Resetting iTunes authorizations

Q: When i first got my iPod early last year I authorized it to iTunes on my mother’s work computer, since then she has left the job and I have no access to that computer – which is an issue because i didnt know I had to de-authorize. I now only have 1 authorization left and I want to deauthorize that first computer. How do I go about it? I went into my local iPod store today and i was recommended this site because there was nothing they could do… am i able to do this and how would i go about it? Thanks.

– Freddie

Resetting iTunes authorizations

A: Just to be clear, the concept of “authorization” only applies to content purchased from the iTunes Store, so there’s no need to be concerned with the authorization process unless you actually have purchased content that you want to retain access to.

When you purchase a track from the iTunes Store, you are only permitted to play it on up to five computers.

iTunes keeps track of this by requiring that each computer be authorized to play that content, and retains a counter as part of your iTunes Store account that indicates how many computers have been authorized. Once that counter reaches five, you can no longer authorize any additional computers. iPod devices themselves are not subject to this limit, and you can place your purchased content on as many iPod devices as you like, provided it is transferred from one of your authorized computers.

Since each authorization is keyed specifically to a given computer, Apple recommends that you always de-authorize a computer before reinstalling your operating system or otherwise having it serviced. Even if you’re not reinstalling the operating system, changing a major component within the computer such as the main system board can cause iTunes to lose its authorization.

Although there’s no way to de-authorize a specific computer that you no longer have access to, Apple does provide an option to reset ALL of your authorizations. You can find this option in your iTunes Store account profile, which is accessed by selecting the iTunes Store in the source tree within iTunes, and then clicking on your iTunes account name that appears in the top-right corner of your iTunes window. This will present you with a page similar to the following:

Clicking the “Deauthorize All” button will reset your number of computer authorizations to zero. You will then need to re-authorize all of your computers individually by going to each one and selecting the Store, Authorize Computer menu option from within iTunes.

Note that the “Deauthorize All” option will only appear once you are at your limit of five authorizations.