I'd like to know if it is possible to restrict playback of certain content in iTunes. I know it can be done when using Apple TV 2/3 but can't seem to find a way to do it in iTunes itself. I can tag the media files using MetaX or MetaZ, these tags show up in iTunes but I can't seem to limit playback of films to only 'U' for example. Anyone got any ideas?


This used to be possible, but with the latest iteration of iTunes, it doesn't work.

The method was always as described above, and the same thing happened on the last major release of iTunes. Apple eventually seemed to put things right, but it's happened again this time round.

I have movies stored on my Mac and Home share them via iTunes. When my daughter accessed movies on her Mac, which had parental controls set in iTunes, anything over 12 (UK rating) was greyed out and unable to be played. Now they're all accessible.

Perhaps Apple will resolve this issue too, if enough of us report it.


If the content was purchased from the iTunes Store, you can enable Parental Controls. See HT1904 iTunes: Using Parental Controls :

  1. From the iTunes menu open Preferences ⌘ cmd ,
  2. Click the Parental tab.
  3. Select the checkbox next to any item you wish to disable or restrict.

Content not purchased from iTunes Store

When you purchase content from the iTunes Store it sets the MPAA content rating for that item. Unfortunately, you cannot modify (or set) the content rating from within iTunes itself, so you're going to have to get a little bit creative.

You can edit the metadata using an app such as iFlicks, which I strongly recommend. iDentify is a free alternate, however it does not appear as nice (although I have not used it myself). I'm going to provide instructions for iFlicks, but the process would be very similar for iDentify.

  1. Drag the movie out of iTunes onto your Desktop, and delete the movie from within iTunes.
  2. Drag the movie into iFlicks. iFlicks should recognise the movie and match it up with the right information.
  3. Select the movie, and then click the cog in the bottom menu bar (it's the third from the left)
  4. In the popover you can set the Content rating on the lower right, then hit OK.
  5. Choose iTunes compatible as the preset, Current Location as the destination. Select Add to iTunes and Move Original to Trash screenshot of iFlicks
  6. Click start, and then after a short file the file should be added into iTunes and it will be subject to the content ratings to set in iTunes preferences
  • David, Blimey thanks for the rapid reply! Not all the content, which is mainly movies, has been bought from the store. Loads of them are movies I have ripped from DVD's I own. So I'd like to password protect anything nastier than a 'U' (I'm in the UK, that rating is for kids) so that my kids aren't subjected to swearing or violence inadvertently if I'm not around. – JimmyTinker Mar 11 '13 at 15:20
  • Its possible. I'm working on an edit. In the mean time, check out tidbits.com/article/13122 – Josh Hunt Mar 11 '13 at 15:25
  • David, thanks for the info, I'm going to check it out. – JimmyTinker Mar 11 '13 at 19:18
  • David, you have pointed me in the direction of a couple of nifty pieces of software so thanks for that. But my original problem still remains - it seems that there is no way to restrict content played in iTunes. I was thinking along the lines that iOS uses for ATV, password protect files that are rated above a certain age limit. I may have to rethink the strategy I was going to employ for the media centre. – JimmyTinker Mar 12 '13 at 11:22

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