How to Fix iPhone DCIM Folder Empty

Are you trying to transfer files to and fro from your iPhone but only to find that your DCIM folder is completely empty?

Mobile phones are so closely knit to our everyday life that technology has become an almost essential commodity. Functioning in today’s society will require you in one way or another to access the internet, and what better way to do so than through a smartphone?

For us Apple users, the iPhone has become embedded so deeply into our lives. We take pictures with our phones, record videos to preserve memories, and even use the sound recorder for our own personal projects.

Despite our ever-evolving technologies, our little devices do suffer from hiccups here and there. Disappearing DCIM folders can be one of the most infuriating and scary situations for an iPhone. Here’s a comprehensive list of what we can do to help solve your problem!

Let’s get started.


1. Use Another USB Cable, Computer, USB Port, and iPhone.

The simplest fix can often be the only one you need. A damaged USB cable will have trouble connecting your iPhone with your PC. This problem is especially common with faulty USB cables that are fake or damaged at the tips.

Try another USB cable, like your friend’s, to see if you can connect. Furthermore, try connecting through a different USB port on your computer. Faulty USB ports can happen, especially if your computer is old or in bad quality.

iphone dcim folder empty

Connecting your iPhone to a different computer is a basic troubleshooting step to make sure your error is consistent on all devices. If you find that your DCIM files are visible on the second computer, perhaps the former computer has driver problems. Go ahead and proceed to the method that addresses this issue.

Lastly, try connecting with a different iPhone. Like the computers, connecting with a different iPhone will let you know if the issue is in your iPhone exclusively. If the DCIM files appear on the second iPhone, chances are the first iPhone may have software issues.


2. Restart iPhone and PC.

Just like any kind of device, our iPhones and PCs can run into errors and bugs while it is continually being used. More often than not, we leave our iPhones on for a whole day or for even more if we’re the type to leave them on standby overnight.

This kind of practice is not necessarily bad for your iPhone, but a frequent restart can go a long way when you’re experiencing issues like this. Although your PC may not be on as much as your iPhone, external storage problems are not that uncommon.

Here’s how you can restart your iPhone:

  1. First, hold the power button on your device for several seconds.
  2. Then, a red slider should appear to power off.

iphone dcim folder empty

  1. Now, swipe it to the right and wait for 20 seconds.
  2. Turn your phone on again by holding the power button.

Alternatively, here’s how you can restart your Windows PC:

  1. Simply press the Windows key or click on the Windows logo at the bottom left corner of your screen.
  2. Click on the power icon located just above the Windows logo.
  3. Finally, select Restart.

Lastly, these are the steps to restart your Mac:

  1. Go ahead and open the Apple menu located at the top left menu of your screen.
  2. Select Restart.

Now that your PC has been reset, go ahead and try to connect your iPhone and transfer the files again.


3. Unlock Your iPhone and Authorize Your PC.

Data security is one of the most important things a smartphone can have. No one wants their pictures, contacts, and other personal information taken from them without their permission. If you are confident that you have already authorized your PC in the past, you can settle with only doing Step 1. Simply unlocking your iPhone should allow your PC to access its files.

By default, all foreign computers will be blocked by your iPhone’s security system from accessing its files. This safety measure is useful against data intruders but can be a double-edged sword for you if you forget to unlock your iPhone and authorize your computer.

Here’s how you can unlock your iPhone and use it with your PC:

  1. Go ahead and connect your iPhone to your PC with a USB cable.
  2. Next, unlock your iPhone via PIN or your default method.

iphone dcim folder empty

  1. Finally, a prompt should appear on your screen about whether or not you trust this computer. Select Trust.

If a prompt did not appear on your iPhone then either your computer has already been marked as a trusted PC, or your USB cable may be malfunctioning. Try another USB cable to see if the prompt pops up.

Don’t worry if this method still results in your iPhone DCIM folder being empty. The following methods in this list will explain all other possible scenarios.


4. Update or Uninstall The Phone Driver.

Outdated and faulty phone drivers can cause hiccups to your system. Since bugs and glitches are being fixed every week, it’s important to keep both your PC’s drivers and iPhone’s iOS at its latest versions.

