Buy apps and books in Apple School Manager
Intro to buying apps and books
Apple School Manager and your mobile device management (MDM) solution work together so your organization can buy content in volume, assign them to devices or users, and then install and update them wirelessly, even if the App Store is disabled.
You can also revoke and reassign apps to different devices and users, so your organization retains full ownership and control of purchased apps. You can assign the apps you buy through Apple School Manager to any devices or users in any country where the app is available from the App Store in that country.
Note: Books purchased through Apple School Manager or volume purchasing can be distributed through managed book distribution, but they can’t be revoked and reassigned.
Type of app or book
Can be assigned to iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac
Can be assigned to users
Free or paid apps purchased through Apple School Manager
(iOS 9 or later)
(iPadOS 13.1 or later)
(OS X 10.11 or later)
(iOS 7 or later)
(iPadOS 13.1 or later)
(OS X 10.9 or later)
Free or paid books purchased through Apple School Manager
The App Store and Apple Books both feature thousands of apps and books for education. Apple School Manager gives organizations a simple way to buy content in an area called Apps and Books. When you buy apps there, you can access special pricing for 20 or more copies if you’re an eligible education organization—either an organization for grades K–12 (or their districts), or one for higher education if the organization is accredited and grants degrees. For books, special pricing is not available.
Add Content Managers to Apple School Manager
It’s easy for you to add Content Managers to Apple School Manager. When you do, they can manage licenses at all locations where they are a Content Manager, even if they didn’t purchase the content. Content Managers with access to multiple locations can then move licenses between locations.
Because administrators have access to all locations, it’s recommended that they be the ones to renew tokens for all the locations at once. Another reason to use the administrators is that they’re also probably the ones managing the MDM solutions.
For more information, see Add Content Managers to locations in the Apple School Manager User Guide.
Plan for app and book distribution
App and book distribution works best when content is assigned before devices are configured or given to users. After the user receives the device and completes the Setup Assistant, your mobile device management (MDM) solution can send the user an invitation by email or push notification. When the user accepts the invitation, the user has access to all of the the MDM-assigned content—which MDM can install on the user’s device remotely.
To simplify your deployment, it is highly recommended that you assign apps to devices instead of users. With device-based app assignment, there’s no invitation process or requirement to use a Managed Apple ID or Apple ID on the device. Books can’t be assigned to devices.
To alleviate bandwidth saturation during the initial mass deployment, consider distributing only the apps necessary for the first day of class, and make additional apps available to users for download over time. If the device is supervised, apps are installed silently by your MDM solution. See your MDM vendor’s documentation to learn how to assign and deploy apps and books.
Apps that are assigned to a device through Apple School Manager:
May be automatically removed when a user unenrolls the device from MDM.
This also applies to user-assigned apps.
Are not automatically reinstalled after an iTunes, Finder, or iCloud restore from backup.
Purchase required apps and books for initial deployment
As soon as possible, buy any apps or books required for your initial deployment. Both paid and free content can be acquired using Apple School Manager. To learn about purchasing content, see Buy required content for initial deployment in the Apple School Manager User Guide and see the video Purchasing apps and books.
Availability of app licenses depends on the amount purchased:
5,000 licenses and under are immediately processed.
5,001 to 19,999 licenses are processed after 1:00 PM Pacific daily.
20,000 licenses or more are process after 4:00 PM Pacific daily.
Note: Books and Apple Books textbooks aren’t available through Apple School Manager or the Volume Purchase Program in these countries or regions: Bahrain, Brazil, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Israel, Malaysia, the Philippines, Qatar, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Arab Emirates.
Acquire productivity and creativity apps
If your organization is enrolled in Apple School Manager, you can get free managed distribution copies for Pages, Numbers, Keynote, GarageBand, and iMovie in Apps and Books in the sidebar of Apple School Manager. You can then use Apple Configurator 2 or your mobile device management (MDM) solution to assign these apps to an iPad or Mac you manage.
Tip: MDM solutions communicate with Apple School Manager to assign content to devices and users. A token is required for your MDM solution to communicate with Apple School Manager. See your MDM vendor’s documentation for specific information about installing the token in your MDM solution. Tokens expire annually, so make note of your token’s renewal date upon installation. To avoid interruption of service, remember to download an updated token and upload it to your organization’s MDM solution before your current token expires.
Transfer licenses between locations
Within your organization, you can move licenses from one location to another. You can also transfer licenses in order to consolidate VPP purchases from multiple accounts or to decentralize and distribute licenses to match your organization’s structure. (For example, a location in Apple School Manager might represent a building, a department, or a group.)
To transfer licenses in Apps and Books, search for and then select an app in your library. In the details section, you can view the number of available licenses at each location you have access to.
Click Transfer, then in the popover enter both the number of licenses (up to 24,999 at a time) and the location where you want to move them. The transfer, which may take a few minutes, is reflected in the number of licenses at the new location. The new number of licenses for the location token is also reflected in your mobile device management (MDM) solution. Check your MDM documentation for the expected behavior.
Note: Transfers won’t disrupt license assignments in MDM. Only unassigned licenses can be transferred to another location.
For more information, see Transfer licenses to another location in the Apple School Manager User Guide.
Plan for migration to Apps and Books in Apple School Manager
If your organization still uses the Volume Purchase Program outside of Apple School Manager, you must upgrade to Apple School Manager and migrate your existing VPP purchasers. The Volume Purchase Program will no longer be available starting December 1, 2020. To get started migrating, invite existing VPP purchasers to join your organization. Next, Content Managers with VPP accounts must migrate their licenses to a location in Apps and Books. For the best migration experience, organizations should map each purchaser to a unique location to ensure that all licenses (assigned and unassigned) are automatically moved during the initial migration. It’s recommended that you move all Content Managers at the same time. This can be done by each Content Manager, or by an administrator with access to all accounts.
After migration, licenses are associated with the location they migrated to rather than with the purchaser’s legacy token. If a Content Manager migrates to a location that already has licenses in it, only their unassigned licenses are moved to the location during initial migration. (This process avoids any disruption to license assignments in MDM.) Assigned licenses remain associated with the purchaser’s legacy token. After these licenses are unassigned in MDM, they can be moved to Apple School Manager, to a location in the Apps and Books section of Settings.
Note: If a Content Manager account has VPP credit associated with it, the credit remains associated with that purchaser. VPP credit isn’t transferred to the chosen location.