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. Amanda said

    I just went to “account” under the Itunes store, and there was no option to “deauthorize all.” Did they take that option away? PLease email me back as my laptop died, rendering my ipod useless with my new laptop.

  2. Caroline said

    Not sure if this helps, Amanda, but I just upgraded to iTunes 7.5 and logged into my account, by clicking on my Apple ID near top right and the deauthorize all option was available. Very glad to have found this tip.

  3. Caroline said

    Sorry, also saw this on the linked page, “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.” maybe why you do not see this feature.

  4. Rich said

    Thank you so much…this worked great!

  5. Becky said

    Thank you so much!!! I was so frustrated that I couldn’t figure it out until I found this website.

  6. brock said

    thanks just found this link…worked great

  7. […] Ever wonder how to de-authorize a computer on iTunes? I needed to do this after my computer crashed last week. Here’s a little help. […]

  8. Chad said

    awesome. worked great and can finally listen to my music again! (just reformatted)

  9. j said

    just call mac support if you need to have them do it for a lost computer, and they will, even though you don’t have 5 machines which is what you need to see the deauthorize all button. just call them!

  10. sarah said

    i havent used up to 5 computers yet, only 2. but i just bought a new macbook and the itunes on my macbook wont let me play songs from my ipod. it says i have to authorize the computer. and after i authorize the computer, it keeps saying the same thing over and over again. i cant use the deauthorize all button since i havent used 5 computers yet, and my last computer is dead. idk what to do! im so confused. help!

  11. Jenny said

    Hey! If you deauthorize all 5 computers will you lose those songs on that account on the computers???? Is there a way to deauthorize one of the five computers without deauthorizing all of them even if you don’t have access to that one computer???

  12. cass said

    if u deauthorize all 5 computers, no, you will not lose any of your songs. and about deauthorizing one computer without actually being on that computer, i dont think you can.

    hope i helped.

  13. Tiffany said

    WOW thanks SO MUCH, this worked amazingly and it’s so simple! I was so annoyed that I couldn’t play my new songs

  14. Marc said

    Great post. Still helpful more than a year later. Thanks! (iTunes version

  15. dave said

    Great post! i just got a ton of my music back!

    thanks a ton!

  16. Jason said

    just another reason why itunes is the biggest piece of garbage ever. thanks for the help on listening to music I paid for.

  17. John said

    Great advice, and thanks! I had four now-defunct computers and could not play a lot of my music and also could not figure out how to deauthorize the old ‘puters. I knew I’d find out how once I Googled it. Your post came up first, and now I’m good to go….

    Thanks a bunch!

  18. Melanie said

    This is awesome, thank you SO MUCH! I’ve been wondering about this forever. This thread is invaluable!

  19. Ben said

    Best. Thread. Ever. Thank god for this thread.

  20. Amy said


    I have iTunes 8.0 or 8.2 or something, but I only have 1 computer authorized.. I don’t know how to authorize my laptop. There is no “authorize” button . .

  21. I replied to Amy privately but to reiterate my answer here for anyone else who is puzzled – to authorize any track which needs to be authorized in iTunes attempt to play it on the new computer. Do this while that machine is connected to the Internet and iTunes will prompt you to login to your iTunes account. This will authorize that machine.

    You only need to authorize a machine to play content you have purchased from the iTunes store (i.e. which has DRM) – so non-iTunes Plus music, videos, TV shows, movies (purchased or rented). iPhone/iTouch and iPod applications are a somewhat special case.

    Hope this helps everyone, glad this post is still helping people!

  22. mattuch said

    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.

  23. ramone said

    wow. Even in 2009 this post freakin rocks my world. You changed my life. bless you.

  24. Britta said

    this was unbelievably helpful. thank you a thousand times over.

  25. colin said

    help! im going crazy here. i just got a macbook, and im trying to rent a movie on itunes. everytime i try to rent it, it tells me that my computer isn’t authorized. The message tells me to go to the store menu and click “authorize computer”. Help?

    • on macs when you have iTunes open there is a menu on the top which is the Store menu – between controls and advanced – that has the Authorize Computer menu option. You need to have an iTunes account and can only authorize 5 different machines.

