How to Create and Use Playlists on iPhone

Keep your iPhone music organized with playlists for every occasion

Person on iPod
Ezra Bailey/Getty Images

Playlists on the iPhone are flexible, powerful, and a great way to create custom song mixes. You can also create Smart Playlists that instruct Apple to create playlists based on specific criteria. Use iTunes on a computer to create playlists and sync them to your iPhone, or create your playlists directly on your iPhone.

Instructions in this article apply to iOS 12 and include a few minor changes from iOS 11 and iOS 10.

Make Playlists on iPhone

To make a playlist on an iPhone or iPod Touch:

  1. Tap the Music app to open it.

  2. Tap Library.

  3. Tap Playlists.

  4. Select New Playlist.

  5. Tap Playlist Name and enter a name.

    Playlists, New Playlist, Playlist Name fields in Music for iOS
  6. Tap Description and enter information about the playlist.

  7. To add a photo to the playlist, tap the camera icon and choose Take Photo or Choose Photo. Then, follow the on-screen prompts.

    If you don't take a photo or link to one, the Music app makes a collage from the album art of music you include and assigns it to the playlist.

  8. To add music to the playlist, tap Add Music.

  9. Search for music. If you subscribe to Apple Music, you can choose from the entire Apple Music catalog. You can also browse your library or select from Artists, Albums, Songs, Compilations, and Downloaded Music.

  10. When you find a song you want to add to the playlist, tap it to place a check mark next to it.

  11. When you've checked all the songs you want, tap Done to save the playlist.

    Add Music, Plus icon, Done button in iOS Music app

Edit and Delete Playlists on the iPhone

To edit or delete existing playlists on an iPhone:

  1. On the Playlist screen, tap the playlist you want to change to open it.

  2. To rearrange the order of the songs in the playlist, tap Edit.

  3. Drag the three-line icon to the right of a song to move it to a different location.

  4. When the songs are in the order you want, tap Done to save the changes.

    Playlist, Edit button, move icon in iOS Music app
  5. To delete an individual song from a playlist, tap Edit, tap the red button to the left of the song, then tap Delete. When you're done editing the playlist, tap Done to save the changes.

    Edit button, delete button, Delete confirmation in iOS Music app
  6. To delete a playlist, hard press (Apple calls this 3D Touch) the name of the playlist, select Delete from Library, then tap Delete Playlist to confirm.

    Playlist, Delete from Library, Delete Playlist
  7. Here's another way to delete a playlist. Open the playlist, tap the menu button (the ...  icon), select Remove, then tap Delete from Library.

    Menu button, Remove, Delete from Library button in iOS Music app

Add Songs to Playlists

There are two ways to add songs to existing playlists:

  1. Open a playlist, tap Edit, tap Add Music, then select music from any of the sections of your library. To add a song to the playlist, tap the song title to place a check mark next to it. Tap Done when you're finished.

    Edit, Add Music, Plus icon in iOS Music app
  2. If you're listening to a song that you want to add to a playlist, display the song in full-screen mode, tap the menu button (the ... icon), tap Add to a Playlist, then tap the playlist. 

    Menu button, Add to a Playlist, target playlist in iOS Music app

Make Smart Playlists in iTunes

In standard playlists, you choose the songs to include and the order of the songs. If you want something a little smarter — for example, a playlist that includes all the songs by an artist or composer or all songs with a certain star rating — and something that automatically updates when new songs are added, create a Smart Playlist.

With Smart Playlists, you set the criteria and iTunes automatically creates a playlist of songs that match and updates the playlist with new songs every time you add one that matches the playlist parameters.

Smart Playlists can only be created in the desktop version of iTunes, but after you create them there, sync them to your iPhone or iPod Touch.