How to Use iCloud to Redownload iTunes Purchases

Backing up your iTunes Store purchases used to be extremely important. That's because there was no way to redownload music or other content from iTunes. So, if you accidentally deleted a file or lost it in a hard drive crash, the only way to get it back was to buy it again. Thanks to iCloud, though, that's no longer true.

Now, using iCloud, virtually every song, app, TV show, or movie or book purchase you've made at iTunes is stored in your iTunes account and is available for redownload onto any compatible device that doesn't already have that file on it. That means that if you lose a file, or get a new device, loading your purchases on it is just a few clicks or taps away.

There are two ways to use iCloud to redownload iTunes purchases: via the desktop iTunes program and on the iOS.

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Redownload iTunes Purchases Using iTunes

redownload music from itunes


To begin, go to the iTunes Store via the iTunes program installed on your desktop or laptop. On the right-hand side of the screen, there will be a menu called Quick Links. In it, click the Purchased link. This takes you to the screen where you can re-download purchases.

In this list, there are two important groupings that allow you to sort your purchases:

  • Type of Media: This set of buttons (displayed in the top right in iTunes 12 and first in iTunes 11 and earlier) lets you choose whether you want to redownload music, movies, TV shows, apps, or audiobooks. (In iTunes 11, books are available here, too. In iTunes 12, though, redownloading them has been moved to the standalone iBooks program.)
  • All/Not In My Library: All, of course, shows you all purchases from your iTunes account. Not In My Library shows only purchases from your account that aren't on the computer you're currently using.

When you've selected the type of media you want to redownload, your purchase history will be displayed below.

For Music: This includes both the artist's name at the left and when you've selected an artist, either the albums or the songs you've purchased from that artist at the right (you can choose to see albums or songs by clicking the appropriate button near the top). If a song is available for download (that is, if it's not already on that computer's hard drive), the iCloud button (a small cloud with a down arrow in it) will be present. Click that button to download the song or album.

If the music is already on your computer, you won't be able to do anything with it (this is different in iTunes 12 than in earlier versions. In earlier versions, if the button is grayed out and reads Play, then the song is already on the computer you're using).

For TV Shows: The process is very similar to music, except instead of artist name and then songs, you'll see the show's name and then the show's seasons or episodes. If you browse by season, when you click on a season, you'll be taken to that season's page on the iTunes Store. The episode that you've purchased, and can redownload, has a Download button next to it. Click that to redownload.

For Movies, Apps, and Audiobooks: You'll see a list of all your purchases (including free downloads). Movies, apps, or audiobooks available to download will have the iCloud button. Click the button to download them.

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Redownload Music via iOS

redownload music on iOS


You're not limited to the desktop iTunes program to redownload purchases via iCloud. You can also use a handful of iOS apps to redownload your content.

  1. If you prefer to redownload music purchases right on your iOS device, rather than on the desktop iTunes, use the iTunes Store app. When you've launched that, tap the More button along the bottom row. Then tap Purchased.
  2. Next, you'll see a list of all the kinds of purchases (music, movies, TV shows) you've made through the iTunes account. Tap on your choice.
  3. For music, your purchases are grouped together as All or Not On This iPhone. Both views group music by artist. Tap the artist whose song or songs you want to download. If you've got only one song from that artist, you'll see the song. If you have songs from multiple albums, you'll have the option to view individual songs by tapping the All Songs button or download everything by tapping the Download All button at the top right corner.
  4. For movies, it's simply an alphabetical list. Tap the name of the movie and then the iCloud icon to download.
  5. For TV shows, you can choose either from All or Not On This iPhone and select from the alphabetized list of shows. If you tap on an individual show, you'll next be able to select a season of the showing by tapping on it. When you do that, you'll see all the available episodes from that season.
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Redownload Apps via iOS

redownload apps on iOS


Just like with music, you can also redownload apps you've purchased at iTunes, even free ones, using iCloud on the iOS.

  1. Launch the App Store app.
  2. Then tap the Updates button in the bottom right corner.
  3. Tap the Purchased button at the top of the screen.
  4. Here you'll see a list of all apps purchased through the iTunes account you're using on this device.
  5. Select either All apps you've downloaded or just apps Not On This iPhone.
  6. Apps available for download are the ones not currently installed on the device you're using. To redownload them, tap the iCloud icon next to them.
  7. Apps with an Open button next to them are already on your device.
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Redownload Books via iOS

redownload books on ios


In iOS 8 and higher, this process has been moved to the standalone iBooks app. Otherwise, the process is the same.

The same process that you use to redownload music and apps on the iOS works for iBooks books, too. Perhaps not surprisingly, to do this, you use the iBooks app (though there is another way to do this that I'll cover below).

  1. Tap the iBooks app to launch it.
  2. In the bottom row of buttons, tap the Purchased option.
  3. This will show you a list of all the iBooks books you've bought using the iTunes account you're logged into, as well as updated books. Tap Books.
  4. You can choose to view All or only books Not On This iPhone.
  5. Books are listed by genre. Tap a genre for a list of all books in that genre.
  6. Books that are not on the device you're using will have the iCloud icon next to them. Tap it to download those books.
  7. If the book is stored on your device, a grayed-out Downloaded icon will appear next to it.

This isn't the only way to get books purchased on one device onto others, though. You can also change a setting that will automatically add all new iBooks purchases to your compatible devices.

  1. To do this, begin by tapping the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down to the iBooks option and tap that.
  3. On this screen, there's a slider for Sync Collections. Slide that to On/green and future iBooks purchases made on other devices will automatically sync to this one.