Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

How to deauthorize a dead computer for iTunes

Posted by shannonclark on March 27, 2007

Or yet another in the set of things you may need to do when your laptop gives up the digital ghost.

Apple does not hide the information on how to do this, but neither do they make it all that obvious to find. Here is the direct link to their support page on deauthorization.

In essence – on a machine with iTunes, go to the iTunes store, login with your account (note, if you are using a friend’s computer be sure to log out of their account first), select the “view account” option, then there will be an option to “deauthorize all” – select this and ALL of your authorized computers will be deauthorized.

This means that if you have to take this route, you will need to then RE-authorize each of your other machines.

A better solution – if you have the chance before your computer dies (or you recycle it/sell it/give it away) be sure to open up iTunes on that machine, connected to the Internet, and deauthorize JUST that machine.

129 Responses to “How to deauthorize a dead computer for iTunes”

  1. David Blackburn said

    Apple does some really stupid things. Why can’t I deauthorize one computer with deautorizing all of them? And what really infuriates me, is why can’t I deactivate a stolen or missing iPod for which I am the original registrant?

    • Fabio said


  2. James said

    mine doesn’t have a deatherise button at all, just tells me how many are autherised, no unauhterise

    • It will not show up until you have 5 computers authorized I believe in current versions of iTunes, however I think you can still ask Apple (see the links in my post) for help if you need it.

  3. Jimmy said

    Dude, this worked! I have been deauthorizing and reauthorizing within my two computers but it’s true, it looks like you have to have all 5 computers used up and the newest version of iTunes and just click on deauthorize all computers and wait 20 seconds and we’re good to go! O, so happy!!! Thanks again!

  4. Cesar said

    IT worked, thanks!!

  5. DarrenThompson said

    I have 5 computers authorized on iTunes. Problem is I’ve since reformatted and sold three of them. Now with my newest machine I can’t authorize it because it says I’ve used up my 5 authorizations and have to wait until the end of December to deauthorize all 5 of them. That’s really daft!!!
    Any idea how I can deauthorize them before waiting 6 months???

    • I would suggest emailing or calling Apple directly and asking them if they can make an exception to their usual rules around deauthorization.

      In general I would suggest that you always DEAUTHORIZE a computer before you reformat & resell it.

  6. ak47boyz said

    Go to

    To deauthorize all computers associated with your account
    If you find you have reached 5 authorizations, you can reset your authorization count by clicking Deauthorize All in the Account Information screen.

    Click iTunes Store in the menu on the left side of iTunes.
    If you’re not signed in to the store, click the Account button, then enter your account name and password.
    Click the Account button again (your ID appears on the button), enter your password, and then click View Account.
    In the Account Information window, click Deauthorize All.
    Note: You may only use this feature once per year. The Deauthorize All button will not appear if you have fewer than 5 authorized computers, or if you have used this option within the last 12 months. If you need assistance on using this feature, please contact the iTunes Store support via email (

    • ODoyle said

      Dude.. Thankyou sooooo sooo much! You are my savior! lol.. I have been really pissed at Apple cuz i thought you couldn’t deauthorize the coumputers that you don’t own anymore. I have reached authorization limit and i don’t even know where are 3 of those 5 computers, lol. Now i can just deauthorize all of them and authorize the ones i want again! This is AWESOME! If you were a chick i would kiss you! Thats how happy i am! lol.. 😉

  7. Lance said

    Just wanted to say thank you for your information on deauthorizing in itunes – this did the trick for me!

  8. Silka67 said

    Again as stated above WHY DOESN”T APPLE GIVE YOU THE ABILITY TO DELETE JUST ONE COMPUTER AUTHORIZATION? It’s so frustrating. I trashed my first two PCs. There was no way I could de-authorize them before the hard drives were fried, any more than I could do anything about the two ipods I’ve had stolen. ITunes is such a pain to do anything on.

