Choose what opens when you plug in an iPhone

Choose what opens when you plug in an iPhone
Mac Tip #419, 13 January 2010

A friend asked how to stop iPhoto opening up and importing pictures from her iPhone every time she plugged it in. It’s a problem common with any kind of camera: iPhone, digital still camera, movie camera, even the iPod touch. Here’s one way, using Image Capture.

Watch the video


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‘Camera’ actions

I have several devices that function as cameras and want to be able to choose each time I plug one in exactly what will happen.

For example, if I plug in my iPhone it may be just to charge it. I don’t want iPhoto to open automatically. And even if I did want to import images, I use Aperture, rather than iPhoto to handle all my photos.

On the other hand, if I plug in my Canon Digital SLR (or the reader with the camera’s memory card), then I want Aperture to open up and be ready to download my photos.

Set options in Image Capture.

Set options in Image Capture.

Set options in Image Capture

The Image Capture application in your Applications folder controls what happens when you plug in a camera, or a device like the iPod touch that can make screen captures.

This Tip refers to Image Capture under Snow Leopard, Mac OS X 10.6.2. If you’re using an older version of the OS it may not offer the same options.

Set Image Capture Preferences

  1. Open the Image Capture application. The settings window appears.
  2. Plug in your iPhone, iPod touch, card reader or camera. The device is listed in the Image Capture window.
  3. Make sure the correct device is selected in the devices list on the left side of the window.
  4. Choose an action for the selected device from the drop-down menu at bottom left of the window. Options may include opening applications such as iPhoto or Preview.
  5. Quit Image Capture once you’ve selected the settings.

Next time you plug in that device the action you set in Image Capture will be triggered.

Make your own application

After recording the video for this Tip I experimented a little. I created a simple Applescript that beeped 5 times and saved it as an application.

Then I selected that application to open when I plugged in my iPhone.

On next plugging in my iPhone my Mac beeped 5 times, as expected.

5 beeps is pretty useless as an action, but you could create an Applescript to perhaps mount an external drive, copy files, send an email — depending on what would be useful to you.

Have you found other ways to do this? There’s usually more than one way to solve this kind of problem. Tell us your experiences below.

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  1. Ken said:

    Great info! But why is it just so hard to make Apple apps work right!?

  2. eric williams said:

    Sweet! this totally worked, thanks!

  3. Pingback: Choose what opens when you plug in an iPhone — Mac Tips | Mac Affinity

  4. Virginia said:

    Thanks for this great tip. I get annoyed by iPhoto automatically opening but didn’t know there was a solution.

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