How to cancel a download in iTunes

I’m shocked at how difficult Apple makes it for the user to cancel downloads from iTunes. Being a freebie junkie, I am sometimes addicted to downloading iTunes freebies. That’s when I discovered just how hard it is to cancel a download in iTunes. I had queued up several large video clips to download which I’m no longer interested in:

iTunes Downloads

That adds up to about 4.8GB, bandwidth I don’t really feel like wasting given how hard ISPs are cracking down on high bandwidth users. So I tried to pause and delete the downloads. It appears to work, until I restart iTunes, which then immediately resumes downloading when I log back into the iTunes Music Store. I search online for solutions and found the following 2 threads:

Sorry, but you can’t yourself remove an item from your download queue. Contact the iTunes Store customer support department through the form linked from the bottom of their Download FAQ web page (I recommend that you use the form, not the link in your Purchase History as they advise; that’s not proven to be very reliable) and explain the problem to them. They may be able to clear the download queue for you.

Good luck.

So I just got off the phone with Apple tech support and the representative seemed very interested in this problem… He said there wasn’t any solution that he (or his associates) knew of, but that he’d bring it to attention at a meeting this afternoon. I referenced a number of forums to stress that many users have this problem.
So I guess we’ll have to wait and see if it becomes an update in a future version of iTunes.

Anyways, at this point I’m just going to let them download completely and then delete them. Sucks.

Apparently there is no way for me to do it myself and I have to contact customer support (either on the phone or through the webform). You can go to the contact form directly.

I can understand why they make it difficult, given the fact that iTunes doesn’t allow you to re-download and they want to make sure you actually did complete your download of any items you purchased (or in my case – obtained for free). However there should still be able way for me to stop/cancel any of my downloads, even if I have to go deep into my account and find that delete button. This is very unlike Apple, which typically tends to make great UI/UX. Then again, iTunes is a disaster waiting to happen. The only reason I even have it installed is because of my iPod Nano.

Another very annoying thing is that when you purchase an HD video, they FORCE you to download both SD and HD. Once again, either they need to allow me to suspend downloads (until I want to download it), or allow me to cancel the SD version from being downloaded at all. It’s just wasted bandwidth.

Here’s the email I sent to Apple:

I have 3 items in my download queue which apparently I can’t remove and have to submit this form according to:

The 3 items are large (several gigs in total) and I’d prefer to not have to download them, but am annoyed by the fact that it keeps wanting to resume downloading whenever I start iTunes. I’m surprised there’s no way for me to delete it from the queue.

The 3 items are:
Order #***** – Truth In 24
Order #***** – Whap – Harper’s Island (SD)
Order #***** – Whap – Harper’s Island (HD)

I’d appreciate if you would remove these from my download queue.

I’ll post back to let you know if this actually works.

Update: Got a reply from iTunes Store Customer Support:

Dear *****,

Thanks for contacting iTunes Store Customer Support. My name is Blaine and I understand you would like some large files removed your download queue. I will be happy to help with this.

*****, please accept my sincere apologies for the frustration this download has caused. I took the liberty of removing the file(s) causing the issue from your download queue.

Thanks for being an iTunes Store Customer, *****!


iTunes Store Customer Support

w00t! Apple’s customer support is still top notch. 🙂

56 Replies to “How to cancel a download in iTunes”

  1. I’ve gone the rounds with iTunes Store Customer Support and haven’t been able to get this same issue resolved. The agent wants me to do a re-installation of iTunes, which I would really rather not do. I would love any ideas you may have.

    Here’s a bit of our exchange:

    Here’s the email I sent to Apple:

    ‘Item title: I Am – A Course in Miracles (ACIM)

    I have about 750 episodes of the podcast ‘I Am – A Course in Miracles (ACIM)’ in my download queue. I don’t want any of these, but I unable to delete them from my queue.

    Can you please delete them for me?




    Dear -E-,

    I checked your iTunes Store account and it shows that all of your purchased items have downloaded successfully.

    Thank you for using ITUNES STORE.


    This does not resolve my issue. My problem is not downloading purchased items.

    My problem is that I have 750+ unwanted podcast epidsodes in my download cache, and I need you to remove them for me. I am unable to delete them myself.

    Please remove all ‘I Am – A Course in Miracles (ACIM)’ from my download queue.

    If you have any questions, please call me at

    Dear -E-,

    I apologize for the issue your are having with your download que having these episodes of ACIM in your que, and i would be more than happy to help resolve this. However, i only have access to your itunes store account download que and it doesn’t reflect any downloads in the que. Once the downloads are complete, the que is empty. Now, if your “computer” shows these downloads, i’m going to need more information about where you see these downloads.

    I’ll look forward to a reply with more on where you are seeing this information, i’ll be glad to help more at that point.

    Hi -K-,

    These downloads show up on the ‘downloads’ page of iTunes (under Store). Every time I open iTunes, they automatically start downloading and I have to click ‘pause all’ in order to stop them. Right now they are all listed as ‘stopped’.

    Dear -E-,

    Since i can only see the download Que from my end, not yours, here’s what I recommend to help resolve this issue by uninstalling iTunes and QuickTime, and then reinstalling the latest version of each….

    Dear -E-,

    Simply put, i’ve checked the download que on my side of your account. There are no downloads in the que, i’ve said this from the beginning of our correspondence. You are correct, when can clear the que from our side, but the system is not showing “any” downloads for you account. Thats the reason i believe the application on your computer needs troubleshooting. There is a problem with your software. Please try the using the information i’ve provided in my last email to you.

    I know this has to be frustrating, i understand that. Trust me, if i could clear your que, i would be done, two days ago! I hope the reinstall helps this situation. I’ll look forward to the results.’

    Me again here – it seems odd that there aren’t “any” downloads for my account showing up. Guess I’ll just re-install iTunes, unless you guys have another angle I can try here.

    1. Hi,

      I think I understand your issue, but I unfortunately haven’t dealt with podcasts before. However given that, I do have some questions and suggestions you can try. I know for a fact even for podcasts that aren’t from the iTunes store, downloads will still show up under Store > Downloads.

      1. Have you unsubscribed from the podcast yet? Meaning if you open iTunes and go to the list of podcasts, do you see “I Am – A Course in Miracles (ACIM)” listed? If it’s there, can you unsubscribe and delete it.

      2. If it’s not listed in your list of podcasts, try resubscribing and inside your list of podcasts, cancel anything that’s downloading.

    2. did you try just deleting the podcast in your ‘podcasts’ tab? i believe that this should also remove all pending episodes.

  2. i have about 20 downloads of the same icarly episode for my daughter and i was wondering; is customer support the only way i can delete these downloads? i want this tv show, but i have to many downloads and none of them are downloading. last night the downloading said 5 minutes remaining but when i checked it this morning it still said it had five minutes left. help!

  3. I can’t believe that this was posted two years ago, and Apple still hasn’t resolved this. I’m having the same issue right now (and have been for about a year, I’m sure) with five episodes of some Discovery show I clicked on accident in the freebies. Ugh.

    1. Stopping is pretty simple. Just go to your downloads section and click the (x) to stop. Removing it from your download queue is the harder part if you no longer want the movie.

  4. Yes, anyone can stop a download. Unfortunately, there seems no way to remove the partially-downloaded file as a user. I searched my computer for the file name and extension, but no joy. Perhaps they have it on an Apple server or stored on my iDisk.

    I will keep searching and will let you know if anything promising shows up. If Rupert Murdoch can hack into the royal family’s phones, we ought to be able to access our own accounts!


      1. Yes, that’s it.
        It is cool to see that the download queue has been cleared and that sending a request actually works.
        Thanks Krunk, this page really helped.

  5. I had the same problem of trying to delete a partial download. Tried a lot of things then researched ti this page. I’m using a MacBook Pro and what Neil in penang said works!

  6. Neil, I’m using an iPad 2. Swiping to the right & then hitting delete only works on things that have already downloaded, NOT things you’d like to remove from your download que! I chose to download several seasons of my favorite TV show only then to find out it includes as many “Behind the Scenes”-type shows as it does actual episodes! Now, that may be cool and all, but I’m running out of gigs! I don’t have room for anything but the episodes themselves. So, I would love to figure out how to cull my downloads que! Most I want, some I would love to be able to delete, BEFORE they’re downloaded (which takes forever, anyway!).

  7. thank you so much for your information, i was able to clear a bunch of podcasts that i did not want that were sitting in cue to download as well as those that were already on my ipad2…

  8. Wanting to jump in here – I buy videos and only watch them in HD.

    Don’t want to waste the time, bandwidth, or hd space to download the SD content.

    Still want to automatically download my purchases to my computer, though. Just don’t want that extra crap that I’m not going to use.

    iTunes tries to connect and download SD episodes constantly, often without even restarting, just at random times.

    What’s most interesting to me is that I seem to have rid myself of some of the episodes in the past, and they’re not recurring – perhaps iTunes downloaded them while I slept…

    My internet connection is not the greatest, and so if I have two or three downloads going at once, the pipeline gets pretty choked up. Can’t surf the internet while, downloading, downloading takes longer, sometimes even the connection crashes.

    But during an HD download I started tonight, the I had to pause and delete the SD versions from my queue no less than 4 times each.

    I should not have to do this. I don’t want to have to do this. There should be an option to stop this behavior.

  9. Blaine,

    Maybe the customer support was helpful to you but I definately do not see this as a solution, maybe temporary. You should be able to delete items in your que yourself, there’s no reason no to be able to. Itunes now makes it available to download the purchased item again. (A great update!) The problem lies in the next time you download(free item) or purchase something then decide you don’t really want it and the file is large in size, you are stuck with unecessary usage of bandwidth. If we were in countries (like Japan or many others) that have have 4 times the speed we have, then this would be no prob at all.

  10. Hey! I had a similar problem with my iPad 2 and podcasts that wouldn’t download and I just wanted them off my downloads list. A quick swipe across the file right to left will give you a delete option.

  11. This is how to remove purchased music or videos that you don’t want and keep automatically trying to download.
    1. Go to iTunes and click on iTunes store.
    2. When you are logged into the store you will see on the right column “Purchased”
    3. Click on Purchased and it will show you your list.
    4. To delete the items you don’t want to download click on downloaded and hide.
    5 Next delete any reference to these items on your iPad or iPhone and also in iTunes.
    6. Restart Itunes and you should be done. No more attempted downloads.
    It worked for me.

    1. Interesting. I’ve only seen the purchase history on the App store. This must be something recent they’ve added to iTunes. Will definitely check it out next time I hit into the issue.


    2. Next delete any reference to these items on your iPad or iPhone and also in iTunes

      Can you be specific on the point about the path u deleted

  12. Sorry for the delay but I am away and have not been checking.
    What I mean by delete any reference is delete the actual apps off your mobile device that you are trying to stop downloading. Usually tha app store will put an icon of the program on your device even though it has not completed downloading. Just remove these partially downloaded apps.

  13. Hi, how do I stop itunes from downloading all of the SD versions of the tv shows I buy? Whenever I buy a tv show, it starts downloading two files, one HD and one SD. I have limited bandwidth, and every time I download a new tv show it brings up all of the non-downloaded content – can’t figure out a way to stop it. Thanks!

    1. Apparently this is still an on going problem. I have not heard of any solution to disable downloading the SD versions.

      In order to get things to stop reappearing in your queue, you’ll need to contact support via phone or webform.

  14. Wow this is epic failure from apple that we can pause and resume our download from the itune store. I just bought the walking dead season 2 and it a huuuge amount of gb being downloaded here.
    I was curious and turned off the ipad3 to see what will happen………… Wow all the episodes are being redownloaded again… Wth is that crap it would be a lot more cheaper to buy the dvd instead of this crappy store. Pew pew apple.

  15. I am DYING because of this problem, it’s errking me so bad.
    Please help me.

    I don’t see the form at all I’m supposed to use to email them and I’ve spent the past couple hours trying to find any way to contact them whatsoever on their website. I don’t want to download 18 episodes of Pan An! I don’t even want it!

