When I originally set up my iTunes account, I used an email address from my prior employer. I later moved my account to a personal rather than corporate email address and I have since changed jobs. The original email address associated with my Apple account is no longer valid. In the meantime, my computer on which my original iTunes account died. Fortunately, I had my iTunes music backed up and when I purchased a new computer, I uploaded my songs. I recently tried to play an Album and an error message came up that said that this computer was not authorized to play the songs and that I would need to access my account to authorize the new computer. When I clicked through the authorization screen, my original email address came up and asked for my password. I tried several of my “usual” passwords, but none of them worked. I clicked on the “forgot my password” link and Apple gave me the option of answering a few security questions or having my password sent to my email address. Recognizing that I could not access the dead email account, I asked to answer the security questions. The first one that came up was to enter my birthdate. I did so and Apple said that my answer was incorrect. I next tried the street I grew up on and that did not work either. I soon figured out that none of the questions matched my personal information so I am wondering if these questions were ever associated with my original iTunes account. Apple then locked my account for incorrectly answering the questions.

When I called Apple to see if we could do something to unlock the account and tie it to my new account (which would have the same name, address, and other personal information), I was informed that Apple cannot unlock the account and that I had to have access to the old email account to access the account and authorize this new computer to play the music. After going up three levels of Apple customer service, I was told that there was absolutely nothing they could do for me. So, I have purchased hundreds of songs that I cannot play now.

Is there a work around to this problem? The songs are stored on my computer – I just can’t play them.

  • Are you able to log into iTunes with your personal email address?
    – JW8
    Commented Dec 5, 2011 at 19:05
  • For my new account, yes. But not for the account associated with the songs that need authorization. Commented Dec 5, 2011 at 19:55
  • So just for clarification, when you moved your account, is it safe to assume that you created a new account, rather than associating the original iTunes account with the new (personal) email address?
    – JW8
    Commented Dec 5, 2011 at 20:02
  • Same account, same personal information, same credit card number, new email address. Commented Dec 6, 2011 at 1:02

6 Answers 6


I am afraid you are out of luck and there is no help for this. I tried to help a tech support client with this same problem and there is nothing to be done about it. It is truly too late.

People, if you have ever bought anything from any merchant (not just iTunes) and registered your account with the merchant using an email address from your employer, and that email account is still active, do this:

  1. Get a free email account from Google Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, or another free email service.

  2. Log in to each account with a merchant and change your account's email address from your work email address to your new extra email address from Google, Yahoo, etc.

  3. Only ever buy anything on an account that has your free extra email address as the registered email address.

Paul Jackson, I'm sorry you've had to learn a hard and expensive lesson.

  • 2
    Valid point - it's a good idea to NEVER use a work email account for personal reasons. You never know when the company might go under, initiate layoffs, etc.
    – JW8
    Commented Dec 13, 2011 at 18:02
  • 1
    Except that this is a situation where I have used a valid credit card and my billing address to verify who I am. Apple can act like punks in the situation and imply I should have to just lose valid purchases made against a bank account I still have all they want, it doesn't make it a "hard lesson to learn". What about a hijacked email? So now that person just owns my iTunes stuff? Do you know how insane that sounds? I know this is old, but I couldn't resist.
    – Mattt
    Commented May 1, 2014 at 23:10

Some social engineering solutions :

  • Your iTunes account was presumably associated with your credit card, yes? You could attempt to prove you identity to Apple via that credit card connection. You could warn them that you plan on contesting credit card charges if they cannot restore the account.

  • If Apple won't help, then collect your old credit card bills with iTunes charges, and speak with your credit card company about contesting those charges. You're beyond the 60 day period, but maybe not the 1 year "claims and defenses" period. I doubt you'll get your money back, but you have a legitimate dispute with Apple, so stick them the dispute resolution merchant fees, which might cost as much as $30 per song. Do not lie to your credit card company, simply push the dispute process as far as possible, the further it goes the more money they charge Apple.

  • You could theoretically sue Apple in small claims court. Imho, this sounds like way way too much hassle for a few hundred bucks. But maybe you could get your account back by contacting Apple's legal department in writing.

Two technical solutions :

  • You say you still have the files themselves, yes? There are a variety of tools for removing iTunes DRM. A priori, I'd imagine most/all require authorization since that's the easiest way, but perhaps some clever one does not. Try any that look promising.

  • Do you have an iPod? If so, try Graeme Hutchison suggestion. If it only give you encrypted music, then theoretically the iPod knows the authorization keys, meaning you've a slim chance someone discovered a trick for using the iPod's authorization to decrypt your music. Google isn't finding anything for me though.

As an aside, you should never buy DRM protected content in the first palce because : (a) Eventually you'll lose access one way or another, often by the company discontinuing the service. (b) Your supporting the DRM technologies which create these problems. Any books, movies, or music distributed with DRM are also available without DRM if you look.

  • It appears that to crack the DRM using the clever solution you need to be able to play the song and capture the output - something I can't do. Commented Dec 11, 2011 at 15:17
  • Ahh, too bad. I'll add another suggestion inspired by Graeme Hutchison comment. Commented Dec 11, 2011 at 15:41

Try contacting the IT department of that prior employer to see if they will accept and forward a few Apple emails to you for one day.

