• Fix it: ‘Unable to Purchase’ Error

    by  • April 1, 2012 • iOS, iPad, iPhone • 22 Comments


    If you have been getting a similar error to the ‘Unable to Purchase – (Application Name) and (number) other items could not be purchased at this time. Please try again later’ then you will know how annoying it is. Your error will vary, the app will change and the number of ‘other’ apps will be different, but your annoyance level will probably be about the same.

    I have a fix for you that requires a little bit of work but it’s fairly easy to accomplish and doesn’t require a jailbreak. Just follow these steps…

    1. Download iExplorer (formerly iPhone Explorer) on your Mac or PC for Free via http://www.macroplant.com/iexplorer

    2. Install and open iExplorer before you plug in your iPhone or iPad

    3. Plug in your iDevice and run iExplorer

    4. On the left expand Media and Downloads

    5. Scroll way down inside the Downloads folder to the only file ending in ‘sqlitedb’

    6. Rename that file to ‘sqllitedb.old’

    7. Close iExplorer and unplug your iDevice

    8. Close and reopen the app store and the problem should be solved (you need to hard close by double clicking the home button and holding the app store in the multitask menu then hitting the X)

    This causes the database to be re-created without the stuck entries that are causing the problem.

    We hold no responsibility if this causes any harm to your device but if you follow these instructions you should have no issues.

    Update 1: Or you can use DiskAid or other iPhone file system viewer.
    Update 2: As Dave M points out in the comments, instead of renaming the file you can delete it to recover the space. Please use this option with caution, if you accidentally delete the wrong file it could cause serious damage to your phone.

    22 Responses to Fix it: ‘Unable to Purchase’ Error

    1. Ben34
      April 1, 2012 at 10:48 pm

      Thank You!!!! I have been looking everywhere for a fix!!!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    2. PieterS
      April 2, 2012 at 7:33 am

      +1 (using DiskAid), thanks!

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    3. Tony Rozario
      April 12, 2012 at 3:38 pm

      Totally works…thank you so much!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    4. April 26, 2012 at 11:57 am

      Ahh yes. Thank you for this! That problem was so annoying! Your solution works great, and much better than the only alternative I’ve seen, deleting everything and starting fresh.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Mike Kelley
        April 29, 2012 at 1:26 am

        Thank you so much for this solution. It’s ironic that my iPad constantly reminded me it could not purchase Rage 2, when rage is exactly what coursed through me each time that error appeared.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    5. Pingback: iOS: Unable to Purchase Error | ObyCode

    6. Pingback: Randy’s Blog » Fixed the app error

    7. Steve Ashenden
      April 29, 2012 at 8:27 am

      Hello Brian,
      Can’t thank you enough for this solution, it was very simple to do and has saved me lots of time.
      Thanks again, Steve

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    8. Sathappan
      April 29, 2012 at 2:17 pm

      genius!! this worked. Thanks a ton for providing such a simple solution…. pity that the apple support websites dont quote any of this!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    9. alta215
      April 30, 2012 at 10:26 pm

      Thank you so much!!!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    10. Ben
      May 3, 2012 at 10:47 am

      Just say it worked like a charm and thank you so much!!!!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    11. j@j.com
      May 4, 2012 at 5:31 pm

      awesome, thank you so much!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    12. May 6, 2012 at 10:41 am

      You should have folks delete the downloads.28.sqlitedb file instead of renaming it. Renaming it will keep all the storage the file uses on the device which could be substantial.

      Also, if there are any folders in the “Downloads” folder, they should be deleted as well. Folders only exist in the Downloads folder temporarily to keep track of currently downloading applications. Once an application has been downloaded, the folder is deleted.

      There should be only two files in the Downloads folder. The downloads.28.sqlitedb file and the manifest.plist file.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Brian
        May 6, 2012 at 11:29 am

        Dave M, thanks for the tip. We recommended renaming the file just to limit the risk of users damaging anything.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        • May 6, 2012 at 8:05 pm

          I understand, I’m just saying that leaving that old sqlitedb file laying around will waste a bunch of space that could otherwise be used.

          Maybe suggest that after about a week of using the device, if everything is still OK, go back in and delete the sqlitedb file and the folders since they are not necessary.

          I wound up freeing up a lot of space by deleting all those folders and the sqlitedb file. Also, I did this over 2 months ago and both devices are still working perfectly. After all that time, there is still just the sqlitedb file and a plist file in the Downloads folder.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Ingeborg
        March 11, 2014 at 4:03 am

        Dear Dave,

        I downloaded iExplorer and started to delete the downloads.28.sqlitedb files (I have hundreds of them) the only problem is that the deleting of these files is very slow, it would take me hours to delete al these files. Is there a quicker way to do this?

        best regards, Ingeborg

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    13. MattM
      May 6, 2012 at 6:58 pm

      I deleted the file becuase it was obviously corrupted and taking up over 2GB. The recreated file is 80kb…a HUGE difference. I wondered why the orange “other” in the itunes bar was so large.

      I also deleted the extra folders in the download folders. There were 53. Obviouslly a side effect of the corrupt database file.

      All is good now. Thank you for this post!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • May 6, 2012 at 8:07 pm

        Yep, that one of the biggest reasons the “Other” category shows so much space being used.

        Another is apps using the space like Audible’s app after having downloaded a couple of audiobooks into it, or Comixology’s Comic app having quite a few comic downloaded into it or even a magazine like Wired having a couple of issues downloaded.

        Even applications themselves that download with data will take up Other storage.

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    15. Kevin
      May 23, 2012 at 7:47 pm

      I am stumped by looking for media and downloads on the left? I don’t see I anywhere… How do I find this folder? I am using the latest I explorer.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    16. May 29, 2012 at 5:41 pm

      Just to let you know your web-site appears a little bit strange on Firefox on my pc with Linux .

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    17. Kristofer
      August 11, 2012 at 6:47 pm

      Tried this and every other tip on the web. Nothing works!!

      The problems occured this afternoon and has nothing to do with updates or anything.

      Why doesnt Apple do anything about this problem???? Goddamn applecrap!!!!!!

      However, this manifest-File is not in the download folder.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

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