    • iTunes isn’t, I think, much of a pain these days – I use it extensively but I agree that Apple’s policy around deauthorizing is less than ideal. That said, since they moved to DRMfree music files, authorization is less crucial than it once was – it is mostly a factor if you buy a lot of video content via iTunes (or lots of applications or books – especially audiobooks)

  9. Mason H said

    Thank-you for all the help you’ve provided on this issue. Also, thank-you for following up on peoples’ ongoing concerns, something we’re all not used to when it comes to topics that are almost 3 years old. Cheers.

    • WordPress makes it easy – and I am always happy to see comments from people (real people not spambots) that show that even 3+ year old posts still can have value for people. Glad I can be of some small help.

  10. Berte said

    Thanks for the info! Like the rest said, it was just what was needed.

  11. Gary Lutchansky said


  12. Duane Christensen said

    Have to agree with silka67,,, It is simply moronic that one must de-authorize all 5. Cannot post my opinion of this wierdness, so suffice it to say,, way to not go, Apple.

  13. Amanda said

    Thank you very much! De-authorizing all 5 and then being able to reauthorize 1 and authorize my new one for the first time was as easy as pie! Everyone was loads of help, thanks again!

  14. john anscombe said

    thanks mate this worked amazingly been at this for hours wish i found your post sooner thanks again dude

  15. Britt said

    Yes, still relevant and nice to see posts saying it worked recently so I knew it would work with the current upgrade. It was easy to reauthorize the computers I wanted too. This solved my problem! Thanks!

  16. Carrie said

    Thank you so much! I wasn’t sure how to deauthorize some computers I had previously authorized at my school. They were moved all over during the summer and I didn’t even know which one was which anymore. It is frustrating that it’s not easier to deauthorize a single computer – and strange because it’s usually pretty easy to do stuff on apples. Thanks again!

  17. logan said

    thanks it works

  18. Paul said

    Usefull information, but not quite detailed enough for me….hoping you can still help me.

    I’ll start by telling you that I 100% hate iTunes….mainly because it thinks it knows what I want and almost never does, but always has unwritten, undocumented proceedures that are not explained anywhere I can find. On more than one occasion it has “lost” my library because a drive letter changes (I use both Macs and PCs here) so now, I never really trust it to do anything remotely logical. That being out of the way, lets see if I can explain my dilema….and hopefully the solution is as simple as can be.

    As many others noted, I have reached a limit of 5 computers being authorized…..I am sure most, if not all but 1, of these are old computers that have died, been reformatted or sold etc. When I view my account I do see the option to deauthorize all computers, but I have no idea what this actually means.

    What will actually happen when I say to do that? Will it mess with the library, playlists, pictures that i have on various computers, iTouches, iPhones and iPads? I don’t want to have to resynch anything (since that often messes up everything not purchased from iTunes Store ) and I certainly don’t want to rebuild a library of songs and playlists yet again.

    So if anyone can clue me in I would greatly appreciate it.

    • ALL that authorization does is allow for files protected by Apple DRM to be played on the authorized devices.

      These would include:

      – older music purchased from Apple (for a few years now all music Apple sells on iTunes has not had DRM

      – videos whether TV or Movies (including rentals) and some (though I don’t think all) music videos

      – audiobooks bought from iTunes

      – iPhone applications

      Authorization will not impact your library (other than leaving files unplayable until that machine they are on is authorized). De-authorization will not do anything at all to your playlists or to content you didn’t buy from Apple (which had DRm when you purchased it) – so no impact on your pictures etc.

      hope this helps,


  19. Bernie said

    Currently my iTunes has songs I shared with someone else. Which means my computer is one of the 5 authorized computers of a friend of mine. My question is – if I deactivate my computer, does it still count towards one of the five authorizations of my friend’s account? Please email me your response if possible –

    • I’m not sure as I haven’t tried authorizing a machine for multiple users – I think if you deactivate the computer entirely for you may still need to also deauthorize that machine for your friend’s account as well (or your friend may need to do that)

  20. Kmuzu said

    Thank you so much for your help .. I only have three computers yet it said I had five authorized .. Itunes must be going back like five years. In any case your post and the replies were a life saver. One question why does Apple (Steve Jobs) punish their loyal customers that want to do the right thing? And when will the Music and Movie industry pull their ancient rotting heads out of their old wrinkled butts and realize the world has changed?

