What to do when iTunes Cannot connect to iPhone?

Having issues connecting your iPhone to iTunes can be frustrating. There are a few common reasons why you may get an error saying iTunes cannot connect to your iPhone and several troubleshooting steps you can take to try and resolve the problem.

Quick Overview of Common Issues

Here is a quick overview of some of the most common reasons why you may get the “iTunes cannot connect to this iPhone” error:

  • Outdated version of iTunes – Make sure you have the latest version of iTunes installed
  • Corrupt iTunes library – The iTunes library file can become corrupted and cause connection issues
  • iPhone software issue – An iOS bug or glitch can prevent the iPhone from connecting properly
  • Computer firewall blocking iTunes – Check your computer’s firewall settings to allow iTunes connections
  • iPhone not trusted on computer – You may need to re-trust the iPhone device on the computer
  • USB port or cable issues – Try connecting your iPhone to another USB port or using a different cable

If you encounter the “iTunes could not connect to this iPhone” error, don’t panic. In most cases, you can resolve the issue on your own without needing to take the iPhone to an Apple store. Let’s go through some of the most common troubleshooting steps.

Step 1: Check for iTunes Updates

As a first step, you’ll want to make sure you have the latest version of iTunes installed. Apple is constantly updating iTunes and releases fixes for bugs and connection problems. Having an outdated version of iTunes is one of the most common reasons for getting the connection error.

To check for updates, open the iTunes app on your computer. Then click on the Help menu and select “Check for Updates.” iTunes will connect to the Apple servers and install any updates that are available.

It’s a good idea to fully quit and restart the iTunes app after updating to the latest version. This clears out any cached files and ensures iTunes reloads properly.

If you already have the latest iTunes version, move on to troubleshooting step #2 below.

Step 2: Reinstall iTunes

If updating iTunes does not resolve the connection issue, the next step is to completely uninstall and reinstall a fresh copy of the iTunes app. The iTunes installation can become damaged or corrupted over time, leading to connection problems with the iPhone.

Follow these steps to uninstall and reinstall iTunes on a Windows PC:

  1. Open the Control Panel and navigate to “Programs and Features”
  2. Find iTunes in the list of installed programs and click “Uninstall”
  3. Follow the on-screen prompts to fully remove iTunes and associated files
  4. Restart your computer
  5. Re-download the latest iTunes installer from Apple’s website
  6. Run the iTunes installer and follow the setup prompts

For Mac users, here is how to uninstall and reinstall a fresh copy of iTunes:

  1. Open Finder and go to the Applications folder
  2. Drag the iTunes app icon to the Trash
  3. Open the Trash folder and right click on the iTunes install file
  4. Select “Move to Trash” to fully delete the iTunes installation
  5. Restart your Mac
  6. Re-download the latest iTunes from Apple’s website
  7. Open the downloaded installer and follow the prompts to reinstall iTunes

Once you have downloaded and installed a brand new copy of iTunes, try connecting your iPhone again. This often resolves persistent “iTunes could not connect to this iPhone” errors if software corruption was the cause.

Step 3: Update iOS Software

Issues with the iOS software on your iPhone itself can also lead to connection problems with iTunes. It’s a good idea to make sure your iPhone is updated to the latest iOS version.

To update your iPhone software:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone
  2. Tap on the “General” section
  3. Choose “Software Update”
  4. Your iPhone will check for the latest iOS updates and install any that are available

Make sure your iPhone is charged or plugged in before updating iOS, as the update process can take a while. Performing a major iOS update, such as iOS 12 to iOS 13, can resolve iTunes connection issues caused by software bugs or glitches.

Step 4: Allow iTunes Through Your Firewall

If you have security software or firewall settings enabled, this can sometimes block or restrict iTunes from making a proper connection to the iPhone. Double check that iTunes is allowed through any firewall or security tools you have installed.

On Windows, check the settings for the Windows Firewall. Make sure iTunes is added to the “Allowed Apps” list. You may need to temporarily disable the firewall entirely to troubleshoot the connection issues.

On Mac, add iTunes as an exception within the macOS firewall preferences if prompted. You may also need to check any third-party security suite settings and allow connections with iTunes.

If adjusting firewall settings does not resolve the problem, you can also try temporarily disabling your firewall and security software completely to rule out interference. Just remember to re-enable your firewall once the troubleshooting is complete.

Step 5: Restart Computers & Devices

One simple but effective troubleshooting step you should always perform is to restart your computer and iPhone. This clears out any temporary glitches and ensures both devices start with a clean slate.

