OS X: Prevent iPhoto from Opening Automatically When You Connect an iOS Device, Camera or SD Card

By default, when you sync an iPhone or iPad, connect a camera, or insert an SD Card into your Mac, OS X opens iPhoto, asking you if you want to import photos. I had this setting turned off in Mavericks, but it seems to have been turned on again in Yosemite. Yet when you look in iPhoto, there is no such setting. Tricky of Apple to have hidden it in another app…

Connect your iOS device to your Mac. Open Image Capture, which is in your Applications folder. Click on the iOS device, then you’ll see, below the sidebar, an option allowing you to choose what happens when you connect the device.

iphoto-opening.png

(Yes, I have lots of photos of Titus the Cat.)

Click the menu that says iPhoto; you have several options, such as Image Capture, Preview, or, perhaps, other apps. But you can also choose No Application. Select that, and you’re good to go. Personally, I use Dropbox’s photo import feature, then go through my photos in the Dropbox folder from time to time and decide what I want to keep.

If you don’t see the menu below the sidebar, click the little widget at the bottom-left of the window; that will display the menu.

Note: if you’ve turned on Photos in the Cloud in your iOS device settings, you won’t see this option, since your iOS device no longer lets you add photos to iPhoto when it’s connected. And you can’t delete photos from the device using Image Capture either.

Update: a commenter pointed out that there’s a setting in iPhoto’s general preferences. I missed this – in part because I’m pretty sure it wasn’t there in Mavericks – but that setting is global, and affects what happens when you connect any camera or iOS device. In Image Capture, you can adjust this setting individually for each device, so the Image Capture solution is more flexible.

62 thoughts on “OS X: Prevent iPhoto from Opening Automatically When You Connect an iOS Device, Camera or SD Card

  1. It’s strange that after all these years Apple still has that preference in Image Capture, an app which most Mac users have never heard of. Reminds me of how you needed to change the default browser for the OS inside Safari and the default mail app inside Mail. Almost makes you wish Apple had one place designed to change settings for all System Preferences.

    Oh.

    I used to have a convoluted workflow with Image Capture: when I put my CompactFlash card into its reader Image Capture would copy photos to a preset folder then invoke A Better Finder Rename to rename the photos based on the EXIF timestamp. Recent versions of Lightroom got smart and now will do that on import, so I don’t use Image Capture for anything (besides telling it not to do anything).

    • This will do it:
      I turned off the capture mode in iPhoto. Still opened. I went to Image Capture, no preferences (using Yosemite). Frustration . . . .
      and then . . .
      Open the program Image Capture;
      with the camera chip visible in Image Capture on the left, selecte the chip (important) and down below a tiny icon shows up (left bar, under the devices, at the very bottom of that left narrow box).
      Click that Icon and change to, “no application”. Done! Your are safe! (assuming your iPhoto program also is turned off for auto import)
      NB, you have to do this for each unique device (each iPhone, each iPad, each different camera chip, etc.). It’s a bother for sure. Apple, please make this “Mac like” and put it in the System Preferences. I have never used Image Capture!

  2. It’s strange that after all these years Apple still has that preference in Image Capture, an app which most Mac users have never heard of. Reminds me of how you needed to change the default browser for the OS inside Safari and the default mail app inside Mail. Almost makes you wish Apple had one place designed to change settings for all System Preferences.

    Oh.

    I used to have a convoluted workflow with Image Capture: when I put my CompactFlash card into its reader Image Capture would copy photos to a preset folder then invoke A Better Finder Rename to rename the photos based on the EXIF timestamp. Recent versions of Lightroom got smart and now will do that on import, so I don’t use Image Capture for anything (besides telling it not to do anything).

    • This will do it:
      I turned off the capture mode in iPhoto. Still opened. I went to Image Capture, no preferences (using Yosemite). Frustration . . . .
      and then . . .
      Open the program Image Capture;
      with the camera chip visible in Image Capture on the left, selecte the chip (important) and down below a tiny icon shows up (left bar, under the devices, at the very bottom of that left narrow box).
      Click that Icon and change to, “no application”. Done! Your are safe! (assuming your iPhoto program also is turned off for auto import)
      NB, you have to do this for each unique device (each iPhone, each iPad, each different camera chip, etc.). It’s a bother for sure. Apple, please make this “Mac like” and put it in the System Preferences. I have never used Image Capture!

