Connecting a Lumia 920 or other WP8 device to a Mac/Linux/iPad

So the folks over at Nokia Connects have sent me Lumia 920 to have a play with. This isn’t a review, that’s not what I do here (it’s a good phone though, I’m liking it). If you’re interested in my opinions, follow me on twitter @the_accidental. Anyhow, I head @whatleydude ranting on The Voicemail (go subscribe – it’s full of ace) about the problems getting media off the 920 to a Mac.  There’s the official Windows Phone app of course, which kinda works, but isn’t that great. But you have other options too, some of which will work on Linux too. Be sure to read till the end, I just sussed out how to mount the 920 as a drive on my mac…


MTP. Media Transfer Protocol – it’s how a WP8 device presents itself to a computer. So any software that can talk to an MTP device should in theory be able to talk to the Lumia. Sadly, not all are up to date enough, or there’s some other incompatibility. But some do work, and I’ve been doing some investigating. First, what should work but doesn’t:

Not working…yet

  • LibMTP – on my Mac at least doesn’t pick up the 920, but no reason it shouldn’t’, I think it just needs a couple of tweaks to a header file and a recompile (get in touch if you want more info, but if you do you can probably sus it yourself). A shame as several apps depend on it.
  • MTP-Fuse – cos of the above. However, if this was working that’d rock – your Lumia would just show up like any other disk drive on OSX or Linux. I could probably make this work, but truthfully I don’t have the time to spend on a phone I only have temporarily.
  • Aperture / Image Capture / iPhoto – i.e. the default ways of getting images on a Mac, a shame. Maybe in the next camera kit update?


The good stuff, note that on a mac you need to kill the “PTPCamera” process after connecting and unlocking your Lumia before something else can attach to it:

  • An iPad via a camera connection kit. This works great! Except….you need a powered USB hub. The 920 tries to draw power to charge, the iPad can’t supply it, and where the N8 would reconnect not drawing power the Lumia doesn’t. So unless you can supply power too, no dice.
  • The Dropbox app will pull in the photos, as it speaks MTP.
  • lib-Gphoto2, Mac and Linux. On a mac, easiest way to get it is via Macports – “sudo install gphoto2” and you’re good to go! Then you can either transfer photos via the command-line as below, or you can use an app based on it, like GtKam.

@Whatleydude @jamesburland just pulled some files off the 920... on Twitpic

  • And here’s the best for last, just checked, and gphotofs works :-) So you can mount the lumia as a drive. On a mac, use macports to get fuse4x and pkgconfig, then you can download and compile gphotofs as normal. Then mount with “gphotofs some-directory” – still the caveat about killing the ptp monitor. And here’s some proof:
A Nokia Lumia 920 mounted as a drive in OSX

A Nokia Lumia 920 mounted as a drive in OSX

So, that’s a bit of a fiddle. But it works, there’s your proof of concept. It’s for someone else with incentive (i.e. actually owns a Lumia) to package this up neatly!


14 Responses to “Connecting a Lumia 920 or other WP8 device to a Mac/Linux/iPad”

  1. Great post! I have done everything as suggested and Gphoto sees the Lumia 920 and the contents off the phone via Terminal.

    But, I can’t think how to mount the Lumia as a drive. What command should I enter into Terminal?

  2. Using a mac?

    Use macports to install fuse4x, pkgconfig then download and compile/install gphotofs.

    Then make a directory to use as a mountpoint, then the command is “gphotofs that-directory-you-just-made”

    • Yep, I’m using a mac. I’ve managed to complete the first part and gphotofs is compiled/installed and recognising the phone but …

      … I’m a bit clueless on how to make a directory to use as a mountpoint. Sorry if I’m being a bit thick :-)

  3. Oh literally just “mkdir somename”, or use the finder, it doesn’t matter.

  4. Thanks … although I’m still scratching my head. I used mkdir to create a folder called “camera”.

    “gphotofs camera” yielded “The Fuse4x failed to mount path” with Terminal reporting that the operation wasn’t permitted so I used “sudo gphotofs camera” instead. Didn’t seem to cause any issues except the phone still doesn’t mount …

    “gphoto2 –auto-detect” shows me the that the Lumia is connected at usb:253,005


    • Ah it can be there but something else using it? Have you killed the PTP camera process? And does photo copy/list files from it ok?

      Does “gphoto2 –summary” work?

      • Yes, I killed the PTP camera process, copy & list work and so does “gphoto2 -summary”. Baffled – will get there in the end though!

      • In the end I came to the conclusion that it must have been a permissions based problem so I reinstalled everything (started all over again).

        Good news is that it’s now working so thank you again for the original post and your helpful replies.

        I realise that it’s a sledgehammer to crack a nut but as a workaround for now, well worth the trouble….

        Happy New Year

  5. So how much have you experimented with this?

    My own testing with gphoto2, both on the command line and via Nautilus, shows only partial success: For all folders in the phone, I can download files from the phone to my PC, and delete the files fine. However, for Music, Photos & Videos, I cannot upload files successfully – whilst the files are visible in gphoto2, they are not visible on the phone. Files uploaded to Ringtones or Documents work fine on the phone without tinkering.

  6. Would it be possible to make a “Install GphotoFS for dummies”?
    I managed to install XCode, Commandline, Fuse4x (FUSEOSX).

    But PKGConfig?
    And what to do afterwards?
    I really hope that you could use 5 minutes to just make a step-by-step guide to the Terminal bits

  7. Bruce Says:

    Is there any chance someone could package this up neatly if nots too much trouble? I feel boxed in. Any phone made after 2010 (being generous) should mount as a drive. Why is there always some rookie user design flaw; like not being able to mount as a drive, the inability to select all, or limiting my color options to 20 of which 60% are undesirable.

  8. Hi. I was able to mount my Lumia 920 on my Mac OS X. I can see all my pictures in terminal/console. However, when I use Finder, nothing happens when I click on the folder called “Fuse4x volume 0(gphotofs)”. What am I missing? I’ll try to restart my machine later.

  9. I am at a loss- I have done as you explained. Installed fuse4x, gphoto2, and compiled and installed gphotofs. It SEEMS to work, as gphotofs does not throw an error. But when I cd into the mount point, I get “device not configured”, and Finder (I’m on OS X Mavericks) shows the device as having no free space and 0 byte size.
    I CAN browse the Lumia 920 with gphoto2, and within the shell mode, I can see the dir structure and get files down, but I can’t put files, getting a segmentation fault. Umount works. Huh? Something tells me I’m close, but I just don’t see it. Anybody with some input?
    Oh, btw, is it normal that on the root of the Lumia Filesystem, there’s a folder named store_00010001/ where the rest (Documents, Music, etc) resides in?

    • I have mavericks, but but no longer have a 920 (it was just a loaner from nokia). So sorry I can’t help you out with it. I’ll tweet and see if anyone knows…

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