I was running out space on the drive where I stored my iTunes media, because every time I opened iTunes, the application would immediately begin downloading TV shows I had purchased on my Apple TV.

How can you stop iTunes from downloading purchased TV shows whenever you open it?

See my answer below

Note: Though it may or may not be entirely relevant to the problem (this bug has bit me across versions of iTunes and OS X), the bug was reproduced and eradicated using iTunes 11.1.3 under Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks

Possibly related detail: I write possibly, because I've modified where my iTunes media lives outside of the iTunes defaults.

This is a common thing to do, when you realize the space on the meager 128 GB drive that came with your computer will no longer suffice.

This detail also warrants mentioning, because the use case deviates slightly from the norm, and pathing often emerges as the culprit in software-related bugs.

Another possibly related detail: I've moved the location of my iTunes media a couple of times, but didn't delete the old location's directory, which is also a parent directory of my current iTunes media location. I've been meaning to re-organize, but there were music files I didn't want to lose at the time I made to the decision to change the media location a second time.

I mention this, because as a software engineer I've run into stupid bugs and relative vs. absolute path issues simply because a user chose to nest directories awkwardly or carelessly.

Good luck!

1 Answer 1


Ultimately, I was able to stop iTunes from automatically downloading TV shows with the following steps:

  1. With iTunes open select iTunes > Preferences... and click the Store tab
  2. If checked, uncheck checkbox Always check for available downloads
  3. If checked, uncheck checkbox Download pre-orders when available
  4. Click the OK button, and close iTunes
  5. Remove the contents of your Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Downloads directory. You should be able to do that through Finder or by following these steps:
    1. Open Applications > Utilities > Terminal.app
    2. Type rm -rf ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes\ Media/Downloads/* then press <Enter>to delete the plist file along with all of the downloads of TV shows. (Note: this method removes the files permanently, which is fine since the next step re-downloads them.)
  6. Re-open iTunes. There shouldn't be TV shows automatically downloading any longer when you open iTunes. Breath. Relax. Rejoice.
  • OMG, you ROCK. Thanks! You make a great point about being aware of the iTunes folder location. I ran your command line example, deleted tmp files, but that did not do the trick. I realized that my actual iTunes media folder is on another drive. Once I deleted those files, the download stopped. Breath. Relax. Rejoice! :D
    – mhulse
    Jan 31, 2014 at 18:29
  • @mhulse thank you :) I'm so glad this helped someone else.
    – mkelley33
    Feb 2, 2014 at 6:36
  • 1
    @mkelley33 do you know if this will also prevent automatic downloads of new music purchases, e.g. music purchased on another device? Mar 31, 2014 at 17:00
  • 2
    Does anyone know how to undo this terminal code? I put it in and the movies stopped downloading, but now some of my music has an exclamation point next to it saying it has been moved. Thanks!
    – user79364
    May 30, 2014 at 15:44
  • 2
    A much better solution, assuming the plist files are in ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes\ Media/Downloads directly (not a sub directory) would be to do: rm ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes\ Media/Downloads/*plist, which will just delete any plist files in the Music/iTunes/iTunes\ Media/Downloads directory
    – Fake Name
    Sep 25, 2014 at 10:50

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