How to Import Downloaded Music to iTunes

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.

Importing music into iTunes so you can sync them with your iOS device or listen to your music on your computer takes a few clicks to find and import the files.

A musician sitting in front of iTunes on a laptop, hair being blown back
Lifewire / Tim Liedtke

How to Add Music to iTunes

Before getting started, make sure you know the location of your downloaded audio files. They may be in your Downloads folder or somewhere on your Desktop.

  1. Open iTunes.

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

    Add to Library... menu in iTunes File menu
  3. 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.

  4. Select the files or folders you want to add, and then click Open.

    Open dialog button for downloaded MP3s
  5. 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 Upon Import Into iTunes

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 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: