Get iTunes 12.6.3 with App Store for Mac and Windows

Oct 9, 2017 - 47 Comments

iTunes 12.6.3 with iOS App Store can be downloaded and installed on Mac and Windows PC

Do you miss having the App Store in iTunes? You’re in luck, because Apple has released iTunes 12.6.3, an alternative version of iTunes that retains the ability to download and install iOS apps directly within the iTunes application on a computer. App management via iTunes was a popular feature that was removed from iTunes 12.7 in favor of managing apps directly on iOS devices instead.

Apple apparently released iTunes 12.6.3 as an alternative version because “certain business partners might still need to use iTunes to install apps.” But even if you are not a “business partner” you can still download and install iTunes 12.6.3 and use the version of iTunes to manage apps with an iPhone or iPad connected through a Mac or Windows PC.

iTunes 12.6.3 is available to download for Mac and Windows users, and can be easily installed over iTunes 12.7 to regain the native iOS App Store functionality for improved iPhone and iPad app management. Users who would like to have the iOS App Store functionality in iTunes on their computers again should download and install the alternative iTunes release. The ease of installation prevents the need to downgrade iTunes 12.7 or fiddle with the somewhat hidden iTunes 12.7 method of transferring apps and ringtones to an iPhone or iPad.

Download iTunes 12.6.3 with iOS App Store Support

You can download iTunes 12.6.3 from the Apple support page, or using the direct download links below which point to the files directly on Apple servers:

Choosing a direct download link will start the file download for iTunes 12.6.3 immediately. The download is about 280 MB and can be installed like any other software onto a Mac or PC.

How to get the App Store back into iTunes

Accessing the App Store, apps, or Tones in iTunes 12.6.3 is basically the same as prior versions of iTunes, here’s all that is necessary to get app management and the iOS App Store back in iTunes again:

  1. Download and install iTunes 12.6.3 onto the computer, you can install it over iTunes 12.7 or a prior release version
  2. Install iTunes 12.6.3 with App Store

  3. Launch iTunes as usual
  4. Select the pulldown menu in the upper left corner
  5. Access the App Store in iTunes

  6. Choose “Apps” or “Tones”
  7. Get to the Apps section of iTunes again

  8. Under “Apps” you will find the app library, updates, and an ‘App Store’ option to be able to download apps directly into the App Store via iTunes again
  9. Access apps and App Store in iTunes 12.6.3

If you connect an iPhone or iPad to iTunes 12.6.3 and select the device by clicking on the tiny little icon in the titlebar of the app, you’ll also have direct access to apps and tones on the device through iTunes again as well.

Note: if you are having a problem with the “iTunes Library.itl” file after installing iTunes 12.6.3, quit out of iTunes and navigate to ~/Music/iTunes/ and backup the iTunes Library.itl file by renaming it, then open Previous iTunes Libraries/ and copy the most recent version of that iTunes file into the ~/Music/iTunes/ directory. You can read full instructions on fixing iTunes Library.itl errors here.

Downloading and installing iTunes 12.6.3 also stops iTunes from asking the user to download any new versions, so if you want to stay on iTunes 12.6.3 with the App Store, ringtones, and other features that are since removed from future versions, you can easily do so.

iTunes with App Store

iTunes 12.6.3 supports all existing iPhone and iPad devices, and the release also supports the iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus, meaning users of the newest model iPhone hardware will have full iTunes support without needing to bother with iTunes 12.7.

If you have been having difficulty adapting to the removal of the App Store in iTunes 12.7, you’ll likely appreciate installing iTunes 12.6.3 and getting app management back again, so check it out.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, iTunes, News, Tips & Tricks

47 Comments

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  1. Annoyed Aaron says:

    So basically this is a way of Apple saying “oops we made a mistake” but rather than releasing iTunes 12.7.1 with the App Store for all users, they quietly put out a side release for those savvy enough to find it.

