How to Import Downloaded Music to iTunes

Build your digital music collection

What to Know

  • Add a shortcut to iTunes: In iTunes, choose File > Add to Library. Go to the location of the music. Select the files and choose Open.
  • Add files to an iTunes folder: Select Edit (PC) or iTunes (Mac) > Preferences > Advanced > Copy files to iTunes media folder.

This article explains how to add music to iTunes either by copying a shortcut to its location on the computer or by physically importing the file into an iTunes-specified folder.

How to Add Music to iTunes Using Shortcuts

With streaming music and digital music stores so popular, you may not download MP3s from the internet very often. But now and then, especially if you download live concert recordings or listen to lectures, you'll need to grab individual files.

Adding music to iTunes so you can sync it with your iOS device or listen to your music on your computer takes only a few clicks.

  1. Make sure you know the location of your downloaded audio files. The files may be in your Downloads folder or somewhere on your Desktop.

  2. Open iTunes.

  3. Click the File menu, and then click Add to Library.

    Add to Library... menu in iTunes File menu
  4. A window pops up that allows you to navigate your computer's hard drive. Navigate to the folder or location of the files you want to import.

  5. Select the files or folders you want to add, and then click Open to generate a shortcut in iTunes to the music.

    Open dialog button for downloaded MP3s
  6. Check that iTunes added the files by opening the Music option from the drop-down near the top left corner in iTunes. Choose Songs, and then click the Date Added column to view the most recently added songs.

You can also drag and drop your MP3 files directly into iTunes.

When you add songs, iTunes should automatically categorize them by name, artist, album, etc. If the songs imported without the artist and other information, you can manually change the ID3 tags yourself.

How Copy Music Into iTunes Media Folder

Usually, when you add music to iTunes, what you see in the program are just references to the actual location of the files. For example, if you copy an MP3 from your desktop into iTunes, you're not moving the file. Instead, you're adding a shortcut to its location on the desktop.

If you move the original file, iTunes can't find it and won't be able to play it until you manually locate it again. One way to avoid this is to have iTunes copy music files into a dedicated folder. Then, even if the original is moved or deleted, iTunes still retains a copy of it.

To do this, follow these steps:

  1. In iTunes, click Edit (on a PC) or​ iTunes (on a Mac), and then click Preferences

    Preferences menu item in iTunes menu
  2. On the Advanced tab, check Copy files to iTunes Media Folder when adding to library.

    Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library option in iTunes advanced preferences
  3. Click OK to save your changes.

Once this option is on, newly imported songs are added to the \iTunes Media\ folder within the user's account. The files are organized based on the artist and album name.

For example, if you drag a song called "favoritesong.mp3" into iTunes with this setting enabled, it will go into a folder like this: C:\Users\[username]\Music\iTunes\iTunes Media\[artist]\[album]\favoritesong.mp3.

Converting Other Formats to MP3

Not all songs you download from the internet will be in the MP3 format (you're likely to find AAC or FLAC, these days). If you want to have your files in a different format, the easiest way to convert them is to use the converter built into iTunes itself. You can also use free audio converter websites and apps to do the job.

Other Ways to Add Music to iTunes

Downloading MP3s isn't the only way to add music to your library. Other options include:

  • How do you download music from iTunes for free?

    Many websites such as SoundCloud, Free Music Archive, and Musopen allow you to download music for free, which you can then download to your iTunes library.

  • How do you buy music on iTunes?

    To purchase a song or album from the iTunes store, navigate to Music. Find the song or album you want to buy and select the price tag next to it. Sign in with your Apple ID to complete the purchase.

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