by Mat Bitner
Anyone who owns an “iDevice” knows that Apple’s iTunes program is a media powerhouse. Not only can it keep all your songs, movies, TV shows, etc. organized, but it gives all its users the ability to purchase a nearly limitless supply of entertainment.
However limitless the iTunes catalog may be, there is a limit to how many computers a user can authorize his or her content to be accessible on. Most people won’t have the need to authorize five computers (five being the magic number of authorizations available to iTunes users) either because they don’t have five computers or because they don’t need all their media content available to them through every desktop or laptop they own. But what if you’re a giving soul who felt the need to authorize Uncle Bob’s computer so he could play your copy of Plants vs. Zombies on his iPad? With five authorizations per iTunes account, it’s easy to quickly spread your media too thin among family and friends.
Baby Steps Deauthorization
If you still have easy access to machines you know you have authorized to use your iTunes content, deauthorization is pretty straight forward. Open iTunes, click on “Store” in the menu bar, and then click “Deauthorize This Computer…”. You’ll then be asked to enter your Apple ID and password. After clicking on “Deauthorize”, you’ll have gained back one authorization to your account.
That’s all well and good, but what if Uncle Bob lives on the other side of the country and you no longer have access to his computer? Apple has put into place a “kill switch,” of sorts, that deauthorizes all authorized computers in one go. Keep in mind that you can only mass deauthorize your account every 12 months, and only after you’ve hit that five machine limit.
A friend of mine ran into authorization problems after attempting to sync an iPod to his new MacBook Pro. iPods using auto sync will automatically delete any non-authorized material from the iPod, and if the iPod is syncing with an unknown library, all the content will be deleted after being presented with a warning message. To avoid losing data in either scenario, simply disable auto-sync and manage your library manually. My friend, however, liked the ability to automatically sync his iPod whenever it was plugged in, so he attempted to authorize his new laptop, which is when he found out he had hit his activation limit of five.
The first step to fix your problem is to head to the iTunes Store section of iTunes, click the “sign in” button in the upper right corner, and log in to your account.
After you’ve signed in, click on your username, again in the same spot in the upper right corner, and you’ll see your account settings. You’ll also see the number of authorizations you’ve completed, and a big button that says “Deauthorize All.” If you’re all ready, go ahead and click the button.
iTunes will confirm with you one more time if you’d like to deauthorize all accounts. This will disable any machine connected to the internet that you have previously authorized. Again, you can only use this “end all” option once every 12 months, so be sure this is the time to use it before confirming the dialogue box.
Just like that, you’re set. You’ll see a confirmation message, letting you know all your computers are deauthorized. Now, all that’s left is to authorize your new machine(s) and get back to syncing your stuff.