How To Make iPhoto or Picasa Recognize your Camera Again

In Apple, Fix It, Gadgets, General, Hardware, How To, Software by Michael Sheehan20 Comments

Recently, I tried to download some photos from a small, older and somewhat, war-scarred point & shoot digital cameral (HP Photosmart M632) which I carry around in my backpack wherever I go. I had taken some photos and video at a tradeshow and wanted to work on a blog post for it. Unfortunately, when I plugged in my camera, absolutely nothing happened.

The camera thought that it was connected, in fact, it did launch iPhoto (as that is what I have iPhoto configured to do) but iPhoto simply did not see it. I tried launching Picasa and it wouldn’t see the camera either. So I started down the path of trying to find a solution. Do note, I recently upgraded my Mac Operating System to Snow Leopard.

During this process of troubleshooting the camera connection, I have found 3 solutions (thus far) that may work for you. If one doesn’t work, try the next. Please let me know which solution you end up with!

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Solution #1 – Change your Camera USB Connection Type to “Hard Drive” mode

I had my camera set to be recognized as a camera and not as a USB-hard drive. Since this only recently happened, I thought that perhaps the issue was caused by some nuance in my upgrade to Snow Leopard. So, I changed the USB Connect from “Digital Camera” to “Disk Drive” on the Camera and it was instantly recognized within iPhoto, Picasa and Image Capture, as well as appeared as a drive on my desktop. There are other ways this may show up within your camera like “PTP” or “PictBridge”, for example.

Note that Image Capture might recognize the camera in PTP mode. If it does, you might want to try Solution #3 below. Image Capture definitely will recognize your camera in “hard drive” mode.

Solution #2 – Force iPhoto to Open when you have a Camera Connected

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Within the preferences of iPhoto, you can specify what steps your system will take when a camera is connected. The options I have are:

  • Connecting camera opens:
    • Cameras – a 3rd Party app (note: currently 32-bit preference pane)
    • Blank separator
    • iPhoto
    • Image capture
    • No application


Note this might not work when the camera is set to PTP mode. If it doesn’t work, try Solution #3 below.

Solution #3 – Tell iPhoto to Open Image Capture Then Import into iPhoto (or Picasa)

If you still want to leave your camera in “Digital Camera” mode (PTP), you can use the following workaround:

  1. Eject your camera to make sure that it is not connected.
  2. Open iPhoto Preferences and select “Connecting Camera opens: Image Capture”.
  3. Connect your camera again and iPhoto will open Image Capture automatically. If it does not, manually open Image Capture. If your camera shows up, select it on the left and go to the bottom and select “Image Capture” from the “Connecting this camera opens:” selection box.


  4. From the list of photos within Image Capture, select the photos that you want to import. At the bottom of the screen, there is a selection box that says: “Import To:”, just select “iPhoto” from that list and click the Import button.
  5. After a few seconds, iPhoto will launch and you can import your photos.

You could easily select “Other…” and choose a different application like Picasa which seems to work ok.


It seems to me that some underlying code has changed with the upgrade to either iPhoto ’09 (version 8.1) or within Snow Leopard itself. I would expect Apple to issue some sort of a patch or update to enable the recognizing of cameras in the PTP/PictBridge mode again. In the meantime, be sure to try the solutions listed above as workarounds.

Have you solved it a different way or did one of the solutions above work? If you were successful with these or other solutions, please leave a comment to this post.

Did you find this solution useful? If so: [paypal-donation reference=”recognize camera”]

HTD says: USB connected devices normally work pretty well on Macs, but once and a while, you have to overcome some hurdles to make things work properly after a system or software update.