It's frustrating when everytime you plug your iPhone in to your Mac (usually just to charge it) a load of apps open up on your computer. Luckily it’s pretty easy to stop Photos or iTunes opening when you attach your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or iPod via USB.

Stop Photos opening when you plug in your iPhone or iPad

When Photos automatically opens, ensure the sidebar is visible (click View > Show Sidebar) then select your device in the list under the Import heading (although you may find it’s already selected). Then remove the check in the box marked Open Photos, located at the top left. If you’ve multiple iOS devices then you’ll need to attach each via USB, and repeat this step for each.

Simple as that!

Stopping Photos from opening when you attach your iOS device is as simple as checking a box

Stop iTunes opening when you plug in your iPhone or iPad

To stop iTunes opening, start the app (there’s no need to first attach your device) and then open its Preferences dialog box (Cmd+comma). Click the Devices icon and then put a check in the box marked Prevent iPods, iPhones, and iPads From Syncing Automatically. 

Alternatively, if you want to stop just one of your iOS devices from opening iTunes, but keep letting your others do so, then attach the device in question so that iTunes opens, then select it in the devices list. Select Summary in the list at the left, and then remove the check from the box headed Automatically Sync When This X is Connected – with X being iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or iPod. 

In one fell swoop you can stop iTunes opening for ALL of your iOS devices! 

Choosing which app starts when you plug in your iPad or iPhone

Perhaps there is an app you'd like to open instead when you plug in your iPhone - for example Image Capture, which is great if all you want to do is grab a photo or video quickly. Luckily, you can make any app start when you attach your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. To configure which, attach the device via its USB cable and then open Image Capture, which you’ll find in the Applications list of Finder. (You want to open Image Capture even if it's not the app you want to automatically open)

Click the small triangle in the bottom left corner, then select your device under the list at the top left of the window. Back at the bottom left of the window, choose from the dropdown list beneath the heading Connecting This X Opens, where X is iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. 

Notably, the Image Capture app itself is a good choice because it simply lets you copy off photos to a hard disk destination of your choice, without getting involved with Photos or iCloud. 

However, if none of the default choices takes your fancy, click the Other entry in the list and then browse through your Applications list to find an app.

The venerable Image Capture app lets you control what happens when you insert your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch

Read next:

Live Photo tips: Everything you need to know

Tips for using Photos for Mac

How to use iCloud Photo sharing and iCloud Photo Library

9 hidden iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus tips

How to get the photos off of your iPhone and on to your Mac

How to fix a broken iPhone Home button