As you might have heard, or noticed yourself, your previously downloaded iPhone, iPod touch and iPad applications that their developers have since removed from sale also disappear from the App Store’s

Purchased section.

The new Apple policy, now in effect, forces you to manually transfer purchased apps to a computer to keep them forever should they get removed from sale on the App Store.

I’ve been doing this as a precaution for years and so should you, too. Here’s how you can transfer apps and media bought via your iOS device in the App Store and iTunes Store on your computer with just a few easy steps.

How to transfer App Store and iTunes Store purchases to your Mac

Step 1: Launch iTunes on your Mac or Windows PC.

Step 2: Connect your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad with a USB cable to the computer and wait for its icon to appear in iTunes. Click the icon to select your device.

iTunes iPhone icon Mac screenshot 001

Step 3: Choose Devices from the File menu and select “Transfer Purchases from [device name].”

iTunes Transfer Purchases Mac screenshot 001

After the process completes, your purchased App Store applications and any media you bought from the iTunes Store will be copied into the iTunes library on your computer. The location of the iTunes library is set under iTunes → Preferences → Advanced → iTunes Media folder location.

iTunes Media folder location Mac screenshot 001

Each iPhone, iPod touch or iPad application transferred this way will be saved as an .ipa file within the iTunes library folder on your computer.

Again, the new Apple policy says that removing an app from sale in all App Store countries also removes it rom your Purchased history. But if you take the steps above and save copies of downloaded apps to your computer, you’ll be able to sync them with your other iOS devices through iTunes, even if they are no longer available for re-downloading.

Apps and media purchased from the App Store and iTunes Store through iTunes are automatically saved in your iTunes library.

Showing iTunes menu on Windows

If you’re using iTunes for Windows and cannot see the app menu, press the Alt key to turn the menus on and off.

iTunes for Windows show menu PC screenshot 001

Tip: You can also press the Control and B keys at the same time to turn on the iTunes menu bar.

iTunes for Windows show menu PC screenshot 002

To keep the iTunes menus on all of the time, click the Menu icon in the upper-left corner of iTunes and select Show Menu Bar from the pop-up menu.

What can I re-download?

As mentioned, previously downloaded apps, free or paid, that have been since been removed from sale across each and every App Store country will no longer be re-downloadable via the Purchased tab. You should also know that your purchased audiobooks, ringtones and alert tones can’t be downloaded again.

Music, movies and television shows purchased from the iTunes Store can be re-downloaded: visit the Purchased section in iTunes or within the iTunes Store storefront app on your iOS device.

However, any music imported from audio CDs or received from other sources won’t copy from your iOS device to the iTunes library due to copyright issues.

All podcasts from your device’s Podcasts app—as well as copies of all PDFs and books from your iOS device’s iBooks app—will transfer to iTunes.

Before you transfer purchases made on your iOS device to a computer, make sure that your Mac or Windows PC is authorized with the same Apple ID account you used to make the purchases.

iTunes Authorize This Computer Mac screenshot 001

And if you bought media and apps on your iOS device using multiple Apple ID accounts, you must authorize iTunes for Mac or Windows for each one. Start by choosing Authorize This Computer from iTunes’ Store menu.

Then, provide credentials for your Apple ID and click Authorize. Repeat the process for each Apple ID you use.

The fine print

The ability to download previously purchased apps and media is provided as a convenience to you. As clearly spelled out in the iTunes Store Terms of Service, some iTunes content that you previously acquired may not be available for subsequent download at any given time.

“As you may not be able to subsequently download certain previously-acquired iTunes Eligible Content, once you download an item of iTunes Eligible Content, it is your responsibility not to lose, destroy, or damage it, and you may want to back it up,” reads the fine print.

Additionally, some previously purchased movies might not be available in your library or in the Purchased section if their owner removes them from sale.

“Apple reserves the right to change content options (including eligibility for particular features) without notice,” as per the iTunes Store Terms of Service.

Downloading past purchases from iTunes is supported on up to ten of these devices:

  • iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch with iOS 4.3.3 or later
  • iTunes for Mac or Windows 10.3 or later

To learn which iTunes content types you can re-download in your country, consult an Apple support document.

See the iTunes Store Terms of Service for additional information about re-downloading your content, authorizing computers and other stuff pertaining to what you can and cannot do.

Related tutorials

If you like this article, check out other how-tos in our archives:

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