Drivers are responsible for the communication of your device and your PC. For this method, we will focus on updating or uninstalling the drivers on your computer.

Your iPhone automatically installs an iPhone driver when it first connects to a PC. Uninstalling the driver will reinstall it the next time you connect. After re-installation, you will have a brand new driver on your PC which should function without any issues.

Firstly, here’s how you can update your phone driver:

  1. Press on the Windows key to open up your search bar.
  2. Now, type in ‘Device Manager’ and open the first result of the query.

iphone dcim folder empty

  1. Then, expand ‘Portable Devices’. This should open a list containing your iPhone.
  2. Next, right-click on your iPhone and select Update driver.
  3. Follow the prompts and select Search automatically for updated driver software. This will search for the most updated version online and install it into your computer.

Plug-in your iPhone and see if the DCIM folder is still empty.

If your files are still nowhere to be found, go ahead and uninstall your phone driver by following the steps below:

  1. Go ahead and repeat Steps 1 to 4 but select Uninstall device instead.
  2. A prompt should appear, click ‘OK’. Your driver will begin uninstalling.
  3. Once your driver has been completely uninstalled, shut down your PC. Prior to turning your PC back on, go ahead unplug your iPhone.
  4. Finally, when your PC has finished booting up go ahead and plug-in your iPhone again to re-install your phone driver.

After all these steps check your DCIM folder through your PC to see if your files are finally there. If your files remain amiss, go ahead and complete the other half of this process by updating your iPhone’s iOS.


5. Update Your iPhone’s iOS.

iPhones are not immune to bugs and problems, especially if its software is outdated. Often enough updating your iOS fixes most problems, including a disappearing DCIM folder.

Monthly updates, fixes, and added features are regularly coded into each iOS update. Updating your iOS regularly is considered good practice for maintaining your iPhone.

Before updating, make sure your phone has more than 40 percent battery life and is connected to a stable Wi-Fi connection. Updating can take as little as 5 minutes to an hour depending on the speed of your Wi-Fi network and hardware of your device.

Here are the steps to update your iOS:

  1. First, and open your Settings.
  2. Next, tap on General.
  3. Then, proceed to Software Update.

iOS Software Update

  1. If there is an update, simply tap Install Now and follow all the prompts.

Updating your iOS should ensure that you have the latest operating system for your iPhone. Coupled with your newly updated phone drives, try and reset both your iPhone and PC and then connect your iPhone to view your files.


6. Reset Your iPhone’s Location and Privacy.

Another way to reset your iPhone’s history with your PC is by resetting your ‘Location & Privacy’ setting.

Apple software can store a cache containing data that recognize your PC. This makes future interactions much smoother, but in cases like this, it can be what’s causing your problem.

Resetting your ‘Location & Privacy’ setting will not delete any personal data, rest assured. This will only delete and forget the permissions given to apps that have requested to use your location. You can easily fix this the next time you open those apps.

Here’s how we can reset your iPhone location and privacy:

  1. Go ahead and open your Settings.
  2. Next, open General.
  3. Now, tap on Reset which is located at the bottom part of your screen.

iphone dcim folder empty

  1. Tap on Reset Location & Privacy and fill in your phone’s passcode.
  2. A prompt should appear asking to confirm your decision. Go ahead and tap on Reset Settings.
  3. After the reset process, connect your iPhone to your PC again and authorize your PC. Unplug your iPhone and replug it after several seconds.

Your pictures and videos should now be accessible to you through your computer. If this does not fix your problem, go ahead and proceed to the next methods.


7. Take a New Dummy Photo.

It has been suggested by a few users that taking a new photo before connecting your iPhone to your PC can “jumpstart” your folders. This gives it initial data which could refresh the connection of your device to your internal storage.

Though there are users who have no pictures at all but want to transfer some into the iPhone from the PC. In this case, taking a dummy photo will setup your folders which should make your DCIM folder visible through your PC.

Here are the simple steps of taking a dummy photo:

  1. First, make sure your iPhone is not connected to your PC.
  2. Next, open your Camera app and take any random photo.
  3. Quickly view your photo through your Photos and then plug your iPhone back into your PC.

