How to Download iPhone Apps From the App Store Using iTunes

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Maybe the most exciting and compelling thing about iOS devices — the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad — is the ability to run the huge variety of apps available in the App Store. From photography to free music, games to social networking, or cooking to running, the App Store has an app — probably dozens of apps — for everyone.

This article is specifically about using iTunes to get and sync iPhone and iPad apps. As of iTunes 12.7, released in May 2018, iTunes no longer includes the App Store, so the instructions in this article are relevant only to older iTunes versions. The App Store is currently available only on iOS devices.

Use the App Store

Using the App Store in iTunes is similar to using the iTunes Store. Just as with iTunes, you can also download apps on iOS devices using the App Store app, but there are a few key differences.

To use the App Store with iTunes, you need:

  • An iPhone 3G or higher, a 2nd generation iPod touch or higher, or any iPad model.
  • iTunes 7.7 through iTunes 12.6, though it's best to have the newest version the computer can run.
  • iOS 2.0 or higher (again, the newer, the better).
  • An Apple ID.

If you meet these requirements, launch the iTunes program on your desktop or laptop. In the upper-right corner click the button labeled iTunes Store to go to the iTunes Store, which the App Store is part of.

Find iPhone Apps in iTunes

In the iTunes Store, either search for an app by typing its name in the search field at the top of the iTunes window, or go to the row of buttons across the top and select App Store to go to the home screen for the App Store.

apps in the iPhone App Store

Search for an App

To search for a specific app or a type of app, enter a search term in the search bar at the top of the screen and press Enter. The list of search results shows items in the iTunes Store that match your search. This includes music, movies, books, apps, and more. At this point, you can:

  • Click either iPhone Apps or iPad Apps in the right column to narrow the search results and see a full screen of apps.
  • Click the See All link at the right of either search results box to display the apps that match your search.
  • Click an app if the app you want appears in the initial group of search results.

Browse for an App

If you don't know the exact app you're looking for, browse the App Store. The home screen of the App Store features many apps, but you can find even more either by clicking the links on the right side of the home page or by clicking the arrow in the App Store menu at the top of the page to display a menu that shows the categories of apps available in the store. Click the category you're interested in viewing.

Whether you search or browse when you find the app you want to download (if it's free) or buy (if it's not), click it.

Download or Buy the App

When you click the app, the app's information page appears, which includes a description, screenshots, reviews, requirements, and a way to download or buy the app.

On the left side of the screen is basic information about the app. The right column contains a description of the app, screenshots, user reviews, and the requirements for running the app. Make sure your device and version of the iOS are compatible with the app before you buy it.

When you're ready to buy or download, click the button under the app icon. A paid app shows the price on the button. The download button on free apps is labeled Free. When you're ready to buy or download, click that button. You may need to sign in with your Apple ID to complete the purchase.

Having problems downloading or updating apps from the App Store? We've got the solutions in iPhone Won't Download Apps? 11 Ways to Fix It.

Sync the App to Your iOS Device

Unlike other software, iPhone apps only work on devices running the iOS, not on Windows or the Mac OS. This means that you need to sync the computer to your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad to transfer the app and use it.

iOS apps

To sync the device to a computer, follow the instructions for syncing an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. When you've completed the sync, the app is installed on your device and ready for use.

Redownload Apps With iCloud

If you accidentally delete an app — even a paid app — you don't have to repurchase it. With iCloud, Apple's web-based storage system, you can redownload your apps for free either through iTunes or the App Store app on iOS.

redownload music from itunes

Redownloading also works for music, movies, TV shows, and books that you bought at iTunes.