Why iTunes says your iOS 12 device isn’t recognized

iPhones are fickle about the versions of macOS and iTunes they can connect with.

itunes 12 icon mac
Apple

You're not required to use an iPhone with iTunes in macOS and Windows, but plenty of people still plug in to a computer via USB and rely on Apple’s music-management software to handle syncing, updates, and backups.

But what to do if you plug in and you see a message that says, “iTunes could not connect to this iPhone. You do not have permission.”

You’d think very reasonably that this would have something to do with whether your iPhone was unlocked in just the right way. Apple added a feature in iOS 11.4 to deter USB-based hacking of iPhones. The USB Restricted Mode feature prevents access to an iPhone’s data if it’s enabled and it’s been more than an hour since the last time the phone was unlocked.

However, the solution is more likely a mismatch between newer iPhones, and the version of macOS and iTunes you’re running.

Apple’s support note says that the iPhone XS and XS Max require both iTunes 12.8 and at least Mac OS X 10.11.6 (El Capitan) or later. However, from Apple forums and reader emails, it appears this can also affect iPhone XR owners, and hit people who have a later macOS installed and iTunes 12.8.

The solution appears to be downloading iTunes 12.8 directly from Apple, deleting the installed version of iTunes, and then installing the downloaded one. While this wouldn’t seem to make a difference, it was apparently the solution for many people for whom nothing else worked.

This Mac 911 article is in response to a question submitted by Macworld reader Tanya.

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