    Why is Apple so hostile to users nowadays? It is so maddening as a customer and user. I have been using Apple since the Apple II, and I can’t recall a time where the company has ever been so hostile to its users than the modern era where removing features and popular capabilities in software and hardware is now the norm, for no user benefit. I just don’t get it. Apple feels like they have the ego today of Microsoft in the 90s, convinced of their superiority and equally convinced that nobody would ever abandon their platform because they are locked in. Well, how’d that work out for Microsoft? Apple is not immune to the same type of slow user revolt.

    It’s really simple, just stop aggravating your customers. People want features, not the removal of features. People want the App Store in iTunes, headphone jacks on their iPhones, the Home button on their iPhones, an escape key and function keys on their MacBook, ports without hundreds of dongles, magsafe, the list goes on and on….

    • Annoyed Aaron – you have said exactly what has been in my mind for some time now.

      Like you, my first association with Apple was with an Apple II+ – how chuffed I was when I moved to a IIe and got an upgrade card that allowed me to have 264kb of memory!

      I’ve had an example of virtually every new series of Apples and then Macs ever since. Even when the clone debacle saw Apple’s shares drop to $28 and almost everyone forecast their demise, I continued to support them. I’ve been one of their loyal and most supportive and useful de-facto sales people for 40+ years – as I know have many others.

      I might sound stupid to some people out there but it actually hurts me to see how Apple operates today. It’s as though I’ve lost an old friend’s trust and care. I may be wrong but I think there are others out there who probably feel some of what I do.

      I’m just bewildered as to why Apple would disregard what has probably been one of the most loyal customer bases in the world, ever.

      Oh for Steve to rise from the dead and put things to rights.

      • michael p says:

        A lot of the problems including this trend toward taking away functionality started during Jobs.

      • Ted says:

        Well, there you go. Another one. Cry me a river, will you, for the leadership team at Apple will feel bad for you.

        You “supported” Apple for 40+ years. Well, Apple was founded on April 1, 1976 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Inc.). So you “supported” them since day 1? That would put you (at least) in your 60s.

        See the date above when Apple was founded? April 1st. Do you think that’s a coincidence…?

        Maybe SJ was cleaver to pick that day for a reason…

    • Jammer55 says:

      Just installed and when I started it and this what comes up

      [ The file “iTunes Library.itl” cannot be read because it was created by a newer version of iTunes. Would you like to download iTunes now? ]. It won’t let me start unless i download the new version gain.

      This really fricken sucks on Apples part. Get it done right.

    • michael p says:

      Preach it brother!

      And how about they fix all the bugs in Pages going on what, like five years for some of them?

    • Ted says:

      It’s great that you have been using Apple since the Apple II era. The bad news is that Apple doesn’t care. As a matter of fact, nobody cares.

      You want Apple to implement features and create products for the customer? Easy. Stop supporting Apple by not purchasing their products and services. When people stop supporting them, they revenue drops and will realize this happened because they have abandoned their customers.

      As long as you hee-haw about how many Macs you have, and that you always “supported” Apple, well, LOL, they just laughing all the way to the bank, while you can have that missing piece from their logo…

  2. Rick says:

    So I downloaded and installed this 12.6.3 version and now iTunes will not open for me. I’m getting this message instead.

    The file “iTunes Library.itl” cannot be read because it was created by a newer version of iTunes. Would you like to download iTunes now?

  3. Brian says:

    I have download 12.6.3 with no problems, restored previous iTunes library.itl (from 12.6.2). Itunes will not recognised Iphone 6S when connected. Any ideas?

  4. Gary says:

    Yikes! Don’t do this unless you know what you’re doing! I certainly don’t. I installed as directed, launched iTunes and got this “…The File ‘iTunes Library.itl” cannot be read because it was created by a newer version of iTunes. Would you like to download iTunes now?” Clicking “Download iTunes” app store, with no obvious link to iTunes. What, and where, is the “.itl file”?

    • avenged110 says:

      The “iTunes Library.itl” file is usually in ~/Music/iTunes. This sort of issue is true any time one reverts iTunes.app. You can either delete the .itl file and create a new one with 12.6.3, go back to using 12.7 and your current .itl file, or grab a library file from a backup made when 12.6.2 was current.

