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Mac 101: Stop the iPhone from opening iPhoto

More Mac 101, tips and tricks for novice Mac users.

I love iPhoto. I use it for most of my photo editing. The thing I don't like about iPhoto is how it opens each and every time I connect my iPhone to my Mac. What strikes my as plain silly is that, since the introduction of the iPhone two and a half years ago, Apple has not built in an option in the iTunes iPhone status window to disable the automatic iPhoto launch every time you plug in your iPhone.

If you want to take control of this behavior, and you'd prefer to stick with Apple's built-in tools (rather than take advantage of the free and easy Cameras prefpane) there is good news: there's a simple way to disable this 'feature' and it doesn't involve command line stuff. Even better, it isn't an "all or nothing" solution – eg: you can still have iPhoto automatically open when you connect your camera, but not have it open when you connect your iPhone. Aron mentioned this approach a few months ago but I thought it would be helpful to walk through it in detail.

It should be noted that this solution only works on Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. If you are running 10.5 or earlier, you'll have to use one of the solutions noted above; we recommend the free Cameras preference pane as a quick fix.

You'll see the image above is of iPhoto's preferences. You may think the option of disabling iPhone auto-open is in there, but it's not. To stop the iPhone from opening iPhoto you actually need to launch the Image Capture application.

Step 1: Launch Image Capture (Applications>Image Capture). If your iPhone isn't plugged in already, plug it in to the USB port on your Mac. It should then show up in the devices source list.

Step 2: Make sure you have the iPhone selected in the source list. When you do, you should see any photos you have on the iPhone appear in the right-hand column of the Image Capture application.
Step 3: At the bottom of the source list, you'll see your iPhone's name then, below that, you'll see the words "Connecting this iPhone opens:" and a drop-down menu. Select "No application." Now close the Image Capture app and you're done. No more iPhone opening up iPhoto, but your other cameras will still auto-launch iPhoto when they are connected!


More Mac 101, tips and tricks for novice Mac users. I love iPhoto. I use it for most of my photo editing. The thing I don't like about...