The Complete Guide to Using the iTunes Store | iLounge Article


The Complete Guide to Using the iTunes Store

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Downloading Previously Purchased Items from iTunes in the Cloud

For many years digital purchases on the iTunes Store were limited to being downloaded only at the time of initial purchase. Users were responsible for maintaining their own backups of these items as Apple did not provide any means to re-download a prior purchase due to licensing restrictions imposed by the content providers. iOS apps became the first exception to this policy since these were directly under Apple’s own licensing control and it could therefore set its own policy. However, even with apps the means of handling this was not particularly intuitive, requiring users to attempt to repurchase the app first and only then discovering that they would be allowed to download it again for free instead of being billed for it a second time.

In June 2011, Apple introduced “iTunes in the Cloud” as part of its new iCloud service. One of the new features offered by this service was the ability for users to download their own previously purchased content from the iTunes Store at no additional cost. The service was originally rolled out as a public beta in iOS 4.3.3 and iTunes 10.3 integrating re-downloading of apps into the new service worldwide and providing the ability for U.S. iTunes users to re-download their music and books as well. Apple later added the ability for U.S. users to re-download purchased TV Shows alongside streaming purchased content from iCloud to the second-generation Apple TV. With the release of iOS 5 in October the music and books features were rolled out internationally to most countries where the iTunes Store is available.

Access to previously purchased content is provided via the “Purchased” link in the Quick Links menu at the top-right corner of the main iTunes Store window. This will take you to a list of your previously purchased content, organized by content type and type-specific category, such as artists for music or show for TV shows.


Searching and browsing on this screen works more or less as you would expect, and items that are not already in your library will display an iCloud download button to allow you to re-download them; items already in your library cannot be re-downloaded from here without first deleting them from your library. A pair of buttons in the top-right corner also allow you to toggle between displaying all of your purchased items or only those items that are not in the current library. Keep in mind as well that items are only included in your purchase history if they are still being sold on the iTunes Store.

Note that once you download an item from your purchase history, your computer will be restricted to only re-downloading content from the account that was used to purchase that item for a period of 90 days from that first re-download. This means that you will not be able to switch to using a different iTunes Store account for the purpose of iTunes in the Cloud features, although you can still switch accounts for the purpose of purchasing and downloading new items from the iTunes Store. This restriction also does not apply to re-downloding apps—only media content such as music, books and TV shows. The 90-day restriction is device-specific, so you could re-download content from a different account using a second computer or an iOS device.

iTunes in the Cloud also forms the foundation for the iTunes Match subscription service that allows you to match and upload your non-purchased content to iCloud. iTunes Match is discussed in greater detail in our article, Secrets & Features of iTunes Match.

Authorizing and De-authorizing your Computer

With the exception of music, podcasts, and iTunes U, most of the content on the iTunes Store remains protected by Apple’s FairPlay Digital Rights Management (DRM). FairPlay DRM allows you to play your content in iTunes on up to five authorized computers. These computers are normally authorized automatically when you purchase and download content from the iTunes Store on that computer, or the first time you try to play that content. If you haven’t already recently logged into the iTunes Store, you may be prompted to enter your iTunes Store user ID and password to complete the authorization process. You can also initiate this process manually by selecting Authorize Computer from the Store menu in iTunes.


Your computer’s authorization is transferred automatically to any iPod, iPhone or Apple TV as soon as you transfer any purchased content to those devices. There is no limit on the number of iPod or iPhone devices that can be authorized for a given iTunes Store account, although you are limited to five Apple TV devices per account.

As you authorize each computer, a counter in your iTunes Store account is incremented, and once you reach the five-computer limit, you can no longer authorize any additional computers. The problem is that the authorization is based on unique information about your computer such as its hardware configuration and your current operating system installation. If you make significant hardware changes to your computer, such as replacing the main board, or you reinstall your operating system, then iTunes will see this as a new computer and require you to reauthorize your “new” computer for your iTunes Store account. This will take up another authorization slot, since iTunes thinks your previous authorization is still being used by another computer.


As a result, you should always be sure to de-authorize your iTunes Store account on your computer before sending your computer in for maintenance or performing any hardware upgrades or reinstalls on it. Likewise, if you’re switching to a new computer, make sure you de-authorize the old one before selling it or giving it away. You can only de-authorize a computer from that specific computer, so if you no longer have access to that computer, you will have no way of de-authorizing it. You can de-authorize a computer from your iTunes Store account by selecting Deauthorize Computer from the Store menu in iTunes. You will again be prompted to enter your iTunes Store credentials, after which iTunes will report that you have successfully de-authorized your computer and report the new authorization count.