      • Gary says:

        Thank you for the instruction, avenged110, it’s helpful and I appreciate the assist. I went back to 12.7; it works okay, albeit with the inconvenient absence of the App Store.

    • avenged110 says:

      Also, ftr, the “iTunes Library.itl” file stores library information like playlists and their contents, star ratings, play counts, etc. These are things you would lose when starting with a new library, though all of your files would remain.

  5. gturner says:

    I cannot believe I did this and had the same issue as everyone else. I have thousands of ratings that I use to make playlists, and now they are all gone since I had to get rid of the itl file. I do not recommend that anyone use the file offered here unless you know what you are doing. Does anyone know if there is a way to get the old itl file translated into something that this version of iTunes can read?

  6. gturner says:

    Okay, so I decided I would rather have my playlists and other things so I downloaded the version of iTunes that I had and put the itl file back. Everything is now back to how it was originally.

  7. Gary says:

    So they effectively admit they screwed up, so they re-release 12.6.3 but if we use that we don’t get future updates because we want the App store and Apple thinks we don’t need it? I’m an Apple fan from way way back (before public internet) and this really disappoints me… doesn’t happen often but yeah… this one goes on my list. NOT HAPPY TIM! (that’s an Australian inside joke.)

  8. Jim says:

    so is iTunes 12.6.3 compatible with “High Sierra” and iOS 11?

    • arni says:

      It is. If you update to High Sierra after installing this 12.6.3 you will need to choose “skip” when prompted to update your itunes library.

  9. Mark says:

    For those who would like to re-install iTunes 12.7: https://www.apple.com/itunes/download/

  10. Anne says:

    Yep, Apple has become arrogant and thinks it can get away with inconveniencing people (especially when there’s no obvious benefit).

    NO. They can’t. They’re going to lose customers.

  11. arni.031 says:

    So, install this, then use time machine to restore a version of the Itunes Library.itl from before September 13th, and itunes will work properly again. thanks!

    • arni.031 says:

      Oh, and I should add – use the Leave Itunes Feedback menu option inside Itunes to let apple know that you’ve made the switch back (and why)!

  12. Gareth says:

    Same here.
    I think this article needs a health warning.

    Glad I use Time Machine on a regular basis. All playlists and ratings gone if you do this – not worth it.

  13. Randy McGehee says:

    Did not work for me. It downloaded and installed but will not let me open itunes. It says the library was created on a never version and I have to download and install the newer version. ??????????

  14. User says:

    This is only a temporary fix to placate enterprise customers, and not give them a reason to hold off on updating their fleets to iPhone 8s and Xs.

    Apple will either fix their MDM tools, or convince those businesses to move away from using iTunes for app deployment.

    There is no indication that this move was prompted by the end user discord seen here, and elsewhere surrounding the issue, nor any newly-rediscovered concern or respect for end users.

    Don’t kid yourselves — a big customer complained, and Apple gave them a pass to smooth things over.

    It’s better than nothing, but in a year or so, the new hardware will only be compatible with a future version of iTunes that still lacks the App Store and management functions.

  15. Geoff King says:

    DON’T DELETE YOUR .itl FILE BEFORE READING THIS !!

    RE: The file “iTunes Library.itl” cannot be read because it was created by a newer version of iTunes: contrary to some of the advice given earlier in the thread –

    I’d already replaced 12.7 with 12.6.3.6 (as per the instructions in the osXdaily article above) and received the same error message.

    It is slapdash of osXdaily not to test these things before publishing their articles !!!

    HOWEVER:

    On my MacBook, there is a folder within ~Music/iTunes called Previous iTunes Libraries (I didn’t create it therefore it must be automatically set up by iTunes) so I assume other people have this. In it there were 5 iTunes Library files going back to 2015. Crucially, there was one from the 13th of September 2017.

