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

iTunes 12.2 for OS X icon full size

Even if you don’t sync your iPhone 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 from 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 downloaded onto your iPhone.

In this tutorial, we’ll guide you through the easy process of transferring your purchased music, movies, television shows, ringtones, podcasts and books from an iPhone 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.

Authorize this computer

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.

transfer media from iphone to computer

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

Automatic Downloads iTunes on Mac

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 as of 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 Books, along with electronic books purchased on the Books Store, are transferred to the Books app on your Mac. Rather than store this content in your iTunes library, the Books 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 Books app on your Mac and select Preferences in the Books menu, click the Store tab and then tick the box next to “Download new purchases automatically”.

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

Automatic Downloads Apple Books Mac

You can also force this check manually by choosing Store → Check for Available Downloads in the Books 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.

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