When iTunes and iPhones disagree

Is iTunes having problems getting along with your iPhone or other iOS device? Does your iPhone fail to sync in iTunes? Does iTunes refuse to recognize that your iPhone even exists? If so, you may be surprised at these two unlikely but effective solutions.

iOS Device Not Recognized

Here’s the scenario: After a recent restart of your Mac, you connect an iOS device (iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch) to iTunes. The device does not show up in iTunes' Devices list. An error message may appear stating that iTunes cannot “recognize” the device.

The most-likely permanent fix to this problem is to delete a file named com.apple.usbmuxd.plist~orig, located in the /System/Library/LaunchDaemons folder. That’s it. In most cases, this will restore iTunes-to-iPhone communication.

But be careful. You don’t want to delete the similarly named com.apple.usbmuxd.plist file. If you don’t find the ~orig variant of the usbmuxd file, your symptom presumably has a different cause. Time to look elsewhere.

On the other hand, if you find the file but deleting it doesn’t eliminate the symptom, an Apple support article suggests deleting certain additional mobile-device-related System files. Afterwards, restart your Mac and reinstall iTunes. At this point, iTunes should at last recognize your iOS device.

Never heard of usbmuxd? Neither had I. According to one webpage I found, usbmuxd stands for “USB Multiplex Daemon.” The page further explained that “this bit of software is in charge of talking to your iPhone or iPod Touch over USB… in order to sync….” This was all in reference to a third-party usbmuxd process, one not maintained by Apple. Still, I’m assuming the explanation is generally accurate.

13019 Error When Syncing

Even if iTunes recognizes your iPhone, you may still have trouble getting it to successfully sync. There are a variety of causes and solutions to these sync issues. Recently, I had one where my sync attempt failed with a message that cited a 13019 error. Not very descriptive or helpful. But that’s typical for these sync errors.

A search of Apple’s Knowledge Base came up with an article that contained the answer. It said to deselect my Voice Memos playlist prior to syncing. If that didn’t work, I should locate any duplicate voice memo files in my iTunes Library and delete them.

I decided to not bother with the specific sequence of steps suggested in the article. As I no longer had any need for any of my saved memos, I went nuclear: I deleted all of my saved memos, both in iTunes and on my iPhone. After doing this, my next attempt at syncing succeeded.

This appears to be a known issue that was first identified for iOS 3.0 back in 2009. I can attest that it still has not been fixed for iOS 4.2.1 in 2010.

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