Q: Hello. I have an iPad 3G and iPhone. I have been syncing to a Dell desktop using Windows XP for both of these, but recently bought a new laptop using Windows 7 and I want to convert everything to that laptop including my iPhone and iPad. I have already put iTunes on the new laptop and plugged in both my iPhone and iPad and transferred the purchases. I am done now using this Dell and plan to get rid of it, and now I want my laptop to be used as the primary computer. Do I de-authorize and delete iTunes from the desktop computer and then try to re-sync to the laptop? I don’t want to lose everything on my iPad and iPhone. Although the music is already transferred so that really isn’t a concern. My concern is my media and other content. Please help.
A: If you’re certain that you’ve transferred everything via your iPhone and iPad you should be ready to go. However, keep in mind that Transfer Purchases only transfers content that was purchased from the iTunes Store—it does not transfer music and other media content that you’ve imported from your own CDs or downloaded from other sources. You should definitely do a comparison of what’s in your new iTunes library with what was in the iTunes library on the desktop computer to ensure everything has been moved over as you expected, including all of your music, videos, books and other media content. Applications are not normally an issue as these would all have been purchased from the iTunes Store, but most users have other types of media content that they may have acquired from other sources, so it’s important to ensure that this gets transferred over.
You can either transfer this content from your iPhone or iPad using one of the third-party tools described in our article on Copying Content from your iPod to your Computer, or you can simply transfer that content from your desktop to your laptop using any other file transfer method, such as a portable storage device or over a network connection between the two computers.
Further, if you’ve created any playlists in your original library that you want to move over to the new library, you’ll either have to recover these from your iPad/iPhone using one of the utilities mentioned above, transfer your entire iTunes library over to the new computer, or export those playlists to XML files and reimport them into the new library.
If you have a large enough external hard drive or a network connection between the desktop and laptop, you may find it easier to simply transfer the whole iTunes library over to the new computer en masse. This will ensure that everything is preserved, including metadata such as playlists, ratings, play counts and your sync settings for your iPad and iPhone. See Transferring your iTunes Library for more information on how to do this.
Once you’re sure everything has been moved over and you’re ready to get rid of the desktop computer, then you’re basically correct that you should simply de-authorize it and then delete your iTunes library from it. Many users actually prefer to securely erase the entire hard drive and reinstall the operating system from scratch before selling or giving away a computer, but just keep in mind that if you do this you should definitely make sure you de-authorize iTunes before reformatting the hard drive, as you’ll lose the ability to do so once you’ve erased it.