  3. In iPhoto 9.6, goto Preferences, and select the General pane. The third item reads “Connecting camera opens.” Choose “No application.”

  4. In iPhoto 9.6, goto Preferences, and select the General pane. The third item reads “Connecting camera opens.” Choose “No application.”

  5. Both places to set this – iPhoto and Image Capture – have had the setting around for years and years. Image Capture in particular has been the place to do this since Mac OS X supported cameras in what, 10.2? Agreed 100% with the commenter that this should have been in System Preferences, probably in the ancient “CD/DVD” pane where you set what happens on inserting a disc. Then again, SysPrefs needs so much reorganization that it’s not getting…

  6. Both places to set this – iPhoto and Image Capture – have had the setting around for years and years. Image Capture in particular has been the place to do this since Mac OS X supported cameras in what, 10.2? Agreed 100% with the commenter that this should have been in System Preferences, probably in the ancient “CD/DVD” pane where you set what happens on inserting a disc. Then again, SysPrefs needs so much reorganization that it’s not getting…

  7. This option exists in Mavericks as well. iPhoto 9.5.1 (902.17) on Mavericks: iPhoto Menu –> Preferences –> General –> Connecting Camera opens: No Application

    • I know that it wasn’t there for me in Mavericks, and I went through a lot of hoops to finally find it in Image Capture. I recall that a friend had the option in iPhoto and I didn’t, so something fishy was going on.

      And, on my MacBook Pro, that setting is set to No Application, and connecting my iPhone still opens iPhoto.

      • I had it set to “No Application” in iPhoto and it my iPhone was still triggering iPhoto to open. Turning it off in Image Capture solved the problem.

        • I second your observation. Image Capture seems to be the way to go — in my case iPhoto said “No application” but Image Capture showed iPhoto was set open. Deception!

  8. This option exists in Mavericks as well. iPhoto 9.5.1 (902.17) on Mavericks: iPhoto Menu –> Preferences –> General –> Connecting Camera opens: No Application

    • I know that it wasn’t there for me in Mavericks, and I went through a lot of hoops to finally find it in Image Capture. I recall that a friend had the option in iPhoto and I didn’t, so something fishy was going on.

      And, on my MacBook Pro, that setting is set to No Application, and connecting my iPhone still opens iPhoto.

      • I had it set to “No Application” in iPhoto and it my iPhone was still triggering iPhoto to open. Turning it off in Image Capture solved the problem.

        • I second your observation. Image Capture seems to be the way to go — in my case iPhoto said “No application” but Image Capture showed iPhoto was set open. Deception!

  9. I have been having a very frustrating time when I plug my SD card in it would open Aperture no matter what I told Image Capture to do. In the end I found a setting inside Aperture for this and turned it off, and now it behaves.

  10. I have been having a very frustrating time when I plug my SD card in it would open Aperture no matter what I told Image Capture to do. In the end I found a setting inside Aperture for this and turned it off, and now it behaves.

  11. I’m having this problem too when i sync iPhone to iMac, and yet my preferences setting in iPhoto is already set to “no application.” This problem arose only after updating to yosemite on my mac. I think the original poster’s solution solved my problem, and I never would have found it in a million years. I have no idea why Apple wants iPhoto to open whenever you connect a device to your mac, it makes zero sense to me. But what is worse is how hard they make it for you to disable it. I repeat: my iPhoto settings already said “no application” and it was still being launched when I connected the iPhone.

  12. I’m having this problem too when i sync iPhone to iMac, and yet my preferences setting in iPhoto is already set to “no application.” This problem arose only after updating to yosemite on my mac. I think the original poster’s solution solved my problem, and I never would have found it in a million years. I have no idea why Apple wants iPhoto to open whenever you connect a device to your mac, it makes zero sense to me. But what is worse is how hard they make it for you to disable it. I repeat: my iPhoto settings already said “no application” and it was still being launched when I connected the iPhone.