    I first preserved a copy of the CURRENT (i.e. newly created 12.7) iTunes Library.itl by copying it to another folder I named “iTunes Library saved from iTunes 12.7” in case I needed to revert.

    I then replaced the CURRENT version with the one I found from the 13th of September, reloaded iTunes 12.6.3.6 and it worked.

    All my ratings were there and I could go into the Phone part (using the little Phone icon next to the ‘music’ button – second line from the top) and still move the icons around on my iPhone using the Apps icon.

    So, I didn’t need to scrabble around in Time Machine to find an older libarary.

    Presumably this would also work for the person(s) who have already deleted their .itl Libarary?

    I fully agree with the sentiments expressed at the head of this thread – sheer arrogance and lack of consideration on the part of Apple in withdrawing valued facilities. You get used to one interface and they go and change it for no apparent reason (other perhaps than to make even more money).

    How long will it be before Apple try to withdraw this reversion and try to foist 12.7 on me again?

  16. Jeff Chatlosh says:

    The switch was ok, after removing the iTunes library.itl. Still does not restore full functionality, like update downloads and list of apps. Apple is becoming a dictator like the others and removing the Apple advantage “all devices work seamlessly together…” I hope the next upgrade to iTunes is returned to its original functionality.

  17. Fumatrix says:

    Suggestion: there should be a directory “…user/music/itunes/Previous iTunes Libraries”, where I found some libraries from older versions, I took one, removed the date at the end of the filename and moved it one folder “up” where it replaced the new, incompatible version and now everything works fine. (OSX 10.11.6)
    Hope that helps.

  18. uli says:

    i downloaded 12.6.3 and when i try to install it the system cuts off stating a later version of i-tunes is already installed on this computer.
    i hazard the guess that if they really wanted to, the program geniuses at apple could issue a patch which reinstates all of us “old” guys without IT help

  19. Basically, this is dumb advice to a dumb idea…

    OSXDaily – go back and update this article with caveats about what will happen if you install the version you have stated…

    • Paul says:

      Why is this dumb? What is your criticism? What are the caveats that are not already stated in the article?

      Apple is offering an alternative version of iTunes available to download, it has the App Store. Thus if you want the App Store in iTunes, installing iTunes 12.6.3 is the only option aside from downgrading.

      • COHikerGirl says:

        I would not say it is ‘dumb,’ but it IS true that there is a down-side to installing the 12.6.3 app version. In particular, Apple’s support page states that once you install that version, you will no longer receive any iTunes update notifications. From that alone, it is clear that this is considered a mere stop-gap, temporary measure, which they state was intended to be used only “until you are ready to upgrade” to 12.7. I may backtrack to 12.6.3 from 12.7 because I can’t live without the app/audiobook management. But I’ll use that time to find an alternative to iTunes for management of those elements that were deleted from iTunes.

        I am looking at AnyTrans or iMazing, but would welcome information about other potential alternatives to iTunes for management of content on multiple devices. Suggestions???

  20. rpk says:

    I always thought tying the app store in to iTunes a bad idea in the first place. Probably a marketing ploy to get users to puchase apps.

    I have no problems with removing the functionality from iTunes – but – there should be a stand alone program to take the place of managing and syncing iOS apps.

    It’s unlikely Apple intends to release a standalone app managaer, otherwise they would have left the functionality in iTunes until one was ready.

    After an experience with Apple blowing away my purchase history of apps (both iOS and Mac) because I changed my credit card details from a US to Canadian one, I’ve sworn to not bother using their app store(s) for any future purchases.

    I always keep backups of most versions of iOS apps, and because they are tied to my AppleID, I can still install them with the old version of iTunes.

    Anyway the whole system is a mess and it’s obvious that Apple don’t want users managing their own app deployment.

    Apple wants the cloud to be the hub of their products, not the users own laptop or desktop machines. So over time, they’re forcing users into this model.

    Personally, I think it a hair brained idea and the day Apple locks users out of full “root” access of their laptops/desktops (not hard for them to do with a firmware update) in the name of “security” is the day I will stop using Macs.

