Prevent Photos from Opening When You Connect an iOS Device in OS X El Capitan

By default, in OS X, when you connect an iOS device and there are new photos that haven’t been imported – if you aren’t using iCloud Photo Library – the Photos apps opens so you can import pictures. This is also the case if you mount an SD card, or any other device with photos.

Previously, the setting to turn this off was in the Image Capture app. But now, this setting is in Photos.

Connect your device to your Mac, and click it in the Photos sidebar. (If the sidebar isn’t visible, choose View > Show Sidebar.) Look up near the top of the window, and uncheck Open photos for this device.

Photos open at launch

Now, if you want to import photos from that device or SD card, you can do so by launching either Photos or Image Capture; or you can access the SD card directly in the Finder if you prefer. (Or you may use other software that can import photos.)

17 thoughts on “Prevent Photos from Opening When You Connect an iOS Device in OS X El Capitan

  1. Thanks, I figured there had to be a way to make that stop. The logical place for this setting would be in Preferences…

  2. This assumes you’ve already been working in Photos. Every time I connect a device, I am prompted with the annoying welcome to Photos screen. Haven’y found a way around this yet…

  3. I’ve been wondering when Apple Digital Camera RAW Compatibility modifications gets applied. If it’s in Photos, and doesn’t depend on whether you’ve edited the photo with another app before importing, then it doesn’t matter how you import your photos with respect to ADCRC doing its job…

  4. I wish Apple would finally give us a default option for all devices… Working with multiple devices at work on a daily basis, having the Photos app or iTunes launch automatically several times a day gets really tedious.

  5. Thanks Kirk for you suggestion.

    I may be missing something, but this option seems to still appear in Image Capture. I have screen-shots which show this, but I’m not sure how to upload them to your comments section.


  6. The behaviour of this has changed since upgrading to 10.11. In 10.10 connecting my iPhone to the mac via USB cable would only open Photos (or Image Capture) if I had any unsynchronised photos in the camera roll of the iPhone. Now in 10.11 Photos opens every time whether of not there are any photos in the Photos app on the iPhone, until of course you switch it off as described above. :)

  7. My greatest frustration is that Photos launches every time I insert an SD card, even if I have already told Photos not to launch for that specific SD card. The problem seems to be that Photos cannot recognize an reused SD card, after it has been formatted. I follow a commonly-recommended workflow, of formatting my SD cards in the camera, after I have downloaded the pictures to my computer. Every time I bring new pictures into my computer on that same SD card, Photos will launch again. I don’t use Photos for anything, and I don’t want it to ever launch automatically. I’ve left feedback several times on Apple/Feedback, but as usual, nothing happens.

  8. This does NOT work (El Capitan 10.11.1 on a Mac Pro). Although I’ve unchecked the box for my Canon 70D chip 10 TIMES, Photos STILL opens when I insert the chip containing the photos into my USB 3 hub. Photos is IGNORING the checkbox setting.

    Oh goodie, another couple of hours on the phone with Apple doing QA work for them!! :0((((

    • Are you by any chance reformatting the card each time you put it in the camera? If so, I think that Photos will think it’s a different card.

  9. This does not work. Apple doesn’t give a damn in the fact that photographers usually format their cards every time they put it in a camera. That’s just the way it is.

  10. what if your device never shows up in Photos, or Image Capture. My iPhone 5s just never appears. What are the iCloud settings to liberate my iPhone from Photos entirely? I used to be able to see everything in Preview…

  11. Any time I connect my iPhone or a SD card into my MacBook Pro, up jumps Photos like an old girlfriend that I want nothing to do with any more. So, I figured I’d compress Photos and toss the whole application out so it wouldn’t be bugging me but nope, Can’t do that, it’s part of the OS.

    Who’s the stupid #@$# that thought this was a good idea.

    NOTHING stops Photos from launching. If anyone know any scripting to auto-quit Photos any time it’s launched, now’s your chance at fame!!!

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