Best Way to Fix ‘iTunes Cannot Read the Contents of the iPhone’


By Jack Lin

Update on

iTunes Cannot Read the Contents of the iPhone
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Every once in a while, we’re reminded about the importance of backing up our iPhones. Most of us disregard these reminders, even though taking a short amount of time to take the backup has a lot of benefits.

On the other hand, plenty of people welcome those reminders and regularly back up their iPhone data. If you fall into the latter group, then iTunes cannot read the contents of the iPhone is certainly frustrating.

To Clarify: this can occur for anyone who syncs their iPhone or iOS device, not just regulars. However, it is more upsetting for users who frequently take backups only to see this error randomly start appearing.

Right off the bat, it’s crucial that you don’t click “OK” if a factory reset notification appears. Doing this will wipe all of your personal data instantly. Fortunately, there are solutions you can try before giving up hope!

Reasons for “iTunes Cannot Read the Contents of the iPhone”

Why does this problem happen? Usually, we can list a bunch of reasons for iOS errors, but in this case, we simply don’t know yet.

That said, we can take a few generic reasons and apply the most logical to this situation where iTunes isn’t able to read iPhone data.

For example, it could be because the lightning cable is faulty, the device’s port or PC’s USB port is damaged, iTunes has a bug that interferes with the connection, or your iPhone’s data could be corrupt.

Above all of the other reasons, it’s been found that iTunes cannot read the contents of the iPhone is more common among jailbroken devices.

Therefore, it’s safe to assume that reversing the jailbreak will repair the issue if your iPhone is jailbroken.

Best Solution to Fix iTunes – Tenorshare UltData

Rather than vigorously testing a list of fixes that may not work, the best thing you can do is use an iTunes alternative such as Tenorshare UltData.

As well as avoiding this iTunes problem, you’ll never encounter it again.

  • Take backups of all iPhone data or selectively
  • Restore iPhone backups from iTunes and iCloud
  • Extract specific data from your backups without restoring them
  • Compatible with recent iOS versions (iOS 16) and iPhone models
  • It is free to use Tenorshare UltData’s backup features
  • Restores data to iOS devices without overwriting existing data

Even though you’ll need to buy a plan to use Tenorshare UltData long-term, it’s perfect for replacing iTunes and any consistent errors you experience.

One of its best abilities is to back up and restore data selectively.

Instead of backing up a lot of unnecessary data or restoring an entire backup, you can save time by selecting specific data types to handle.

How to Restore Partial Backup with Tenorshare UltData?

So, if you decide that Tenorshare UltData is exactly what you’re looking for, it’s time to learn how to use the software.

In this first example, we’ll explain what steps need to be taken to restore app data for a specific application without restoring a whole backup.

  • #1 – Download and install Tenorshare UltData on the computer, then launch it to begin.
  • #2 – Connect your iPhone to the computer with a lightning cable.
  • #3 – Click “Recover Data from iOS Devices.”
Tenorshare UltData
  • #4 – When UltData detects your iPhone or iPad, you will see all data as below. Please tap the data you wish to scan & recover, or you can just select all; after that, please click on the “Scan” button to continue.
Tenorshare UltData
  • #5 – This step will show all scanned files by category. Please choose “Show All” or “Show only Deleted” to recover the data you want.
Tenorshare UltData
  • #6 – Please check the files you want and tap the “Recover to PC” button to proceed.
Tenorshare UltData

How to Export App Data from iTunes Backup?

Another thing you can do if iTunes cannot read the contents of the iPhone is export data.

This can be done by either extracting the data from your iPhone or an iTunes backup.

The latter takes data from an existing backup and stores a copy on your computer.

  • #1 – First of all, open Tenorshare UltData and click the “Recover Data from iTunes Backup” feature on the left sidebar menu.
Tenorshare UltData
  • #2 – The list of your iTunes backups will be displayed, and you can choose the one you want to export data from before clicking “Next.”
Tenorshare UltData
  • #3 – All the data types you can export will be shown on the next page. Once you check the box of any type you want to export, click “Scan” to proceed.
Tenorshare UltData
  • #4 – Tenorshare UltData will retrieve and scan everything in the backup you chose, and once this process finishes, you can see the backup data.
  • #5 – Navigate through each data type and select any files you want to export.
  • #6 – After selecting the data, click “Recover to PC” and choose a folder to save the exported data.
Tenorshare UltData

Both ways are effective and perfectly demonstrate how great of a program Tenorshare UltData is and why you should use it instead of iTunes.