    • Well Apple did the right thing a few years ago and moved to DRM free music for their mp3 sales – at the moment the DRM they require authorizations for are not music (other than older tracks you purchased years ago). DRM currently only applies to: apps, some iBooks, movies, tv shows (purchases or rentals) and to audiobooks. So the culprits here are not the music industry anymore – they are the movie studios, the tv networks and Audible (and the book publishers who require DRM for their audiobooks)

  21. Puzzled said

    Thanks for the information! It did the trick for me as I now only have an iPad and a laptop and I couldn’t figure out how to deauthorize computers that have totally died. It was easy to follow, and my New Year is off to a great start 🙂 Happy New Year!

  22. Andrew said

    Okay, so my mother wants to authorize her iPod on to the account she has made for everyone. But it says that 5 computers are already connected. However, only my laptop and my brother’s laptop are connected. Is there any way that we can find out what computers are connected to our account? It’s so confusing. My mom just wants to put the music from her iPod on to her iTunes library, but it already says 5 are connected. We only have two connected! Not including hers . . . What do I do?

  23. davidp said

    Slightly related question… my pc died and I had to rebuild from scratch – I didn’t de-authorise my iTunes account before the rebuild. I’m authorised on 3 or 4 computers so I’m not too concerned about authorising this one again but I’m just not sure how to sync my i-phone to iTunes so that I can keep my playlists, apps, etc.

    I backed up all my music on a separate external hard drive. Help would be appreciated.


  24. Caitlin said

    If I don’t have 5 computers authorized on my account should I still be able to use the ‘deauthorize all’ feature? because I don’t have 5, but I would still like to deauthorize all the ones that are associated w/my account however the option does not appear on my account information screen..

  25. marta said

    in the past my laptop has crashed various times and i had to take them in to get them fixed twice and i never deauthorized any of them, how can i fix this??

    • you can try to deauthorize all (which Apple only will let you do once a year I believe). If they don’t offer you that option you may have to contact Apple support.

  26. Karen said

    I am having trouble transferring my music from my old computer to my new one. I tried to save on an external hard drive, that didn’t seem to work, now I am trying to save a CD’s and it seems to only want to save a few at a time, now it is picking and choosing what it wants to save and is saving the same ones over and over again. What is an easier way to do this?

  27. Lina said

    I have a new laptop,when i plug in my iphone the music list comes up on my screen,however if i unplug the phone i can’t view my music library.I have installed quicktime,but nothing.Do i need to de-authorize the original pc from which evertything is on? I am selling it but i don’t really want to lose all my itunes.Please help.

    • not entirely sure what you are describing but I’ll make some assumptions and therefore some suggestions.

      1) You probably should migrate your library of content off your old PC and onto your new PC. In my personal case my iTunes library is many times larger than my iPhone could hold (some 140gb+ of content) so when I have migrated in the past I have used external HD’s to migrate my files and setup iTunes on my new computer. If your library fits entirely on your iPhone you may be able to sync your iPhone with your new computer and transfer some files that way but I would still suggest migrating via an external HD (or USB stick or SD card depending on the file sizes) as that will likely be more reliable to get every file.

      2) authorization ONLY matters for files which you purchased from iTunes which had DRM applied to them. Currently this would only be most videos (TV shows or movies) and most audiobooks – music you purchase from Apple today is generally DRM free. Music you purchased years ago might have DRM applied to it. Apps for your iPhone or other iOS devices are another category of things for which authorization matters.

      If you can’t view your library when your phone is disconnected that implies that your iTunes on your new PC thinks the files are on that external drive (are you on a Mac or a PC – I’m assuming probably a PC)

      You might want to us the iTunes “consolidate my iTunes library” feature which should copy all the files to a single, standard location. This assumes that your new PC has enough disk storage to hold your entire media collection (likely with most modern PC’s though laptops with SD drives may have less storage space).

