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Access the DCIM folder on your iPhone

When you plug an iPhone into a Windows VISTA/7 computer, it should recognize it as a camera device even if you don’t have iTunes installed. This can be useful if you just want to transfer some of your pictures quickly off of the iPhone without installing iTunes and syncing and all that. If your screen locks on the iPhone, however and if it was locked while you plugged it into your computer, then the DCIM folder that typically contains all the pictures on your camera roll will be empty (security). Here’s how to your pictures:
[step 1] Unplug your iPhone from the USB port.

[step 2] Unlock your iPhone screen.

[step 3] Plug your iPhone back into the USB port and open the Camera DCIM folder using explorer. NOTE: your images are now visible.

January 4, 2011

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49 comments found

Comments for: Access the DCIM folder on your iPhone

  1. Luigi

    Well done. Simple, to the point and solves the problem. Instead of all the bla bla bla on most websites, Bravo !!

    1. Guisepe

      Good job. Thanks Simple and sweet.

  2. Ricardo

    Hey, thank you for your post. Direct to the point and it works. I would never have figured that out by myself. I agree with the previous commenter — you just delivered the goods, and that is commendable.

  3. Kenny

    THANK YOU!!!! I’ve been looking around and so far this was the only one that gave me the answer I needed.

  4. Pingback: iPhone 4 with iOS 5.0 Camera App becomes sluggish, here’s a fix | Tinkertry

  5. Kdogg

    Worked! So simple, Duh! Thanks for the post.

  6. Odin

    Any way to get access to the DCIM folder in a Windows 7 environment wirelessly? Through wifi or through bluetooth? Apps or no apps? I do NOT want to have to jailbreak to accomplish this and am looking for some other method.

    Thanks :)

    1. Post author: 
      David Vielmetter


      You can sync your iPhone wirelessly if it has IOS5, but that will not allow you to access the DCIM folder (or camera roll album) on your iphone. There are a couple of ways to get pictures from your iPhone wirelessly onto your computer:

      1. Set up photo stream on you iPhone running iOS 5. More info here:

      2. In iTunes, turn on wifi sync with your iPhone running IOS5 and sync a picture album from you computer. Then store pictures on you iPhone in that synced album.

      Hope it helps,


  7. Jen

    Thank you thank you thank you. Sweet and Simple. I appreciate it.

  8. Lucas

    This does not work… Cannot even see my iPhone 4 in the windows explorer window!

    1 time out of about 20, I will see the phone but the DCIM folder shows empty even if I have over 15,000 photos in it!

    Need help, no solution found so far and I have been looking for almost a week and tried various things to fix this…

    1. Post author: 
      David Vielmetter

      You’ve probably already done this, but it sounds like you might have an issue with your iphone USB cable or the USB ports on your computer. Have you tried:

      1. plugging the phone into another computer to see if the same issue occurs.
      2. turning the phone off completely and turning it back on.
      3. replaced the iphone USB cable.

      Hope it helps,

    2. Wichowich

      Unlock your phone before plugging in.

  9. Satya

    Thank you!! I did lots of google search and finally landed up in your website. It just works! I am able to transfer pictures and videos to my laptop now

  10. Ross

    Thanks so much! Simple and easy to follow. Worked like a charm!

  11. Nutshell

    Agree – works great – simple and easy breezy

    Funny before iOS 6.01 on my iphone 4s I dont recall having to do this – !

  12. Hapster

    Can not see the photos in my ipad dcim folder, tried the plug in usb while open fix and it did not work.

    I have done this with my I phone and it works fine..

    1. Post author: 
      David Vielmetter


      Is that a question or a statement?


      1. Steve

        my wife just connect 4S and uploaded 800 photos but she says the folder on the windows 7 laptop is empty and there photos were deleted from the iPhone any ideas ?

        1. dvielmetter

          Well, first we’d want to find out how she uploaded the photos to the computer. Did she connect the phone and use some third party application to import the pictures (i.e. picasa, photoshop, hp, etc.)? or did she manually copy them from the device using windows explorer? or did she perhaps use the autorun wizard that pops up in windows 7 to import the pictures? Each different way of importing the pictures offers a different way of dealing with the device after pictures have been imported. Some delete the pictures from the device upon completion by default, some do not. Depending on what was used to import the pictures, the best place to start looking for the imported images would in the My Pictures folder that’s part of the user account she used when she imported the pictures. Once that’s ascertained and the images are found, they can then be copied back to the device if the folder structure (i.e. DCIM) is still in tact. If that structure is not in tact, the pictures must be synced back to the device using itunes. I know this is confusing, but I suggest starting with finding out what she did to import those pictures and going from there.

          Alternatively if pictures have been lost, you can attempt to recover them from the device using PhotoRec, but that’s a long shot.


  13. Carlos

    Nice, but I have some images that I cannot delete (in DCIM860OKMZO) anyone knows why?

    I deleted them from the iphone but they are still occupying space :P.

    Happy holidays.

    1. Post author: 
      David Vielmetter

      It might belong to another album or an app on you phone. Maybe look at the pictures in that folder to see what app they might be a part of.

      Hope that helps,

  14. Peter Andrén

    Once you understand the logic, that is that you shouldn’t be able to access a locked iPhone, it all makes perfect sense.
    Just helped a client with this.

    Thank you so much for a quick & easy solution!

