[SOLVED] iPhone empty in Windows USB mode

Here’s a tip for iPhone users. If you have connected your iPhone to your Windows computer and can see the phone under ‘Computer’ but the folder is empty – don’t despair!

There are two situations I’ve seen this happen – the screen is locked and Windows has decided to make the files “hidden” files.

Method 1: Unlock the device

This is actually a security feature – it’s stopping your data from being accessed when your screen is locked.

To get to the data you need to:

  1. unplug the USB connection
  2. unlock the iPhone/iPad/iPod
  3. and then reconnect to USB

Method 2: “Hidden” files

It’s a bit of a mystery why this would happen – normally hidden files are for system files that you wouldn’t normally need to access.

To check if your files are being marked as “hidden” by Windows you will need to enable “show hidden files and folders” in Windows Explorer.

Windows 10

The following steps show how to show hidden files and folders in Windows 10.

  1. Open File Explorer (Windows key + E)
  2. Click on the ‘View’ tab
  3. In the ‘Show/hide’ group, tick ‘Hidden items’
  4. Hidden files and folders will now be displayed in File Explorer.

Windows 7

The following steps show how to show hidden files and folders in Windows 7.

  1. Open File Explorer (Windows key + E)
  2. Click on the ‘Tools’ menu then ‘Folder options’
  3. Open the ‘View’ tab
  4. then under ‘Hidden files and folders’ select ‘Show hidden files, folders, and drives’

Method 3: Try another computer

If the previous methods don’t help – try with another computer, preferably one without iTunes installed.

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6 comments on “[SOLVED] iPhone empty in Windows USB mode

  1. I have tried 3 different computers (2 desktops and 1 laptop), I also tried 5 different lightning cables, I also tried 5 different iphones ranging from iphone 4s all the way to iphone 12 max. Nothing works, there is a bug somewhere, either the updates to the pcs or the phones themselves. this is crazy as I can’t access my photos for printing documents etc. if this doesn’t get resolved, I might have to switch to Samsung, as I have spent way too much time already trying to solve this. Before, I used to connect the cable and any iphone would show up all the pictures in the phone and could either save, print, send (via email) etc. now, nothing is working. I was told by a phone repairer that my photos are encrypted. So I got an old iphone, factory reset it and took a couple of pictures, just to see, and still nothing. I’m lost and out of options at the moment, I also tried all the above and nothing.

  2. Tried the above – didn’t work for me either. Back up folder still shows “empty” which is a concern, should I ever need to use it.

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