However, this feature was never available for the iPod Touch, nor for any version of the iPhone.

Some iOS applications support file transfer, and can have files transferred to them using iTunes. However, this feature is limited to specific file types, and does not appear as a USB storage device.

  • In past, in Windows, sorry for not specifying that... :) Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 19:04
  • 1
    My answer applies equally to Windows and macOS systems.
    – user101978
    Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 19:07
  • So the lifewire article was total nonsense? (lifewire.com/copy-ipod-music-to-mac-2260101) Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 19:20
  • 2
    The methods described in that article only work on older iPods, not for iOS devices. (The lead image is a stock photo, and is misleading -- the instructions won't work on an iPod Touch.)
    – user101978
    Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 19:34
  • 1
    @LuciferMorningstar That's where all storage devices are mounted -- internal, external, network, the works. iOS devices aren't storage devices, so they won't appear there.
    – user101978
    Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 20:08

AFAIR there never was an official way to access data on an iPhone/iPad from macOS through Finder. It may be possible with a jailbroken device, but that's for somebody else to provide an answer on that.

There are various other ways to transfer data between iOS and macOS though:

  • use iCloud drive on both and store documents there
  • AirDrop (which, if it works, works extremely well)
  • iTunes Files Transfer (which apparently will be integrated into Finder with Catalina)
  • use the sharing sheet of the app to use whatever mean is available through it
  • use iExplorer
  • extract data from an (unencrypted) iTunes backup

Of course most of these don't help in case an app doesn't offer an easy way to access its data outside of the app itself.

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