  • 2
    This was Apple's suggestion. The account no longer exists. That company is not going to create a new account for me just so I can enable my iTunes account. Their position will be that I should not have used the work e-mail for personal use in the first place. Generally, it seems to me that e-mail addresses are the least persistent attributes of a person and it seems unreasonable that they can't unlock my account using any of my other information. Commented Dec 6, 2011 at 13:28
  • 3
    If you don't ask, the answer is no. So you've got nothing to lose by asking. If you know anyone at the company, consider asking them if they know someone in IT to create an 'alias' to your old email address to theirs. That's generally easier than creating a new mailbox. Otherwise, your only option is to Google "remove iTunes drm" and start reading.
    – TJ Luoma
    Commented Dec 8, 2011 at 7:47

If you have triggered the account to be into a locked status due to too many failed log in attempts, you will need the help of a human to get it unlocked when you no longer can receive email or answer both the birth day question and the security question to a machine's satisfaction.

(yes, I'm sure you know your birthday, but it could have been entered incorrectly or become corrupted along the way)

Do try calling support one last time with some billing history and ask if you can provide a list of Apps and/or songs you purchased or have them ask you some of the history. If the person on the phone can't help, just ask them if there is a postal mail address or person you can appeal for help in resetting the email address used for your Apple ID. You can then follow up with a photocopy of some ID and ask how to proceed. It's a shame that you have lost all 3 of the normal methods to make a change to your account, but I'm sure there is someone that can advise you how you can convince someone that you are who you say you are and get access to your password again.

Once you have a valid password and the account is unlocked, you can go to http://iforgot.apple.com and change the Apple ID to match an email you now have access. You may also then be able to select the correct birthdate and a new security answer to get all your redundancies working for you instead of against you. Best of luck!


I have a possible work around.

The songs that you are missing, are they stored on an iPod?

If so use software such as Senuti which you can use for free to transfer 1000 files from your iPod into iTunes.

If you need more it is a small worth while fee.

I am not sure it will transfer songs already in iTunes so you may need to setup another user profile and use the iTunes on that profile before moving those tracks into a shared location on your HD.

Additional answer.

Use file conversion software to convert them into a WAV and reimport into iTunes after deleting the originals. You can just google file conversion software, there are a lot of free examples.

  • Are songs stored unencrypted on the iPod? Or does the iPod simply record the DRM keys? Worth a try! Commented Dec 8, 2011 at 13:39
  • 1
    I'm not sure, but I just used the software myself for transferring songs from my iPod after the motherboard went on an old PC. Its just like using an external HD Commented Dec 8, 2011 at 19:54
  • @JeffBurdges All iTunes songs after 2009 are DRM free. Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 0:36
  • If that's true, why can't Paul Jackson simply play the songs? He's said they reside on his drive. Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 4:30
  • The iPod must be unencrypted as you do not need an AppleId to play songs on an iPod. Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 7:14

As an added note: NONE of the security questions asked will EVER BE CORRECT! This is the issue that is the REAL issue. The option for a dead email address, according to Apple, is using these security questions, BUT not one of them is accepted, not for me and not for a LOT of others--there's something wrong or a bug on the site's part that NO ONE will have the correct answers to the security questions. There can't possibly be that many people "accidentally" typing in their own information incorrectly for the number of people having this problem. SO, when talking to Apple, THIS ISSUE should be fixed, and the email problem would be secondary, and maybe even moot. Anyway, my two cents. I wanted for you to know you did not incorrectly input your basic information, they just have a bug for properly verifying the information. Thanks for reading.

  • What do you mean by "none of the questions asked will ever be correct?" It's simply a way for a machine to automate much of the verification. Additionally Apple is rolling out a second email address for this very situation. Again, there are humans to help when a machine isn't enough - you just have to ask correctly for help and realize it may not be real-time hand holding to get you back in business.
    – bmike
    Commented May 25, 2012 at 21:43
  • bmike, do you have first hand experience with this with Apple? If so, your experience was different than mine. Apple's response was that they specifically designed their system so that a tech support person could not override the policies. Commented May 26, 2012 at 18:31
  • @bmike, I think he is somewhat correct... the answers do seem to fail on things that I KNOW I answered correctly. Why? Becuase most likely someone has laready compromised the account and changed the security questions. That is why the best way to retrieve would be my billing info used to make the purchases. I know for a gift card that doesn't help, but all my purchases are with a CC, there is no valid reason they shouldn't be able to reset my account based on billing info and the CC I used, period.
    – Mattt
    Commented May 1, 2014 at 23:16
  • @PaulJackson Yes - I have been involved in more than 20 cases where we had to work with Apple to get accounts unlocked. Many needed their help and patience, clarity and persistence won the day in all the cases. I'm not saying this account is amenable to recovery, just that it can be done in some circumstances despite the initial answer always being no from Apple.
    – bmike
    Commented May 1, 2014 at 23:28

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