iTunesHelper – What does iTunes Helper do?

Sep 10, 2009 - 16 Comments

itunes iTunesHelper or iTunes Helper, is a program from Apple that runs in the background and monitors for the connection of any iPod or iPhone to the computer, if an iPod or iPhone is detected it will automatically launch the iTunes application. The functionality is the same on both Mac OS X and Windows PC’s, and there is no serious ramification to disabling it (other than that iTunes will no longer auto-launch upon connecting your iPhone or iPod).

Disable iTunes Helper in Mac OS X is autoloaded during system boot in Mac OS X, but if you’re having problems with the iTunesHelper app you can easily disable this from auto-loading by going to System Preferences -> Users -> Login Items, clicking on the iTunesHelper application and then clicking on the minus (-) button at the bottom of the list (thanks Gord!). Unselecting the checkbox next to iTunesHelper application hides it during system launch, as seen in this screenshot:
itunes helper

Disable iTunes Helper in Windows

Go to Start Menu -> Run, type in ‘msconfig.exe’ and hit enter. A system configuration utility will pop up and click the “Startup” tab, from there navigate to iTunesHelper.exe and disable it by unselecting the checkbox next to the app name.

Why you would want to disable iTunes Helper

Sometimes iTunesHelper freaks out and causes system hangs, CPU drain, and other frustrating problems. Otherwise, you may just not want iTunes to automatically launch if you connect an iPod or iPhone, you can disable that setting within the iTunes settings, or you can disable iTunesHelper itself. My cousin was recently having all sorts of problems with the actual iTunesHelper daemon running in the background, so I helped him disable it completely, and his problems were resolved.


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iTunes, Mac OS, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting


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  1. Daniel says:

    I have the opposite problem for the second or third time in a year I have somehow lost iTunes helper. When I connect my brand new iPod touch to the latest iTunes, the iTunes software does not detect the iPOd. I hear the ping as I connect the USB leader but after that nothing. Help!!

  2. Adey says:

    To properly delete iTunesHelper on Mac;

    1) Remove it from System Preferences > Accounts > Login Items
    2) Quit the app using Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor > iTunesHelper
    3) In Applications, right click iTunes; Show Package Contents > MacOS; delete ‘’

    Empty trash. Reboot.

    You’re welcome.

  3. Rich says:

    I was having all sorts of problems with my iMac; everything would freeze up after about two minutes of operation. I suspected hard drive problems, but a clone of the drive did the same thing. Three days later, I discovered this page, and disabled iTunesHelper, and VIOLA! Problem solved. I’ve been using Macs for 20+years, and can’t remember the last time a problem was this baffling.

  4. Anon says:

    LOL, So much easier on PC like every thing :) (U BETTER PUBLISH THIS COMMENT YOU KNOW ITS TRUE) Nice tip btw it helped :)

  5. […] to OS X Daily, iTunesHelper is a program from Apple that runs in the background and monitors for idevice […]

  6. […] As the name suggests, this executable helps iTunes.  No, it doesn’t help the iTunes user (unless you are currently connecting and iPod or iPhone to your computer).  It helps iTunes use up as […]

  7. Pablo says:

    if you disable the helper your keyboard play key will no longer launch itunes from cold. just FYI.

  8. anonymous says:

    kat, you are probably pressing the F8 key, or whatever key is the “play/pause” button. Pressing that in snow leopard will automatically open iTunes. Same as when you use the apple remote to press the play/pause button.

    Also, iTunes helper does not have anything to do with opening iTunes when an iPod or iPhone is connected. You can control that in the “preferences” for iTunes app.

  9. Min10-2008 says:

    Hey guys my iTunes Helper is disabled in Windows (7 Hm Prem), I can add CD’s to iTunes but they won’t sync to the Ipod, Using 9.2.15 & Vers 4.0. Can anyone direct me what I should do please? Thanks

  10. bailey says:

    How do you turn off if you want every thing you have bought put on oyur ipod

  11. Kat says:

    Does anyone know if this causes iTunes to auto-launch unexpectedly without an iPod or phone connected?

    I have been having problems with this… iTunes will launch constantly. If you close it, it opens right back up. So infuriating. I removed the itunes helper a while ago, so i’m not sure this is related at all.

    I’ve run disk utility and am now thinking of uninstalling iTunes completely. Then I found this thread and thought maybe this is related?

    Any guidance would be much appreciated.


    • carmichael says:

      Kat, you sound like a Mac. Do you have Airfoil software installed? Or anything else that calls iTunes (and launches it when needed) in order to send your music to a wireless device? Airport Express? AppleTV? Home Sharing? Another device may be calling for iTunes because it depends on it. You may need to turn off that automatic feature in the other device. For example, if I don’t deselect my Airport in Airfoil, iTunes may re-launch when Airfoil is running, just not always. Try googling itunes launches on its own. hth

  12. Dave M. says:

    I would guess that the iTunesHelper is a daemon that is used in conjunction with Home Sharing. The part where if the machine you are sharing with buys new content, it’s copied to your computer automatically.

  13. pastavekek says:

    Hello,the box is only for hiding the app on launch.

  14. Eric M says:

    Yeah, what Gord said.

    You have to hit the ‘-‘ button and remove it. The checkbox just auto hides the app on launch.

  15. Gord Buchanan says:

    Unchecking the box will do nothing – the box is only for hiding the app on launch. You need to remove it by selecting it and then clicking on the minus (-) at the bottom of the list.

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