Schedule iTunes Downloads

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Next, start iTunes. If iTunes doesn’t ask you for your iTunes Store login right away, click Store > Check for Available Downloads on the top menu bar. Enter your Apple ID and password, then click the “Check” button. Open the Downloads window by pressing the download arrow icon on the top right of the main iTunes window. Click the “Pause All” button. At this point, you can close the main iTunes window, but leave the Downloads window open. Make sure nothing is obscuring the Downloads window.

Make sure that your Energy Saver settings will not turn off your monitor until the Automator Calendar event has had a chance to run. In testing, the downloads did not resume if the monitor was off. You can adjust this setting by going to System Preferences > Energy Saver. Once the process has started, turning off the monitor will not stop downloads. Unfortunately, if your Mac is in your bedroom, this can be annoying and may wake you up.

You can now put your Mac to sleep. If everything is set up properly, your Mac will wake up at the designated time and the Automator event will trigger iTunes to download. You can re-use the same Calendar event. Simply change the date and time. Make sure to adjust the wake scheduler on your Mac. You will probably also want to turn off the scheduled wake when you’re not planning a scheduled download.

Many people can just start their iTunes downloads before they go to sleep, and it will work fine. There are situations, particularly in large households, where a night owl needs to use the Internet connection, and many people are competing to use it during the day or evening. Scheduling iTunes downloads for off-peak hours will ease demand for Internet access in a large household.

I will be writing more how-to articles featuring the Automator in the near future. Follow me on Twitter, G+ or Tumblr for updates. You can also subscribe to email updates below.

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  1. iTunes with OS 10.11.6 – substitute Window>Activity for the Downloads folder in your process. And yes, the calendar event defaults to the date and time it is created. Just pause the download and change the date/time.

  2. It’s not grayed out, apparently it’s for security reasons you can’t use auto login for admin
    I’ll try leaving on overnight, see what happens. Pretty sure that will solve issue though less than ideal…
    It would be so much easier if iTunes had a download schedule like (hic) microsoft Office

    1. That’s strange. I am running Yosemite, but I can auto login using my admin account. Perhaps that is a new security feature with El Capitan. Can you create a new user that has permissions to run the Automation task?

      I agree. Scheduling downloads seems like a useful feature that you would find in mature software. iTunes has been around for over a decade, yet they have never implemented it. They do have a method for overnight iOS updates. You’d think they would do it for the return on investment alone. More people would make iTunes purchases if they could run the downloads overnight. Even people with unlimited Internet access have slow speeds during peak hours. Their whole families are using the network during the day. I think a lot of people would like to schedule iTunes downloads, whether it be overnight or during the day when they are at work.

      I doubt it will ever happen, as Apple likes to keep things “simple”.

    2. I think it may be an issue with initial configuration. If you set it up to allow the iCloud password and admin password to be the same, it will not allow auto logins. If you uncheck the “use iCloud password” checkbox, you will be prompted to enter a new admin password. You can use your iCloud password as this new password, for the sake of convenience. After this change, you should be able to allow your admin account to login automatically.

  3. Hi,
    I read your article with great interest as I live in southern France and have internet by satellite.
    I tried setting up the automator as you described in you article and everything worked fine except the download didn’t start.
    My Mac woke up midnight (asking for login) and calendar event appeared in top right hand corner, however downloading did not start.
    What am I doing wrong?
    I also get an error warning (non-specified) from automator when saving created calendar event.
    I’m using OS X El Capitan, version 10.11.2

    Thanks for any ideas…..

    1. I’m not running OS X El Capitan yet, but I believe the login is thwarting the process. You can have it login automatically, but if your computer is in a public place, it’s not advisable.

      You can enable automatic login by opening System Preferences and then clicking Users & Groups and then click Login Options. Enable automatic login for your account, and it should work. You can always put this setting back when your computer is in a public location.

      1. Hi,
        Thanks for feedback
        In account options, unable to activate automatic login for principal user account (admin)
        Any ideas?

        1. If it’s grayed out, you just need to click the lock icon and authenticate with your admin password. The lock prevents unauthorized users from changing secure settings.

          If that’s not the issue, you could always just leave your Mac running overnight, with the screen unlocked. It’s not ideal, but Macs are very power efficient, so it shouldn’t cause a noticeable bump in your electricity bill.

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