Bugs & Fixes: How to uninstall iTunes

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When a particular application refuses to behave as it should—repeatedly freezing, crashing or otherwise failing to cooperate—an often recommended potential solution is to “uninstall” the application and reinstall a new copy of the latest version. For most applications, removing the offending application is as simple as dragging its icon to the Trash and selecting Empty Trash.

A few applications require a bit more work. There may be an entire application folder to delete. There may be an additional file or two in the Library folder that needs to be removed. If there is some background process associated with the application, you may need to restart your Mac. In a few cases, the software may include its own “uninstall” utility to facilitate all of this.

Then there is iTunes.

To be fair, if you decide you need to uninstall/reinstall iTunes, my experience has been that deleting just the application is almost always sufficient. I have rarely gotten additional benefit from doing more than that. However, according to Apple, in “rare instances, it may be required to remove all traces of iTunes from your computer.” Doing this requires more effort than you might suspect.

First, launch Activity Monitor and quit the iTunes Helper process. Next, delete this same process from your Login Items list (in the Accounts System Preferences pane), Lastly, restart your Mac.

Even this may not be enough. You may need to go to ~/Library/Preferences and delete all the files that begin with com.apple.iTunes, including ones in the ByHost subfolder.

Apple goes so far as to recommend deleting the ~/Library/iTunes folder. Whoa! This folder contains all of your iPhone and iPod Software Update files. While it’s probably OK to delete them (as you can download the latest versions again if needed), you might want to make a backup of this folder (storing it in another location) before deleting it. Just in case.

Even after completing all of this, you are not necessarily done. A separate Apple support article notes that if your iPhone, iPod or iPad is “not recognized in iTunes, you may need to remove and reinstall the Apple Mobile Device Service.” To do so, delete the AppleMobileDevice.kext file in the /System/Library/Extensions folder as well as the AppleMobileDeviceSupport.pkg in the /Library/Receipts/ folder. Then restart your Mac.

You have at last reached the end of your uninstall journey. It’s time to install a fresh copy of iTunes. Now you’re done. Congratulations. Pat yourself on the back.

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At a Glance
  • Pros

    • Major improvements to iPhone-app organization
    • Genius Mixes feature provides automatically generated playlists
    • Significantly improved media management and syncing features
    • Home Sharing feature lets you easily copy media between iTunes libraries


    • No way to edit Genius mixes, or even view their contents
    • Occasional crashes
    • Growing feature list and responsibilities add to interface clutter
    • Home Sharing's auto-transfer feature limited to iTunes-purchased media
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