How do I consolidate iTunes purchases into a single account?

Q: I’m about to move from a PC to a Mac, and obviously, my iTunes library will move as part of the transition. Somewhere along the way with my PC, I accidentally established two separate iTunes accounts – one with my user name, and one with that same user name followed by an email address. Songs have been purchased under both user names and those songs are all on the PC. But in switching to Mac, I’d like to try to simplify things and consolidate all of these songs under one user name and let the other user name go dormant. Would that process be complicated, or is it easier than it would seem?

A: Unfortunately, there is no way to consolidate purchased items into a single iTunes Store account, however the good news is that there really isn’t any reason for most people to need to do this.

If you have content from more than one iTunes Store account stored in a given iTunes library, then you simply need to make sure that you’ve authorized your computer for each of the accounts that contains protected content you wish to use. You’ll normally be required to do this the first time you attempt to play a protected item or sync it to an iPod or iOS device. However, you can also initiate this process manually by selecting Authorize This Computer from the Store menu in iTunes and simply entering your Apple ID and password; repeat this process as many times as you need to for each account with content.

How do I consolidate iTunes purchases into a single account?

Since you can only authorize a maximum of five computers for a given iTunes Store account, once you’ve moved your library from your PC over to your Mac and confirmed that everything is working properly, you should be sure to use the Deauthorize This Computer option found on the Store menu to ensure that your Windows PC isn’t using up one of your authorized account slots.

Depending on which purchased content you need to access, this authorization process may not even be required. For example, music purchased from the iTunes Store after 2009 isn’t actually copy-protected, and therefore can be played on any computer without needing to authorize the computer for playback. Other content, such as videos and audiobooks, however, remain copy-protected by Apple’s FairPlay DRM, so if you’re dealing with that type of content, you’ll still need to authorize your computer to play it back, as described above. Even in the case of non-protected music tracks, however, authorizing your computer for your iTunes Store account(s) allows you to perform advanced features such as transferring purchased items from an iPod or iOS device back to your iTunes library, should you ever need to do so.

Note that if you’ve simply changed your iTunes Store account name to an e-mail address — which many people were required to do to get Apple IDs working for services like FaceTime and iMessage — then in reality all of your purchases actually are associated with the same account, and you’re only seeing the older account name on any purchases that were made and downloaded before you changed your account name. In this case, you need only authorize your computer for the e-mail address-based account, and this will cover all of your purchased items.

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