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Mac OS X Fix: iTunes can’t connect (-9813) AND .Mac can’t connect errors

This is a tech note for people who are also having this same frustrating problem.

For the last six months or so, I’ve been unable to shop at the iTunes Music Store. I could connect and browse and even listen to clips, but I could not purchase anything, and I could not subscribe to free podcasts.

I’ve also been unable to sync my computer to my .mac account, or change my .Mac settings in system preferences. I could access the .Mac settings, but I got an error message that .Mac couldn’t connect, login failed, when I tried to click the Sync tab in the preferences. When I tried to access the iDisk preferences, I received an error message to check my network connection. When I tried to access my iDisk from the Finder, however, I had no problem.

While it gave me no end of frustration when I try to use these services, I use them so rarely, I tend to forget that I have the problem until I actually need to buy music or access my address book from the road. The .Mac issue was unusual, because my Mac doesn’t give me a warning when I run iSync and can’t actually sync to .Mac, that I didn’t notice until November when I was in a foreign country without my cell phone or address book, and I discovered that my .Mac address book was five months out of date (I discovered this, of course, because the first person I wanted to mail a postcard to was my sister, who recently moved, and the online address book had her old address. Note to others: when you travel, always send postcards to someone who moves a lot.).

I had already tried the Apple support email, which gave me a series of troubleshooting tasks which weren’t very well documented and which, more to the point, did not actually solve the problem. Two weeks later, they sent me a follow-up survey to see how satisfied I was with the support experience, without actually responding to my follow-up responses.

*sigh* Here are just some of the things I did to try to fix the .Mac problem:

  • Ran Keychain First Aid.
  • Deleted all my .Mac keychains
  • Tried to find and restore the X509Anchors keychains, which all the online forums told me were corrupted. Mind you, Keychain First Aid did not report this corruption.
  • Ran the Mac OS X 10.4 installation CD and ran Network Diagnostics and Disk First Aid.

At that point, the network diagnostics showed that Appletalk wasn’t talking, but until then, everything reported as being just fine. Could it be that Apple is using this protocol for .Mac and the iTunes Music Store? This is about the point where I realized the two issues were probably related and were probably beyond my abilities to diagnose and fix.

I went back to the Apple support discussion boards. These boards can be a wealth of information, because the users actually provide suggestions, rather than blaming your network connection, or saying “yes, a lot of users are having that problem. Can you answer some questions for us?” the way Apple support seems to be doing lately. That’s not a knock at Apple support– I think the Apple userbase has just waaaay outstripped their ability to handle all incoming problems, and frankly, when there isn’t a solution at hand, you’re tied.

In the iTunes Music Store forums, I found a post that suggested that either restoring the X509Anchors keychains from another Mac was useful, or you could use a program to extract it from your installation disk, or you could just reinstall Mac OS X and run Software Update until your Mac is back to normal, selecting the “Backup User Files” in the Installation Options so you don’t lose everything. I don’t have another Mac to restore from, and the Keychain First Aid no longer reported a problem with my anchors, so I wasn’t sure that was really the issue.

I suspect that most people who have trouble using the iTunes Music Store don’t have a problem accessing .Mac because they don’t subscribe to .Mac. However, I cannot be certain that the two problems are actually related. I can be certain, however, that the same solution fixed them both. Nonetheless, I feel fairly confident in making this statement:

The solution to not being able to buy from the iTunes Music Store (error -9813) and not being able to access .Mac (“.Mac login failed”) is to reinstall Mac OS X 10.4 while preserving your user files.

The following is a step-by-step procedure if you don’t know how to reinstall your Mac OS X software. These instructions are for fixing the .Mac and iTunes Music Store problems in Mac OS X 10.4.8. You can find out what your software version is by clicking the Apple menu and selecting “About This Mac.” The version number will be displayed in very small type, probably in grey, so get out your bifocals to read it.

Note/Disclaimer: I am not an Apple employee, agent, or representative. This procedure is only what worked for me. It may or may not work for you. You might lose your data if you do it incorrectly. You might lose your data if you do it correctly, too. If you do this, you do so at your own risk.

I haven’t had any of the other iTunes Music Store problems, so I don’t think you should try this fix if the error message you get when you try to use iTunes Music Store is anything other than -9813.

Did this work? Leave me a comment to let me know if this procedure helped you or not, and if you had both the iTunes Music Store (-9813) problem, and the .Mac problem, or some other problem.

Update 1/14/07: Again, I cannot confirm any connection, but I do note that: .Mac syncs. I can shop on the iTunes Music Store. And Appletalk is talking all the time, as evidenced by my Activity Monitor program.

These instructions are really for if you do not know how to re-install Mac OS X.

