How to Deauthorize iTunes on Old or Dead Computers

In order to play music, videos, and other content purchased from the iTunes Store, you need to authorize each computer you want to play the content of using your Apple ID. Authorizing is simple. When you want to deauthorize computers, things can get a little more complex.

What Is iTunes Authorization?

Authorization is a form of DRM applied to some content sold through the iTunes Store. In the early days of the iTunes Store all songs had DRM applied to them that prevented copying. Now that iTunes music is DRM-free, authorization covers other kinds of purchases, like movies, TV, and books. 

Each Apple ID can authorize up to 5 computers to use the DRM-protected content purchased using that account. The 5-computer limit applies to Macs and PCs, but not iOS devices like the iPhone. There's no limit on the number of iOS devices that can use your purchases. 

Read this article to learn how to authorize computers using iTunes.

How to Deauthorize iTunes On a Mac or PC

The 5-authorizations rule applies to only 5 computers at the same time. So, if you deauthorize one of them, then you have one authorization to use on a new computer. This is especially important when you're getting rid of an old computer and replacing it with a new one. Remember to deauthorize the old one to make sure your new computer can still use all your files.

Deauthorizing a computer is simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. On the computer, you want to deauthorize, open iTunes
  2. Click the Store menu
  3. Click Deauthorize This Computer 
  4. A window pops up asking you to log into your Apple ID. Enter your username and password, then click Deauthorize.

How to Deauthorize a Computer You Don't Have Access To

But what if you give away or sell a computer and you forget to deauthorize it? If you can't get your hands on the computer you want to deauthorize, are you forever out one authorization?

Nope. In that situation, you can use your Apple ID on any computer running iTunes to deauthorize iTunes on old or dead computers:

  1. Launch iTunes
  2. Click on the Apple ID menu. This is in the top right, between the playback window and the search box. It may read Sign In or have a name in it
  3. A window pops up asking you to sign your Apple ID. Sign into the same Apple ID that was used to authorize the computer you no longer have access to
  4. Click the Apple ID menu again to reveal the drop-down menu. Click Account Info
  5. Enter your Apple ID again in the pop-up window
  6. This brings you to your Apple ID account. In the Apple ID Summary section, look for the Computer Authorizations section towards the bottom.
  7. Click the Deauthorize All button
  8. In the pop-up window, confirm that this is what you want to do. 

In just a few seconds, all 5 computers on your account will be reauthorized. This important, so I'll repeat it: ALL of your computers have now been deauthorized. You'll have to reauthorize the ones you still want to use. Not ideal, I know, but it's the only option Apple provides to deauthorize computers you can't access.   

Other Useful Notes About iTunes Deauthorization

  1. Deauthorize All is only available when you've got at least 2 authorized computers. If you have only one, the option isn't available.
  2. Deauthorize All can only be used once every 12 months. If you've used it in the last 12 months and need to use it again, contact Apple support to see if they can help you.
  3. You should deauthorize your computer before installing a new version of iTunes, upgrading Windows (if you're using a PC), or installing new hardware. In those cases, it's possible for iTunes to make a mistake and think that one computer is actually two. Deauthorizing prevents that.
  4. If you subscribe to iTunes Match, you can keep up to 10 computers in sync using that service. That limit isn't really related to this one. Since iTunes Match only handles music, which is DRM-free, the 10 computer limit applies. All other iTunes Store content, which isn't compatible with iTunes Match, is still limited to 5 authorizations.