      I would highly recommend that before you sell your old PC you not only deauthorize it but you also wipe the HD on it entirely and do a clean restore of the OS (and any other software you selling with it). Used PC’s more often than not retain a lot of personal data from their old owners and have been a source of countless security breaches. Consider that very likely your old PC has stored passwords for many websites you access (such as your email, bank etc). Not to mention private files as well as your music library. Personally I frequently just keep my old HD’s from old computers and sell them either without a HD or with a new, fresh and blank HD w/o any possibility of recovering my personal data (since it was never on the new HD in the first place)

    • supermorph said

      this would only apply to music purchased from itunes, imported cd’s or mp3 not from itunes wont work, trust me i have tried.
      (i know this is old, but many folk may still read this, and im correcting it for the folk who are.)

  28. Aura said

    I have the same question as Caitlin (#24), my account doesn’t show the “deauthorize all” option. It only shows how many computers I have authorized which is only 2.
    Can you please advise?

    • I think that Apple now limits how many times a year you can do the deauthorize all – you may want to contact Apple directly or experiment with adding additional authorized machines to hit your limit (5?) and then deauthorize them all.

  29. Solo said

    Thank you!!!

  30. Stephen capaldi said

    If my computer died before I could sync it and get all my purchased songs onto my iPhone, how can I access my songs that I’ve purchased on a different computer.


  31. Philly said

    THANK YOU!!!!!

  32. andipandi said


  33. […] Answers Ryan This is the website that discusses the topic (with comments) […]

  34. john said

    how can i deautherize a itunes account that i dont own since i bought a used mac?

  35. sbomb said

    i really hate apple. every single computer that i have had i try to deauthorize it and it tells me it was never authorized. yet itunes is telling me that all 5 computers are authorized. i have always had a problem with being able to update and add new songs to my iphone without completely erasing everything. i use my phone for everything. its difficult for me to keep deleting and trying to remember what i had on my phone to put back on. i have gone into the apple store and at@t stores to have them help me and the only thing that they seemed to know how to do is to erase and sync. how come every action u do on itunes results in erase and sync? i just want to add songs to my iphone and be able to remove my pictures and put them onto my computer. will someone plllleeease help me out i am desperate!! i dont want to deal with apple employees anymore i want someone that knows what they are talking about and can help me


    • Sorry you are having so many problems – I hope this helps.

      1. If you haven’t already, do the annual “deauthorize all devices” – deauthorizing or authorizing a machine isn’t all that big of a deal – unless your iTunes library is entirely made up of DRMed content you purchased via iTunes many years ago (or more recent tv shows, movies, audible content or apps).

      2. Are you using iTunes to sync music and photos to your iphone or are you trying to copy music to your phone as an external device (and/or copying music to it from multiple machines)? I’m not sure what you are referring to when you say “erase and sync” I personally use a lot of smart playlists to manage what music (and podcasts) show up in my iPhone – I do this because my iTunes music library is far larger than my iPhone’s capacity. I can thus restrict selected smart playlists to being a specified size and thus know relatively precisely how many GB’s of music I am copying over to my iPhone. You should be able to easily remove photos from your phone if you launch iPhotos on your mac (or in most cases another photo app on a PC such as Picasa) and have you iPhone connected.

      How many computers have you actually had? It sounds like for some reason you have had a lot of machines. Why are you trying to continually delete things from your phone?

  36. When you don’t know how to do something on the iPhone or on a Mac, just google! :))

    Thanks. This was very helpful.

  37. Thomas said

    Thank you for the info, I too was stuck with 5 computers already authorized, and no way out. This post has helped a lot.

  38. sri said

    I want to deauthorize one computer, but every time I try it says: “This computer was not authorized. to authorize this computer, play a song or video you have purchased using this account.”

    For starters that’s not true. I is authorized. But I do what they say and play a song I most definitely purchased online and when I try again, same thing.

    Any ideas? I want to sell this macbook pro as I bought a macbook air and I want to make sure I am not unnecessarily using up one of my authorized computers.


