You’ve been warned – Deauthorize your Mac before you sell or donate it

Apple has posted an AppleCare Knowledge Base Document that explains how authorization works within iTunes 4 and how to authorize and deauthorize a computer. Make sure you don’t forget to deauthorize your Mac before you sell it or donate it or you might regret it.

“Authorization is a way to help protect the copyrights on the music you buy. You can listen to music you purchase from the online Music Store on up to three different computers. When you play a song you’ve purchased, your computer becomes ‘authorized’ to play music purchased using your Apple Account. Note: Songs that you encode in AAC format from another source than the Music Store do not need to be authorized.”

“To authorize a computer to play songs purchased using your Apple Account, select a song you’ve purchased (in your library or the Purchased Music playlist), and click the Play button.”

“If the computer is already authorized to play songs purchased using your account, the song plays.”

“If the computer has not yet been authorized to play songs purchased using your account, you’re asked to enter your ID and password. Enter the Apple ID and password for the account with which the song was purchased.”

“You should deauthorize your computer before you sell or give it away.”

To deauthorize a computer:

1. Open iTunes.
2. Choose Advanced > Deauthorize Computer.
3. Select “Deauthorize Computer for Apple Account” and enter your Apple ID and password.

Note: Initializing the drive will not deauthorize the computer. If you will be initializing the drive prior to selling or donating your computer, deauthorize the computer first, then initialize the drive.

The Knowledge Base Document is here.


  1. How long until this is cracked? I can’t imagine it’s too hardcore of an encryption scheme. Not that I have more than 3 computers or anything ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”raspberry” style=”border:0;” />

  2. I have 2 authorized computers running now and i’s a painless process. My only comment is that it seems the computer needing to be authorized/deauthorized needs to be online. How else, other than talking to Apple, would it know how many computers are already authorized, etc?

  3. This article isn’t particularly useful. I thought it was going to tell us how the authorization process works. Specifically, does the Apple Music server download an encrypted key into your Mac when you authorize and delete it when you deauthorize? How does it handle multiple purchasers on one Mac (with multiple encrypted keys downloaded to the computer?)? Is the purchaser’s Apple ID embedded in the song (I guess it must be, but it would nice to have it confirmed)? Since authorization is for the Mac, how do you deauthorize for one of the purchaser’s on the Mac (or does iTunes somehow keep track of the Apple IDs of multiple keys on the Mac and lets you choose which person’s key you want deleted)?

    Understanding how things work makes it easier for me to remember to do things later. Telling me to do X or Y invariably gets forgotten without the prior explanation.

  4. Somehow i suspect that authorization and de-authorization requires being connected to the internet.

    If Apple keeps a master list of computer ID’s authorized to play songs from your account, deauthorizing a computer which is not connected will do very little good.

    Suppose you are selling a machine. You disconnect it, deauthorize, and then wipe the drive without reconnecting. In this scenario, Apple’s server will never get the message that you have deautorized the machine.

  5. Yes, Apple’s Music server is maintaining a master list of authorized Macs with the purchaser’s Apple ID. To play these songs offline requires something downloaded form that server and linked to the song on the Mac. To authorize/deauthorize you MUST be connected to Apple’s Music server for it to update its database and either download or delete whatever key it requires on your Mac.

  6. One thing to remember is if you don’t deauthorize a computer that computer counts against the number of computers you can play your Apple music on. SO, if you get rid of 3 authorized computers you won’t be able to authorize any more computers (I think the number is 3) and you will lose the ability to play your music on your new computer.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.