  26. Bruce said

    Thank you so very much!!

  27. Lisa said

    HELP!!! This is driving me crazy. I only have two lap tops authorized with itunes and i need to deauthorize the origional as that laptop is completely bust. I want to make my new one the default for itunes so I can manage my music from there. I have successfully put all my music from my iphone onto my new laptop but now I can’t put new music onto my iphone or edit the old playlists. I can’t deauthorize my old laptop as I can’t even get into itunes on there and as I have less than 5 computers registered I can’t do it from itunes. What shall I do? Please help me
    Thanks, Lisa

    • cynthi said

      I don’t know if anyone answered your question, but it sounds like you need to sync your iphone to your new laptop. If you don’t want to do that, you can deselect “automatically sync” and select “manually manage.” That will allow you to drag and drop, manage playlists, etc. without having to sync. If you want to deauthorize your old laptop and you only have two computers authorized, you’ll need to call Apple.

  28. Paul said

    This is the dumbest cr@p I have ever seen. Why the F would they not allow you to just see a list of authorized computers and then select the one(s) you want to de-authroize? So I have to either wait until I get 5 computers or call Apple and wait on hold for god knows how long? And people bitch about Microsoft’s rules. This is why I don’t own a Mac.

  29. jayh said

    Paul – I agree completely – this is the stupidest thing I have ever seen.

    • To be fair to Apple, they have among the shortest wait times for customer support calls in the industry – and have more options than most other companies (i.e. live support at an Apple store). But yes, the change to having to have 5 things authorized is a bit annoying.

  30. Nick Wall said

    Paul – couldn’t agree more. Apple may design great machines, but their software and DRM strategy SUCKS. They are a beacon of all that is bad in closed-shop attitudes

  31. indimama said

    thanks tons!!!!! i was going nuts trying to figure this out.

  32. cbrey said

    I couldn’t agree more– as a Linux user, I already have to run Winblows in emulation just to use iTunes, which is the biggest piece of bloatware/proprietary non-intuitive garbage I’ve ever seen. The extent to which Apple flies in the face of its own fawning self image as the “anti establishment” company is mind blowing.

  33. lynn said

    I have 3 dead computers and 3 good ones, 1 of which is new. The only way to authorize the newest one is to deauthorize them all. What happens to libraries on the 2 good ones? Do I lose my playlists, games, downloads, music from cds?

    • Lynn,

      You will NOT lose anything if you deauthorize all, however you will have to authorize each computer before that machine can play anything which was purchased from the iTunes store with DRM (older music, videos, tv shows, movies or movie rentals). You do not lose any playlists or anything you have ripped from your own CDs, or any music added which does not have DRM (music purchased from iTunes in the past year or most music downloaded from the Internet)

      Hope that helps,


  34. Tiffany said

    Hopefully this is not a dumb question, but what about the status of season passes for TV shows you may have purchased. My hubby has a season pass for a TV show that has not yet finished the current season. Are these affected at all when a computer is deauthorized?

    I’m thinking there’s no impact, but thought I’d ask to be safe…Thanks.

  35. Kris said

    I’m due to upgrade my CPU and motherboard. With this in mind I have upgraded my iTunes Store purchases to “iTunes Plus”, as this is DRM free; does this mean I no longer have to worry about deauthorizing? Thanks.

    • in general if you have all content which is DRM free (either purchased via the iTunes store, purchased from or Amie St or another online music store, or ripped from your own CD collection all that content won’t need to be authorized so yes, no issues at all.

      if you have videos you have purchased (or movies you have rented via iTunes) after you deauthorize a machine you would have to reauthorize that machine to play that content on that machine.

      hope this helps.


    • Kris said

      Many thanks. Awesome thread.

  36. edel said

    Thanks 🙂

  37. Grateful said

    Awesome! worked really well. worth mentioning that you click on your account nake in the itunes store tab.

  38. GV said

    Spot on!!!

  39. Umu said

    Many thanks.

    Although the Apple way of doing things can sometimes be annoying, it’s good to know that I can get an answer to my query straight away.

