This Computer is Already Associated with an Apple ID

If you are one of those people eager to sign up to iTunes Match, you may run into problems if you share your Mac or PC with another person in your home. We have one Mac and a number of iOS devices, including an Apple TV (gen 2). Unfortunately, you can only use one Apple ID on a device every 90 days with iTunes in the Cloud. So, if my wife downloads a few of her past purchases on our mac using her Apple ID I have to wait 90 days before I can do the same.

UNIX and by extension OSX is more than capable of handling multiple users, however the same cannot be said for iTunes and its Cloud-based service. It sees a Mac or PC as one device, regardless of how many users have their own accounts on it.

Sadly, my wife has downloaded past purchases on our Mac and I have to wait around 70 days before I can use Match or download any past purchases.

My advice would be to pick one main Apple ID to use with iTunes (such as the one you use with your Apple TV – if you have one) and then have any other member of the household transfer any music bought on an iOS device to the computer through the normal syncing process.

This is very, very, very annoying. I have no doubt that this is a limitation that has been imposed by the record labels and yes iCloud could provide an opportunity for pirates to get their hands on some free music, but once again it is the legitimate users who suffer.

Here’s a relevant forum conversation.


It appears that if you sign up for iTunes Match and your Mac has been assigned to an Apple ID other than your own, you can transfer it back to you during the subscription process.  I have now reclaimed my iMac from my wife and am having my music collection matched to the Cloud.

Even so, limiting the service to just one user on a Mac or PC is simply idiotic.

15 thoughts on “This Computer is Already Associated with an Apple ID

  1. That’s right, we both have separate user accounts with separate iTunes libraries, but Apple sees one device and therefore only one iTunes in the cloud account.

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  3. I was having trouble syncing a particular music video I had purchased with a previuos Apple ID to my iPhone via the cloud so without thinking I switched IDs and all hell broke loose.
    All my music was removed from my iPhone and I’m locked out of iCloud for 90 days.
    All I can do now is sync in the old fashioned way. My eagerness to sign up to Match was probably not such a good thing now that I’ve effectively lost 3 out of 12 months subscription because of a quite innocent mistake.
    I’m willing to admit its my fault but I now realise why people throughout time always get to a point when they say to themselves ‘enough is enough, I can’t be arsed with this anymore’.
    I’ve been an apple man since the beginning and back in the pre iMac age even operated an authorised dealer/repair but I just feel now that it’s pointless trying to keep up with it. It’s just too complicated and requires too much effort to keep up with.
    So sayonara Apple. It’s been great while it lasted but from now on I’ll not bother to buy into the latest update or piece of hardware, I’ll never own an iPad or buy that shiny MacBook Air I was yearning for 2 weeks ago and I doubt I will bother with Match in 3 months when you let me have my music back.

  4. I fully agree with CaptainIncapable. Apple taking my music for hostage for 90 days is completely unfair. In future I will not buy any media from Apple and recommend everyone agains Apple purchases as well. You simply can not trust them.

  5. Your music is quite safe on your hard drive and remains DRM free, so I wouldn’t worry about that, you just can’t switch between accounts on the same machine, which is inconvenient – especially for others in your house.

    It would be easy to abuse iTunes Match if the safeguard wasn’t there (pass around login details & upgrade your friend’s mp3′s etc) so I would guess the labels had a hand in enforcing that restriction.

  6. Running into this same problem now with some music I purchased on my phone. My wife and I have two separate accounts and two phones. The 90 day lockout is absurd. Please explain to me why I shouldn’t just purchase the music through Amazon next time, and use their cloud service?

  7. Mike
    What you may lose by going to Amazon is the convenience, but having to take back control of your machine from your partner in the eyes of Apple is hardly convenient either. I don’t get a lot of use out of the ability to stream my music on the Apple TV or access all of my songs on my phone because I’m always keeping an eye on the data usage. What you could do is if you have a lot of low quality mp3s in your collection (I don’t know about you, but I’ve been collecting them since the early 00′s and they were often around 128k sample rate. Use Match to upgrade your collection and then forget about it. If your wife wants to try it out, transfer the machine back to her in 90 days and upgrade her collection too. Just an idea…

  8. I do appreciate the link you provided to the Apple Forum discussion, Gavin. There is a post there from 3 January from “irishjohn,” which shows, IMO, that it really depends on the Apple rep in getting this situation resolved. Some seem knowledgeable and willing to help; others do not.

    My family just consolidated to one Mac for the entire household, and iOS devices for each of us. But now, my wife’s iTunes Match library is associated with the Mac, and I am unable to associate my ID for another 83 stinkin’ days. I suppose I will continue to hound Apple until I get a satisfactory response. But I have to say, I may not continue my iTunes Match subscription when it comes up for renewal next year. :-(

  9. i have this error come up every time i want to download something from the cloud on my mac book pro that i have already purchased from iTunes on my iPad. on the laptop i have 4 accounts but my account only has my apple ID on there. what should i do?

  10. Jake, it sounds like one of your other three accounts on your macbook has been used to download past purchases. Sadly iTunes sees your macbook as one device regardless of how many user accounts there are.

    You’ll either have to wait the 90 days or sign up for Match and reclaim your macbook that way.

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  12. My problem is similar. I live in a rubbish country where the TV sucks and iTunes has no media. I have a US iTunes account (for most things), a UK iTunes account (for what I can get) and AUS iTunes account (for HBO shows).

    Yes I know you are meant to only use accounts in the country you are in but hello, there are another 6.7 billion people in the world that might want to watch some TV shows. American corporations seem to forget about the existence of the rest of the world sometimes.

    Anyway I now require a mac for each and every account. I don’t mind for past purchases but it seems my season passes are coming up as past purchases now so I cannot download those when they are released.

    Very, very annoying.

    Perhaps I should go back to free torrents? I assume the studios would prefer this with the way they have made iTunes such a bloody nightmare. Clearly my money is not good enough for them.

  13. Agree. This is absolutely mind blowingly retarded. My girlfriend and I just bought a new iMac, so we could clear some space and share the computer using multiple user accounts. We both PAY for iTunes Match, and all we want to do is both use the service that we each PAID for, in our separate totally isolated accounts whose only commonality is that they happen to reside on the same computer. But apparently we not only can’t both use the service that we both paid for at the same time, but we have to “take turns” in a cycle of 90 day.. Outrageous. I have some choice words for the exec at Appl that put that restriction in place. Don’t advertise the multi-user ‘features’ of your OS if don’t actually exist.

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