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ITunes 11 Logo.png
Itunes 11.png
iTunes 11 running on OS X Mountain Lion
Developer(s) Apple Inc.
Initial release January 9, 2001 (2001-01-09)
Stable release (February 19, 2013 (2013-02-19)) [±]
Preview release N/A [±]
Development status Active
Operating system
Size ~150  MB (varies by OS)
Available in 23 languages
  • Media player
  • CD ripper
  • Digital asset management
  • Optical disc authoring
  • Podcasting
  • Tag editor
License Proprietary freeware

iTunes is a media player and media library application developed by Apple Inc. It is used to play, download, and organize digital audio and video on personal computers running the OS X operating system and the iOS-based iPod, iPhone, and iPad devices, with editions also released for Microsoft Windows.

Through the iTunes Store, users can purchase and download music, music videos, television shows, iPod games, audiobooks, podcasts, movies and movie rentals in some countries, and ringtones, available on the iPhone and iPod Touch (fourth generation onward). Application software for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch can be downloaded from the App Store. iTunes has been criticized for not being able to transfer music from one portable device to another.

iTunes 11 is the most recent version of iTunes, available for Mac OS X v10.6.8 or later, as well as Windows XP or later. It was released on November 29, 2012, one month later than expected, because of a delay by Apple, which said that it needed extra time to get things right.


SoundJam MP, developed by Bill Kincaid and released by Casady & Greene in 1999, was renamed iTunes when Apple purchased it in 2000. Jeff Robbin, Kincaid, and Dave Heller moved to Apple as part of the acquisition, where they continue to work today as the software's original developers. They simplified SoundJam's user interface, added the ability to burn CDs, and removed its recording feature and skin support. On January 9, 2001, iTunes 1.0 was released at Macworld San Francisco. Macintosh users immediately began poking through iTunes' resource fork, where they discovered numerous strings and other resources that indicated iTunes was a re-engineered SoundJam MP. Casady & Greene ceased distribution of SoundJam MP on June 1, 2001 at the request of the developers./°≤/

Originally a Mac OS 9-only application, iTunes began to support Mac OS X when version 2.0 was released nine months later, which also added support for the original iPod. version 3 dropped Mac OS 9 support but added smart playlists and a ratings system. In April 2003, version 4.0 introduced the iTunes Store; in October, version 4.1 added support for Microsoft Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Introduced at Macworld 2005 with the new iPod Shuffle, Version 4.7.1 introduced the ability to automatically convert higher-bitrate songs to 128kbit/s AAC as these devices did not natively support audio encoded in AIFF or Apple Lossless formats, also improving the value proposition of the Shuffle's limited flash-only storage. Version 7.0 introduced gapless playback and Cover Flow in September 2006. In March 2007, iTunes 7.1 added support for Windows Vista, and 7.3.2 was the last Windows 2000 version. iTunes lacked support for 64-bit versions of Windows until the 7.6 update on January 16, 2008. iTunes is currently supported under any 64-bit version of Windows Vista, although the iTunes executable is still 32-bit. The 64-bit versions of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 are not supported by Apple, but a workaround has been devised for both operating systems. Version 8.0 added Genius playlists, grid view, and a new default visualizer. iTunes 9 added "Home Share", enabling automatic updating of purchased items across other computers on the same subnet and offers a new iTunes Store UI. Genius Mixes were added, as well as improved app synchronization abilities, extending the iPod Shuffle 128 kbit/s down-convert feature to all of Apple's AAC-capable devices. It also adds iTunes LPs to the store, which provides additional media with an album. Apple added iTunes Extras as well to the store, which adds content usually reserved for films on DVD and Blu-ray discs. Both iTunes LPs and Extras use web-standards HTML, JavaScript and CSS.

A version of iTunes was shipped with cell phones from Motorola, which included the ability to sync music from an iTunes library to the cellphone, as well as a similar interface between both platforms. Since the release of the iPhone, Apple has stopped distributing iTunes with other manufacturers' phones. In the absence of support from Apple, Nokia has released a Mac application called Nokia Multimedia Transfer that supports transferring data from iTunes and iPhoto onto some Nokia devices. Palm, however, reverse-engineered iTunes to allow its Pre device to sync directly with iTunes. It did this by fooling iTunes into thinking the device was an iPod.

In late March 2010, Apple released version 9.1, which has support for the iPad and its iBooks application. In June, Apple released version 9.2, which brought support for the new iPhone 4, as well as any iDevices running iOS 4, and included support for the new iPhone and iPod Touch version of the iBooks app. On September 1, 2010, Apple held their annual music press event, where they unveiled an updated version: iTunes 10. The new version was available for download later that day. One major feature includes the integration of iTunes Ping, which brings a social factor to the iTunes experience. Apple CEO Steve Jobs also announced a new logo, one without a CD in the background because of the increasing popularity of iTunes digital downloads. On November 29, 2012, Apple released iTunes 11. The update included a new user interface that dropped Cover Flow in favor of a redesigned grid layout. Other new features included an improved MiniPlayer, tighter iCloud integration, and a new iTunes Store design. iTunes Ping was dropped in favour of more advanced Twitter and Facebook integration.

