The unofficial guide to installing iTunes 10 without bloatware

The unofficial guide to installing iTunes 10 without bloatware

Summary: iTunes 10 might be brand new, but little has changed in Cupertino. Apple still gives Windows users a single installer that clutters your hard disk with a bunch of unnecessary components, some of which can be harmful to your system's security and reliability. I show you how to take control of the iTunes 10 installer so you get exactly what you want and nothing more.


One of the most popular posts I wrote in 2008 was a set of step-by-step instructions to help you do what Apple doesn't want you to do with iTunes for Windows (see Slimming down the bloated iTunes installer). Now that iTunes 10 has been released, it's apparent that nothing has changed in Cupertino. Apple still gives its customers a monolithic iTunes setup program with absolutely no options to pick and choose based on your specific needs.

Why is that important? 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, giving you no easy way to disable them. It installs a network service that many iTunes users don't need and that has been associated with security and reliability issues.

And you wonder why I dislike iTunes with a passion that burns like the fire of a thousand suns?

That's where this post comes in. It contains detailed, up-to-date instructions for cracking open that gigantic iTunes installer and installing just the pieces you want and need. I've also updated my advice for individual scenarios so that you can make intelligent choices instead of simply settling for Apple's defaults.

To get started, you need a copy of the iTunes Windows installer, which comes in x86 and x64 versions and is available via this download page. You also need a third-party file extraction utility. WinZip and WinRAR work fine, but I recommend the free and extraordinarily versatile IZArc utility. Use the File, Open menu to extract files from iTunesSetup.exe (or, on x64 Windows machines, iTunes64Setup.exe). This screen shows the contents of the 64-bit iTunes 10 installer.

Extract those files to a local or network folder and you can run them individually, using command-line switches to control their behavior. On the next page, I describe what is in each of those installer packages.

Page 2: What's in each package?  -->

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When you run the master iTunes setup program, it extracts the following files to a temporary folder and then begins installing all of them in sequence. In Windows 7 and Windows Vista, it interrupts you for two UAC prompts.

Here's an unvarnished description of each installer:

  • QuickTime is Apple's multimedia framework, a collection of codecs, plugins, DLLs, and several players designed to help you play back digital media files in most popular formats. The big selling point is support for the QuickTime movie (.mov) format, via the standalone player or an embedded ActiveX control. QuickTime is required if you want to use iTunes. If you don't have an iPod or other Apple-branded device and all you want is the ability to play QuickTime files, go to Apple’s QuickTime download page and choose the QuickTime-only option (don’t select the QuickTime with iTunes option, which includes the full, bloated iTunes installer). If you’d prefer an even lighter option, try the unofficial QuickTime Alternative, which runs on Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7.
  • iTunes (iTunes64 on x64 systems) is Apple's all-purpose media player/device sync application. It is the only officially supported way to sync music, videos, and other content with Apple-branded devices, although third-party alternatives are available. iTunes also provides access to the iTunes store. If you own an iPhone or a 3G iPad, you must use iTunes to activate your device. For an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, you must use iTunes to update its firmware and sync its content with your PC.
  • Apple Application Support was added in iTunes 9 as a framework for managing applications on the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. It is a required component for both iTunes and QuickTime. If you remove it, or if you install iTunes without also installing this package, you'll see the following error message.

That is, of course, a bogus error message. If you know where the individual installer package is located, you can install just that piece without having to go through the tedious full install.

