Enable or Disable Automatic Downloads on Your iPad

You can set your iPad to automatically download content.


Have you ever been surprised by an app that mysteriously appeared on your iPad? Or perhaps you discovered your spouse's music making its way onto your device? One convenient feature of iOS is the ability to automatically download content such as music, books, and apps onto every device logged into the same account.

Why Automatic Downloads Can Be Great

Automatic downloading of content can be a great feature if you own multiple Apple devices because it can keep your content in sync across all—or even some—of them. For example, if you purchase music on your MacBook, with automatic downloads enabled that music is available on your mobile devices when you want it.

If you have a family account, you and your family members don't have to individually purchase the same apps, ebooks, music, or digital magazines, and when automatic downloads are enabled, new purchases will download to these other family devices so they can use them, too.

When Automatic Downloads May Not Be So Great

However, there can be a downside to having automatic downloads turned on: lack of storage space. If your devices don't have a lot of free storage space, it can quickly fill up with content like music or apps that you won't use on that particular device.

For example, you may enjoy reading ebooks on your iPad, but reading that ebook on the small screen of your iPhone may not be enjoyable, and you'd rather not use up that precious storage space with those ebooks you're never going to read there.

Turning off automatic downloads for some content can save your precious storage space.

How to Turn On or Off Automatic Downloads on Your iPad

Turning on automatic downloads will download new purchases, which includes free apps and others, that you make on other devices.

  1. Go to Settings on your iPad. (Find out how...)

  2. Scroll down the left menu and tap iTunes & App Store.

  3. On the right panel under Automatic Downloads, tap the switch next to the content type that you want to either enable or disable automatic downloads on this iPad. This will ensure your iPad only downloads content you want that has been purchased on your other devices or devices of family members.

You can change automatic downloading for a variety of content types: 

  • Music
  • Apps
  • Books & Audiobooks
  • Updates

You can keep your music synced between devices, for example, but keep your iPhone apps from automatically downloading to your iPad.

You Can Still Download Content Purchased from Other Devices

Disabling automatic downloads on your iPad or other devices doesn't stop you from downloading that content to another device, however. If you decide you want that book, song, or app you purchased on another device on your iPad, too, you can manually download content purchased on other devices.

Should Disable Automatic Downloads for Updates?

While it may be useful to turn off automatic downloads to keep your iPad from filling up with apps and music you may not use, the ability to automatically download and install app updates from the App Store is a very useful feature to keep enabled. It certainly beats going through and updating apps manually, and having them update automatically makes it less likely you'll encounter bugs and crashes, as (one would hope) these will be fixed with updates relatively quickly and you'll always have the latest updates installed.