Downloading Songs to iTunes From Previous Purchases

While Apple won’t release the iOS5, Lion, and iCloud software packages for some time yet, they instituted an update to iTunes that will allow you to access to any songs you previously downloaded through the music catalog. It’s something that doesn’t seem that great until it’s actually in use. Only then can you see the magnitude of that one small update.

Under iTunes 10.3, it looks very much the same as any other build of iTunes, but it has the one key difference in that it’s already working within the confines of the cloud. Much has been said about the cloud, but it seems more like a mysterious and ominous entity. For anyone that has any doubts about it, this slight occurrence of it in iTunes should give a hint of how great it could be.


If you click on “Purchased” under the store menu, as always, it shows all the songs you have purchased on iTunes from that computer. However, if you glance towards the lower right, underneath that listing it says, “Download Previous Purchases.” This rather inconspicuous listing does far more than it appears to.


Clicking “Download Previous Purchases” takes you to a listing of Music, Apps, and Books that have been downloaded previously. This means all materials to have ever been downloaded by your iTunes account. It doesn’t just mean the ones you have downloaded using that current computer, or the ones that are loaded on that system. It means all to have ever been downloaded by the history of that account, including ones downloaded to a different computer or unsynced iOS device.


If you click on Music, you’ll see a list of the fifty most recent purchases, as well as an alphabetical listing by artist. Next to each artist’s name is a number, and that number is how many songs have been purchased by that particular artist. If you click on “Not In My Library” on the far right, it will show you a listing of only the songs that have not been purchased or synced on that computer. You can click on the small cloud icon, and it will immediately download to the computer.


A listing of purchased apps also appears in this listing. Note, however, these are the apps for iOS devices, not applications for a computer.  Just as with the music, you can choose either all apps to have ever been purchased on your account or just apps that aren’t downloaded onto the particular computer you’re working on. Clicking on the clouds again downloads them immediately.


For something new to iTunes, iBooks purchases are listed here as well. Previously the only way to download iBooks was through the app on an iOS device, but now they are not only listed here in your purchases, but you can also shop for them directly from your computer. If you go to the iTunes store you can shop for them just as you would music and apps.

This all makes it so much easier to transfer music, as well as apps and books from computer to computer and to all your separate iOS devices. Previously it all had to be done by syncing the devices with the individual computers or devices they were purchased on. Now all your purchasing history is stored in the cloud allowing you to literally access it anywhere. This means you don’t have to carry huge libraries on all your computers and devices, allowing your to choose what type of materials you want uploaded on different devices and at different times.

Laura Tucker
Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.

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