I upgraded to iTunes 11 today and my iPhone rarely shows up in iTunes. It almost never does through wifi (even though wifi syncing is on) and if I connect it with a USB cord, I have to restart the iphone for it to recognize that it is connected.

What could the problem be? (iphone is not jailbroken and has latest iOS and Itunes is just updated) and how could I fix it?

  • What operating system are you running?
    – jaberg
    Commented Sep 24, 2013 at 12:04
  • I'm working on a theory regarding possible causes. If you open Activity Monitor on your Mac (or Task Manager on your PC) do you see the AppleMobileDeviceHelper service running?
    – jaberg
    Commented Sep 24, 2013 at 13:19
  • 1
    Are the devices both on the same Wi-Fi network? And does this problem still occur? We're over a year further now.
    – Rob
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 13:03

8 Answers 8


This is a partial answer, pertaining to the wifi problem. Upon re-reading the question I understand that the device may not appear when connected via USB either. I'm waiting for more information from the OP before tackling that. Meanwhile, this will be helpful to those suffering from the wifi sync issue, and might resolve the OPs problem:

iTunes not seeing the iOS device(s) is a fairly common and annoying problem with wifi syncing. I'm uncertain as to if it's a true bug or is a system conflict within certain environments.

First, you absolutely do not have to nuke your entire iTunes setup.

Generally you can get iTunes to recognize the missing devices device(s) by opening Activity Monitor (Mac OS) or Task Manager (Windows) and killing the AppleMobileDeviceHelper service. Note: you don't want to uncheck (remove) the service in Windows, you just want to kill or restart it.

If that doesn't work, you can connect the device to the computer and use iTunes to deactivate, then reactivate sync over wifi. You need to apply the changes for both actions—just clicking the checkbox twice in succession won't do it.

Neither of these solutions are permanent, though I can sometimes go months without a reoccurrence.


Apple Knowledgebase: iTunes 10.5 and later: Troubleshooting iTunes Wi-Fi Syncing

OS X Daily: Wi-Fi Sync Not Working? Here’s How to Fix it for All iOS Devices

  • Killing AppleMobileDeviceHelper, unplugging USB, and re-plugging worked for me. (Yosemite/iTunes v12/iOS 8) Thanks!
    – Phrogz
    Commented Oct 29, 2014 at 3:08

This happens to me, too. The computer is connected by ethernet to the wifi router. Sometimes exiting iTunes and the re-launching works to get iTunes to see the iPhone. (And connecting the iPhone to the computer by cable always works.)

  • seems better iTunes 11.1 & iOS7
    – GEdgar
    Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 18:21
  • The new version iTunes 12.1 has vastly improved this again. I guess they FORGOT this problem when they released 12.0 ...
    – GEdgar
    Commented Jan 31, 2015 at 14:24
  • Connects about once every 20 tries. If that's vastly improved then I'm scared to think what it was like before. Commented Jun 8, 2020 at 22:32

This is definitely an iTunes bug. What you can do is, on the iPhone, go to Settings > General > iTunes Wi-Fi Sync > and tap Sync Now. That often starts a sync, and adds the iPhone to iTunes, but not always for me.


For me the following worked under Windows:

  • Unplug iphone from computer
  • Go to start menu/programs/ apple software (NOT ITUNES) update software
  • restart computer
  • plug in iphone
  • It was most likely restarting the computer (which restarts the service that looks for the iOS devices on the network) that actually solved the problem.
    – jaberg
    Commented Sep 24, 2013 at 12:02

Turning off wifi and turning it back on has always worked for me. It was actually a more chronic problem before iTunes 11.

  • Power cycle the computer wifi, phone, or actual wifi router? Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 0:24
  • Laptop's wi-fi. Nothing that I did on the phone itself has ever worked. It looks like an internal time-out problem with iTunes, and cycling the wi-fi is like forcing a manual reset and recheck for discoverable devices.
    – possible
    Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 2:09

This method works 100%... Well, there may be some exclusions regarding the battery life of the iPhone, iPad or iPod. I'd say as long as the device has 30% + battery life remaining or it's currently being charged that this will absolutely work.

I found that the easiest thing to do is to reboot your wireless router. This anyone can do easily and with consistent results. Immediately upon the normalization of the network iTunes would recognize all devices that are available and setup for remote wifi sync.

I'm assuming this works due to a DHCP event forcing some type of broadcast to iTunes. The reboot causes a device to be reissued it's previous IP or be issued a new one. This occurrence forces a device to assert it's ip address (wether old or new) with all listening network devices, in this case iTunes. It's kind of like a change of address form from the post office.

Oh, snap! Sorry I didn't see that someone else had suggested the same thing.

  • So it works 100% with some exclusions... so.. not 100% aye?
    – Rob
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 13:02

I had the same problem, but I figured it out. Click the button in the upper-rightish of the iTunes window (the one that says "iPhone" and has an eject symbol). If you click that button, it will switch you to a familiar iPhone-view window where you can manage your iPhone.

  • Welcome to SE! The OP was asking about how to get the device to show up in iTunes. Maybe you could edit your reply with suggestions on what to do, or reset, to help his iPhone show up every time it is plugged in. Commented Dec 12, 2012 at 23:06

Delete literally everything that has to do with iTunes or Apple from your computer. Start all the way over and download everything again. It was that simple.

  • 1
    Can you add some details about the "literally everything", especially for novice users?
    – nohillside
    Commented Sep 19, 2013 at 5:32

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