The Complete Guide to Using the iTunes Store | iLounge Article


The Complete Guide to Using the iTunes Store

Click Below to Read the Rest of This Article:  

The App Store

The iTunes Store also provides the gateway to the App Store where you can purchase applications for your iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. The App Store is in some ways a separate section from the traditional iTunes Store, but within the iTunes application itself, it works in much the same way.


Browsing for and purchasing apps works as it does in any other section on the iTunes Store. Previews are not specifically available, although the detail pages for a given application will show a set of screenshots for that app which you can scroll through.


Apps are also updated from time to time, and iTunes will notify you when updates for your applications are available by displaying a number beside the “Apps” category in the iTunes source list. Updates are always provided free of charge at this point, and replace the older version in your iTunes library automatically.

The iTunes App Store also lists the top in-app purchases for a given application on that app’s detail page. This can give you an idea of what other expansion options are available for the app after you’ve purchased it, and what you can expect these to cost.


Gifting Specific Items

In addition to gift cards and gift certificates described earlier, it is also possible to give a specific iTunes Store item as a gift. To do this, simply choose the “Gift Item” option from the drop-down menu beside the Buy button. A screen will be shown where you can enter information for the gift such as the recipient’s name, e-mail address and a personal message, and choose to either send out your gift via email or print it out yourself. The recipient receives a gift code that works in a manner similar to a gift certificate, except that it is used by the recipient to download the specific gifted item, rather than being applied as a balance to their account.


The recipient will need to set up an iTunes Store account if they do not already have one, and as with gift certificates, their iTunes Store account must be in the same country where the gift was purchased. The gifted item will be downloaded from the iTunes Store like any other purchase. If the item is DRM-protected, then it will be associated with the account of the recipient.

Reviews and Ratings

The iTunes Store allows you to post your thoughts on items in the form of reviews, and read the reviews for any item that have been written by other iTunes Store users. Reviews are normally found on the main iTunes Store page for a given item. Note that individual music tracks and TV Show, podcast or iTunes U episodes cannot be reviewed directly; reviews are instead associated with an entire album, season, podcast or iTunes U collection. Further, since apps can be updated from time to time, reviews of applications are organized based on the version of the application.

Each user can provide a paragraph or two of thoughts on the item as well as a rating from one to five stars. When viewing other customer reviews, you can choose to sort by Most Helpful, as judged by other iTunes Store users, Most Favorable, Most Critical, or Most Recent. Links are also provided on each review to report a concern with the review or indicate whether or not you found the review helpful. A note below each review indicates how many viewers considered the review helpful—note however that the total number shown here is not the number of people who have read the review, but merely the number who have responded either Yes or No to the Was the review helpful? question.


You can write your own review of an item simply by clicking the Write a Review link that appears above the other reviews. You’ll be given an option to enter a rating, title, and some text for your review. If you’ve already posted a review of the item previously, then your existing review is displayed for you to edit—you cannot add more than one review to a given item.


Note that reviews are moderated by the iTunes Store staff before they actually appear on the iTunes Store. Further, some items such as Apps require that you have actually purchased the item before you can write a review.

iTunes also allows you to rate items without actually having to write a review. A summary of ratings for an item will be shown in the left-hand side of the iTunes Store page for an item, showing the average overall rating as well as the number of users for each rating.


You can add your own rating simply by hovering over the stars beside Rate This and clicking on your preferred rating.


Ratings for applications are displayed a bit differently, below the application screen shots and organized into ratings for the current version and an average rating for all prior versions of an app. Note that like reviews, application ratings are based on the current version, and therefore reset each time a new version is released. Note that you must have actually purchased the app in order to rate it.


Sharing Links to Items

In addition to being able to send links to item to your friends via e-mail, you can now also share them on Twitter and Facebook. To share a link in this manner, simply choose either Share on Twitter or Share on Facebook from the “Buy” drop-down menu for an item. A web page will be opened up to the appropriate service with a link to the item filled in.


Browsing the iTunes Store

If you’d prefer to just browse through content listings directly rather than navigating through all of the web-style content pages, you can access the iTunes Store Browser view by selecting View, Column Browser, Show Column Browser from the iTunes menu, or selecting Browse from the Quick Links menu in the iTunes Store itself. You will be shown the same familiar three-column browser view used to navigate through your own library.


The first column will allow you to select the media type you’d like to browse through, with the additional columns changing to display information appropriate to the selected media type.


You can preview items from here by double-clicking on them, view additional information such as the description, or purchase the item with the purchasing buttons. You can even add and remove columns from this view in the same manner as you would in your own iTunes library to display the specific information you would like to see.

Note that some content such as Movies and TV Shows that are available in more than one format (ie, HD, SD, purchase or rental) will provide a “View” button instead of a “Buy” button. The “View” button takes you to the main iTunes Store page for that particular item so you can see the various purchase formats that are available.

Searching the iTunes Store

With over 15 million items on the iTunes Store, it’s not practical to simply browse through the iTunes Store collection if you’re looking for an individual item. Fortunately, iTunes provides a reasonably powerful search feature to help you find specific tracks or videos.

The simplest and quickest search is the one built right into iTunes itself—the Search box in the top-right corner of the iTunes window. Although this same field is normally used to search your own iTunes library, when you’re in the iTunes Store, any text you enter in here is searched for on the iTunes Store instead. Essentially, this field searches through whatever you’re currently looking at in your iTunes window. Simply type something in here and hit the Enter key and a list of matching search results will be displayed across all categories. From this results screen, you can filter by media type or simply scroll down through the window to view, preview or purchase any of the displayed content. The results screen works in the same manner as any other iTunes Store screen, with previews available by hovering over individual items, and expanded pop-up track listings that can be accessed by hovering over an album or TV show name and clicking the info icon. Only a small sampling of items is shown for each media type; a See All button is shown to display all of the found content available within that category.


An advanced search option can also be accessed by selecting Power Search on the iTunes Store menu, or selecting the Power Search option from the normal search results screen. You’ll be shown a basic search screen to search through all items on the store by either title or artist.


The basic search options are pretty generic, but if you choose a specific type of content, additional type-specific search options are shown. For example, in the case of movies, you can limit your search to only movies that are available for rental, or only movies that include closed captioning.


Working with Season Passes and iTunes Passes

As noted earlier, some of the content from the iTunes Store is available as a sort of subscription known as a “Season Pass” or “iTunes Pass.” This is most often used for TV Shows that are currently airing, but is also occasionally used to offer music content from specific artists. The idea behind a Season Pass or iTunes Pass is that you essentially pre-purchase the content before its actually released, and then iTunes downloads the new content automatically as it comes out. This is particularly useful for TV Shows that you’re interested in following, as it saves you the trouble of having to remember to check back each week and download the latest individual episode. Further, the price of the Season Pass is usually slightly lower than the combined price of the individual episodes.

To ensure that iTunes automatically downloads new content as it becomes available, you need to make sure that you have enabled the option to Automatically download prepurchased content from your iTunes preferences under the Store tab. Note that this doesn’t necessarily ensure that iTunes will download new content immediately after it becomes available, but it will check for new content whenever you start iTunes up, sign on to your iTunes Store account, or whenever you happen to be downloading other new content from the iTunes Store. If you’re using the same iTunes Store account on more than one computer, you may want to disable this option on secondary computers to ensure that all of your season pass content gets downloaded only to one location, rather than scattered across several iTunes libraries. Note that pre-purchased content also includes pre-ordered albums and movies in addition to Season Passes and iTunes Passes.


By default, you also receive e-mail notifications for your Season Passes as new episodes become available. These notifications include a link that will tell iTunes to download the new content, or instructions on how to do so manually in iTunes.


You can view and manage notifications for your Season Passes by choosing the Manage Passes button from your iTunes Store Account Information Screen. A list of all of your current and expired passes will be shown. Current passes will display an option to enable or disable e-mail notifications for those passes, while completed passes will show their completion date—the date the last episode in the pass was delivered.


Using the iTunes Store Wish List

With the release of iTunes 9, Apple introduced a new “Wish List” feature to allow you to keep track of items that you may want to purchase later. This somewhat replaces the “Shopping Cart” found in previous versions of iTunes, although it doesn’t offer exactly the same functionality. On the positive side, your wish list is stored with your iTunes Store account, so it can be accessed from any of your computers running iTunes. What many fans of the Shopping Cart will find disappointing, however, is that there is no ability to automatically add items to your Wish List instead of purchasing them outright. The Add to Wish List option is found under the Buy drop-down menu, and must therefore be specifically clicked; the Buy button is a one-click purchasing option.


You can view your Wish List either by selecting it from the Quick Links menu in the top-left corner of the main iTunes Store home page, or by choosing it from the drop-down menu under your account name. Items in your Wish List are categorized by media type, and you can purchase and preview items in the same manner as on any other iTunes Store page. To remove an item from your wish list, simply hover over it and an X will appear in the top-left corner; click on this to remove the item from your Wish List.


If you prefer you can also still create a playlist of iTunes Store items in iTunes 9 simply by switching to the Browser view as described earlier and then dragging-and-dropping tracks from the iTunes Store browser into your playlists. Within these playlists, items you’ve already purchased will show the actual tracks, while items from the iTunes Store will show a Buy button and can be previewed by double-clicking on them. This can be a very useful way to build a playlist of content for purchasing over a period of time; once all items are purchased, it will function as a normal playlist.


This works for all media types with the exception of apps, which can’t be placed into playlists anyway, even in your own library.

Viewing your Purchase History and Reporting Problems

You can view a history of all of your iTunes Store purchases from your Apple Account Information screen. This displays your most recent purchases at the top of the screen, and previous orders summarized below it. You can view the detail for any of your previous orders by clicking on the arrow to the left of the order date.


From here, you can also report a problem with any item in your order, such as an item that was corrupted or didn’t download properly. To do this, click on the Report a Problem button, and a “Report a Problem” link will appear beside each item in that particular order.


Clicking one of the “Report a Problem” links will open up a screen where you can choose the nature of your problem from a drop-down list and enter additional details about your particular problem. iTunes support representatives will contact you via e-mail to respond to your problem report.



Click Below to Read the Rest of This Article:  

« The Complete Guide to Album Tagging, Art and Playlists in iTunes

The Complete Guide to iTunes Books, Podcasts + iTunes U »

Related Stories



Here’s my problem with the iTunes Store. Say I search for “Misty.” In the past, I could manipulate the headings (such as “name,” “artist,” “album” so I could see the entire line rather than “Johnny Mathis: A 5…”). Plus, it had a “genre” heading, which I loved, because I don’t want to scroll through a thousand versions of “Misty.” Maybe i just want an alt version, and “genre” made it much easier to find. Anyway, there’s probably a way to customize this, but I haven’t found it. Any idea? Thanks

Posted by Chris Simmons on November 20, 2009 at 2:49 PM (CST)


Why Apple haven’t get rid of online distribution of this gift certificates for today?
They know the problem.
Gift cards & gift certificates duplicates each other, but the cards (which are real) - much safer than online certificates for the Apple itself.
This is just some mystery…

Posted by Ale on November 21, 2009 at 1:04 AM (CST)


“Note that you must be purchasing a free app from the App Store for this option to become available. Free downloads from other areas of iTunes still require you to set up an iTunes Store account using either a credit card or gift code.”

Hey, JDH, I don’t have a credit card set up with my iTunes account and I can download ANY content from the iTunes Store as long as it’s free, including the Music Video of the Week, etc.

Posted by iLly on November 21, 2009 at 2:07 PM (CST)


Great article Jesse!

Unless I’m mistaken the store has a default language according to country. I don’t see why I shouldn’t be able to set it to English. Have I missed something?

Posted by Alicia Bankhofer on November 21, 2009 at 6:01 PM (CST)


#1: You can get some of the desired effect in the iTunes Store in Browser mode, but unfortunately any attempts to search the iTunes Store will still return you to an in-store search page, rather than searching within the browser itself. This did work at one point after iTunes 9 was released, but I’m uncertain right now whether a later iTunes update disabled it, or if the iTunes Store itself is undergoing some changes.

#2: Gift certificates serve a very useful purpose in that they can be sent out by e-mail to the recipients. Gift cards would have to be physically purchased and mailed. The security of the gift certificates is enforced by requiring that you actually have a valid iTunes Store account to purchase one in the first place.

#3: To clarify, you cannot SET UP an iTunes Store account without a credit card or gift code unless you’re doing it by purchasing an app. In other words, if you start by trying to download a free song, the iTunes Store account setup process will require that you provide a credit card or gift code before you can set up an account. If you’re trying to download a free app, the “None” option becomes available during the setup process.  Why on earth Apple makes that distinction is beyond me, but it’s obviously quite deliberate on their part, as even the Apple knowledgebase article linked to from here explains clearly that you must be in the App Store to set up an account without a payment method.

Of course, once you have an iTunes Store account set up, you can download any free item you want without requiring a payment method, and in fact you could even start with a payment method and later switch to “None” for your existing account. In other words, you can use a free app “purchase” to set up the iTunes Store account, after which you can use it anywhere.

#4: That is essentially correct, although they allow for specific language variations within multilingual countries such as Canada and Switzerland. For instance, the iTunes Store in Canada can be viewed in Canadian English or Canadian French depending upon your regional settings in iTunes (Windows) or your Mac OS X language settings for iTunes on the Mac.

A list of countries and the languages that iTunes supports for them can be found at the bottom of Apple’s knowledgebase aritcle here:

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on November 22, 2009 at 4:26 PM (CST)


I am going to give my iPod touch to a friend and will be adding an iPad. I already have 5 devices in my iTunes account and want to remove the iPod and add the iPad. How do I remove the iPod from my account?
Thanks for your help and for the great article.

Posted by Art C on July 6, 2010 at 2:17 PM (CDT)


I have a question about iTunes Gifts. If you gift someone a song or video and they never download it, are you still charged?

Just wondering.

Posted by Jake on November 15, 2010 at 7:22 PM (CST)


@Art C (#6): You don’t need to remove your device. The limit only applies to computers and not iPods, iPhones or iPads. You can have an unlimited number of these devices associated with a given iTunes account as long as they’re syncing to one of your five authorized libraries.

@Jake (#7): Yes, once you purchase a gift you are charged for it immediately—essentially as soon as the code is generated.  If the other user never downloads the item, the code just goes to waste (although you can use it yourself instead).  You might also be able to request a refund from Apple if the code hasn’t actually been used.

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on November 16, 2010 at 9:33 AM (CST)


I have changed my bank account and card number can I still redownload my old songs I accidentally deleted for free?

Posted by Amy on January 2, 2012 at 9:33 AM (CST)


Hi Jesse,

Really useful article. I have a problems I was wondering if anyone could help me with!

My sister and I have shared an account up til now, due to iCloud we would like to switch and use different accounts. If I make a new account, will all my purchases made by the old one disappear from my iTunes?


Posted by Izzy on January 11, 2012 at 5:26 AM (CST)


I live in the USA I gifted an app to a friend in Italy, he says the code to redeem the app is invalid in the USA . Why is my iTunes charging me for an app that has not been redeemed?

Posted by Peter on January 27, 2012 at 6:34 PM (CST)


I dont know how to reinstall or redownloding my games tired to solve this problem.still WAITING guys.oh my god.i follow all the instruction but still WAITING!  Actually i use iTunes from my computer to my iPad Perth sure that i follow the instruction.  Please Help me….          Thanks,

Posted by Natasha on February 18, 2012 at 11:24 AM (CST)


I have updated my Ipad 3 to ios6 and I cannot download any apps, the message says “cannot connect to Itunes store”, please help me?

Posted by Shkelqim Daci on October 11, 2012 at 12:23 PM (CDT)


When downloading apps it says I need to change it to my courtyard Canada but when I go into iTunes it is set to Canada what’s wrong with it how do I fix it

Posted by Deanna on March 29, 2013 at 9:57 AM (CDT)


Hi I found what I think is a typo.