This should mostly help users with no prior pictures before connecting to their PC.


8. Check and Download Your iCloud Photos.

Apple products and iPhones are known for their crisp and HD camera quality. These beautiful photos come at the expense of requiring tons of storage, which is why iPhones are sold with internal storage spaces reaching 512GBs.

Although this is an enormous amount of storage space, Apple also allows its users to upload and store their photos in their iCloud accounts where the photos are kept securely in Apple’s servers.

This feature will allow you to view all the pictures you’ve taken with your phone, although they are physically stored elsewhere. This means that your photos are not locally stored on your iPhone, which could be the reason why your DCIM folder is empty.

Here’s how you can check if your photos are on iCloud:

  1. Go ahead and open up your Settings.
  2. Next, tap on your name located at the top. This should open your profile.

Optimize iPhone Storage

  1. Now, tap on iCloud and select Photos.
  2. If Optimise iPhone Storage is on, then all your photos are most likely uploaded to your cloud. Pressing on Download and Keep Originals will download all your photos and keep any future photos from here onwards.

It is important to take note that this will consume a large amount of data from your Wi-Fi connection or mobile data if your iCloud has a lot of photos. Your iPhone will attempt to download all the photos stored in your cloud.

After downloading your photos, try restarting your iPhone and re-plugging your device back into your computer. Your photos should now be visible in your DCIM folder.


9. Reinstall iTunes on Your PC.

Using iTunes to properly access and fiddle with your iPhone is a requirement we’re all used to. But this can be troublesome if iTunes is the origin of the problem. Reinstalling iTunes will ensure that the program will work as new.

Keep note that reinstalling iTunes will require you to download the application back on your device, so it’s best to do this while connected to a stable network connection.

Here’s how you can reinstall iTunes on your PC:

  1. First, press your Windows key to open your search bar.
  2. Second, go ahead and type ‘Add or remove programs‘. This should open your Apps & Features tab.
  3. Look for iTunes on the programs listed below and click on its icon. Select Uninstall and follow the prompts.
Uninstall Application on Windows 10
Removing and Reinstalling the iTunes application can help fix the ‘iPhone DCIM Folder empty’ issue.
  1. Once iTunes has been uninstalled, go to this link so you can download iTunes again. Click on Download now.
  2. A precautionary prompt may appear, just save the file and wait for it to finish downloading. When it’s done, go ahead and open the .exe file.
  3. Follow the prompts to install iTunes again and click Finish when you’re done.

Alternatively, here’s how you can reinstall iTunes on your Mac:

  1. Go ahead and open Finder.
  2. Next, select Applications.
  3. Then, look for and drag it into the trash.
  4. Finally, empty the trash by clicking on the trash can and selecting Empty Trash.
  5. Once iTunes has been uninstalled, go to this link so you can download iTunes again. Click on Download now.
  6. Open your Downloads folder and double-click on iTunes.dmg to being installing.
  7. Follow the prompts to install iTunes again and click Finish when you’re done. You will be required to input your Apple ID and agree to some terms.

Now that your computer is functioning with an updated version of iTunes, go ahead and try to connect your iPhone to your PC.

If all of these steps have failed, it might be in your best interest to look for a nearby Apple Store so they can identify any hardware problems with your device.

It’s also worth checking if you qualify for any warranties regarding your device, which should help discount the repairs or completely replace your iPhone.

Now that you have reached the end of this article, we hope that this post helped provide solutions that helped fix your ‘iPhone DCIM folder empty’ issue. If you have other questions related to this article, please feel free to leave a comment below.

If this guide helped you, please share it. 🙂


  • Mako Young

    Mako is a staff writer at Saint. He's been writing about tech for more than a decade. When he isn't reading about the latest news on Apple, he's busy studying cybersecurity, cryptocurrency, cloud computing, and other IT-related sectors. His exceptional work graces technology and Apple-related blogs like How-To Geek,, Macgasm, onMac, PhotoWorkout, GameRant, and many more. He also has a Bachelors in Computer Science and has been writing since 2018, with over 400 posts published. LinkedIn X (Twitter)

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