Syncing purchased tracks back to iTunes

Q: My brother gave me his iPod as a gift. It has music on it purchased through his iTunes account. How do I synch it to iTunes while creating my own account (in order to purchase music) without losing the music already loaded onto the iPod?

– Harriet

A: If your brother purchased music from the iTunes Store and placed it on the iPod, you will not be able to use it at all unless he authorizes your computer for his iTunes Store account. He can do this by selecting Store, Authorize Computer from the iTunes menu on your computer and entering his iTunes Store user id and password. Note that each iTunes Store account can have up to five computers authorized for it, so he could easily authorize your computer while still being able to use his. Further, authorizing a computer for an iTunes Store account does not automatically allow you to purchase music from that account – you would still need to enter his password in order to make purchases.

Once your computer is authorized for his iTunes Store account, you can transfer back any content from your iPod that was purchased with that account simply by connecting the iPod and choosing File, Transfer Purchases from the iTunes menu. iTunes will search through the iPod for any purchased content that is authorized to be played by the current library and will copy that content back from the iPod to your computer.

If there is content on the iPod that was not purchased from the iTunes Store, you can recover this as well, although you’ll need to use a third-party tool, as iTunes only transfers back purchased items. See our iPod 201 article, Copying Content from your iPod to your Computer for more information on how to do this.

As an aside, if all of the purchased content on the iPod are “iTunes Plus” tracks, you can copy these off of the iPod by using a third-party tool described in the above tutorial and use them normally. “iTunes Plus” tracks are not copy-protected and can be played on any computer whether it’s authorized or not. However, you still gain the advantage of iTunes’ built-in “Transfer Purchases” feature if your computer is authorized for the account that was originally used to purchase these tracks.

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