Fix an issue authorizing iTunes to play purchased music

iTunes can play a wide range of media files, including those you purchase from the iTunes Music Store. More often than not, this ability to play purchased music seamlessly is just that: seamlessly. But from time to time, iTunes seems to forget that you’re allowed to play your favorite songs.

This can happen for various reasons, but luckily, you can easily fix them by following this guide.

The symptoms

When starting iTunes, as soon as you start playing a song, iTunes tells you that you are not authorized to play it. Perhaps you are listening to your favorite playlist and when you get to a certain song, the message “You are not authorized” appears.

The obvious solution

Although the interruption is a bit annoying, you can quickly authorize iTunes on your Mac by choosing Authorize This Computer from the iTunes app’s Store menu and entering your Apple ID and password. Problem solved, or so you think.

The next time you try to play the same song, you will get the same “not authorized” error message.

Various issues can cause this continuous cycle of authorization requests.

Music purchased from a different user account

This seems to be the most common cause of the authorization problem. This may be because your iTunes library includes songs that you’ve purchased, as well as songs that other family members have purchased. If you enter your Apple ID and password when prompted, but the song still asks for authorization, it was most likely purchased with a different Apple ID.

Your Mac must be authorized for each Apple ID used to purchase music you want to play. The problem is that you may not remember which ID was used for a particular song. Fortunately, that’s easy to understand.

  1. In iTunes, select the song that asks for permission, then choose Get Info from the File menu . You can also right-click the song and select Get Info from the popup menu.
  2. In the Get Info window , select the Summary tab or the File tab (depending on the version of iTunes you’re using). This tab includes the name of the person who purchased the song, as well as the name of the account (Apple ID) that person used. Now you know which Apple ID to use to authorize the song for playback on your Mac. In order to access that song, you’ll need the password for that ID.

The Apple ID is correct, but iTunes still requires authorization

Even if you use the correct Apple ID to authorize music playback, you might see a replay of the authorization request. This can happen if you’re logged into your Mac with a simple user account, which doesn’t have the correct privileges to allow iTunes to update its internal files with authorization information.

  1. Log out and log back in with an administrator account. Once you’re signed in with an administrator account, launch iTunes, select Authorize This PC from the Store menu, and provide the appropriate Apple ID and password.
  2. Log out and log back in with your basic user account. iTunes should be able to play the song.

If it still doesn’t work…

If you’re still stuck in the authorization request loop, it’s possible that one of the files that iTunes uses in the authorization process has become corrupted. The easiest solution is to delete the file and re-authorize your Mac.

  1. Quit iTunes, if it’s open.
  2. The folder containing the files we need to delete is hidden and cannot normally be seen by the Finder. Before we can delete the hidden folder and its files, we must first make the invisible items visible. After doing so, you will be able to re-authorize your mac.
  3. Open a Finder window and navigate to /Users/Shared . You can also use the Finder’s Go menu to jump to the Shared folder . Select Go To Folder from the Go menu , and then enter /Users/Shared in the dialog that opens.
  4. Now you can see that inside the Shared folder there is a folder called SC Info.
  5. Select the SC Info folder and drag it to the Trash.
  6. Relaunch iTunes and select Authorize This Computer from the Store menu . Since you’ve deleted the SC Info folder, you’ll need to enter Apple IDs for all purchased music on your Mac.

too many devices

One problem you may run into is having too many devices associated with one Apple ID. iTunes allows up to 10 devices to share music from your iTunes library. But out of the 10, only five can be computers (Mac or PC running the iTunes app). If you have too many teams allowed to share, you won’t be able to add any additional teams without first removing a team from the list.

Keep in mind that if you’re experiencing this issue, you’ll need to have an iTunes account holder whose music you’re trying to share make the following changes on their computer.

  1. Start iTunes and select View My Account from the Account menu .
  2. Enter your Apple ID information when prompted.
  3. Your account information will be displayed in iTunes. Scroll down to the section labeled iTunes in the Cloud.
  4. Click the Manage Devices button .
  5. In the Manage devices section that opens, you can remove any of the devices from the list. If the device you want to remove is grayed out, you’re already signed in to iTunes on that device. You must first sign out before you are allowed to remove it from the list of shared devices.