Having your computer not recognize a USB device that you just plugged in is annoying. Instead of continuing to do your tasks, you have to troubleshoot the issue first and see if you can fix it yourself. The only thing worse is when that happens to your smartphone. 

If your computer doesn’t recognize your phone when you try plugging in a USB cable from it to your Android or iPhone, try one of the eight tips listed below to fix it. 

Table of Contents

    1. Restart Your Computer & Phone

    No matter which devices you’re using, whether it’s an Android or iPhone, Mac or Windows, start with the obvious. Try restarting your devices. This simple step solves many problems and can help with your connectivity issues. 

    2. Use a Different USB Port And Cable 

    One of the things that may cause connectivity problems between your computer and phone could be a faulty USB port or cable. If one of those things is damaged, your computer won’t connect and recognize your device.

    If your computer has multiple USB ports, try using another one and see if it works. If you have access to a different USB cable, try using that with a different USB port. 

    3. Change the USB Connection Mode (Android)

    When you connect your Android smartphone to your computer, it offers several connectivity modes, depending on the connection purpose. If your phone’s connected to your computer in the wrong mode, it could cause your computer not to recognize it. 

    To change the USB connection mode on your Android phone, follow the steps below. Depending on the model of your phone, the exact names of the steps might be different. 

    1. Connect your Android smartphone to your computer.
    2. On your smartphone, open the notification bar by pulling it down.
    1. Find the Android system notification that displays the current USB connection mode. 
    2. Select the notification to open your phone’s USB Preferences.
    1. Select File Transfer or Transfer files

    After you change the USB connection mode to File Transfer, you should be able to see your phone in Finder (Mac) or File Explorer (Windows). You can now proceed with your tasks.

    4. Check the Trust This Computer Alert (iPhone)

    When you first connect your iPhone to your computer, you’ll see the Trust This Computer alert on your phone. Make sure to select Trust when you get the notification. Otherwise, your iPhone won’t connect to your computer. 

    If you have previously selected Don’t Trust, you’ll need to reset your iPhone’s Location & Privacy settings. To do that, follow the steps below.

    1. Open your iPhone’s Settings.
    1. Select General.
    2. Select Reset.
    1. Select Reset Location & Privacy.

    After you’ve reset your settings, connect your iPhone to your computer again and select to Trust this computer. 

    5. Update the MTP Drivers on Your Computer (Windows)

    If you’re facing connectivity problems with your smartphone (Android or iPhone) and your Windows computer, your MTP drivers might be causing them. MTP (media transfer protocol) drivers allow you to connect your phone to your computer and use it as a media device. 

    Most computers have the MTP drivers installed already, but they might be outdated and causing your connectivity problems. To update your MTP drivers manually, follow the steps below.

    1. Connect your phone to your PC.
    2. Right-click the Start button and open the Device Manager
    3. Under Other Devices, find Unknown device and right-click it. Then select Update Driver Software
    1. From the location box, select Let me pick from a list of device drivers from my computer
    1. Find your phone in the list of devices and select it. 
    1. From the list of devices, select MTP USB Device and select Next to confirm. 

    After the drivers are upgraded to the latest version, you should see your Android phone in File Manager. 

     6. Update Your macOS & iTunes (Mac)

    If you’re having issues when trying to connect your phone to a Mac, check if you have the latest operating system version installed. The outdated macOS version might be causing connection problems between your phone and computer. To check if there’s an update available, go to Mac menu > About This Mac > Software Update

    After you confirm that you have updated your OS, check if you’re using the latest version of iTunes as well, since there could be a bug in an old version causing the connectivity issues. 

    7. Use Android File Transfer Utility (Android + Mac)

    Connecting your Android to Mac and transferring files to your computer is a little more difficult than the same process with Android & Windows. A special utility called Android File Transfer allows for a smooth connection between your Mac and Android smartphone.

    You can find the Android File Transfer on the official Android website. Download and install the utility, then try plugging your phone into your Mac again. You should now be able to use your Android device on Mac. 

    8. Enable USB Debugging (Android)

    If you’re still facing a problem with your computer not seeing your Android phone after trying different methods, you can try enabling USB debugging as your last resort. 

    The Android USB debugging mode is a part of the Developer Options menu. It’s an advanced feature designed for app developers to make sure their apps work correctly and diagnose problems when they appear. Make sure to study all pros and cons before activating it.

    To enable USB debugging on your smartphone, follow the steps below.

    1. Open the Settings on your Android smartphone.
    2. Scroll down until you see About phone.
    1. Keep selecting Build number until the developer mode is activated.
    1. Go back to Settings and select Developer options
    1. Select USB debugging

    The next time you connect your phone to your computer, you should be able to see it on the list of devices. 

    What If None of These Methods Work?

    If you feel like you’ve tried everything, but your computer still doesn’t recognize your phone, consider hard resetting your phone back to its factory settings. It might fix whatever is causing the connectivity problem. However, it’ll also wipe all your data. Keep that in mind, and make sure to backup all of your important files and information before resetting your smartphone.

    Have you ever come across similar issues? What helped you fix your computer not recognizing your phone? Share your experience fixing the connection between your phone and computer with us in the comments section below.