  • Bonjour (Bonjour64 on x64 systems) is Apple's implementation of the open-source Zeroconf, a multicast DNS responder used to discover services on a local area network. It is installed by default with the iTunes download. I strongly recommend not installing Bonjour unless you need it. Bonjour has required patches for security issues in the past and has been known to cause a complete loss of network connectivity on Windows networks. (Yes, I've seen Bonjour disable local and Internet connections on Windows networks. It was not a fun troubleshooting exercise.) And a search of the Apple support forums finds dozens of recent complaints from Windows users struggling with iTunes 10 and Bonjour. Adding unauthorized peer-to-peer services on a corporate network is a distinct no-no, as a number of customers have told Apple on their support forums. (The response? Crickets.) If you want to share iTunes libraries over a network or use Apple TV, you need Bonjour. If you have a printer attached to an AirPort device, you should use Bonjour. It's also required with AirPlay speakers and some remote control apps. However, if you simply want to play media files and sync your iTunes library with your iPod, you do not need Bonjour. iTunes will throw up an error message if Bonjour is missing. You can safely ignore that message, which will not reappear.
  • Apple Mobile Device Support (AppleMobileDeviceSupport64 on x64 systems) is the synchronization framework for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad family of "mobile devices." This package is not necessary if you use another member of the iPod family, including the Classic, Mini, Nano, or Shuffle, which sync just fine using just the basic iTunes app.
  • Apple Software Update is a utility that checks for new versions of Apple software installed on your PC. It also pushes new Windows-compatible Apple software programs. Understanding how this utility works is crucial; it can and will install software you have explicitly rejected if you don't monitor its actions carefully. Just today, for example, I updated iTunes on a Windows 7 system and Apple Software Update selected Safari and Mobile Me for installation, even though I had specifically hidden them previously. This is a behavior that Apple has been guilty of for years. It doesn't happen on every system, but for some reason it's an issue on this one.

The seventh file in the list is SetupAdmin.exe, the monolithic installer. You don't need it, obviously. Oh, and thankfully, the MobileMe component, which was previously included with a full iTunes install, is now a separate option.

So how do you decide which programs to install, and how do you avoid inadvertently getting more than you wanted? Full details on the next page.

Page 3: iTunes installation do's and don'ts —>

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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.

The exact steps vary, depending on what device you're using.

If you want to use iTunes with an iPod Classic, Mini, Nano, or Shuffle…

Extract three files from the iTunesSetup installer and save them in a local folder. Open a command prompt window, navigate to that folder, and run the following commands:

  • AppleApplicationSupport.msi /passive
  • Quicktime.msi /passive
  • iTunes.msi /passive (on a 64-bit Windows system, use iTunes64.msi /passive)

If you shudder at command lines, press the Windows logo key + R to open the Run box. Clear its contents, and then drag the extracted file into it. That will add the full filename, with path, to the Run box. Add a space and then type /passive after the closing quotation mark. Click OK to execute the command. Repeat for the other packages.

The /passive switch performs all installations in unattended mode. After you complete the installation, you can rip and burn CDs, play music from your collection, buy music tracks and TV shows from the iTunes store, and synchronize music and other media files with any Apple device except an iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad. I tested this scenario with an older iPod Nano and it worked just fine. If your experience differs, please let me know in the Talkback section.

If you want to combine multiple iTunes libraries on a local network and/or connect to an Apple TV device…

Install the AppleApplicationSupport, QuickTime, and iTunes packages as described in the previous scenario, and also extract and install Bonjour.msi using the /passive switch. Note that Bonjour must be installed on any computer whose library you want to share. It's not necessary if you have two iPhones, each with different accounts and connected to different PCs. In that scenario, Bonjour provides no benefit.

If you want to activate and manage an iPhone or iPad or synchronize with an iPod Touch...

In addition to installing the iTunes and QuickTime packages, you’ll need to extract and run AppleMobileDeviceSupport.msi (on x64 installations, be sure to use AppleMobileDeviceSupport64.msi.)

And finally, decide whether you want to install Apple Software Update. Given the history of serious security flaws in QuickTime and iTunes, it’s crucial to remain up to date with patches for all Apple programs you choose to install. The trouble with Apple Software Update is that any attempt to “update” iTunes will install the other, unwanted packages as well. iTunes actually has its own update detector that doesn't require Apple Software Update. You can check for a new version any time by clicking Help, Check for Updates. Regardless of how you check, when you see that a new update is available, be sure to download the iTunes installer manually and then extract and update only those components you want.

If you inadvertently install a component you don't need, it's relatively easy to undo the damage. All of the above components are available from the Programs option in the Windows Control Panel, where you can uninstall them individually. If you plan to uninstall Bonjour or Apple Mobile Support, be sure to stop the associated services first; if you don't, you'll need to restart to complete the uninstallation.

And finally, there are those two startup files, which slow down your boot time and add nothing to your iTunes experience. One is called iTunesHelper.exe; the other is QTTask.exe. You'll find only a few lines of sparse documentation at In my experience, neither is necessary for using any of the features in iTunes or QuickTime. Unfortunately, Apple does not offer a supported way to disable these start-up programs, so you'll have to do it manually by using the System Configuration utility in Windows (Msconfig.exe), by editing the registry manually, or by using an external utility like AutoRuns from Sysinternals.

Update: As a commenter points out, you can prevent QTTask.exe from starting automatically by opening Control Panel's QuickTime option, clicking the Advanced tab, and clearing the Install QuickTime Icon In System Tray option.

Topics: Hardware, Apple, Mobility, Windows

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  • RE: The unofficial guide to installing iTunes 10 without bloatware

    Thanks for the article. Apple does some great things sometimes like the iPhone but then they produce some absolute rubbish as well, like iTunes. Big company I suppose.
    • RE: The unofficial guide to installing iTunes 10 without bloatware

      @craigvn@... Really it comes down to this... great hardware company, pathetic software company.
      • RE: The unofficial guide to installing iTunes 10 without bloatware


        Well, they assume that they 'know the best' for people using their OS and software programs. If they didn't, then they would allow people to buy and sell Hackintosh's no problem, while simply saying that they do not support anything but [list of Apple computers] and if you buy a Hackintosh? Whine to the person who sold it to you.
      • Look again

        they assume that they 'know the best' for people using their OS and software programs"

        This post is about the Windows version of iTunes. That is not "their OS." (And it shows.)
        Ed Bott
      • Ed, why use iTunes at all?

        @GoodThings2Life ... if you don't like it, and generally dislike Apple products in general, why aren't you using Zune and Zunetunes, or whatever it's called?
      • @HollywoodDog: Because WP7 isn't ready yet

        While the best smartphone out there today is iPhone 4, Apple forces you to use iTunes. So while I like the iPhone 4 (previous iPhones really, really sucked bad), most of us really hate iTunes.

        Zune software, on the other hand, is truly a fantastic media manager. Even Apple thought so since they keep copying UI and functionality from Zune.

        For me, it will be a race between Apple improving iTunes and MS improving WP7. Whoever can do that first will get my business.

        I hope that answers your question.
      • I was asking Ed why he was using iTunes

        @GoodThings2Life ... I've never used and will never use any Zune software, so I don't know about your allegations of 'copying', but I suspect you're just making that up.
        In any case, if anyone doesn't like any piece of the Apple world, there's an alternative. So I don't understand the need to complain.
      • What a tool...


        <i>Zune software, on the other hand, is truly a fantastic media manager. Even Apple thought so since they keep copying UI and functionality from Zune."</i>

        Just what UI and functionality has Apple copied from the loser device known as Zune???

        iPod and iPhones don't "squirt"... And in contrast, people like them and actually buy them... If Zune was as awesome as you think it is, it would sell.

        <i>"most of us really hate iTunes"</i>
        Define "us"... Are you talking about you and your other 13 personalities? Cus if we are talking about the world, it doesn't appear to be as hated as you and your personas think (or fail to think)... Heck, Even Ed Bott had to write a blog about installing it in pieces only to conclude that you might as well install it all.
      • @Hollywood: Haha, love the assumption!

        [i]I've never used and will never use any Zune software[/i]

        Got it, so you are talking from a position of complete and utter ignorance.

        [i]I don't know about your allegations of 'copying', but I suspect you're just making that up.[/i]

        Since you've already admitted that you are utterly ignorant about the competition, let me educate you. Ping is poor copy of Zune's social capabilities, devoid of most of the useful aspects of Zune's social capabilities.

        The other big thing in iTunes 10 was the album list view which is nearly a pixel by pixel copy of Zune's album view.

        [i]if anyone doesn't like any piece of the Apple world, there's an alternative. So I don't understand the need to complain.[/i]

        Yup, makes me wonder why you Apple zealots complain so much about Windows since Mac OS has always been an alternative. I take it that all Windows complaining will suddenly cease now that we are employing a single standard around complaining?

        Cue the double standards...
      • @Hollywood

        What has Apple copied from Zune?

        FM Radio: The Zune wasn't the first PMP to have an FM radio but Apple never thought it was important enough to add built-in support for it in it's iPods until Microsoft spent years toting about it on Zune.

        FM Tagging: Same exact concept. If the station was broadcasting the information on the current song you could tag it and purchase it from their music store later.

        Ping: Like NonZealot, their take on the Zune Social but without everything that makes Zune Social great like play counts, Xbox Live integration, browser version.

        Album view: Now that is a carbon copy of something that has been around in Windows Media Player since version 11. They try to make it seem intuitive because it only does it when there are five songs from the same album. In media player it shows the art even if there is one song, which makes more since for consistency.

        Genius Mixes: iTunes 8 and Zune 4.0 introduced Genius and SmartDJ, respectively. Genius only produced playlist based on the music you had in your library while SmartDJ generates them based on music you played in the past (it keeps track) and the music related and adds song from your collection and whats available in the Marketplace. When iTunes 9 released it introduced Genius Mixes which pretty much does what SmartDJ does. Except you have to purchase the music that you don't have in iTunes while with Zune if you have a Zune Pass it will just stream what you don't have in your collection, or you can download them.
      • iTunes has implemented new features

        @GoodThings2Life ... and since the world of music players and apps is a finite one, some of the features are kind of similar.
        I think that to assert this constitutes "copying" isn't right. Ping isn't the same as Zune's social capabilities, which as I understand it center around devices connecting to one another and "squirting" (hey baby, let me squirt you with song), which Zune has not implemented.
        They did add FM receiver, which I think is rather silly. The only time I can imagine using that is in the gym to listen to the TV or something, but I am not going to spend money buying an FM receiver.
        Considering that Zune utterly failed, Apple isn't 'copying' out of a desire to keep customers and not lose them to Zune.
        In any case, a collection of features which Microsoft fans seem to think is great in the Zune case, now apparently constitute 'bloat' in Apple's.
        Why do I complain about Windows? Because it's forced on me by the company I work for. Nobody forces Apple on anyone. Consumers demand its products.
        The jerky and arrogant IT administrator forces Windows on me.
      • RE: The unofficial guide to installing iTunes 10 without bloatware

        @i8thecat - Well "us" would be quite a few people.
        iTunes is horrible slow, takes forever to build the library, it's interface is garbage, it's buggy has heck. The ONLY reason it is popular is CrApple FORCES you to use the software. And as far as your - as usual - goofball comments against Zune, my daughter has had a 80Gig Zune for 4 years and it works, the battery is great and while old still holds up. She has had two iPods - battery was garbage and there were issues. She gave up and went to a Zune and has been switching other people over. She wants the HD, but her's works and is having a hardtime switching. The Zune software is pretty nice clean, simple and fast. Something iTunes cannot say. So you continue your immature rants, but your standing on tooth picks for support.
      • HollywoodDog. Ther must be a reason as to why your company

        Chose Microsoft over Apple. Did it ever occur to you that as a colective whole they have a better understanding of the opereating system vs your single opinion?

        And if a company forced their employees to muttle thru with OS X, would they be allowed to complain about it, or do you believe it should only be a "one way street" (using one of your human metaphors)?

        Tim Cook
      • ItsTheBottomLine... Spewing lies again???

