How to Deauthorize iTunes on Old or Dead Computers

Do this if you need to authorize a new computer

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

These directions are relevant for iTunes version 12 but might work equally well for earlier editions, too.

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 to prevent copying. Now that iTunes music is DRM-free, authorization covers other kinds of purchases, like movies and TV. 

Every Apple ID can be used to authorize up to five computers to play the DRM-protected content purchased using that account. This computer number limit applies to Macs and PCs, but not iOS devices like the iPhone.

Since iTunes authorizations can be shuffled around, you can deauthorize any number of computers to re-open those authorization slots for other computers. For example, if five computers are already authorized, you can deauthorize one so that you can authorize a new computer.

How to Deauthorize iTunes on a Mac or PC

You might deauthorize an old computer before you get rid of it to make sure your new computer can still use all your files. Deauthorizing a computer is simple:

  1. Open iTunes from the computer you're wanting to deauthorize.

  2. Go to Account > Authorizations > Deauthorize This Computer.

    Deauthorize This Computer in iTunes
  3. Log in with your Apple ID if asked, and then select Deauthorize.

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

Deauthorizing is simple if you have access to the computer, but what if you've sold the computer and forgot to deauthorize it? Or maybe you're wanting to deauthorize iTunes on a dead computer that won't turn on.

Fortunately, you can log in with your Apple ID on any computer to deauthorize iTunes on old, missing, or dead computers:

  1. Download iTunes if it's not already on the computer.

  2. Go to Account > View My Account.

    View My Account in iTunes
  3. Log in with your Apple ID, making sure it's the same account that was used to authorize the computer you don't have access to.

  4. In the first section called Apple ID Summary, select Deauthorize All.

    Deauthorize All button in iTunes
  5. In the pop-up window, confirm that this is what you want to do. 

In just a few seconds, all five computers on your account will be deauthorized. This means that all computers that were previously able to access purchases made through that Apple ID can no longer do so. You'll have to reauthorize the ones you still want to use.

Notes About iTunes Deauthorization

  • Deauthorize All is only available when you have at least two authorized computers.
  • You can use the Deauthorize All method once every 12 months. If you've used it in the last year and need to again, contact Apple to see if they can help.
  • You should deauthorize your computer before upgrading Windows 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.
  • 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 that isn't compatible with iTunes Match is still limited to five authorizations.