  15. Peter Andrén

    Thank you for an easy & quick solution!

    Just helped a client with this. Your page helped a lot. Once you got the logic, that you shouldn’t be able to access a locked phone, it makes perfect sense.

  16. fran

    Help!! my daughter put in a WORD password onto her phone and 3 hours later went to access the phone and it said “wrong password” so she cannot access her phone. The last icloud backup was 2 weeks ago (not set to auto). she is prepared to lose all her data but want to keep the photos as she is overseas travelling.
    is there ANY way at all she can save her photos?
    also.. is the password case sensitive or anything or was it a bug in the IOS. my daughter never forgot her number passcode and this was the first time she used a word (and swears she didnt forget it)
    any clues on what she can do to keep her data and photos would be appreciated. thanks. oh its an iphone 4 16gb (not sure what ios as its locked lol!)

    1. Post author: 
      David Vielmetter


      First off, Photos in the camera roll are stored in iPhone backup files. Photos in photo albums on the iphone are not (there’s a difference).
      If you’ve synced your iPhone with a computer recently, the photos from the camera roll should be in the latest backup file which is stored on the computer and would have been created the last time you synced with a cable. You could try to restore your iphone from a backup using this computer and the sync cable and those pictures should be copied back to the phone.

      Unfortunately, if you’ve taken a bunch of pictures since your last cable sync, then those pictures will be lost.

      If you use iCloud for backup and photo syncing on the phone, you can install iCloud sync tool on your computer and click the photo sync option. Any photos that would have synced with iCloud on the phone (only happens over wifi and if icloud photosync is enabled on the phone) will be downloaded to your pc automatically.

      Hope this helps,

  17. Mack Khurmi

    Awesome Bro, Thanks a lot. The best solution with in 10 mins. Great work Man.

  18. stingray from sg

    hey david, i tried ur method but still doesnt work. you have any idea whats the problem? could it be the problem of my phone’s usb? i can see the folder, tried the whole day but still dont see any photos in the folder on my desktop… :(

  19. john

    I was messing around earlier and had access to the file location, but then unplugged and changed computers systesm and the folders within DCIM were gone.

    I didn’t even have to read your full post to know how to fix it.

    Thanks buddy!

  20. Melissa

    Thank you so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. shawn

    heyz David, i had problem accessing my phone to transfer out an important video, i connected it to my win vista and it does not detect the camera, i reinstall the driver and it detected it however, the device shows files in it but i can not access it still even with an unlocked sceen.

    Tried on my win7 which does not have itune and it still the same, no folders or files shown, mind advising?

    it is iphone 4 btw

    1. Post author: 
      David Vielmetter

      Try installing iTunes and then connect the phone again on a Win7 system. That’s what I used and didn’t have any problems.


  22. Bruce

    I cannot see many of my photos that are on my iphone 4 on my Windows 7 computer. DCIM folder with my pictures only show a small amount of photos. I would appreciate any input on how to be able to view all photos that are on my iphone.

    1. Post author: 
      David Vielmetter


      When you plug your phone into a computer, the DCIM folder will only show photos physically stored in the camera roll on your phone. When you go to the Photos App on your phone, however, you can create albums that have both photos from your camera roll AND photos from your icloud account. Those photos that are in the iCloud will not be available when you connect your phone to your computer…but they may be visible in the photos app on your phone, so that may be the reason you only see few photos when you connect the phone to your computer. If you have another i device, and it is connected to the same icloud account, pictures taken on that device will show up on all your other devices in the icloud account…but will only be in the camera roll of the device the picture was taken on.

      Also, there may be multiple subfolders in the DCIM folder. They may have random names, but they may contain more of your pictures stored on the camera roll of your phone.

      Hope this helps,

  23. Ara

    Excellent!! Easy solution. Well done

  24. Wichowich

    David, do you know of any method or app that puts all the pictures into folders with logic names? And not ASDHNA88 ASDKAY787 stuff like this.

    I am not talking in the IOS but when accessed as USB…

    1. Post author: 
      David Vielmetter

      You can try using picasa. It will import pictures and put them in folders you select after import.

      Hope it helps,

  25. Awais

    Thank you very much! Very simple, and works.

  26. Jabliboy

    thank you, u r a legend!

  27. Ananth

    Awesome!!! I tried your suggestion and it worked well.Thanks Dude.

  28. Manuela

    Thank you very much!!!

  29. Gerov

    Hay Guys,
    you are great, I have read thousands, helps, comments and so on ….
    It was fucken simple :-).
    Thanks a lot!!!

  30. Hermaine

    Thank you, thank you — worked like a charm (as they say)

  31. hana

    I’ve tried everything but my dcim folder is still empty!

  32. andy

    Bravo my friend, have been researching this issue for 2 hours now, and this is the most simple way to rectify the problem, well done!!!

  33. Nick

    hey David , when I plug my iphone5s into my laptop , I cannot see all my photos in the dcmi folder . only 1 folder that has pics from a few months ago . I used to be able to see all the folders .


  34. Satish

    Great stuff…!! It is working amazingly… :)

  35. No Icloud lock

    I savor, result in I discovered just what I was having a look for.
    You have ended my 4 day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day.

  36. Anna M Williams

    Now that I have removed all the photos from my daughters Iphone, what do I do with the empty folders and the other icon in the folder? Thank you

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