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How to customise an iTunes installation

26 October 2009, Mike Williams

itunesYou might have installed Apple’s iTunes simply to get a new manager for your music collection, and perhaps easy access to the iTunes store. But the program installer assumes you’ll also want QuickTime, iPod and iPhone helpers like Apple’s Mobile Device and Bonjour services, a software update manager and more, all of which are installed without asking. And as a result you’ll lose another chunk of hard drive space, see your boot time lengthen and your free RAM fall, all to install components that you may not even even need.

There’s a simple way to gain more control over the setup process, though. Just download iTunesSetup.exe from Apple, then use your archive handling tool to extract its contents. (Doesn’t work? Install 7-Zip, right-click iTunesSetup.exe, select 7-Zip and choose one of the Extract options.)

What you’ll find is the iTunes setup program actually includes 7 further installation programs for each component, so you can just run the ones you need. Installing iTunes.msi and AppleSoftwareUpdate.msi (just to make sure you don’t miss any important security updates) should be enough to deliver a working system, giving you simple stand-alone iTunes without the bloat. Playing audio files will probably require QuickTime, or a lightweight substitute like QuickTime Alternative, and you may add other components if and when you need them.

You can apply the same trick with many other installation programs, too: treat them like archive files, extract their contents to a folder somewhere and look for ways to customise the installation. Just be careful. If you accidentally leave out an important component then there’s no way to tell how it might affect the full application, so we wouldn’t try this out on anything critical like security software – you may later discover it’s no longer working as you’d expect.

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