It took about four hours, because I already had a viable backup of my user data. It could take longer if you also need to backup your user data.

1. Backup all user files before you start. I do this with an external hard drive, but you could also back up to a CD or DVD if you have them. Sorry, I don’t provide support help with this process– Apple has a program called “Backup” that should do the trick.

Note that if you just drag and drop your Documents folder, you’ll miss your Mail files. If you use something like a web-based mail program for all your email, this is no big deal. If you use the built in Mail.app client, however, you should also back up your user Library folder, because it contains your Mail messages.

Recommended: Also write down all your saved web passwords and other passwords. I use a software program on my Palm Pilot for this, but before I had a Palm Pilot, I used a small address book that I just wrote the usernames and passwords into as needed, alphabetized by the name of the web site or system I needed to access. Since you might hose your web browser, where all your web passwords are probably saved, and you might hose your Apple Keychain, where all your other passwords are saved, it’s a good idea to save your passwords at this point.

2. Insert your Mac OS X 10.4 installation disk into your Mac’s CD or DVD drive. It came with your computer or in the box when you upgraded. If you don’t have one, borrow one, because I cannot help you get Mac OS X disks. (I put that in bold because invariably some git is going to ask for Mac OS X disks, just you wait and see.)
3. Double-click the Install Mac OS X icon.
4. You’ll be prompted to restart your computer and enter your computer’s administrative password. Do both.
5. Wait for the computer to restart.
6. You’ll be prompted that the version of Mac OS X is newer than the one on the disk, and that you can’t install until you select some options. Click OK to confirm that you’ve read the message.
7. Next, run Disk First Aid, if you haven’t done so already today. Why not? It’s a good bit of prevention. You run this from the File menu in the installer program.
8. After Disk First Aid is done, you’ll come back to the installer, where you now click the Options button.
9. Select the option to Keep User Files. It should be automatically selected for you, but make sure. Do NOT select Erase and Install. It’s unnecessary.
10. Click OK, then the Install button.
11. Wait. And Wait some more. The reinstallation process takes a long time. Go to the movies.
12. When you come back, you’ll need to restart. Click the “Startup Disk” button during the restart. Otherwise, you’ll just keep restarting to the installation CD.

Now, it took my Mac an additional hard reboot before it came back completely. Yours might not be that way. Wait at least 20 minutes for the restart to finish before hard rebooting (hold the power button for 8 seconds). It’s not good for the Mac, but it works.

The next steps are for getting your Mac back to where it was when you started.

  1. Make sure you’re connected to the Internet. My WiFi router chose this moment to become unreliable, of course.
  2. From the Apple menu, select Software Updates.
  3. When Software Updates runs, it will check the Internet for new updates to your existing software.
  4. It’ll show that you need some new software. Click the “Install 5 Items” (or however many there are) button.
  5. You will be prompted to enter your password, and to accept the End User License Agreements. Do both.
  6. After the downloads start, wait. You will need to reboot at the end.
  7. After your Mac reboots, run Software Update a second time. You probably have more updates to complete.
  8. After your Mac reboots after the second software update, run it a third time. Keep running it until your Mac no longer finds any software to update.
  9. Now, from the Apple menu, click System Preferences and go to .Mac. You should be able to enter your username and password, click the Sync tab and access your sync preferences.
  10. Also, as part of the troubleshooting process for .Mac, Apple technical support asks you to deactivate Sync of your Address Book and Bookmarks. You do this from the .Mac website, not just from the .Mac System Preferences in your computer. Go to .Mac and select the “Preferences” link in both the Address Book and the Bookmarks to reinstate them. This may take some time, as .Mac will then run a sync when you reinstate each item.
  11. From iTunes, you should be able to subscribe to a free podcast from the iTunes Music Store, something you couldn’t do before

It’s likely that a few things will “break” at this point. You may find yourself needing to re-enter passwords. I had to reinstall MacGPG before I could use my Mail program– a minor hassle and very easy to solve, but it highlighted the fact that if you use third party software, you can expect some odd behavior at this point. I also have continuing problems with losing my non-Airport WiFi connection every time my Mac goes to sleep (a problem I had before and fixed, though I can’t for the life of me figure out why). We also lose WiFi when the printer starts up, so go figure.

Please let me know if this works/doesn’t work for you, and what your situation was. I have absolutely no voice at Apple, but I’d like to know if this helps anybody, because it’s always nice to know that one’s efforts are not in vain.

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2 thoughts on “Mac OS X Fix: iTunes can’t connect (-9813) AND .Mac can’t connect errors”

  1. I had the same problem for over a year, and even at the GeniusBar they couldn’t help me AT ALL. My dad just sent me the new Keychain AnchorsX509 file (one from his computer, a copy through email), I put it in, and it WORKED!!!!

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