What Is iTunes Helper?

By Seamus Islwyn

The iTunes Helper is a component of the iTunes media software. It start when Windows starts, then runs behind the scenes on your computer. Whenever you plug in your iPod, it notices this and starts iTunes if necessary. If iTunes Helper stops working, restart the program to re-enable it; if, on the other hand, you don't want to use iTunes Helper, you can disable it in the Windows configuration settings.

Function

The iTunes Helper program runs in the background of your operating system and constantly monitors your computer's USB and FireWire ports. When you connect an iPod or other Apple device to a port on your computer, iTunes Helper launches iTunes, if you've enabled this option in the program's configuration section. This allows you to begin transferring music and managing the media collection on your device without going through the process of manually starting iTunes.

Troubleshooting

If the iTunes Helper software crashes, iTunes will not open automatically when you connect an Apple device to your computer. To test if iTunes Helper is running, use the built-in iTunes diagnostic tool. Launch iTunes, open the "Help" menu and click "Run Diagnostics." Un-check all of the boxes except for the one next to "Device connectivity tests," then click "Next." Connect your device to the computer and click "Next" again. If a red or yellow light appears next to "iTunes Helper is running," the program has crashed.

Restarting iTunes Helper

Fix a crashed iTunes Helper by manually running the program. Close iTunes and disconnect any devices from the computer. Open the Start menu and click "Computer." Double-click the "C:" drive, open the "Program Files" folder and double-click "iTunes." Click on the "iTunesHelper" program file -- not the "iTunesHelper.dll" file -- and press "Enter" to restart the program. Connect your device and wait for iTunes to launch. If iTunes Helper still doesn't work, reinstall the iTunes software.

Disabling iTunes Helper

Because iTunes Helper runs in the background, it's always using a small amount of system resources. If you never use the automatic iTunes launch feature, and want to reclaim the system resources that iTunes Helper uses, shut down the program and remove it from the Windows startup. Press "Ctrl," "Shift" and "Esc" simultaneously, then right click "iTunesHelper.exe" and select "End Process." Click the Start button, type "msconfig.exe" and press "Enter." Click the "Startup" tab, un-check the box next to "iTunes" and click "OK."