        <i>"Well "us" would be quite a few people.
        iTunes is horrible slow, takes forever to build the library, it's interface is garbage, it's buggy has heck."</i>

        I have iTunes running on well over 100 windows PCs (crappy Dell Optiplex PCs)... Guess what??? No issues.. None of that slowing you claim is Apple's fault... Nothing buggy, it's fast, snappy, and works great. iTunes isn't the issue here... That problem sits in your chair dude.

        <i>"And as far as your - as usual - goofball comments Zune, my daughter has had a 80Gig Zune for 4 years and it works, the against battery is great and while old still holds up."</i>

        Now why are you going to tell blatent lies??? The first gen Zune isn't even 4 years old yet and you are talking about a 2nd gen that was released a year later than that...

        The Bottom Line is that you are a liar AND you don't have a clue about how to manage a windows PC... Dude... If anyone NEEDS a Mac, it's you.
      • Not even great hardware... over priced hypeware!

        @GoodThings2Life ... apple just shows what can be achieved with robot consumers blindly buying what ever oozes off the end of the assembly line.

        The apple Kookaid is a very powerful brew!
        Reality Bites
    • Truthfully?

      @craigvn@... I think iTunes is a pretty good piece of software. The complaints here (and elsewhere) generally revolve around only the Windows version of it (which you paid how much for? Oh yeah, Apple ported that app over and gave it to Windows users FREE!), and have to do with wanting more control over what's installed.

      This is a good, informative article, but I could do without the anti-Apple/anti-iTunes tone it was written in.... I use both Macs and Windows PCs, including supporting iTunes for some of our XP users in a corporate environment. There are some deficiencies in iTunes for Windows. (It stores too much data, by default, in a user's roaming profile, for one thing.) But all in all? It's pretty nice having a "one stop" application for all things "Apple device related". None of this nonsense of finding and installing a "firmware updater utility" for each individual product, when needed, for example. If it's an Apple device, you know you just manage the whole thing centrally in iTunes, period.
      • I'll answer your question

        [i]which you paid how much for[/i]

        I paid a few hundred dollars for my iPhone which won't work without iTunes. I wouldn't have purchased an iPhone if I was going to be forced to use OS X so let's not pretend that Apple is giving Windows users iTunes out of the goodness of their hearts.

        So yes, I would expect a company to support a product that I paid hundreds of dollars for. This includes all peripheral products that are [b]required[/b] for the operation of the primary product. Apple does not get a pass just because iTunes, as a standalone product, is free. I wouldn't be using iTunes unless Apple forced me to use it as part of my iPhone purchase which was NOT free.
      • OMG iTunes is PATHETIC and 90% Computer Users Think So!!!

        @kingtj Quicktime is just as bad and I won't allow that piece of trash on any computers I work on either. Talk about SLOOOOOWWWWW w/ NagWare? Obtrusive nagware the likes of which CrApple likes to hoist on Windows users is pathetic. iTunes is another PoS software, like Safari and it's a truly poor representation of Webkit based browsers out there. Why in the World a little company like Opera can make a really nice browser from it and Apple can't... is beyond me. Not forgetting that Google Chrome is the absolute best FREE Open Source Browser based on Webkit (KDE KHTML Engine) and it's absolutely the most secure browser on the planet! ....Safari fails in all respects with less market share than Chrome now, in this respect!

        iTunes is the Epitomy of MAJOR FAIL in software creation! someone said above, Apple is a better hardware maker than they are a software creator. Even though they don't own a single factory to make it in. It's all outsourced, so they are actually a FAKE hardware maker as well as just a Wantabee Software Maker!
      • What I found interesting was that

        While people syncing their iPads and iPhone 4 to Windows had very little problems, Mac users had errors that forced an upgrade to from Tiger to Snow Leopard, as it was incompatable with OSX 10.4

        Did they give those upgrades for free? Will their next hardware device force an upgrade to yet another new Apple operating system?
        Tim Cook
      • RE: The unofficial guide to installing iTunes 10 without bloatware

        iTunes being free means that Apple doesn't have to make an effort to make the program good?
        Doctor Demento