Also read: Your iTunes account has been disabled in App Store and iTunes.

Alternative Fixes for “iTunes Can’t Read iPhone Contents”

Meanwhile, some people are adamant about using iTunes even if they keep running into problems with it.

This is understandable because using the manufacturers’ own software is reassuring, and that’s completely fine.

So, try these fixes if iTunes cannot read the contents of the iPhone and Tenorshare UltData doesn’t appeal to you.

1. Install iTunes Again

Any sort of iTunes error that happens more than once is disruptive, and reinstalling the program could help.

Just uninstall iTunes by going to the “Add or remove programs” Windows menu, download the installation file from Apple’s website, and install it again.

Doing this deletes all of iTunes’ program files, so it’ll be repaired after reinstalling if there’s a corrupt or damaged file.

Reinstall iTunes to Fix iTunes Cannot Read iPhone Contents

However, if you do this, there’s a chance that it will delete your iTunes backups too.

2. Delete Something from iPhone

When we connect an iOS device to iTunes, it stores various information in a database.

If this database is corrupt, problems start appearing, and iTunes can’t read the device’s data.

To force iTunes to rescan the database and repair errors, it helps to delete data from your iPhone.

You must delete a song or an app, then reconnect the device to iTunes.

After the initial sync, you should be clear if this fixes the content reading error.

3. Factory Resetting the iPhone

Still noticing that iTunes cannot read the contents of the iPhone?

Only a few remaining things can be the source of the error; factory resetting is the best approach at this point.

If possible, make an iCloud backup before you do this.

  • #1 – Unlock your iPhone and open the “Settings” app.
  • #2 – Open the “General” menu and swipe down to “Reset.”
  • #3 – Tap on “Erase All Content and Settings” and enter your passcode.
  • #4 – After confirming the factory reset, it will wipe all the device data.
  • #5 – Once your iPhone resets, set it up normally and restore the iCloud backup you took.
Factory Reset iPhone to Fix iTunes Cannot Read iPhone Contents

Factory resetting deletes all of the device’s personal data and system files (and junk files left behind by previous iOS updates).

Also read: How to fix the ‘Untrusted Enterprise Developer’ issue with ease.


  1. Why does iTunes show the error message “Cannot read the contents of the iPhone”? This error message appears when there is a communication breakdown between iTunes and your iPhone. It can occur due to outdated iTunes or iOS versions, corrupted iTunes library, or connection issues.
  2. How can I update iTunes to the latest version? To update iTunes, launch the software and go to the “Help” menu. From there, select “Check for Updates” and follow the prompts to install the latest version available.
  3. What should I do if restarting the iPhone and computer doesn’t fix the issue? If restarting doesn’t resolve the problem, you can try updating iTunes and iOS, checking for iTunes library corruption, verifying the connection, or exploring advanced solutions mentioned in this article.
  4. Will reinstalling iTunes delete my iPhone data? Reinstalling iTunes on your computer will not delete any data from your iPhone. However, it’s always recommended to have a backup of your data before performing any major software changes.
  5. Are there any alternative software options to iTunes? Yes, several third-party software options specialize in iPhone data management and synchronization. Do some research and choose a tool that suits your needs and supports your specific iPhone model and iOS version.


By following the solutions above, you have a good chance of working around iTunes cannot read the contents of the iPhone.

If you decide to try the basic solutions, then hopefully, the issue will be resolves, but the quickest and most effective results come from switching to Tenorshare UltData instead.

This iTunes alternative rarely causes problems as iTunes does, and several features make it better than iTunes.

In short, iTunes errors aren’t always easy to fix, and considering many factors that can contribute to them, using an alternative is ideal.


10 years of experience in information and computer technology. Passionate about electronic devices, smartphones, computers, and modern technology.