Schedule iTunes Downloads

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schedule iTunes downloads

If you live in a household where many people share the same Internet connection, scheduling iTunes downloads can ease bandwidth demands. During peak hours, Internet connectivity slows down. Scheduling iTunes to download content off-peak can free up bandwidth when you need it most. Broadband is much faster in the early hours of the morning. iTunes also has faster performance early in the morning when fewer people are downloading. You can download more iTunes content in less time with scheduling.

iTunes does not have a feature to schedule downloading. You’ll need to use Automator and the wake scheduler in System Preferences > Energy Saver to accomplish this task. If you’re not familiar with Automator, it is an amazing OS X feature. One can easily automate tedious, repetitive tasks. You don’t have to be a programmer to use it. It can record your mouse clicks and trackpad gestures. Advanced users can develop code in AppleScript to create sophisticated automation solutions. Über-geeks can even trigger Unix shell scripts through the Automator. (A true geek would use Cron, but I digress…)

Creating the Automator Calendar Event

First, you need to purchase content from iTunes or have something to download. The Automator cannot authenticate with iTunes. This makes sense. It would be disastrous if an automation script went awry and purchased a lot of unwanted iTunes content. iTunes, much like most e-commerce solutions, requires a human being to type in a password before purchases.

Next, open iTunes. If iTunes has not prompted you to sign in, click on Store > Check for Available Downloads from the top iTunes menu. Type in your Apple ID and click the “Check” button.

Click the download icon on the top right of the main iTunes window.

open iTunes download window

The Downloads window will appear. Click the “Pause All” button.

pause iTunes downloads

Start the Automator application. This isn’t on the app dock by default. There are many ways to launch it, but I find Spotlight to be the easiest. Simply click on the magnifying glass icon on the top right of your Mac’s screen and type in “Automator”. Before you finish typing, you will see an app icon that looks like a robot holding a pipe. Click on this to launch Automator. You may want to drag this into your dock, if you use it frequently. (continue…)

launch Automator with Spotlight

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8 thoughts on “Schedule iTunes Downloads

  1. Hello, thanks for this – it’s really helpful here in a remote village in South Africa where we use expensive satellite internet (except between midnight and 3am when data is free and unlimited).
    One question: I have an iPad not a Mac. The iPad doesn’t have the Automator. Is there another way to do this on an iPad? Possibly with an App like Launch Center Pro?

    • One possibility is that you could leave the iTunes downloads app open (with content downloading) on your iPad and shut down the device. Then connect the charging cable to an outlet timer and then the iPad. When the outlet timer turns on, it should boot up your iPad (just like when you plug it into a charger) and the downloads should resume. I have to test this concept, but if it works, I will publish it. I think it should work.

        • I tried it with both the AppStore and iTunes, and it does not work. Unfortunately, when you shut down the device, it stops the download process. Restarting the device won’t start downloading automatically. It makes sense, but this means there is no way to schedule iTunes downloads on iOS. I checked out Launchpad Pro. It is cool, but it won’t do this either. It doesn’t seem to be able to schedule.

          iOS 8 Extensions may enable this functionality. Stay tuned…

  2. I have tried this on an iMac running El Capitan but I only get error messages. Are there some other instructions that I need to use?

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