Buying Music From the iTunes Store Using iTunes

With macOS Catalina, Apple said goodbye to iTunes and introduced the Music app to replace it. However, plenty of listeners still use iTunes on earlier versions of the Mac operating system.

You need an Apple ID and iTunes on your computer to buy music from Apple using iTunes, but if you have both, buying songs and albums is easy to do.

Instructions in this article apply to iTunes 12.7 through 12.9 in macOS Mojave (10.14), macOS High Sierra (10.13), or macOS Sierra (10.12).

Locating Music on the iTunes Store

The iTunes Store has a vast selection of music, and it works seamlessly with your Mac, iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. One of the fun perks of having an Apple device is packing it full of music (and movies and TV shows) from iTunes, but you first have to locate the music you like among the millions of songs and albums available. Here's how:

  1. Launch iTunes on your computer by clicking its icon in the Mac Dock.

    iTunes logo on Mac Dock
  2. Click Music in the drop-down menu at the left side of the iTunes screen and then select Store at the top of the screen.

    A screenshot of iTunes with the Store tab highlighted
  3. Browse through the music categories and selections to locate music you may want to buy and add to your personal collection. Options in the iTunes Store screen for locating music include:

    • New Music albums at the top of the iTunes Store screen
    • The Top Songs and Top Albums of the day
    • Mood icons for music in specific mood categories
    • The search field, where you can enter an artist name, song title, or album title
    • New Music Daily curated selections
    • Special-priced (for a short time) albums
    iTunes screen showing Top Albums

Previewing Music at the iTunes Store

In most cases, you want to preview a song or album before paying for the download.

  1. Locate a song or album you are interested in buying.

  2. Click on the album art or title to open an information screen about the song or album. The screen includes album art, an iTunes Review, a price button, and tabs for ratings and reviews and related music.

    Album information screen in iTunes
  3. Hover your cursor over the name of a song and click the arrow that appears to the left of the title to hear a preview.

  4. Click the back arrow in the upper left corner to return to the iTunes Store and listen to other music previews.

Learning More About a Song or Album

When you click on an album or song to learn more information about it, you can see the album's cover art (which appears in iTunes and on your iOS device after you buy), as well as its price, the year it was released, and other information.

At the top of the screen, beneath the album title, are three tabs: Songs, Ratings and Reviews, and Related.

  • The Songs tab is the default screen that shows you all the songs included in the album. This is the screen where you can listen to a preview of the song.
  • The Ratings and Reviews tab shows comments and ratings other iTunes users have made about the album. 
  • The Related tab shows songs and albums iTunes thinks you'll like if you like this album.

Buying a Song or Album on iTunes

When you find the music you want to buy, you purchase it on its information screen. If it is a single song, click the price to the right of the song listing. If you want every song in an album, click the Buy button under the album art and save money over buying each tune individually.

iTunes information screen for an album

When you click the Buy button, the download begins immediately and your account is charged. There is no screen that asks you to confirm your purchase.

Some songs are available only when you buy the entire album they are on, but these are clearly marked as Album Only. If you buy a single song or a couple of songs from an album that you like and later decide you want the entire album, you can buy it through the Complete My Album option and receive a price reduction on the rest of the album.

Complete My Album

When you buy one song from an album and then realize you want the whole thing, that used to mean either buying the entire album and paying for the song a second time or buying each song from the album individually and paying a higher total price. Complete My Album solves this by subtracting the cost of the song or songs you've already bought from the album price. To complete an album:

  1. Go to the sidebar menu on the main iTunes Music screen in the iTunes Store and select Complete My Album.

    The "Complete My Album" command in iTunes
  2. View the list of all the albums on iTunes that you can complete and the price you'll pay to do so versus the standard price. Click the cover of any album to open its information page.

  3. The information page shows which songs you already own and the other songs on the album. Click the BUY button to purchase all the remaining songs.

    The Buy button

Pre-Ordering Music at iTunes

A pre-order is just what it sounds like: You buy an album before it's released. When the album comes out, iTunes automatically downloads it to your iTunes library. Pre-orders sometimes include special bonuses only available to those who buy early.

Not every upcoming album is available for pre-order, but for those that are, you can find them in the Pre-Orders link in the right sidebar of the main Music screen. Usually, the album art appears in a Pre-Orders section, also on the main Music screen of iTunes.

Pre-Orders section of Tunes Music screen

The process of pre-ordering an album is the same as buying one: Click the price button.