How to Retrieve and Print a History of iOS App Purchases

| How-To

Recently, while teaching my “Welcome to Your iDevice” course at the local university, I was asked the following question: “I’ve been purchasing apps since 2008, and I’d like to know how to retrieve and print a history of all my app purchases.” Well, I wanted to answer with a question of my own: “Why would you want to do that?” But my answer to her was, “Hmmm, I’ll have to get back to you on that one.”

I knew one answer to the first part of her question—how to retrieve a history of purchases—but I was neither positive on the best way to do this, nor on how to print a listing. I did some digging, and am ready to share my findings, just in case you also want to do this.

Retrieving Your Purchase History

1. Launch iTunes [Note: In this article, I will be referring to the current iTunes version 11.1]

2. Click the iTunes Store button near the top-right corner of iTunes’ main window.  Alternatively, go to menu: Store > Home. If you operate iTunes with the sidebar visible, click on iTunes Store in the sidebar, as shown in the illustration below.

3. If you're not signed in to the store, click Sign In near the top-left corner of the main window, and enter your Apple ID and password.

The Sign in to iTunes Store dialog

You first need to be sure you are signed in to your iTunes Store account

4. Next, go into your Account Information page. Do this by clicking on your Apple ID – which should now appear as a button on the top-left – to expose a pop-up menu. Select Account.

5. In your Account Information page, scroll down to Purchase History, and click on See All >.

The Purchase History page will allow you to review your entire purchase history of all iTunes Store products – not just your apps. Remember, these are purchases made with the Apple ID you signed on with. 

The Purchase History page from your iTunes Store Account page

You are able to retrieve your entire iTunes Store purchase history via iTunes

From here there is no way to print any of these records. However, you could always make a screen-capture and eventually save these as image or PDF files, but for obvious reasons, this could turn out to be a laborious process.

List All Your Purchased iOS Apps

1. Make sure you are on the iTunes Store Home Page. You can click on the little Home icon on the top navigation bar, or via menu: Store > Home.

2. Go to the Quick Links section on the right side of iTunes’ main window, and click on Purchased.

A detail showing the Quick Links section of the iTunes Store Home page

The Quick Links section of the iTunes Store home page will lead you to your list of purchased media

3. In the Purchased window that appears, notice that you can view ALL your iTunes Store purchases, not just apps. But for viewing just your apps purchases, click on the Apps button in the list or choices shown across the top.

The Purchased window in the iTunes Store

Click the Apps button when viewing your purchases on the iTunes Store

4. Notice the buttons allowing you to specify what you wish to view: iPhone or iPad apps, and All apps or just the ones not currently in your Library. You may also search your purchased apps via the Search Purchased Items field on the left, not the Search Library field located at the top-right.

One thing to remember: if you have ever opted to hide any purchased apps from this list, you can use the unhide command available to you back in your iTunes Store Account Information page.

OK, so now you are able to see the complete listing of iOS apps purchased using the current logged-on Apple ID. By default, you can only view a big list of icons. They’re pretty and all, but it could get cumbersome. Unfortunately, there’s no kind of list view available, and there is no printing. 

Via a teensy-weensy pop-up menu on the top-right, you can sort by either Most Recent descending or By Name. Of course, you can also download either individual apps or all apps that are not already stored by iTunes on your Mac. This is not really necessary these days for most users who choose to have their iOS apps downloaded wirelessly and managed directly on the device via iCloud.

Print a List of Your iOS App Purchases

I found that there is indeed a way to get a nice printout of all your purchased iOS apps via iTunes. This is the case only if the apps reside in your iTunes Library – whether or not they are installed on your iOS devices. This isn’t much of an issue if, like me, you run a periodic manual full back up of your iOS device to your Mac via iTunes, as long as you agree to backup the apps as well when prompted. However, if you only backup automatically to iCloud, this method may or may not be worth the effort; you decide. Besides, who prints anymore?

The student who asked the original question does keep her iOS apps backed-up and updated on her Mac. She correctly does this so that if she needs to do full restores to her devices, or to newly purchased ones, the restore process will be trivial when done via iTunes.

Consider this procedure; it may work for you if you need to print a listing of apps:

1. Open iTunes on your Mac. This time, you will not be going into the iTunes Store.

2. From either the pop-up menu on the top-left, or the sidebar if you have it showing, click on Apps. This will show you a listing of all the apps you’ve purchased and backed up via iTunes to date. If you haven't backed up your device to iTunes for a while, you will need to do so in order to get an up-to-date listing.

A detail from the Apps listing in your iTunes Library

Click on Apps in your iTunes Library to prepare for printing your listing

3. In the navigation bar at the top of the main window, where all the app icons are showing, click on List to get a tabulated view of your apps. This is actually quite a useful way to look at your list of apps and related data. You can do the usual sorting by clicking on the header row, and switch sorting from ascending to descending – all as you would expect in any modern application where data is displayed in tabular format.

4. If you want, create a custom view of your purchased apps listing by right-clicking (or command-clicking) anywhere on the list’s header row. A pop-up menu appears, allowing you to pick-and-choose which categories you want in the table. For example, in my own custom listing, I am only interested in showing each app’s Name, Seller, Kind, and Date Added. I also sort by app Name, that is, alphabetically ascending, by clicking on in the header at the top of the Name column.

5. Go to File > Print. When looking at options for setting up a listing printout, you’ll notice that the terminology is mostly based on music files. However, these work on data pertaining to apps as well. 

6. In the Print dialog, select Print: Song List, and select Theme: Custom from the pop-up menu. You may want to print in landscape format to get more information across rows to print properly. To do this, click on the Page Setup button. 

The iTunes Print dialog box

When printing from iTunes, you can customize the output to get a listing of just your apps and related data you want to see

7. When ready, click the Print… button. At this point, you print as you would any Mac document. I generally just treat this as a PDF file by clicking on the PDF button and either opening the listing in Preview or saving it as a PDF file onto disk.

An example printout page listing apps

An example of a printed page from the list of apps in my iTunes Library

In conclusion, as we’ve seen, Apple gives us a way to view all of our iOS app purchases via our account information on the iTunes Store. We can see all the pretty apps in their full iconic glory. However, for those who, for whatever reason, need to see a nice columnar listing and possibly print it out or save it as a PDF file, there doesn't seem to be a straightforward, elegant solution.

If any reader has an alternative solution, let us all know via the comments below.

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