Problem Authorizing iTunes to Play Purchased Music

How to Fix a Repeat Authorization Request in iTunes

iTunes on display at Apple store.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

iTunes can play a wide range of media files, including those you purchase from the iTunes music store. Most of the time, this seamless ability to play purchased music is just that: seamless. But once in a while, iTunes seems to forget that you're authorized to play your favorite tunes.

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

The Symptoms

You launch iTunes, and as soon as you start to play a song, iTunes tells you that you're not authorized to play it.

Or, you're listening to your favorite playlist, and when you get to a certain song, the "you're not authorized" message pops up.

The Obvious Solution

Although the interruption is a bit maddening, you quickly authorize your Mac by selecting "Authorize This Computer" from the Store menu in the iTunes app, and then entering your Apple ID and password. Problem solved, or so you think.

The next time you try to play the same song, you get the same "you're not authorized" error message.

There are several things that can cause this continuous loop of requests for authorization.

Music Purchased From a Different User Account

For me, at least, this is the most common cause of the authorization issue. My iTunes library includes songs I'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, there's a good chance that it was purchased using a different Apple ID.

Your Mac must be authorized for every Apple ID that was used to purchase music you want to play. The problem is, you may not remember what ID was used for a particular song. No problem; that's easy to find out.

  1. In iTunes, select the song that is asking for authorization, and then select "Get Info" from the File menu. You can also just right-click the song and select "Get Info" from the pop-up menu.
  1. In the Get Info window, select the Summary tab or the File tab (depending on the version of iTunes you are using). This tab includes the name of the person who purchased the song, as well as the account name (Apple ID) he or she used. You now know which Apple ID to use to authorize the song for playback on your Mac (you'll also need the password for that ID).

The Apple ID Is Correct, But iTunes Is Still Requiring Authorization

Even if you use the correct Apple ID to authorize music playback, you may still see a repeat request for authorization. This can happen if you're logged in to your Mac using a simple user account, which doesn't have the correct privileges to allow iTunes to update its internal files with the authorization information.

  1. The solution is to log out and then log back in using an administrator account. Once you're logged in with an administrator account, launch iTunes, select "Authorize This Computer" from the Store menu, and provide the appropriate Apple ID and password.
  2. Log out, then log back in with your basic user account. iTunes should now be able to play the song.

If It's Still Not Working…

If you're still stuck in the request for authorization loop, then one of the files that iTunes uses in the authorization process may have become corrupt.

The easiest solution is to delete the file and then re-authorize your Mac.

  1. Quit iTunes, if it is open.
  2. The folder that contains the files we need to delete is hidden, and can't usually be seen by the Finder. Before we can delete the hidden folder and its files, we must first make the invisible items visible. You'll find instructions for how to do this in our View Hidden Folders on Your Mac Using Terminal guide. Follow the instructions in the guide, and then come back here.
  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 box that opens.
  1. You will now be able to see that within the Shared folder is a folder called SC Info.
  2. Select the SC Info folder and drag it to the trash.
  3. Re-launch iTunes, and select "Authorize This Computer" from the Store menu. Because you deleted the SC Info folder, you will need to enter Apple IDs for all of the purchased music on your Mac.