  39. crash238 said

    THANK YOU. 😀

  40. Daisy said

    Thank you!!

  41. Thank you for this post! It worked!

  42. Kim said

    Worked Perfect…thanks so much!!

  43. Jomaty said

    Hi, I have read through almost everybody’s comments here and what you Shannon have been responding with. I’m not completely clear on what will happen if I deauthorize all 5 of them. Does that mean that every thing I have purchased from iTunes will be saved to my account? So when I do authorize it it will be ready to go as it currently is or will I lose all of the music I have? The music I have in my library, not counting the stuff I have bought from iTunes can be just reimported via CD’s. I’m only worried about the songs I have purchased from iTunes.

    The only reason I am wanting to do this is so my brother and I can share my account, and we can both have all of the same music. Since he lives several hours away it would be easy for us to just purchase all of the music to one account, and be logged in on two different computers so he gets what new songs I buy and I get what new songs he buys.

    With this 5/5 authorized computer I am stuck and unable to get this set up until I can get a confirmation that I WILL NOT lose anything I have bought by deauthorizing all 5 computers.

    I hope that what I am asking is clear and can be responded too easily.


    • De-authorizing and then re-authorizing your computer will NOT delete any of your music – what it will do is make content that is on your machines which is DRMed (old music purchased before iTunes went DRM free, audiobooks, iOS apps, movies & tv shows) unusable on that machine when it is not authorized.

      Apple has recently changed how iTunes works (in a good way) in that they now allow you to redownload previously purchased content on any machine which you are authorized on (which will help keep content in synch even if you have deleted it before). Note this is only true for content that is still available for sale in iTunes (which is usually the case if you purchased it in the past – but might occasionally be an issue if you are connecting say to iTunes in a different country and some content isn’t available in the geography).

    • Jomaty said

      Thank you very much, I got it figured out the way I have been wanting it done.

  44. Niamh said

    Thanks so much for the information – it was simple to do 🙂 Like others I was worried that I
    would lose all purchased tracks, but that is not a problem.

  45. bethel said

    Hi, thanks for the information. I will have to ‘deactivate all’ so that I can activate my new computer that was purchased after the old one died. My question is…how will this affect my 16 year old daughters set up of her itunes? She’s got tons of stuff that’s all exactly where she wants it to be and put into different lists and categories and all that humbug that I don’t understand. When I deauthorize and reauthorize her computer, will itunes come up on her computer exactly the same as it was, or will things change? This is EXTREMELY important. Thanks for your help!

    • Assuming that you and your daughter share an iTunes account (which I’m assuming based on your question) the following will happen when you deactivate ALL.

      1) Anything which is DRMed on your daughter’s computer will not be able to be played either on her computer OR on any devices she syncs (iPhone, iPad, iPod) until she (or you) authorize that computer. Not a big deal – basically just login onto that computer and authorize it. Likely just a few seconds.

      2) nothing about her files or how she has arranged things into playlists etc will be impacted.

      Basically you (or your daughter if she also has your password) will need to authorize her computer but she won’t lose any of her work.

      Also remember that “authorization” only matters for DRMed content. That is mostly apps, movies, tv shows, ebooks (if bought via iBooks) and audiobooks today. Most music and podcasts are DRM free. Authorizing is mostly linking an iTunes account to that computer – less about specific files these days unless you have a lot of purchased app or video content.

      hope this answers your questions.

  46. Shawn Gould said

    if you Deauthorize all computers do you lose all of your tunes

    • No you do not lose any of your tunes – however if you have old DRMed mp3 files (or newer tv shows, movies, audiobooks or apps) you will need to reauthorize your new computers and devices to play those files that are under DRM.

  47. Kels said

    You are awesome. I have been ripping my hair out trying to figure this out. Bloody apple!!!
    Thanks a cheery bunch 🙂

  48. spc said

    Or if you have the hard drive intact and bootable, just connect the dead computer’s drive to your friends Mac via an external SATA hub and set the boot volume to that HD and restart the computer. It works on the same principal as a bootable USB volume.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: