Why Can’t I Install iPhone Apps Via iTunes?

09/15/2008 Update: I wrote this article back in July, right after iPhone OS 2.0 was released. You’ll notice from the update on 08/01/2008 that I figured out what was going on. But since so many people keep asking, let’s establish something once and for all:


It doesn’t work. It can’t work, since the 1.1.x version of the OS doesn’t support applications. You must install the 2.x version of the OS. 

Now, if you still want to read the original story, here it is:

OK, so I’ve got iPhone 2.0 loaded, and I successfully installed an app from the App Store from the device itself, but I can’t seem to get app installing working from within iTunes. I have downloaded three apps via iTunes and they all came down successfully, but they don’t show up on my iPhone. All three show up in the Applications pane of iTunes, so they successfully downloaded to my Mac, but even after manually syncing and unplugging and re-plugging the iPhone in, they never show up on the device. Going into the App Store on the iPhone itself and installing from there works, but I do get a message saying that I’ve already purchased that app, and would I like to re-download it for free. After that, the app is installed, but something is wrong. Or maybe I missed something.

08/01/2008 17:38 Update: I discovered the trick a day or so after I wrote this, but since someone else is still having the problem, I’m updating the post with the answer. Follow these steps

  1. Click on your iPhone in the Devices section of iTunes
  2. Click on the Applications tab
  3. Check the “Sync applications” checkbox
  4. Select either “All applications” or “Selected applications” and then check the ones you want synced.
  5. Click the “Sync” button.

That’s it.

30 thoughts on “Why Can’t I Install iPhone Apps Via iTunes?

  1. I have no “Applications” tab in my iTunes… I’m running iTunes 7.7 and iPhone with firmware 1.1.4
    I’ve downloaded apps from the app store in iTunes, but I see no way to install them on my iPhone. any ideas?

  2. I ve go the same problem, I am also runing firmwire 1.1.4 and I there is no way to find a way to install applications through iTunes. Is there a way to do so without upgrading to 2.0.1? If I do my phone will be locked again.

  3. But this is stupid..

    I do not need to update my software, I’m happy with it as it is.. but yet I have bought these darn apps and I can not install them on my iphone.

    is apple ripping its clients now ??? to make it up for AT&T ???

    Thanks to all who have opened this issue and those who are trying to help.

    Kindly help the 1.1.4 owners 🙂

  4. You’re joking, right MoeSof? How do you expect the apps to work if the OS isn’t setup to run them? It doesn’t seem like a big deal to install a free OS upgrade in order to run the apps you bought. Perhaps a bit more reading would have told you that you would need to upgrade before you bought?

  5. dear other guys,
    iphone 2.0 software does not take away anything from your old software, and it adds some good things like improved gps and of course the app store. It’s always a smart thing to install any upgrade available because it can improve the quality of your device. it’s free, so it cant be a rip off (AT&T would be the one who might try that, unfortunately). Stratius, you said you’d be locked out of your device? thats a little too strange to be a normal problem, you might want to call for support.

  6. I wanna ask you if u help me out I am running an iPhone on 1.1.4 version and want to upgradge it to 2.0 but this is was the locked phone so I have unlocked it. Do u suggest n e software which make my iPhone work like 2.0 version iPhone?

  7. Have any of you experienced this and how the heck can I solve it….

    When I log on the App Store directly from my iPhone 3G (all updates ok) I can browse, click and buy – so far so good. But as the application starts to download and is about to complete, I get an error message saying something like “Can’t get program. You can get the program next on your computer, next time you log into iTunes” – so I then have to connect my iPhone to iTunes and syncronize to get the freakin program to work on the phone…. Now that’s irritating.

    Any hints??

  8. He man I can install apps ok on my iPhone but they down run when I try them have tried to upgrade on of itunes but it crashes my computer help

  9. HI.
    I have no “Applications” tab in my iTunes… I’m running iTunes 8 and iPhone with firmware 1.1.5
    I’ve downloaded apps from the app store in iTunes, but I see no way to install them on my iPhone.
    I check in “PREFERENCES/APPLICATIONS” but i can’t install in the ipod touch.

  10. I can’t sync app’s…they are grayed out.
    I’m running itunes 8.0, iphone version 2.1 with firmware 2.11.07
    So now what do I do?

  11. Michael, I don’t have any idea about what happens in that situation. I only jailbroke my phone once, and that was before the 2.0 version came out.

  12. Question when apple upgraded to itunes v8.0 and iphone v2.0 did that take away the itunes capability on the iphone? I now get the message “cannot connect to itunes store”.

  13. hi there, i have this problem, i see the applications in iTunes under the applications tab and i have selected them all and click on sync, it starts to sync but then i get a message saying the following apps were not installed because i am not authorized for them on this computer ?? what do i do?

  14. Hi, I have the same problem as “namewithheld” – Sept.17 ’08.

    I can’t sync newly downloaded apps because the Sync Apps tab in the device menu is grayed out. tabs for Podcasts, contacts, photos etc. are all working fine. The gray Sync Apps tab started about a week ago, previous to that transferring downloaded apps and syncing to my iPhone was a breeze. Am running iTunes 8, iPhone version 2.0.

    any ideas on how to fix this?

  15. I figured it out. Remove your phone from itunes (unplug it). Then in the phone settings go to General, then Restrictions, then there’s an option to disable restrictions to “Installing Apps”. 🙂

  16. Thanks! It’s the strangest thing because I didn’t switch the restriction to apps off in the first place. But it did the trick : )

  17. OMG !! THank u soooo much!!! i been having the same problem and that fixed it!! Now i can sync my apps! ^^
    However i have another problem i donet have the itunes and apps store in my iphone how can i get them back again?

  18. Hi. I’m having the same problem as namewithheld and yvettemed. HELPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP. We’re paying for these apps but can’t sync them to iphone from itunes because they are grayed out and you can’t check them off to sync them. Any ideas from anybody??? Thanks

  19. Hi Vellinn,

    Thanks for the info.. Seems it worked with G.B and yvettemed. But when I went to settings/general I can’t see the restriction button. Any idea why? Thanks! I’m also using itunes v8.0 and iphone version 2.0

  20. What??
    So if you have the iPod touch version 1.1.4 you simply CANNOT install apps onto your iPod unless you purchase the $10 software upgrade??… wow.

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