How to transfer purchased media from iPhone and iPad to a computer

By , Feb 22, 2016

iTunes 12.2 for OS X icon full size

Even if you don’t sync your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad to your Mac or Windows PC, you might still want to make a backup of any iTunes Store purchases you have made on your iOS device for safekeeping.

With the introduction of so-called App Thinning technologies in iOS 9, it is no longer possible to transfer purchased apps as these downloads are now tailored specifically to your iOS device. For example, iPad-related assets are omitted from an app you have download onto your iPhone.

In this tutorial, we’re guide you through the easy process of transferring your purchased music, movies, television shows, ringtones, podcasts and books from an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad to a Mac or Windows PC running iTunes.

Before you transfer purchases, ensure that your computer is authorized with the same Apple ID you used to make the purchases: select iTunes → Store → Authorize This Computer, enter your Apple ID and password and click Authorize.

iTunes Authorize This Computer Mac screenshot 001

If you purchased content from the iTunes Store on your iOS device using multiple Apple IDs, you’ll need to repeat the process and authorize your computer for each one in iTunes in order for all purchased content to transfer successfully. You can authorize a single computer running iTunes with up to five different Apple IDs.

How to transfer purchased media from iPhone and iPad to a computer

1) Launch iTunes on your Mac or Windows PC.

2) Connect your iOS device with the included USB cable to the computer and wait until iTunes recognizes it.

3) Select File → Devices → Transfer Purchases from “[device name]” in the iTunes menu (on Windows, hold down the Control and B keys on your keyboard if the iTunes menu bar is not visible.

iTunes Transfer Purchases Mac screenshot 001

As mentioned, ​​this feature works only for media content bought from the iTunes Store and does not apply to apps purchased on an iOS device running iOS 9 or later. Additionally, music imported from audio CDs and synced to your iOS device, or content received from other sources and imported into apps on your iPhone and iPad, won’t get copied from your device to the iTunes library using the aforementioned method (this data is, however, stored on your computer when you perform a backup of an iOS device in iTunes).

Enable Automatic Downloads

If you hate the idea of connecting your iOS device to your computer with a cable, you can enable Automatic Downloads in iTunes. This will prompt iTunes to download all iTunes Store media purchases made on other devices each time you launch it.

Go to iTunes → Preferences and click the Store tab. Now tick the boxes next to Music, TV Shows and Movies underneath the Automatic Downloads heading, and also enable the “Always check for available downloads” option.

iTunes store password settings Mac screenshot 001

You can also tell iTunes to download video purchases in HD or SD resolution by ticking the respective boxes. Note that iTunes confusingly includes Apps in the Automatic Downloads section even though, as I mentioned, it’s no longer possible to transfer purchased apps in iOS 9.

Where does iTunes store my transferred purchases?

Your purchased music, movies and TV shows are copied into your iTunes library. In addition, all podcasts from your device’s Podcasts app are copied into your iTunes library.

RELATED: How to move iTunes library to an external drive

What about my purchased books?

All your PDF documents imported into iBooks, along with electronic books purchased on the iBooks Store, are transferred to the iBooks app on your Mac. Rather than store this content in your iTunes library, the iBooks app puts your books and PDFs inside the ~/Library/Containers/ folder on your Mac.

It’s advisable to enable automatic downloads for books purchased on other devices. To do so, open the iBooks app on your Mac and select Preferences in the iBooks menu, click the Store tab and then tick the box next to “Download new purchases automatically”.

Now every time you open iBooks the app will check for new purchases made on other devices and automatically download them to this computer.

OS X El Capitan iBooks Download new purchases automatically Mac screenshots

You can also force this check manually by choosing Store → Check for Available Downloads in the iBooks menu. If you back up your Mac with Time Machine or a third-party backup solution, make sure to include in your backups both your iTunes library file and the aforesaid path for Books for Mac.

Feel free to submit your tutorial ideas at

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  • Mohammed Burn

    i need to transfer apps so much but there is no solution

  • Sohail Wahab

    There is! If you’re using iTunes on windows, open iTunes >tap Alt> F> T

    • ali

      But it’s not working for apps now…. 🙁

  • ali

    I don’t know what’s apple is in its mind for not transferring the apps…
    Bad idea it is…
    We have to download all the apps again if we switch any iOS device… V bad…
    Wastage of cellular data…:(

    • That’s half-true. You can set iTunes to automatically download apps that you download to your iOS devices. This way, you can build a library of all your apps in iTunes so you can set up future iOS devices without having to re-download apps from the App Store. You can also go to the Purchased section of the App Store in iTunes to download all your app purchases to your Mac.

      • ali

        But why Apple prohibited it….???

      • ali

        You know I have apps in many GBs… So again download in computer and have to keep computer on for several days….

  • Jerry

    I have a app I have on my phone that is no longer in the US App Store and theirs no way for me to transfer it over to my iTunes

  • the hood

    The more I learn and discover things about itunes the more I realise why it is such a despised bit of application. Does Apple’s continuing incompetence with this thing know no limit?

  • alfredggg

    I googled for a long time to find out what’s the better way to transfer music from iPhone to computer, the above mentioned way helped, and FonePaw iOS Transfer is better I think.