One of the biggest complaints about iTunes is the digital rights management, or DRM, aspect of the software. To give you the most open access to your files possible, Apple locks down everything around those files as tightly as possible so you can’t easily download music, movies, apps, and anything else from iTunes and share it with the masses.
Because of this, sometimes authorization issues in iTunes appear and stop you from using the media and apps that you paid for. Instead of getting mad and cursing iTunes, there are a few fairly easy fixes you can do to get things working smoothly again. Before chucking your MacBook out the window try these tips below and if all else fails, bite the bullet and pay a visit to your local Apple store and get them to help.
Reasons For Authorization Issues in iTunes
Before we get into how to fix authorization issues, let’s look at why they tend to appear. The biggest reason you get authorization issues in iTunes is because you’ve authorized too many computers. iTunes allows you to authorize up to 5 computers at a time to access your purchased content. Even if you only have a few computers accessing your account, this can add up quickly.
Anytime you do a fresh install of your operating system without deauthorizing iTunes first you lose one of those authorizations, so now that machine counts for two. With this, it’s easy to get up to five, especially if you and a significant other have accounts on each other’s machines.
The second reason for an authorization issues in iTunes is a general issue with your Apple ID. These issues can range from updating payment options to an issue that we can’t even see. These are tricky but ideally are fairly easy to fix.
The third reason has to do with the iTunes application itself. Just like any other app or file on your computer, it can become damaged or corrupt. When this happens your iTunes account can get caught up in the errors and give you nothing but grief. While this sounds fairly terrible, it’s still not too hard to fix.
Now that you have an idea why authorization issues pop up, let’s look at how to fix each one.
1. Too Many Authorizations
If you’re reached your 5-computer limit with iTunes authorizations you have two ways to solve the problem. The first is to deauthorize any computer that you don’t need to be connected to your iTunes account.
To deauthorize a single machine, open up iTunes and click the Store menu. Here, select Deauthorize This Computer from the list. You’ll also want to Deauthorize Audible Account and Turn Off iTunes Match. All of these combined should get that machine off of your 5-machine limit. If you don’t have access to the computer(s) you need to deauthorize, there’s still hope.
If you’re at your authorization limit but you can’t get to some machines to deauthorize them because you’re wiped them or they’re trash, you can deauthorize every computer on your account once per year. This means that this fix will only work once every 12 months, so make sure you need to use it before you do.
To deauthorize every computer connected to your Apple ID, open up iTunes and click on iTunes Store in the left sidebar or the iTunes Store button in the top right of the iTunes window. Once in the iTunes Store, click Account.
Enter your iTunes Password to continue and you’ll be on the Account Information screen. As long as you haven’t used this method in the past 12 months, you should see a Deauthorize All button.
Click it and you will be presented with a verification screen. Click Deauthorize all computers to continue.
Once the process is complete, every machine, including the one you’re currently on, will be deauthorized for your iTunes account. Now you can authorize each machine you want by clicking on the Store menu and selecting Authorize This Computer. You’ll be prompted to enter your Apple ID and password, then you will see a window telling you how many machines are authorized.
If you’re good with your authorizations but still having issues with iTunes not authorizing correctly, it’s time to dig a little deeper.
2. General Apple ID Issue
Sometimes Apple IDs get a little wonky and refuse to let you play music and apps that you know you purchased. If this is happening to you, sometimes the fix can be as simple as logging out of your iTunes account and logging back in again. To do this, open up iTunes and click on iTunes Store. Next, click on your Apple ID in the upper left corner of the iTunes window and one of two things will happen. First, you will be presented with the Apple ID login screen. If you see this, click the Sign Out button in the bottom left corner, but if you’ve logged into your account in iTunes recently, you will see a small menu. If this is the case, select Sign Out.
Sign back into your iTunes account by clicking on the Store menu and once you’ve logged back in the issues should hopefully be corrected. If they are not, sign back out, restart iTunes, and sign back in again.
There’s also a chance that iTunes only gives you an authorization error when you play specific iTunes-purchased items. If this is the case, delete and re-download those files from iTunes again and the issue should be resolved.
If neither of these fixes your issues, then things get tricky.
3. Issues with iTunes Itself
If you’ve tried the methods above and you’re still getting grief from iTunes, your next safest bet is to uninstall iTunes and reinstall it. If you’re on a Mac this isn’t so easy. There are ways to do this, but they’re fairly sketchy at best and these methods generally remove everything, so iPhone backups and the like can easily be toast.
The best thing to do here is to download a fresh copy of iTunes and install that. Sign out of everything possible in iTunes once you reinstall and sign in one at a time.
This should fix the issues for you, but if they are still present, it might be time to call Apple or take your machine in to the store for a quick once-over.
DRM can be a real pain, but if you learn the tricks of working inside of it, you can avoid most of the pain and get things working as well as possible. Just about everything inside of iTunes works off of some form of DRM, so your account is required to access every feature, including iTunes Radio, purchased media, and iTunes in the Cloud/iTunes Match.
Hopefully this helps you fix any authorization issues in iTunes, but if it didn’t, check Apple’s knowledge base article here.