Tricks for importing photos from your iPhone

Summary:iPhone photos aren't automatically backed up, and if you need to restore it your could be deleted. Here are a couple of tricks for recovering precious photos on a restored iPhone.

Many people choose to launch iPhoto or Aperture when connecting the iPhones to Macs for the ritualistic "sync" operation -- but if you don't actually do it, or worse, disable the launch of a photo app you can leave your iPhone's photos in great peril.

The problem is that iPhone photos aren't automatically backed up, and if you trash your iPhone by installing one too many JB apps -- or otherwise need to restore it -- your precious photos could be deleted. On the last couple editions of the PowerPage podcast both Rob and I have lament losing iPhone photos in a hasty restore and a couple of good tricks for recovering data from restored iPhones were mentioned.

One listener (Andy Runton) suggested the free iPhone / iPod Touch Backup Extractor (at the memorable URL: supercrazyawesome.com) which converts the proprietary backup files created by iTunes into human readable Mac OS X files.

Padraig Kennedy the developer of the free extractor software also recommends Menial's Base app to read the ".db" SQLite files that the iPhone Backup Extractor creates.

Another listener suggests Image Capture:

  1. Plug your iPhone into your Mac and let it do its sync, etc.
  2. Run ”Image Capture” (in the Applications folder)
  3. On the left, you’ll see your iPhone listed as a device and down
  4. At the bottom left under "connecting this iPhone opens:" choose ”AutoImporter”

Then each time you plug in your iPhone, Image Capture will launch and allow you to Import (or Import All) your photos to a location of your choosing. The problem is that the name is deceiving.

When you import this way a dialog comes up titled "Importing" and underneath that it says "Preparing import from iPhone" but it doesn't actually perform the import. I tried a couple of times and I had to click either the "Import" or "Import all" buttons for the action to happen. I was hoping that AutoImporter, would automatically import the photos -- silly me. Anyway, I hope that Apple fixes this and have submitted it to the iTunes feedback form.

As an alternative you can always use Image Capture to re-enable the automatic launching of iPhoto or Aperture -- but you'll still have to remember to import your photos there too. None of these is quite as seamless as something built into iTunes though and Apple needs to add automatic photo syncing to iTunes, soon.

Topics: Browser, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility, Smartphones

About

Jason D. O'Grady developed an affinity for Apple computers after using the original Lisa, and this affinity turned into a bona-fide obsession when he got the original 128 KB Macintosh in 1984. He started writing one of the first Web sites about Apple (O'Grady's PowerPage) in 1995 and is considered to be one of the fathers of blogging.... Full Bio

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