Please quit iTunes before beginning this update

September 10, 2005

Generally Apple has their act together when it comes to usability (at least on their Mac software.) On the other hand, when they decide to hork it up, they do it well…

It being the weekend, I figured it was time to try the new iTunes 5 — where I trust Apple the least is in brand new products and updates, so doing a software update requires some planning; fix permissions and get a good backup beforehand.

So, having done my due dilligence, I ran Software Update. Check off the products, agree to a bunch of license agreements, download, download, download. Uh-oh, an alert…

“Please quit iTunes before beginning this update”

Whoops, my bad. It’s gone now.

“Please quit iTunes before beginning this update”

Hmmm? Oh, my iPod’s still docked. That must be what they mean.

“Please quit iTunes before beginning this update”

Close all other apps. This thing’s starting to get on my nerves.

“Please quit iTunes before beginning this update”

What’s left? I close a handful of menu icon apps…

“Please quit iTunes before beginning this update”

Take a deep breath. Force quit Software Update.

“Please quit iTunes before beginning this update”

It has a life of its own… I do a restart, being reminded another dozen times along the way to (you guessed it)…

“Please quit iTunes before beginning this update”

Restart. Make sure everything’s closed. Start Software Update. Download download download. Agree agree agree.

“Please quit iTunes before beginning this update”

This is why I don’t own a handgun. Go into Preferences. Ah, Sizzling Keys. Click stop.

“Please quit iTunes before beginning this update”

Slowly I turn… Step by step… Sorry… Back to preferences. Remove Sizzling Keys and iTunesHelper from my startup. Force quit Software Update. Reboot…

(“Please quit iTunes before beginning this update”) x 10

One more time, with feeling. Software Update. Download download download… Agree agree agree…

Hey, what do you know, it’s installing!

Ahem. This better be one charming ******-****** update.

Wow, it could be worse — apparently iTunes 5.0 sucks a LOT harder on Windows…

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10 Responses to “Please quit iTunes before beginning this update”

  1. Scott on September 10th, 2005 9:00 pm

    Did you have iTunes open with another user on the computer?


  2. proton on September 10th, 2005 9:03 pm

    Of course Apple does have a knowledge base article about this:

    – proton

  3. Chuck Lawson on September 10th, 2005 9:14 pm


    Nope. Just me; I did have it open when I started, but it looks like the problem was either iTunesHelper or Sizzling Keys…


    Gee — I was hoping that that would be a knowledgebase article on how to write an installer that actually handles errors gracefully. Seriously, tho — I figured out the problem was either Sizzling Hotkeys or iTunesHelper, and I did it in about half the time it took to write the post — my point was more that you don’t often see error handling that bad on a Mac, and it’s rather amusing when it happens (afterwords, anyway.)

  4. blah on September 11th, 2005 1:02 pm


    can we not blame apple’s installer for something some third-party shit is doing? one developer can’t plan for everything /another/ developer could potentially do, especially when it isn’t known /exactly/ what the other developer is doing.


  5. Chuck Lawson on September 11th, 2005 1:19 pm


    How about we blame them for an installer that puts up an error dialog that you can’t get rid of, even if you force-quit the software update. The problem isn’t a bad interaction with third party software — the problem is writing code that ignorantly assumes that the programmer’s assumptions about the environment it’s going to execute in will never be proved incorrect.

    Please indeed — this is basic programming; after you get tired of fixing stuff enough, you learn to write code that is properly paranoid and assumes bad things may happen where you least expect them to — as I’m sure the person who wrote this little dialog comedy act will do next time.

    I like Apple too (I ought to, I dump enough money on their hardware), but they aren’t infallible.

    I’m always amazed that whenever anybody points out that they’ve screwed something up, there’s a whole crowd of people that come out of the woodwork acting like somebody just slapped Mother Theresa.

    Apple produces some amazing screwups sometimes (this one isn’t amazing, just mildly amusing) — just less often than most of the alternatives.

    On the other hand, if people quit calling them on it when they do it, then the problems that do exist won’t ever get fixed.

  6. Ferrero on September 12th, 2005 1:40 am

    I didn’t have any problems with the upgrade/download. Everything went swimmingly & I am the least technobright person I know. It works like a dream.

  7. emprise on September 12th, 2005 7:25 pm

    THanks Proton… sizzling keys…damn you!!!

  8. Trajik on September 14th, 2005 9:50 am

    I ran into this exact same issue installing iTunes 5 (via Software Update) on my Powerbook running the latest and greatest Panther release (10.3.9 maybe).

    The solution was incredibly simple:

    – Launch System Preferences
    – Click the Sizzlings Keys icon at the bottom of the screen under “Other”
    – Press the “Stop” button to stop the Sizzling Keys service
    – Go back to Software Update and press the “Ok” button on the (still existing) “Close iTunes” dialog window.

    Launch iTunes 5 and rejoice.

  9. Chuck Lawson on September 14th, 2005 10:52 am


    Hmmm… That’s interesting; stopping Sizzling Keys via Prefs did not do the trick for me — I ended up having to remove it from my user profile, reboot, update, and put it back.

    I’m running Tiger (10.4.2) — I wonder if that’s the difference?

    In any event, I should also note that Sizzling Keys works fine with the new release, once you’ve updated and put Sizzling Keys back.

    Which is a good thing — frankly the functionality provided by Sizzling Keys is a lot more useful (to me anyway) than the new features in the update.

    Love them Sizzling Keys…

  10. Montana on May 12th, 2010 9:09 am

    I had pretty much the same issue with installing the new iPhone SDK. For some reason, it worked OK after I went into my mom’s account and quitted her iTunes. My request for Apple is that they add a button that will go through every user account and close out all iTunes copies that don’t appear to be in use. (If iTunes is running on another user’s account, then a nice little dialog box appears that tells you where iTunes is running.) Also, if it would take care of stopping all the iTunes-related stuff that may be causing the problem, that would be great.

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