Downloading Audiobooks from the iTunes Store – how to get them on another machine

Recently I bought an audio book in the iTunes Store. I did that while traveling and so I had my MacBook Air with me. I wanted to listen to the audio book from my iPhone. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

So here’s what happened…

Initially, I tried to buy the audio book directly from my iPhone, however I got an error message: the file is too big for download over cellular service. Apple, really, this is my problem! If I have a big data plan, please let me use it!

But okay, plan B: enable the personal hotspot on the iPhone, tether the MacBook Air and download the audiobook via iTunes on the Mac. Stupid? Yeah, but it works! Think different.

So the audiobook was on my Macbook Air. I never use iTunes on the MBA because my main machine is an iMac at home. The audiobook was the only asset in the iTunes library. How to get that onto my iPhone now? Well, let’s sync!

“This will replace all content on your iPhone”, is what iTunes told me. Huh, not good. I mean I have quite a lot of songs on my iPhone and I would like to listen to them…can’t you maybe just add that one little audiobook? No.

So I ended up plugging my headphones into my Macbook Air, making it the biggest clamshell iPod on earth and listened to my audiobook.

I managed to listen to 6 hours out of the 7 hours. Back home I wanted to listen to the remaining hour. On my iPhone. Again.

Now that’s easy, right? Just download the audiobook from iTunes on the iMac and then sync it over.

Unfortunately, Apple won’t let me download the audiobook another time. Audiobooks are limited to one download. I contacted support and they told me to sync from the MBA…sigh.

But then I tried something: I right clicked the audiobook in my iTunes library and selected “Show in Finder

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Next, I copied the found “M4B” file over to my iMac and double clicked it. iTunes imported the audiobook and I got a dialog that asked me to enter my iTunes password and activate the iMac for iTunes Store usage. The next thing I saw was a message that this iMac is already activated and I would now be ready to listen to my audiobook.

And guess what, syncing to the iPhone also works!

Apple, I know you guys think different. But this is just too complicated! Please let me download the audiobook just like any other media.

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