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I'm buying a new iPad, which means I must once again install iTunes. I've not used iTunes in more than 6 months, since I bought a new computer.

I don't like iTunes, but I can live with using it to buy/manage media and sync my Apple devices when the program is open. What I would like to do though, is find a way to install iTunes in such a way that it has absolutely no effect on my system when it is closed.

iTunes normally installs several helper programs such as iTunesHelper.exe, and the Bonjour service. These programs run in the background when iTunes is closed. You can force-close them, or remove them from your setup files, but iTunes will often put them right back when you run it. I know these programs are mostly harmless, but they have at times caused issues such as iTunes spending system resources trying to catalog media files or drives connected to VPN, or other issues. At best they're just one more small background process eating up a small piece of my CPU time and RAM.

How can I run iTunes without letting it get it's "hooks" into my system? One thought I had is that I could create a Windows user account just for iTunes, and deny it admin privileges. Then if I installed iTunes using that account maybe anything it installed wouldn't affect the "main" account on my PC? But I'm not sure if that would work....

Failing that, maybe some kind of virtualization software or sandbox I could install it in? I'm open to any suggestions.

My system is an Intel-based PC running Windows 7 Professional 64-bit.


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one option would be to install it in the virtual pc of windows xp that is included with win7 pro – Patrick Mar 2 '11 at 19:16
Ed Bott has this piece about installing iTunes without the bloatware - worth checking that out – Sathya Mar 3 '11 at 12:10
@Sathya - That is awesome! Thanks. That accomplishes 90% of what I want to do. Would you like to submit that comment as an official answer, so I can upvote and/or accept it? – Joshua Carmody Mar 3 '11 at 19:00
sorry for the delayed reply, I have summarized and posted an answer. – Sathya Mar 6 '11 at 4:58
up vote 10 down vote accepted

Ed Bot had written an article on how you install iTunes 10 without any helper programs. It's a long 3-page post, but to summarize

  • When you run the iTunes setup program, it unpacks six Windows Installer packages and a master setup program, which then installs nearly 300MB of program and support files, a kernel-mode CD/DVD-burning driver, multiple system services, and a bunch of browser plugins. It configures two “helper” programs to start automatically every time you start your PC
  • To trim down, the master setup program is first extracted using 7-zip / IZArc and each individual setup program can be run

Performing a selective iTunes install involves three steps:

  1. Extract the installer files you need to a local folder.

  2. Run the installers with the proper command-line switches.

  3. Prevent Apple Software Update from undoing your careful work later.

I would recommend you read the full article and customize it as you like.

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I too am not a fan of iTunes. However, ever since I got a free iPod touch and now have an iPhone 4, I need iTunes to sync all my data. I use 7zip to extract the installer I download directly from Apple.

  1. Then, I delete the Quicktime and AppleSoftwareUpdate msi installers.

  2. I then install the ApplicationSupport first, followed by MobileDeviceSupport, and then Bonjour.

  3. I install iTunes by going into an administrator privileged command prompt and navigate to the directory with the iTunes installer. I use the following command:

     *msiexec.exe /i iTunes64.msi /quiet*

And iTunes installs without Quicktime and software update. Of course you need quicktime for iTunes, so I use the latest version of QTLite which works very well with iTunes.

You can delete bonjour and MobileDevice support if you will never use things like Home sharing or zero-config networking and if you do not have an iDevice.

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This may feel like overkill, if it's only for iTunes, but what I personally do is run another copy of Windows in a virtual machine, for installing any questionable software (which includes iTunes, in my opinion). Especially if you download a lot of freeware applications (or pirate software, God forbid), it's a good way to keep your workstation clean.

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Problem is, that VM requires a second Windows licence. Users of Windows 7 Professional and higher of course qualify for a free Windows XP Professional licence, but everyone else will probably have to buy one, which makes this otherwise excellent solution less than ideal. – Indrek Dec 3 '12 at 21:57
@Indrek Well, he did say it was overkill. Obviously not the right solution for everybody, or even most people, but even solutions that only work for a few people have their place on SU. – Isaac Rabinovitch Dec 3 '12 at 22:16
@IsaacRabinovitch I don't think it's overkill at all. It's precisely what I do as well, for software which I'm not certain about, or just want to run once. The OP, too, mentioned he was willing to try virtualisation. So I'm not at all opposed to this answer, quite the opposite :) – Indrek Dec 4 '12 at 7:27

You can go here...
to get the latest version of iTunes with all the unpleasant dependencies removed.

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Site looks legit (but haven't tested the software). Here's a description how iTunes is modified. – Daniel Beck Mar 10 '12 at 9:12

Well if you plan to sync content onto your new iPad you must left iTunesHelper install as it manages USB communication to mobile devices. Not installing Bonjour would only disable AirPlay and Sharing/Home Sharing. I'm not sure if QuickTime is a dependency of iTunes. It may only be used for playing video and video previews with in the iTunes Store.

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I'm late to this, but if storage isn't an issue, I let them install but I'd disable them with either msconfig.exe and the services.msc tool and they won't bother again.

Steps using msconfig:

  • Press Win+R and execute msconfig.exe.
  • On the Startup tab remove the unwanted Apple apps.
  • Do the same on the Services tab. You can check the Hide Microsoft services option to avoid disabling something important.

Note that disabling them from the msconfig tool marks them as disabled and won't be able to run, not even manually. So if somehow you still need them, use the services.msc tool instead:

  • Press Win+R and execute services.msc.
  • Look fot the services you want to re-enable, right click them and open their properties.
  • Change their startup mode from Disabled to Manual so they won't be run at startup but will still be able to run if you need them.
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@CanadianLuke Done, check the updated answer. – arielnmz Jul 7 '14 at 20:31
Much better! Thanks – Canadian Luke Jul 7 '14 at 20:37

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