Since re-installing OS X (10.8), every time I plug in an iOS device iTunes opens up and shows an error message:

iTunes could not connect to the iPhone "..." because it is locked with a passcode. You must enter your passcode on the iPhone before it can be used with iTunes.

I plug in various devices all the time, just so I can charge them. I do not want them connected to iTunes, I definitely don't want iTunes storing a copy of the device's passcode (or however that works) on my mac, and some of the devices plugged in aren't even mine.

How can I stop this from happening? It doesn't happen when I'm booted into 10.7 on the same mac, with the same iOS devices.

I already have "Prevent iPods, iPhones, and iPads from syncing automatically" enabled in Preferences.

EDIT: this particular device also has "Open iTunes when this device is connected" turned off, so it seems to ignore that setting.

5 Answers 5


Under System PreferencesUsers → [you] → Login Items → select iTunesHelper, then click the minus sign and log out/into your Mac.

No devices will cause iTunes to launch (that's the whole purpose of iTunesHelper).

  • 2
    Hiding iTunesHelper or clicking the minus sign didn't work for me. Do you have to restart your computer or log out? I also tried unlocking/locking (click the lock icon) on this same screen but that had no effect. Mac 10.7.5 iTunes 11.1 Oct 13, 2013 at 16:33
  • 1
    @timpeterson yes you'll need to log out. Also I think iTunes might occasionally put it back. >:( Oct 13, 2013 at 20:30

In iTunes there is an option to prevent the app to launch when a device is connected to your computer.

Open iTunes > Clic on a device in the sidebar > Scroll down to the "Options" section.

Then you have to make sure this little checkbox is un-check: itunes option
(source: f.cl.ly)

If the problem still occurs after that, come back here !

  • That was already unchecked. Also, I need this to work on other people's devices as well including ones where they might have this setting enabled. As part of my work, I regularly plug other people's devices into my mac. Jul 26, 2012 at 0:26
  • 1
    I Think that this settings is save for your computer only and it don't affects other computer, but i might be wrong.
    – Lifely
    Jul 26, 2012 at 9:16
  • It was already turned off and I just did a clean install. So it must be stored on the device. Jul 27, 2012 at 3:26

Open iTunes -> Preferences -> Devices.

Make sure Prevent iPods, iPhones, and iPads from syncing automatically option is checked.

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  • 1
    This does not answer the OP's question. The OP has already stated in their question that this checkbox is already checked and yet the issue still persists. Feb 2, 2016 at 3:34
  • 1
    This does contribute information to the problem, because I already had iTunesHelper eliminated but was still having this problem, doing this fixed it. Apr 18, 2017 at 22:38

You need to disable iTunesHelper agent. The following command in Terminal can help:

launchctl stop com.apple.iTunesHelper
  • Do you know whether this would also prevent devices from syncing automatically with iTunes, provided they're set up to do so otherwise? I'd like to sync automatically, without having iTunes launch automatically.
    – Andreas
    Jun 25, 2020 at 13:23

The solution I found that worked since nothing else did for me was to rename the iTuneshelper.exe file before I plug in my iPhone. I use Explorer to get photos off my phone and this is the only way I could do that after I installed iTunes. Apple needs to really work on improving iTunes. I don't find it user friendly at all.

  • Renaming something doesn't seem like a solution, especially since when Apple performs updates, chances are it will update with the correctly named executable. Aug 23, 2018 at 13:04

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