    Please help me.

  16. Thank you for replying back so fast 🙂

    I was hoping there was a way that was free?
    I couldn’t figure out how much a phone call would cost.

    1. Hmmm. After selecting the options I suggested, instead of a phone call, it gave me a form to send an email. Are you sure you selected: iTunes, iTunes Store, Connecting & Downloading and select My topic is not listed?

      Emailing customer support is free. Thought it might take a day or 2 for them to respond.

  17. Alright, I filled everything out and fingers crossed they reply back!

    Thank you so much for helping me, it’s nice to know there’s someone out there! 🙂
    I’ll let you know their response.

  18. Their reply:
    Dear Rachel,

    Hi, my name is Dawn and thank you for writing iTunes Store. I understand that you request to remove the items in your downloads queue that you no longer wish to download. I’m sure you are eager to have this issue resolved as soon as possible. No worries, I am more than willing to help you with this.

    At your request, I have removed Pan An Season 1 from your download queue. The next time you sign in to the iTunes Store, it will no longer be waiting to download.

    If you have any other questions, or if you need help with any other downloads, please let me know.

    Thank you for being an iTunes Store customer. Apple appreciates your business.

    Have a wonderful day!


    iTunes Store/Mac App Store Customer Support

    Please Note: I work Fri – Tue, 8:30AM-5PM EST

    So very helpful! Thank you so much for helping me come to this conclusion, I am so happy you have no idea!
    Thank you for the help!

  19. Hi! I know it has been a long time. Hope somebody is still checking this.

    I bought an Apple TV and a MacBook Air, and I’m new to Apple products (other than iPhone and iPad). I purchased a season of Downton Abbey via Apple TV, but now the whole season is trying to automatically download onto my MacBook Air. Yikes! Gigs and gigs.

    By poking around, I figured out how to pause the downloads but not how to remove them. I clicked on “Help” in the tool bar at the top, and the drop down menu gives me “iTunes Tutorials” among the options, and “Apple Service and Support” is at the bottom of the list. I’m glad to see that support is so easy to find, and I’m going to try both of these options to see what I can come up with.

    I’m astonished that, after several years of people identifying the problem of not being able to delete from one’s own download list, Apple still hasn’t created that option. Amazing.

    1. Last I heard, the only way to permanently remove stuff from your iTunes download queue is to go through support. I believe there should be an option to disable auto-downloading on iTunes or your Apple TV, so that might be worth trying in the meantime until you get support to remove them from your queue.

  20. Well, its the year 2013 and you still can’t remove an item from the download queue in iTunes – the guys at the Apple shop could’t even assist me. I want to start calling names here – Apple is supposed to make user experience better not worse

  21. My problem is stranger still. I already downloaded the music I bought on iTunes Store and eventually got tired of some of it, so I deleted the songs from both the iTunes on my laptop and from my iPhone that I sync with the laptop using iTunes. After that, when I sync my iPhone with the laptop, the laptop downloads those same songs again from iTunes and sticks them back on my iPhone again. I don’t know if this is because I bought them as albums and I want to keep only some tracks off the albums and not those that I deleted. Maybe the album’s presence forces them to download the “missing” songs every time I delete them. I’ve been keeping up with the latest iTunes versions for Windows and no version has corrected this issue since I first installed iTunes. It is obviously not an installation problem, but apparently a built-in feature.

    1. I’m pretty sure there’s a setting in iTunes where you tell it to automatically download songs that you’ve purchased. You’ll probably need to disable that.

  22. Its May 2014 and you still cannot remove files from download queue!

    How annoying.

    Every time I purchase a new show, all of the files on download queue start downloading too!

    That is ridiculous amount of bandwidth being used for unwanted media.

    This seems such an epic fail for a major technology / user experience / digital media company. Why would this be designed this way?


  23. When you pause the downloading the app, right or left click it depending whether you’re using Windows or IOS. Once you highlight it or right click it, HIT DELETE ON YOUR KEYBOARD and that will totally get rid of the unfinished download.. Hope this helps !!

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