iPad Tip: A Fix for When Photos Won’t Save to the Camera Roll

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I had been running my iPad 2 jailbroken for a few weeks, and recently restored it back to stock. Sometime during its jailbroken period, it lost the ability to save photos and images to the Camera Roll.

I honestly have no great thoughts on what caused the issue – it started around the time of my troubles with the iUSers jailbreak app but that may be unrelated. In any case, one fine day I could no longer save an image from Safari, or Photo Transfer app, or any other app, to the Camera Roll.

Though I worked around the problem for a while, it became increasingly frustrating, and often slowed me down when working on posts and reviews. When I did my recent restore I thought that would be the end of the issue, but alas it persisted even after a full restore.

My web searching for solutions to this issue yielded nothing useful. Over this weekend I got fed up with the problem and started racking my brain for possible fixes. I had a vague recollection of similar issues in the past with the iPhone – and of a fix involving the folder where Camera Roll images are stored. After a while I thought I remembered that folder being called /DCIM/ something?

A little web searching gave me the reminder I was looking for – the folder that stores Camera Roll images is at:

/private/var/mobile/Media/DCIM/100Apple

Normally when troubleshooting an issue that involves a specific file or folder, it’s good practice to rename the file or folder in question. In this case though, since my iPad 2 is no longer jailbroken, there’s no easy, quick way to do that – so I took a more drastic approach. I used the iPhone Explorer app to view the (partial) file system on the iPad 2, found the /DCIM/100Apple folder, and deleted it.

My vague memories of the same issue on the iPhone were that renaming or deleting that folder would cause iOS to recreate it and the newly created folder should cure the issue. And it did.

As soon as I deleted the folder, I was once again to save images to the iPad’s Camera Roll. From Safari, from Photo Transfer app, from wallpaper apps, and so on.

The only noticeable side effect from having deleted the folder is that images that were there prior to the deletion are now blurred and not usable. There were only a few and any that I needed had already been synced and backed up – so this is no big deal and I’ll delete those images when I have a chance.

So, here are the steps I took to fix this:

– Did a full backup and sync to iTunes before starting.

– Used the iPhone Explorer app to find this folder and remove it: /Media/DCIM/100Apple. Even on a non-jailbroken iPad (which does not expose the whole file system) you’ll be able to see that path.

That’s it. This solution has worked well for me. Please note that you should always do a backup and sync and feel comfortable in your ability to restore and re-sync your apps and data before trying something like this. If you’re comfortable with that this is a likely easy fix for a very frustrating issue.

Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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17 thoughts on “iPad Tip: A Fix for When Photos Won’t Save to the Camera Roll

  1. Sounds like a permissions issue, like it was owned by the wrong user or not writable. Not sure if you can see the permissions using iPhone Explorer though.

    • Maybe so. Even if it did let me work with permissions once I recalled that I was pretty sure the folder recreates itself when renamed that seemed the quickest / easiest fix to me. Although in this case I had to delete rather than rename, which is obviously not best practice.

  2. Thanks for coming to my rescue, carried out the jailbreak myself today on my iPhone 4s and then realised I had no pictures. Could not find no info on it except on here and it worked an absolute treat!

    thanks!

    • Any luck? I’ve got the same problem on iOS 5.1.1, did the above steps, and still won’t save pictures to my camera roll. When I take a picture with the native camera app, it’ll appear in the bottom left box in the app like it’s on iPhone. Any suggestions?

  3. Thank you SO much for posting this! I noticed the other day, when I was trying to take some pictures and videos, that I could do neither. I have searched and searched online for a solution to this problem. I even did a “Restore” today and then “Restore from a backup” and that didn’t fix the problem. But then I tried this and it worked like a charm! Thanks very much!

  4. you are nothing but a liar! You have no idea what you are even talking about!! My ipad lost the ability to save photos months ago and not a thing I do will fix it including a restore or iexplorer. Do you know how frustrating it is not to be able to share photos on facebook or anything because someone else jailbroke your device without your concent! You shouldn’t post so called fixes until you know what you’re talking about.
    Hay, everyone, this person is a liar. Don’t listen to them.

  5. New Apple guy here, i know, boo…. But I’ve been trucking right along & getting to know this thing pretty well until I stumbled upon the fact that suddenly my pics aren’t in the camera roll after I save them anymore? They were going there before. Even after reading the posts on this topic I’m still wondering,…is my iPad jacked or something? Does it have the clap now or some shoot? Any chance it will fix itself the next time I’m prompted to upgrade the OS? I think I installed that 5.1.1 deal that others on here are talking about? I really don’t know what I’m doing so I was a bit naive & just followed the prompt?! This sucks!