    So nowadays I wait for months before applying any updates. Too bad because that puts me at the mercy of missing out on legitimate security patches.

    Apple is forcing me to use broken software chains because I simply don’t trust them to do the right thing anymore.

    An yes, I’m a dinosaur, I’ve been using Macs since ’84.

    • COHikerGirl says:

      Apple DOES offer a multi-device configuration tool, but only to those who have a Mac — Apple Configurator. Apple Configurator is a free Mac OS X tool for configuring and deploying iOS devices in the enterprise environment.

      They have tossed those of us working from within Windows to the wolves.

  21. Yay Sir says:

    Hello everyone!

    I downloaded iTunes version 12.6.3 for the first time using the link on the Apple Support page.

    However, when I clicked on “Updates” it says there are no updates available for the apps but when I plug my iPhone in it says there are updates for some of the apps when you click on the “Apps” listing on the left side when the device is plugged in.

    Why does it say there are no updates available in the Updates screen across the top??

    Please, can someone help me with this. I am a new user using this on a PC.

    Many thanks

  22. Kevin Roa says:

    Thank God, Tim you’re not too bright sometimes.

  23. Ted says:

    Dear Apple Fanboys and Loyal Customers,

    It’s still not too late to buy a transistor radio! It will last longer, it won’t have constant upgrade issues, and when it dies on you, you can just replace the batteries. The best part? It will cost you a fraction of what you have wasted so far on Apple products.

  24. Debbie says:

    I am so upset I have six different Apple products and over 300 apps

    Who in the world has the time or the energy to pick up each product separately and start creating and re-creating app placement on each different device and in folders oh my goodness this is crazy

    It’s like walking into an office that was just through a storm. We need an app management system I always liked doing it through iTunes because you could arrange each page so simple

    • COHikerGirl says:

      If you’re lucky enough to have a mini Mac or whatever Apple provides by way of a laptop equivalent, you can try the Apple Configurator, which is a free Mac OS X tool for configuring and deploying iOS devices in the enterprise environment (i.e., for managing multiple devices).

      There’s nothing for those of us working from within a Windows environment, however. :(

  25. no way says:

    This works brilliantly, how sad that Apple can’t admit they screwed up removing this feature and just release this publicly as 12.7.1 update.

    had an issue with one computers itunes and the .itl file, but that computer had already been updated to itunes 12.7. If you do this unofficial fix update from the previous version, it appears there’s no issue with losing playlists or the .itl file being incomaptible, it’s only when, shall we call it “sidegrading” to 12.6.3 from 12.7 that this becomes an issue. By reverting to the previous iTunes library, all was corrected and playlists restored.

    THANK YOU OSXDaily for informing users of this otherwise mystery version.

    BTW, the App Store sees this version as an update from 12.7, and I suspect in the next official update, Apple restores this feature.

    • COHikerGirl says:

      Ooooh, how I could wish and hope you were correct about that. However, on their support page, Apple states that once you install 12.6.3, you will no longer receive iTunes update notifications. And that this is intended to be used “until you are ready to upgrade” to 12.7.

      In other words, it is considered a temporary, stop-gap measure to appease enterprise-level business users who screamed bloody murder (rightfully) upon losing their ability to manage / configure a great many devices at once. But even they are probably expected to migrate to purchasing a Mac and using Apple Configurator to do that management, going forward.

      The rest of us are screwed.

  26. Imran says:

    you can download 12.6.3 which supports Apps store on top of 12.6.7 from here https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT208079

  27. Ian Mayman says:

    It worked – and wasn’t hard to fix the .itl file error that I got, all I had to do was replace the file with a previous version of the file, and that previous version is in the same folder. Very easy!

    Maybe the paragraph starting ‘Note: if you are having a problem with the “iTunes Library.itl” file after installing iTunes 12.6.3…’ should be highlighted. I’m glad I spotted that. I’ve sent Apple feedback stating that my next phone will probably run Android after this.

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