Run iTunes as a Windows Service

How to Run iTunes 24/7 as a Windows Service with AlwaysUp

Start Apple's iTunes when your PC boots and keep it serving your music, videos and pictures unattended in the background. No need to log in!

iTunes organizes your media library and streams content to Apple's immensely popular personal devices.

To configure iTunes as a Windows Service with AlwaysUp 8.0 and later:

  1. Download, install and configure iTunes, if necessary. Ensure that it operates as you expect.

  2. Next, let's prepare iTunes to run unattended. Since you won't be there to babysit the software, you want to limit those annoying dialog boxes that occasionally come up to interrupt the action.

    1. Start iTunes and select Preferences... from the System menu (the black-and-white square in the upper left corner):

      iTunes System Menu - Open Preferences

    2. When the Preferences window comes up, uncheck Check for new software updates automatically.

      iTunes Preferences - General Tab

    3. Click over to the Advanced tab and uncheck Warn me if iTunes is not the default player for audio files.

      iTunes Preferences - Advanced Tab

    4. Click the OK button to record your changes.

    5. Close iTunes.

  3. Download and install AlwaysUp, if necessary.

  4. Start AlwaysUp.

  5. Select Application > Add to open the Add Application window:

    Add Application

  6. On the General tab:

    • In the Application field, enter the full path to iTunes. Unless you have customized your iTunes installation, this will be:

      C:\Program Files\iTunes\iTunes.exe

    • In the Name field, enter the name that you will call the application in AlwaysUp. We have been adventurous and put in iTunes but you can enter something else if you like.

    iTunes Windows Service: General Tab

  7. Click over to the Logon tab and enter the user name and password of the account in which you installed iTunes. iTunes should run in this account so that it can find its settings.

    iTunes Windows Service: Logon Tab

  8. Click over to the Startup tab and check the Ensure that the Windows Networking components have started box. This prevents AlwaysUp from firing up iTunes before your PC is fully prepared.

    iTunes Windows Service: Startup Tab

  9. Even though we've already turned off some of the iTunes prompts, iTunes can still get hung up in the background expecting you to dismiss one of its alerts. For example, iTunes will complain that it can not play audio when run as a service in Session 0 and will not start serving your media until you click the OK button:

    iTunes Audio Configuration Error

    To address this and other similar problems, we have written a small AutoIt plugin that can automatically dismiss iTunes prompts. The simple code is here (DismissITunesPrompts.au3).

    To set up the automatic dismissal of iTunes prompts:

    1. Download the standalone DismissITunesPrompts plugin executable from our web site and save it in a well known location. In this tutorial, we have placed it in C:\iTunes-Helper.

    2. Click over to the Automate tab. Check the When the application starts, run this automation script/executable box.

    3. Enter the full path to the plugin executable you downloaded. We saved it as C:\iTunes-Helper\DismissITunesPrompts.exe, but you may have a different path.

    iTunes Windows Service: Automate Tab

  10. Click the Save >> button. In a couple of seconds, the new entry for iTunes will show up in the AlwaysUp window. It is not yet running though.

    iTunes Windows Service: Created

  11. To start iTunes from AlwaysUp, choose Application > Start "iTunes". After a few seconds, the "State" column should show a green circle to indicate that iTunes has started:

    iTunes Windows Service: Running

    On Windows 8/7/Vista and Server 2012/2008, iTunes will be running on the isolated Session 0. Select Tools > Switch to Session 0... to move to the strange looking Session 0 desktop where iTunes will be running:

    iTunes Windows Service: Running in Session 0

    Note: If you quickly switch to Session 0 after starting iTunes, you will see the prompt pictured in step 9. However, after 1 minute, AlwaysUp will run the automation executable you configured up in step 9, dismissing the prompt and allowing iTunes to start normally.

  12. Now that iTunes will always be running in the background, you probably want to de-activate the iTunes helper application that "listens" for devices (such as your iPod). We recommend using the free Autoruns tool from Microsoft to disable the iTunesHelper.exe auto-start but any "startup manager" should do the trick.

    With Autoruns, click over to the Logon tab and un-check the box beside the iTunesHelper entry:

    Disable iTunes helper autostart at login with Autoruns

  13. That's it! Next time your computer boots, iTunes will start up before anyone logs on.

    Feel free to edit iTunes in AlwaysUp and check out the many other settings that may be beneficial for your environment. For example, run a script prior to starting, send email alerts, boost priority, and much more.

iTunes not working properly as a Windows Service?

  • Try switching to Session 0 (from the Tools menu) to see if iTunes is stuck trying to get your attention. You can also try restarting iTunes in the current session (via the Application menu) to have iTunes appear alongside your other windows and troubleshoot from there.
  • From AlwaysUp, select Application > Report Activity > Today... to bring up a HTML report detailing the interaction between AlwaysUp and iTunes. The AlwaysUp Event Log Messages page explains the more obscure messages.
  • Consult the AlwaysUp FAQ for answers to commonly asked questions and troubleshooting tips.
  • Contact us and we will be happy to help!

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  • For Windows 11/10 and Windows Server 2022/2019/2016/2012
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