Fully power down both your computer and iPhone. Leave them off for at least 1 minute before powering them back on. Then reconnect the iPhone and see if iTunes can now recognize it.

Step 6: Try Different USB Ports and Cables

Simple hardware issues like a bad USB cable or port can also cause the iTunes connection error. Try using a different USB cable and connect the iPhone into another USB port on your computer.

Inspect your current Lightning cable for any damage, bends, or loose connectors. If the cable is worn out, try replacing it with a brand new MFi certified Lightning cable.

You can also test the connection using multiple computers and USB ports. See if the iPhone will connect properly to iTunes on another Windows PC or Mac. This helps determine if the issue is isolated to a single computer due to USB problems.

Step 7: Trust Computer in iPhone Settings

In order for a successful connection, you need to fully trust the computer system when connecting your iPhone to iTunes. Go to the Settings on your iPhone and check the list of trusted computers:

  1. Tap on “General” and choose “Transfer or Reset iPhone”
  2. Select “Trust This Computer”
  3. Enter your passcode if prompted

This makes sure proper authentication occurs between iTunes on your computer and the iPhone device. Re-trusting the computer can resolve some issues connecting to iTunes.

Step 8: Disable Antivirus and Security Software

Antivirus, antimalware, VPN clients, and other security tools installed on your computer can sometimes interfere with iTunes connections. As a troubleshooting step, try temporarily disabling any security software entirely.

If the connection is successful with antivirus disabled, you’ll know that is the source of the conflict. You can then re-enable security software and add exceptions for iTunes. Popular antivirus tools like Avast and AVG include specific settings for allowing iTunes connections.

Step 9: Reset iTunes Library

Resetting and restoring your iTunes library can help resolve software corruption that may be causing connection issues. Back up your iTunes library and media files first for safekeeping.

On Windows:

  1. Go to File > Library > Export Library to create an iTunes backup
  2. Under Edit, select Preferences and go to Advanced
  3. Check “Reset warnings” and click OK
  4. Go back to File > Library and select “Create Library” to build a new iTunes library
  5. Import your backup to restore music and playlists into the new library

On Mac:

  1. Go to File > Library > Export Library to backup current files
  2. Hold Option while clicking File > Library > Create Library to reset
  3. Import the backup to restore your iTunes content

Rebuilding the library clears out any software issues while preserving all your iTunes media. This can resolve constant connection problems in iTunes.

Step 10: Restore iPhone Software

If all else fails, completely restoring and reinstalling the iPhone software using iTunes can resolve even the most troublesome connection bugs. Make sure to fully backup your iPhone to iCloud or iTunes before proceeding.

To restore and reinstall iOS via iTunes:

  1. Connect your iPhone to computer and launch iTunes
  2. Select your iPhone icon when it appears in iTunes
  3. Go to Summary page and click Restore iPhone
  4. Click Restore again in the confirmation popup
  5. iTunes will download stock iOS and reinstall it on your iPhone
  6. Follow the setup assistant to restore your apps, data and settings from backup

This will wipe your iPhone and reinstall a clean, stable version of iOS, eliminating any underlying bugs causing connectivity issues. Just make sure your latest data is backed up first.

Contact Apple Support

If you still see the “iTunes could not connect to this iPhone” error after trying all troubleshooting steps, you may need to contact Apple support directly. Apple can help diagnose the issue and may suggest service for your iPhone if hardware damage is the underlying problem.

To contact Apple support for help connecting your iPhone to iTunes:

  • Call 1-800-275-2273 to speak with Apple support representatives
  • Chat online with Apple support at getsupport.apple.com
  • Schedule an appointment at an Apple retail store for in-person support

You can also check the Apple System Status page at apple.com/support/systemstatus/ to see if there are any known issues with Apple services that may be affecting iTunes connections.


Troubleshooting connection issues between your iPhone and iTunes involves checking for software updates, reinstalling iTunes, adjusting firewall settings, trying different cables and USB ports, and potentially wiping both devices to reinstall a clean OS. In most cases, you can resolve the problem yourself without needing to visit a repair shop.

If the standard troubleshooting steps do not work, Apple’s support team can lend a hand to get your iPhone syncing properly again. Just be sure to backup your iPhone before restoring or resetting it during the troubleshooting process.

With the right troubleshooting steps, you can get iTunes communicating smoothly with your iPhone once again.