How to Automatically Download Purchases on iOS and iTunes

Keep your Apple devices in sync

One of the great things about iCloud is that it works seamlessly on your Apple Mac computers and iOS devices to make sure they all have the same content on them. There's no difference in the music, movies, apps, and other content that is available to you, whether you're using an iPhone on the go, an iPad at home in bed, or a Mac at work.

To keep all your devices in sync, turn on the Automatic Downloads feature on all your compatible devices. As the name suggests, the feature automatically downloads any song, app, or book you buy from Apple to all your compatible devices that have the feature turned on. With Automatic Downloads, you never have to wonder whether you put the right book on your iPad for your plane flight or the right songs on your iPhone for your car ride.

The information in this article applies to iOS devices running iOS 13, iOS 12, or iOS 11, as well as Macs running macOS Catalina (10.15), macOS Mojave (10.14), or macOS High Sierra (10.12), and Windows PCs.

How to Enable Automatic Downloads on iOS Devices

Setting up Automatic Downloads on the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch is simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. Begin by tapping the Settings icon.

  2. Scroll down the Settings screen and tap iTunes & App Store.

  3. In the Automatic Downloads section, move the sliders next to each category of content you want to download automatically to the On/green position. Options include:

    • Music
    • Apps
    • Books & Audiobooks
    • App Updates
    iTunes & App Stores settings on iPhone
  4. Optionally, in the Cellular Data section, slide the slider next to Automatic Downloads to the On/green position if you want to allow the automatic downloads to be sent over a cellular mobile phone network, not just Wi-Fi. You may get your downloads sooner, but cellular downloads may use battery life or incur data roaming charges

To turn off Automatic Downloads, move any of the sliders to the Off/white position.

How to Enable iTunes Automatic Downloads on a Computer

The Automatic Downloads feature isn't limited to iOS. You can also use it to ensure that all your iTunes purchases are downloaded to your computer's iTunes library, too. To enable automatic downloads in iTunes, follow these steps:

  1. Launch iTunes on a computer.

  2. Open the Preferences window. On Windows computers, go to the Edit menu and click Preferences. On a Mac, go to the iTunes menu and click Preferences.

    iTunes preferences in iTunes menu bar drop-down menu
  3. Click the Downloads tab in the Preferences screen that opens.

    Downloads tab in general preferences screen
  4. The first section in the Downloads tab is Automatic Downloads. Check the boxes next to the types of media—Music, Movies, or TV Shows—that you want to download automatically.

  5. When you've made your selections, click OK to save your settings.​

    Downloads preferences screen

With these settings tuned to your specifications, new purchases at the iTunes Store and App Store are automatically downloaded to your devices after the new files download to the device where you bought them.

To turn off Automatic Downloads, uncheck the boxes next to any media types and click OK.

How to Enable Automatic Downloads in the Mac App Store

Just as you can automatically download your iOS App Store purchases to all compatible devices, you can do the same with purchases from the Mac App Store by following these steps:

  1. Open the Mac App Store by clicking its icon in the Dock.

    The Mac App Store icon in the Dock
  2. Click App Store in the menu bar and select Preferences in the drop-down menu.

    Path to the Mac App Store Preferences
  3. Place a check mark in the box in front of Automatic Updates to download and install app updates automatically.

    Apple Store preferences showing automatic update options
  4. Check the box next to Automatically download apps purchased on other Mac computers.

    Apple Store preferences showing automatic update options

About Automatic Downloads and Family Sharing

Family Sharing is a feature that lets all the people in a family share their iTunes and App Store purchases without having to pay for them more than once. This is a terrific way for parents to buy music and let their kids listen to it for one price or for kids to share their favorite apps with their parents.

Family Sharing works by linking Apple IDs together. If you use Family Sharing, you may wonder whether turning on Automatic Downloads means you'll get all the purchases from everyone in your family automatically on your device (which could be a hassle). 

The answer is no. While Family Sharing gives you access to their purchases, Automatic Downloads only works with purchases made from your Apple ID.

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