Stop iPhoto loading when your iPhone is connected

I have a Canon digital camera and an iPhone 3G, and while the iPhone can take reasonable pictures (that look best when they stay on the iPhone), I tend not to use it much for photography. So every once in a while I connect my camera to my Mac Pro and up pops iPhoto ready to transfer my new images. Great, that’s just the way I want it. However, every day I connect my iPhone to the Mac, usually just to charge it or sync some application or music… up pops iPhoto and I have to wait for it to scan whatever images are on the phone before I can dismiss it, and I have to say it bugs me somewhat.



Now if you Google for a solution to this little irritation you’ll find slick scripts that, if you find out what name your Mac recognizes your camera by, can automatically launch (or not launch) iPhoto as required. I went for the easier option which was to create a simple Automator Action to take some of the frustration away. It’s not a complete solution, but it does save you having to wait for iPhoto to do its thing every time you plug in your iPhone.

So, open Automator from your Applications folder and choose to create a Custom workflow. From the Library list choose Utilities then drag the Ask for Confirmation action across to your workflow. Give the action a suitable title, then enter some text for the prompt that will appear – in my case I simply entered “Do you wish to open iPhoto for this device?”. Finally, give the two prompt buttons a description – I labelled the button on the left “No thanks!” and the button on the right “Launch iPhoto”.

The next step is to select the Launch Application action and drag that to your workflow underneath the Ask for Confirmation action. Use the picklist on the Launch Application action to choose iPhoto. That’s it, all you have to do now is to save your actions as an Application, so just choose File – Save As then give it a meaningful name like ‘iPhone_iPhoto’, choose the format ‘Application’ (rather than Workflow) and save it. I have an Automator Actions folder in my Documents folder where I save all my workflows.

The final thing is to attach your new ‘iPhone_iPhoto’ application to the Image Capture utility that detects cameras attached to your Mac.

Image Capture

Image Capture

So, open up your Applications folder and launch the Image Capture utility. Go to the preferences for Image Capture and for the application to be launched when a camera is detected use the picklist to choose your new application.

That’s it. Next time you connect your iPhone you’ll just see a prompt asking if you want to launch iPhoto and you can quickly dismiss it if you don’t want to, saving a few precious seconds to waste on something else!

It’s not the perfect solution, but it takes just a couple of minutes to set up and gives you a really good idea of just how useful Automator Actions can be.

So, do you wanna?

So, do you wanna?

17 Responses

  1. I’ve only just come accross this and think it is a fantastic little tip! I’ve never used Automator before and am suprised how easy it was to use; thanks for letting the world know about this little time saver.

  2. Thank you for actually explaining it in a way a novice can understand.


  4. Great solution for a little thorn!

  5. you don’t really need an automator; just uncheck a preference: see for the solution. I came across it when i was kgoogling for the same problem 🙂

    • It’s a good point and a useful way to prevent iPhoto from opening every time you connect your iPhone to charge it, or sync apps. The only problem is that if you do this, then when you connect your camera and you do want to transfer photos you then have to launch iPhoto manually. Still, it’s six of one and half a dozen of the other so either approach is good 🙂

  6. First off thankyou very much for your step by step guide.

    I got my first iMac last week after leaving windows, and I’ve been having the same problem when i use my EOS DSLR. So great job, it is amazing how much of a pain it was.

    Thanks Again.

    Jim 🙂

  7. Anyone know of way to do this except have three buttons, one that says “No” one that says “yes” and one that says “No, but open Aperture instead”?

  8. I created an Apple Script with the following in it and saved it as a application called “No iPhoto for”:
    do shell script “/bin/bash; if [ `system_profiler SPUSBDataType|grep iPhone -c` = 0 ]; then open /Applications/;exit; fi; exit”
    Then I chose the Apple Script app as what should be launched when I connect a camera. If my iPhone is connected the app just quits, but if my Cannon is connected, iPhoto launches.

    Your mileage may vary.

    -Eric Pfleckl

  9. […] finally… I wrote a tip a while back about how to prevent iPhoto loading every time you plug your iPhone into your Mac, while still being able to load iPhoto for your camera. Well now there’s an even better […]

  10. thank you very much !

  11. My current Image Capture application doesn’t have a “Preferences”. Am I missing something?

  12. nvm >.< I JUST figured it out. There's a box on the bottom left of the Image Capture utility that you can pick your home-made application from.

    Anyways, thank you. This works great.

  13. Open iPhoto (iPhone can be plugged in but doesn’t need to be)
    Click on Preferences, un the iPhoto pull down at the top of your desktop
    Click on the General tab and go to the bottom of the menu
    Change Connecting Camera Opens, to No application
    Good to go, and iPhoto will still recognize the iPhone it just won’t open up automatically.

    Read more:

  14. Sounds amazing, but I do not have a ‘preferences’ option under the image capture menu when I open image capture. I have all the other options such as hide, quit, etc., just no ‘preferences’.

    can you help??

    • I originally wrote this article using Leopard after which Snow Leopard was released in June 2009. As you say, the new version of Image Capture under Snow Leopard no longer has a Preferences panel. Instead when you now open Image Capture – look at the bottom left of the Image Capture window. There you will see a drop-down list of applications that you can choose to open when the selected device is attached to your Mac.

      Hope this helps.

  15. Amazing, you’re the best!!

    FYI I made the automator workflow action as described above and have now set through image capture that workflow application to open when I connect my iPhone. It is pretty cool! Thanks:)

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