Device synchronization

iTunes 2 was the first version of the software to be able to sync with an iPod. iTunes can automatically synchronize its music and video library with an iPod or iPhone every time it is connected. New songs and playlists are automatically copied to the iPod, and songs and playlists that have been deleted from the library on the host computer are also deleted from the iPod. Ratings awarded to songs on the iPod will sync back to the iTunes library and audiobooks will also remember the current playback position.

Automatic synchronization can be turned off in favour of manually copying individual songs or complete playlists. iTunes supports copying music to an iPod; however, only music and videos purchased from the iTunes Store can be transferred from the iPod back to iTunes. This functionality was added after third-party software was written which allowed users to copy all content back to their computer. It is also possible to copy from the iPod using ordinary Unix command line tools, or by enabling hidden file viewing in Windows Explorer, then copying music from the iPod drive to a local disk for backup. Doing this can be confusing because the files are arranged in such a way that their folders and (depending on iPod and iTunes versions) file names are seemingly picked at random as they are put on the iPod. It is worth noting, however, that the files (along with their embedded title and artist information) remain unchanged. It is therefore less confusing to let iTunes reimport, reorganize, and rename all of the files after they are backed up. When music or video purchased through the iTunes Store is copied from an iPod, it will only play on computers that are authorized with the account that was used to purchase them. Several third party utilities can remove this limitation by stripping iTunes DRM from protected files. The legality of using such software in the United States is currently the subject of active debate.

When an iPod is connected that does not contain enough free space to sync the entire iTunes music library, a playlist will be created and given a name matching that of the connected iPod. This playlist can then be modified to the user's preference in song selection to fill the available space.

The Mac OS X version of iTunes can also synchronize with a small number of discontinued digital music players, while the Windows version supports only the iPod. The synchronization is limited, however, in that the iPod is the only digital music player compatible with Apple's proprietary FairPlay digital rights management technology, and thus most music purchased through the iTunes Store (before the introduction of iTunes Plus) can only be played on an iPod. The remaining ability to synchronize with a limited number of legacy digital music players is likely a remnant of Apple's history in the music industry: iTunes was released in January 2001, nine months prior to the iPod's unveiling, and slightly more than two years before the introduction of the iTunes Music Store. When iTunes was released, compatibility with other music players was critical. Since iPod has now become the dominant digital music player, Apple no longer considers that compatibility to be a necessity.

In June 2009, Palm Inc released the Palm Pre, which has the ability to sync with both the Windows and Mac OS X version of iTunes by identifying itself to iTunes as an iPod. The Pre is able to sync only DRM-free music. However, on July 14, 2009, Apple released iTunes version 8.2.1, which prevented the Palm Pre from syncing directly with iTunes. Then on July 23, 2009, Palm Inc released WebOS 1.1, re-enabling syncing between iTunes 8.2.1 and the Palm Pre. But Apple again prevented Palm Pre syncing with the release of iTunes 9.

A number of unsupported third-party applications have been created to assist synchronization of songs with any music player that can be mounted as an external drive. Though iTunes is the only official method for synchronizing with the iPod, there are other applications available that allow the iPod to sync with other software players.

As of iTunes 7, purchased music can be copied from the iPod onto the computer. The computer must be authorized by that iTunes account. iTunes currently allows up to 5 computers to be authorized on one account. To de-authorize and register new computers thereafter, all accounts must be deleted, followed by registering the live one. This can be done only once a year.

iTunes does not feature any transfer facility for importing music files between computers directly. This is being addressed in September 2011 by iCloud, but only tracks that Apple sell in their iTunes Store are available (in 256 kbit/s AAC format) without uploading them to iCloud first. Any other tracks, that are either not available in the Store or that the user wants in different encoding can be uploaded to the iCloud with 5 GB of free space and the, as yet undisclosed, potential to purchase more storage. Though what audio formats will be accepted for upload has not been confirmed.

iTunes managed content can also be accessed via the Apple TV set-top box. Files in the iTunes library can either be synchronized with the Apple TV unit, which results in their being copied to the Apple TV's hard drive (for the first generation Apple TV), or streamed to the Apple TV directly from a Macintosh or PC. Apple TV does not require the use of iTunes (as of the 'Take Two' software update) and can now import files from the iTunes Store directly over the internet.

As of iTunes 9.1, it is possible to sync the iPad to iTunes, allowing music, movies, applications and iBooks to be synced to the iPad. With the launch of iTunes 10.5, synchronising iOS devices using both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth became possible.

Software integration

In Mac OS X, iTunes is tightly integrated with Apple's iWork and iLife suites. These applications can access the iTunes Library directly, allowing access to the playlists and songs stored within (including encrypted music purchased from the iTunes Store). Music files from iTunes can be embedded directly into Pages documents and can supply the score for iDVD, iMovie, and Keynote productions. iTunes is also integrated with Front Row, compiling its information from the user's iTunes and iPhoto libraries. In addition, any song exported from GarageBand, Apple's basic music-making application, is automatically added to the user's iTunes music library. iTunes's Artwork.saver is a screen saver included in Mac OS X v10.4 that displays album artwork as a screen saver. iTunes widget is a Dashboard Widget that controls iTunes.