  13. In iPhoto preferences I had and still have “no application” set too but, since changing to Yosemite, iPhoto started launching automatically when I connected my iPhone. This post has hopefully fixed it but I would never have found it on my own. They hide it in another application that I have never used and even there the menu triangle is very discreetly lurking down in the bottom corner.
    I often import photos from my phone via “Preview”. Open preview and there is an option in the file menu to import from the iPhone. That way I can choose to put work photos in the relevant work file and the personal ones elsewhere.

  14. In iPhoto preferences I had and still have “no application” set too but, since changing to Yosemite, iPhoto started launching automatically when I connected my iPhone. This post has hopefully fixed it but I would never have found it on my own. They hide it in another application that I have never used and even there the menu triangle is very discreetly lurking down in the bottom corner.
    I often import photos from my phone via “Preview”. Open preview and there is an option in the file menu to import from the iPhone. That way I can choose to put work photos in the relevant work file and the personal ones elsewhere.

  15. Even though I didt have that option marked it still keeps on opening. This solution is not working for me. I read files from a compact flash reader to my mac pro

  16. Even though I didt have that option marked it still keeps on opening. This solution is not working for me. I read files from a compact flash reader to my mac pro

  17. I can confirm that this does not work on my imac with the latest Yosemite, and using Adobe CC with LR and PS. I have “No Applications” marked and yet it STILL opens my iPhoto.
    Very…very…annoying.

  18. I can confirm that this does not work on my imac with the latest Yosemite, and using Adobe CC with LR and PS. I have “No Applications” marked and yet it STILL opens my iPhoto.
    Very…very…annoying.

  19. It appears that by iPhoto jumping live and auto-downloading the latest photos, it block G+ and other apps’ auto backup feature from working. That seems to be why Apple sneakily changed the setting in Yosemite.

  20. It appears that by iPhoto jumping live and auto-downloading the latest photos, it block G+ and other apps’ auto backup feature from working. That seems to be why Apple sneakily changed the setting in Yosemite.

  21. Just in case you don’t see your device or SD card in the bottom left hand corner of “Image Capture”, there is a “grey arrow in a box” icon. You may have to click on this icon for the options to open up and change to “no application”.

  22. Just in case you don’t see your device or SD card in the bottom left hand corner of “Image Capture”, there is a “grey arrow in a box” icon. You may have to click on this icon for the options to open up and change to “no application”.

  23. F-ing Apple! Why would I use this scuzzy software when I have much better photo management software. Thanks for posting this info. Just so typical of Apple, makes choices for me that I don’t want then makes it a challenge to find out how to turn it off and wastes time.

  24. F-ing Apple! Why would I use this scuzzy software when I have much better photo management software. Thanks for posting this info. Just so typical of Apple, makes choices for me that I don’t want then makes it a challenge to find out how to turn it off and wastes time.

  25. Great thread, thanks for the info. I’m using 10.10.1 and found that in iphoto, my setting was on “no application” but iphoto kept opening when iphone was connected. I changed the setting to open “iphoto” and then changed it back to “no application” and this seems to have resolved the issue. I did not have to go into image capture.

  26. Great thread, thanks for the info. I’m using 10.10.1 and found that in iphoto, my setting was on “no application” but iphoto kept opening when iphone was connected. I changed the setting to open “iphoto” and then changed it back to “no application” and this seems to have resolved the issue. I did not have to go into image capture.

  27. Poor job Apple – move to system preferences on next version

    I guess hide it in order to boost Iphoto then promotes Book Sales, etc…$$

  28. Poor job Apple – move to system preferences on next version

    I guess hide it in order to boost Iphoto then promotes Book Sales, etc…$$

  29. The new Photos app has a checkbox that supposedly does this, but I had to resort to the described solution here for my CompactFlash reader. Photos continued to startup with the checkbox checked even after I unchecked it. This solution seems to have cured it.

  30. The new Photos app has a checkbox that supposedly does this, but I had to resort to the described solution here for my CompactFlash reader. Photos continued to startup with the checkbox checked even after I unchecked it. This solution seems to have cured it.

  31. great info! Worked as a charm…… it’s just very annoying when on the couch with your girl and then sudden iPhoto fully opens exposing other albums from a past era. Unnecessary pain. Good info!

  32. great info! Worked as a charm…… it’s just very annoying when on the couch with your girl and then sudden iPhoto fully opens exposing other albums from a past era. Unnecessary pain. Good info!

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