    Much appreciated.

  40. richard said

    after having computers stolen, lost in house moves and work ones upgraded… this is the best piece of information ever!! thanks for sharing

  41. tonybone4 said

    Thanks a lot. This was really helpful! I was starting to go nuts trying to figure out how to deauthorize these defunct computers.

  42. Yara said

    Thank you soo much =)
    this was very helpful =)

  43. zxo0oxz said

    THANKS you are a god to me now! ive used up 5 over the years and i wanted home sharing on my 2 new ones!

  44. dylan said

    will it delete all my bought music???

    • No you won’t lose any music or files – what will happen is that your first time you play any music or videos which you purchased which have DRM applied to them you will be asked to authorize that computer – i.e. login into your Apple iTunes account. Music you purchased years ago from iTunes – though newer purchases won’t have DRM applied or any TV shows or movies you purchased as well as some audiobooks might have DRM applied to them.

  45. mac said


    I`m banging my head against a brick wall here.

    My old lappy died, and I`m using my wife`s one now.

    I downloaded itunes, and couldn`t see my playlists etc..then I found this post.

    I have just authorised this lappy.

    My question is:

    How can I retrieve my library etc as my old lappy has died?



    • Mac,

      Unfortunately your library is (was) on your old laptop (unless you had it on an external drive). You can try removing the hard drive from your old laptop and connecting it to your new computer (Best Buy or other computer stores can sell you a kit to turn a laptop drive into an external HD for about $20-30 or you might be able to borrow the cables from a friend). You will need to copy over your music files either from your old laptop HD or from a backup of your old laptop. Apple usually doesn’t allow you to redownload files you have previously purchased but if your HD is completely unrecoverable you could try asking them (if you have a lot of purchased music from Apple).

      If your music is mostly stuff you have ripped from your own CD collection then unfortunately you may need to rerip that music and rebuild your playlists.

      Another possibility, if your music collection is small enough and you have an iPod which is fully synched with it is you might be able to sync that iPod back to your new computer (but this can be tricky)

      Good luck, dead computers can be headbanging problems indeed.


  46. mac said

    Many many thanks for the quick reply.

    I`m having one really bad day and this is just another thing..

    Cheers again


  47. Brandi said

    Is there a way to deauthorize computers if I do not have all five authorizations in use?

    • There used to be. I think there is still a way via Apple you can ask them to deauthorize all your machines and then you can reauthorize the specific ones you need to use. I believe they may now restrict you to doing this just once a year or so to avoid abuse.

    • Paul said

      You can deauthorize individual pcs under Store > Deauthorize Computer. The Deauthorize All is great if a computer is stolen or, as in my case, if you’ve had one or more computers crash and you’ve reformatted the hard drive or gotten a new drive. And in those cases it’s possible that the pc with the new drive is holding more than one authorization. So just deauthorize all and reauthorize the ones you’re using. Very easy to do and you won’t lose any music. (Apple does limit the “Deauthorize All” function to once per year and it is not an option until you’ve reached 5 authorizations.)

  48. Alii said

    I have two computers, but one doesn’t have Internet and the one that does it’s not recognizing my iPhone. I want to transfer all the apps I have to the one without Internet, but just as I’m about to sync it says “need to authorize computer” but I don’t have Internet is there anyway I can do it?

    • To authorize a computer I believe it does indeed need to be connected to the Internet for that authorization. Can you connect that computer even briefly to the Internet?

  49. Amanda said

    My work laptop has been replaced twice in past year, after both hard drives died – so not able to deauthorize. According to the authorize tool, I have 4 computers authorized, but when I try to authorize tracks bought from the work computer (regular one, rather than laptop) it tells me I have authorized five and need to go to deauthorize all. Laptop, which is all I have access to now, doesn’t offer that as it thinks I only have four authorized.

    HELP!?!?!?!? and tried to use the support link on the iStore, but nothing happens…anyone out there got suggestions? I would like to have access to all the music I’ve bought, not just selected tracks!

    Thanks x

  50. AJ Araiza said

    Thank you so much!! This helped out a whole lot, I have been trying to download apps and now I can!

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