In Windows, Adobe Photoshop Elements can connect to iTunes in order to stream its photo library on Apple TV.

Moreover, iTunes can be scripted, using AppleScript for Mac OS X or using the Apple-provided SDK for iTunes on Windows allowing many other applications to integrate themselves into iTunes. A common use is to relay the title and artist of what the user is currently listening to into their instant messenger, or social networking service. LimeWire, which closed on October 26, 2010, was a peer-to-peer program that provided integration with iTunes, adding songs from LimeWire directly to your iTunes library without sharing your iTunes purchased songs.

In addition, visualizer plugins and device plugins are supported. Visualizer plugins allow developers to create music-driven visual displays and free software development kits are available for Mac and Windows can be from Apple.

Device plugins allow support for additional music player devices, but the APIs is only licensed to authentic OEMs who sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Apple Inc. also offers a free iOS application that allows the user to remotely control their iTunes library or Apple TV over DACP. This can be downloaded from iTunes itself or directly from one's iOS device. It is only compatible with iOS v2.0 and above. In terms of usage, it is very similar to the iPod application that is included with all iPhones, with the only difference is the lack of Cover Flow support.

Though iTunes itself can be installed where the user desires, ancillary applications such as Bonjour which are part of the iTunes installation cannot be placed in a user-desired directory.


Privacy policy

In June 2010, Apple updated its general privacy policy for the iTunes Store and iOS 4 supported devices, revealing that it could and would collect real-time location-based information on users aged 13 and over. The information had been included in various device-specific EULAs since 2008, but was not included in Apple's general privacy policy until 2010.

The revised policy states that Apple has the right to share this information with 3rd parties who provide services to the customer, including advertising and promotion services. Apple also states that "it may be necessary" to provide this [real-time] information in response to "requests from public and governmental authorities within or outside your country of residence or if [Apple] determines that for purposes of national security, law enforcement, or other issues of public importance, disclosure is necessary or appropriate.... Additionally, in the event of a reorganization, merger, or sale we may transfer any and all personal information we collect to the relevant third party."

The revised policy does not make any distinction between warrant-based and warrantless searches, nor provide what criteria would trigger the sharing of personal real-time information with government entities, nor allow an opt-out for the location-based information.

The revised policy prompted the co-chairs of the Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus of the United States House of Representatives to request that Apple respond to nine basic privacy questions out of concern of possible violation of that country's Federal Communications Act. The Caucus stated it was pleased with Apple's prompt written explanations, and stated they would continue to monitor the issue.


The Telegraph reported in November 2011 that Apple had been aware of a security flaw since 2008, that would let unauthorized third parties install "updates" to end-user's iTunes' software. They reported that a security writer named Brian Krebs had informed Apple of the vulnerability in 2008. They reported that the flaw was only closed in November 2011. They reported that United Kingdom security software firm Gamma International developed a program named FinFisher, intended to covertly spy on computer users, which can be clandestinely installed via bogus updates to iTunes' software. Der Spiegel reported Gamma International had advertised the capability to clandestinely install FinFisher by exploiting this iTunes vulnerability.

The software is seen as a security risk by IT companies, so its use in a business environment is discouraged.


iTunes has been criticised as bloatware, some believing it installs many additional components that may not be necessary, such as Bonjour, QuickTime and Apple Software Update unless one uses the specific features they provide, those being respectively library sharing between devices, support for certain media formats and automated updates.

System requirements


  • Mac computer with an Intel Core Processor
  • Intel Core Processor or faster processor is required to play Standard Definition video from the iTunes Store
  • 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo or faster processor is required to play HD video, an iTunes LP, or iTunes Extras from the iTunes Store
  • 512 MB of RAM; 1 GB is required to play HD video, an iTunes LP, or iTunes Extras
  • Screen resolution of 1024×768 or greater; 1280×800 or greater is required to play an iTunes LP or iTunes Extras
  • Playing videos also requires at least 16 MB of video RAM
  • Broadband Internet connection to use the iTunes Store
  • Apple combo drive or SuperDrive to create audio, MP3, or back-up CDs; some non-Apple CD-RW recorders may also work.
  • Apple SuperDrive to back up library to DVDs; some non-Apple DVD-RW drives may also work.
  • Mac OS X version 10.6.8 or later
  • Safari 4.0.3 or later
  • 400 MB of available disk space


  • A PC with a 1 GHz Intel or AMD processor
  • Intel Pentium D or faster processor is required to play Standard Definition video from the iTunes Store
  • 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo or faster processor is required to play HD video, an iTunes LP, or iTunes Extras from the iTunes Store
  • 512 MB of RAM; 1 GB is required to play HD video, an iTunes LP, or iTunes Extras
  • Screen resolution of 1024×768 or greater; 1280×800 or greater is required to play an iTunes LP or iTunes Extras
  • DirectX 9.0-compatible video card with 32 MB of video RAM; 64 MB recommended
  • Broadband Internet connection to use the iTunes Store
  • iTunes-compatible CD or DVD recorder to create audio CDs, MP3 CDs, or back-up CDs or DVDs
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