The line “although it’s worth nothing that features like iTunes”
says “nothing” but I think it should say “noting.”

Hope this helps,

Posted by Vlad on May 30, 2013 at 10:09 AM (CDT)


@ Izzy (#10)

Hey, I had a similar issue, what I did was set up a new iCloud account from a different computer. Then on my iPad, I changed my iCloud/iMessages/FaceTime to the new account, but not that I did Not change my iTunes store information.

Keeping the iTunes store account the same is key if you want to keep your purchases, but you can change you iCloud account independently of you iTunes account by going to   Setting>iCloud>DeleteAccount.

Another thing to note though… I think you will be given the choice to keep your saved documents on your iPod, but I would strongly recommend that that you do the following two things before deletion your account:

1) *If* possible, backup your most important files (contact/documents/ whatever else you need)

2) Most important though, (even if you backed up everything), go to Pages/Keynote/Numbers if you have them, and manually turn off iCloud in each one. This can be done through   Settings>Pages>Use iCloud   and choose “keep documents on device” (it will ask when you open the app).

Posted by Vlad on May 30, 2013 at 10:32 AM (CDT)


Oh, I forgot to mention that after deleting it from your iPod, your iCloud account still exist on Apple’s server. If you care about Apple, and don’t want them to waste money keeping unused information laying around, or if you need to access some of your old files later, you can go to  any time, and access/modify many of your files from there. Just login with the account you want to access.

Though this site may not work too well for apps other then the ones Apple made like Pages and stuff, but it’s worth a try if you need it or if ya just want to be nice to Apple :).
Peace out,

Posted by Vlad on May 30, 2013 at 11:21 AM (CDT)


Nice article!  I feel like a iTunes super user now :)

Posted by McMacDaddy69 on May 30, 2013 at 12:22 PM (CDT)


Sorry for some selling mistakes, I noticed only after posting.

Posted by Vlad on May 30, 2013 at 12:40 PM (CDT)


Hi I was using apple I 5 at Dubai. Now I came for vacation to india for a month here I’m unable to use App Store it’s say change in network like. In india I’m using Indian SIM card. Now how to download apps please help me.

Posted by Sridhar on July 11, 2013 at 9:01 AM (CDT)


I could not update some software in my Iphone5 using i0s7. the store in in US and need to switch to saudi arabia. but i couldnt change.

Posted by Marciano C. Curambao on October 16, 2013 at 4:45 AM (CDT)


I can’t log in to my iTunes account on a new ipod 5th gen. We tried setting up an account on the ipod several times and it didn’t work.

Tried setting it up on the computer and that worked. Now we go back to the ipod -still getting a message “your apple id or password is incorrect”. Since it was new, we tried resetting it to factory settings. Still didn’t work. Any ideas?

Posted by diane on November 10, 2013 at 9:35 PM (CST)


Greetings of the day!

Kindly please help me with this, I am now at my home Syria, and every time I want to download or apdatd a something or a game it gives me errors (1009) what can I do?

I tried to change the country reagent but there are no Syria in the options!!!!!

Please help me and please send me the sulation to my email. I will be very thankful.


Posted by Eyad on April 29, 2014 at 2:41 AM (CDT)

If you have a comment, news tip, advertising inquiry, or coverage request, a question about iPods/iPhones/iPad or accessories, or if you sell or market iPod/iPhone/iPad products or services, read iLounge's Comments + Questions policies before posting, and fully identify yourself if you do. We will delete comments containing advertising, astroturfing, trolling, personal attacks, offensive language, or other objectionable content, then ban and/or publicly identify violators.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.
Sign up for the iLounge Weekly Newsletter


Recent News

Recent Reviews

Recent Articles

Sign up for the iLounge Weekly Newsletter


iLounge is an independent resource for all things iPod, iPhone, iPad, and beyond.
iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTunes, Apple TV, Mac, and the Apple logo are trademarks of Apple Inc.
iLounge is © 2001 - 2014 iLounge, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use | Privacy Policy