Until recently bulk installing iPad apps was a bit of a minefield when it came to licensing. You either had to use multiple accounts and make an individual purchase for each install or, more commonly, use a single Apple ID that could be used to install an application on multiple iPads — cheaper, but a legal grey area. The issue was so confusing that the advice from a number of Apple representatives that I spoke to was essentially, “pirate our software until we have a better solution.”

Now, however, there is a solution. Apple’s Volume Purchase Programme allows schools, colleges, and universities to bulk purchase iOS applications for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch, many at a reduced cost.

You can easily browse the VPP store by visiting https://volume.itunes.apple.com/, however, before you purchase anything you’ll need to enroll your school to setup your account. You account can take a number of days to confirm — it appears that at least part of the process is manual — so please leave sufficient time to have your account enabled.

Enroll with the Volume Purchase Programme

  1. Visit the Enrolment website by clicking here. If you are outside Europe click here instead.
  2. Select your country and click continue:Apple Volume Purchase Programme
  3. Sign in with an Apple ID. The account you sign in with will be permentaly associated with the VPP licensing for your organisation and will be a “master” account for all purchases and be used to manage any additional accounts added to the system. For these reasons it is advisable to create a fresh Apple ID to use with VPP.Apple VPP Sign In
  4. Complete the rest of the information for your organisation. Most of this is straight forward.
    Apple VPP Work Flow

When we registered for an account it took approximately three days to receive the confirmation email that the account had been set up.

Once you are registered for the VPP you can manage you can create additional facilitator accounts — for example, if you want to delegate control of installing apps to a teacher in a lab — by visiting https://edu-vpp.apple.com/asvpp_manager/.

Purchasing Software

So, we now have our VPP account set up, how do we go about purchasing apps?

By visiting the Volume Purchase Programme for Education Store you can easily browse and purchase iOS apps from within a web browser. Purchasing is simply a case of searching for the app you require and entering the quantity of installs needed.

In the image below I’ve searched for iMovie:

VPP Store


The application page gives the cost of purchasing the selected app as well as any savings for bulk purchases. In this case purchasing more that 20 units reduces the cost of each install to £1.49 from the usual price of £2.99.

Any bulk purchase reductions are on a per app basis and are set by the application developer.

VPP iMovie Install


Clicking Checkout takes you to a screen which allows you to select your method of payment.

Once a purchase has been completed you will be presented with the following screen which confirms your order:

Screen Shot 2013-05-28 at 10.57.30

After a few minutes you will receive a confirmation email with a link to download an XLS file — in this case the file was named iMovie.xls. This file contains license codes for the purchased app which can then be imported into either Apple Configurator or an MDM service when pushing out the apps to devices.

If you’d like to find out how to distribute apps using Apple Configurator take a look at this article. If you’d like to find out more about Apple Configurator itself, click here.


About Author

Profile photo of Karl Rivers

Karl is an award winning Director of IT for the Royal Grammar School Guildford, based near London, England. He has been working in education for more than ten years and founded ClassThink in 2013 to share technology best practice with other schools. In 2014 he won the NAACE Impact Award for support services in schools, and writes edtech articles for Education Executive Magazine.


  1. This is a great guide for iPad management, Karl. I’ve never seen behind the scenes of the VPP store so it’s good to know how it works.

    Unfortunately, for most of the world, VPP is still not available. This means a lot of schools do pirate the software as they don’t have the man power to buy an app X number of times. Another way to do it is to purchase gift codes for the number of copies you want. You bundle a grade/class set of iPads under the one Apple ID, but only redeem one of gift codes and sync the one copy to all the ipads under that ID. Again, this requires time and personnel. If you can’t afford to buy one copy of an app for every device (this Apple is very clear on in their terms of use for institutions), then you can’t afford iPads in your school.

    There is also a lot of confusion and misinformation about the ‘up to 10 devices’ rule. A lot of teachers and schools think that this applies to their school devices when in fact it is for domestic consumers only.

    For non VPP countries, all Apple needs to do is to include a number field in the gift code purchasing screen saying how many codes you want to purchase and then everyone would be happy. Developers like me would get their dues for all their hardwork and sleepless nights. Apple would recoup squillions in lost revenue. Schools would be able to use these amazing devices for teaching and learning without stealing or confusion.

    • Profile photo of Karl Rivers

      All great points, Doug. I was talking to a tech from an international school the other day who have decided purely on the inability to use VPP to go with Windows tablets rather than iPad. Hopefully Apple can get this sorted out as it is a huge problem.


Tell us what you think!