How to Download iPad Apps From iTunes on Your PC or Mac

A workaround returns this feature to your computer

iTunes Store Screenshot
You can buy apps from iTunes by changing the store category on the right side of the Store's home screen.

 iTunes

In 2017, Apple removed the option to download and install apps using iTunes on a computer. Following user complaints, Apple made available an older version of iTunes that users can download and use on their Macs and 32-bit or 64-bit PCs. This iTunes version returns the ability to download and install apps to your computer. Subsequent iTunes upgrades are not applied automatically.

This article is archived for those users.

If you read about an app on your laptop, you don't need to hunt down your iPad to download it on the spot. You can buy it on iTunes and download it later. This is a great way to keep from forgetting the app's name. If the iPad is childproofed with app purchases turned off, gathering around the PC to purchase new apps is a fun way to shop for apps with your child.

The ability to download apps onto your PC is also great for those who still have a first generation iPad. While many apps no longer support the original iPad, if you download an app on your PC or Mac, the app shows up in the previously purchased category of the App Store on your iPad. This is a handy workaround to download apps to the first generation iPad.

How to Download Apps to Your Computer

To download apps to your computer:

  1. Launch iTunes on your PC or Mac.

  2. Sign in using the same Apple ID as you use on your iPad.

  3. Click on iTunes Store at the top of the screen. By default, the iTunes Store usually starts in the Music category.

  4. Change the category to the App Store by clicking on the Music category located on the right side of the screen to produce a drop-down menu.

  5. Choose App Store in the drop-down menu.

  6. Browse apps as you would on your iPad or iPhone. The initial page lists the featured apps, including new apps and currently popular apps. You can use the search feature at the top right of the screen to search for a particular app or change the category of apps by clicking All Categories on the menu. This allows you to choose from specific categories of apps, such as productivity apps or games.

  7. Click on an app to get more information on it.

  8. Click on the price to buy the app or on Get to download a free app.

After you purchase the app, it automatically downloads to your PC or Mac.

How to Transfer the App to an iPad?

There are two ways to transfer the app from your computer to your mobile device.

  • Plug your iPad into your PC or Mac and sync the device. You can choose to sync only apps if you want to speed up the process. 
  • Download the app from the App Store on your iPad. To do this, launch the App Store app on your iPad and choose the previously purchased tab. On this tab, you will see your most recent purchases, including those done on a PC or Mac. Tap the cloud button next to the app icon to start the download. You are not charged again for apps you've already bought.