Note that if you’ve reached your five-computer authorization limit and don’t have access to some or all of the old computers to de-authorize them, iTunes allows you to reset all of your authorizations once per year. Once you’ve reached your five-computer limit, a Deauthorize All button will appear in your iTunes Store account information screen. Clicking on this button will reset all of your authorizations and your authorization count back to zero. You will then have to manually re-authorize any computers that you still want to use with iTunes.


Again, note that this can only be done once per year, so once you’ve reset your authorization count you will have to wait 365 days before you can use this option again. This should not be considered a replacement for properly de-authorizing your computers as described above. Further, the Deauthorize All button will only appear after you have reached your five-computer limit.

Using the iTunes Store on your iOS Device

The iPhone, iPod touch and iPad also provide access directly to the iTunes Store via two apps that are pre-installed on these devices. The iTunes app is used to access media content such as music, videos and podcasts, while the App Store app is used to browse and purchase applications from the App Store.

Browsing and using these applications is relatively straightforward on the devices, and you can even switch iTunes Store accounts and manage your iTunes Store account directly on the device, although there are some restrictions.


Items larger than 20MB in size can only be downloaded over a Wi-Fi connection. This applies to both media content and applications. Note that larger podcast episodes can be streamed live via the iTunes app, so you can still view podcast episodes on-demand, you just can’t actually download these larger episodes to your device.


You can redeem gift codes on the your device by using the Redeem button found at the bottom of the main Music listing.


Digital booklets, iTunes Extras and iTunes LP are not supported on the iOS side and will not be downloaded directly to your device. If you purchase an album or video containing these items, the unsupported content is queued up to be downloaded directly to iTunes later. This is noted on the item’s page in the on-device iTunes Store.


Older iPhone and iPod touch models do not support high-definition videos; users will only be able to purchase the standard-definition version directly on the device. When purchasing HD videos from an iPhone 4/4S, fourth-generation iPod touch or iPad, only the HD version is downloaded to your device; the standard-definition version is queued up to be downloaded directly to your library by iTunes.


Similarly, you can only rent high-definition movies on newer iOS devices that support HD video—the iPhone 4/4S, fourth-generation iPod touch and iPad. Further, rented movies cannot be transferred back to your computer from these devices, regardless of whether they’re in HD or standard-definition—they must be watched on whatever device they were originally rented on.

Items purchased on your iOS will be automatically transferred back to your iTunes library during the next sync. These are placed in their own Purchased playlist based on the name of your device.

Prior purchases can also be accessed from the iTunes and App Store apps on the iOS device. A Purchased tab appears that allows users to browse through their previous purchases in much the same way as in iTunes on the desktop. Note that the same 90-day restriction on switching accounts also applies to iOS devices. Further, previously purchased content can only be re-downloaded from the iTunes Store on up to 10 different devices, a maximum of five of which can be computers with iTunes.

Enabling Automatic iTunes Store Downloads

In addition to allowing users to re-download prior purchases, iTunes in the Cloud also provides the ability for music, apps and books purchased on one device or computer to be automatically downloaded to other devices sharing the same iTunes Store account. This option must be enabled on each device that you want to receive purchases automatically. Further, you can only configure a given device to receive purchased content automatically from a single iTunes Store account, and as with re-downloading previously purchased content you can only switch accounts once every 90 days, although apps are again exempt from this latter restriction.

This setting is enabled in iTunes in the Store preferences by checking the appropriate boxes for content that you wish to have downloaded automatically.


When enabled, these options replace the automatic synchronization of content purchased on an iOS device, as the content is automatically downloaded by iTunes and therefore already in the library by the time you sync your iOS device. Content automatically downloaded by iTunes is also placed in the master “Purchased” playlist, regardless of which device it was originally purchased from.

On the iOS side, this option is configured in the Store section of the Settings app and works in much the same way, with the same restrictions. An additional option is available here to enable automatic downloads when on a 3G connection or limit them to only occurring via Wi-Fi to save bandwidth costs.


Note that the Books option only appears if iBooks is installed on the iOS device. At this time, only Music, Apps and Books can be automatically downloaded—TV Shows are not included even for U.S. iTunes users, despite their availability for manual re-downloading from the iTunes Store. Other types of content such as Movies and Audiobooks must still be transferred to and from iTunes via USB or Wi-FI sync in the traditional manner.


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 »

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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)

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