empty iPhone photo directory (DCIM) on Windows

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Transferring photos between iPhone and PC is usually no problem. However, some users have complained that they cannot access their iPhone’s DCIM folder. If at the time to recover the photos taken with your smartphone, your computer displays the message this folder is empty, here are some solutions to fix it.

Why my DCIM folder refuses to appear on my PC

We have all experienced this scenario at least once. The memory of our iPhone is full, we can no longer install any application but cannot copy the photos to the hard drive of our computer.

When connecting the iPhone to the PC, the DCIM (Digital Camera Image) folder containing the photos and videos taken with the phone refuses to open or display. Windows just displays an error message such as: this folder is empty or this directory is inaccessible.

It could be a connection problem or a bug. For beginners unfamiliar with how iPhone works, below is the process to find the DCIM folder

  • Turn on your iPhone or iPad
  • Unlock your terminal
  • Use the USB cable provided by Apple to connect your tablet or smartphone to your PC
  • If prompted, tap the Trust this computer button displayed on your iPhone screen
  • Then launch Windows File Explorer
  • Click on the My Computer or This PC icon
  • Locate the peripherals and drives section
  • Click on the icon representing your iPhone
  • Select the internal storage directory then DCIM

You should now see all the photos and videos taken with your smartphone. Then all you have to do is copy the files to one of the folders on your PC. But beware it happens in some cases that the computer displays the message, this folder is empty. Here’s what to do when iTunes does not recognize your iPhone.

Photos stored in the cloud

There are several causes that can explain the appearance of this error message. First, you will need to check the settings of the iCloud photo service. Indeed the latter has an option to free up storage space on your iPhone.

Once activated, all media content (photos and videos) on your phone is automatically transferred to iCloud servers. The iPhone only keeps locally only the small versions (thumbnails) adapted to the screen size of your device.

Each time you open a photo, the software downloads the original quality version from iCloud. This is why DCIM folder when you connect your iPhone to computer.

  • Open your iPhone settings
  • Click on your name at the top of the window
  • Select iCloud then the photos section
  • Check if the iCloud Photos switch is on (green button)

This solution is particularly useful for cleaning the memory of your iPhone and recovering space. You will find in the link opposite a method to recover photos stored on iCloud.

Reset privacy settings

When you connect your iPhone to your PC for the first time, a pop-up will ask you if you want to trust this computer. It sometimes happens that in a rush we tick the wrong box. Here is the procedure for resetting privacy settings.

  • Open your iPhone settings
  • Click on the general section
  • Select the reset option at the bottom of the window
  • Then click on reset location and privacy

The next time you connect your phone to your computer, a new alert will appear on your iPhone screen. You will then have to click on yes to authorize this computer to access your data and in particular the photos stored in the DCIM directory.

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