The Complete Guide to Using iTunes and the iTunes Store

ITunes is a complex and powerful media tool, which means there's a lot to know about it. Learn the ins and outs of using iTunes and the iTunes Store here.

The information in this article applies specifically to iTunes 12, which was released in late 2014, although many of the features exist in similar form in earlier versions of iTunes.

iTunes Basics

These are the essentials you need for a complete foundation of iTunes features and functions. Whether you use a Mac or Windows PC, you need to know how to install iTunes, create an account and Apple ID, authorize computers, learn what files iTunes can use, and understand the importance of deauthorizing a computer.

AACs, MP3s, and CDs

Besides working with your iPod or iPhone, iTunes offers a powerful way to manage your music library. Learn how to add songs to your library from CDs, how to burn your own CDs, and other hot issues in digital music. You'll also discover the difference between AAC and MP3 music files.

Playlists, Sharing, and iTunes Genius

Part of the fun of iTunes is creating playlists, sharing music with friends and family, and discovering new music with iTunes Genius. You may be unaware that your family can share music between members, for example, or that iTunes can offer suggestions of music you may like based on your tastes. You can even have iTunes build playlists for you automatically.

Backing Up and Transferring iTunes

Transferring an iTunes library to a new computer or restoring a library from a backup after a crash can be complicated. When iPods and iPhones are involved, it's worse. Do you need special software for this? Can you give away your music on an iPod? These articles sort out some of the confusion for you and help you figure out what to do.

Using iTunes With iPod, iPad, and iPhone

The basics of using iTunes to manage an iPod, iPhone, or iPad get you listening to your music on these devices. but advanced features and tricks can make life easier and more fun. 

App Store

As anyone with an iOS device knows, the App Store is the thing that makes the platform truly versatile and exciting. While app reviews are one part of using the App Store, there's more to it than that. Learn the basics of installing apps, the costs of downloading apps, and whether you can use those apps across multiple devices — or do you have to buy the app for each device.

Apple removed apps from iTunes with the 12.7 version. These articles about the App Store apply to pre-12.7 iTunes.

iCloud, Apple Music, and iTunes Match

ITunes has become more integrated with the internet, making it much more powerful and intelligent. Three of the major features that enabled this are iCloud, Apple Music, and iTunes Match. Learn all about these features and how to use them.

iTunes Store and Other Digital Music Stores

While iTunes may be the first name that springs to mind when you think about buying music downloads, it's far from the only online music store that works with the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Streaming music services like Spotify and Pandora offer different ways to access and discover new music. And iTunes Radio is another option for enjoying music.

iTunes for Parents

There are few gadgets as popular with today's pre-teens, teens, and young adults as the iPhone. Some parents may have concerns about what their kids can access with these devices, but there are tools that can help you manage what they have access to.

Miscellaneous iTunes Issues

What does it mean to jailbreak your iPhone, and will that affect iTunes? What can you do about duplicate songs in iTunes? Can you change the album art for music? Here are topics that don't fit the categories above, but offer useful information to round out your knowledge of iTunes.

iTunes Troubleshooting and Help

Because iTunes is such a complex and powerful program, there's a lot to understand about what can go wrong and how. Finding how to fix a problem you have can sometimes be a challenge. If a song you purchased didn't download, that can be frustrating. This section helps you find solutions.​​​​

  • How do you update iTunes?

    On a Windows PC, you can set iTunes to update automatically: select Edit > Preferences > Advanced and make sure Check for new software updates automatically is selected. To manually check for iTunes updates on a Windows PC, go to Help > Check for Updates. If you're on a Mac, manually check for updates by opening the App Store and selecting Updates > Install.

  • Where are iTunes backups stored?

    If you're on Windows PC, go to the Search bar and enter %appdata%. Open the folder, then select Apple > MobileSync > Backup. If you're on a Mac, you can find your iTunes backups by selecting the magnifier icon in the menu bar and pasting in this line: ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/.

  • What is iTunes U?

    iTunes U was an app that allowed teachers to create and share educational courses with students. They could use it to make lectures, assignments, books, quizzes, and syllabuses and share them with millions of people worldwide for free. After years of stagnation, Apple decided to discontinue the app at the end of 2021.

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