How to Delete Songs From iTunes

Keep your iTunes library up to date without cluttering your computer

Deleting songs in iTunes is a good idea when you no longer like a song or album or you need to free up some hard drive space on your computer or iOS device.

Cleaning up your iTunes library has some hidden complexities that can cause you not to actually delete the song and therefore not save any space at all, however. It gets even trickier if you get your tunes from Apple Music or back them up using iTunes Match.

These instructions apply to iTunes 12 and later.

Selecting Songs to Delete in iTunes

To delete a song, go to your iTunes library and find the song, songs, or album you want to delete (the steps here vary slightly depending on how you're viewing iTunes, but the basic ideas are the same in all views). 

  • To select a single song, click it once.
  • To select multiple songs next to each other, hold down the Shift key while you click them.
  • To select multiple, non-contiguous songs, hold down the Command key (on a Mac) or the Control key (on Windows) while you click the songs.
  • To delete an album in Album View, click the ... icon next to the album title.
  • To delete all music by an artist in Artist View, click the ... icon next to the artist's name.
Artist menu in iTunes

When you've selected the items to delete or clicked the ... icon, you can do one of four things:

  1. Hit the Delete key on the keyboard.
  2. Go to the Song menu and choose Delete from Library.
  3. Right-click and choose Delete from Library.
  4. Click the ... icon next to the item (if you haven't already done that) and click Delete from Library.

Choose Among Options for Deleting Songs

When you hit the delete key, iTunes pops up a window that lets you decide what to do with the file: will you delete it for good or just remove it from iTunes? Your options include:

  • Remove Download: This only appears if you use Apple Music or iTunes Match and have downloaded the song to your computer (the other option is that you've added the song to your library for streaming but haven't downloaded it). If you select Remove Download, iTunes deletes the file that is taking up space on your hard drive. However, the entry for the song in your iTunes library remains. That way, you can stream or redownload the music whenever you want.
  • Delete Song: This option removes the song from your iTunes library, your iCloud Music Library, and moves the file to your trash. It clears space on your hard drive, but it also deletes the entry for the song in your iTunes library and deletes the song automatically from any device that's syncing with your iCloud Music Library. That's basically any device that connects to your Apple Music or iTunes Match account. Sometimes this is the right choice, but make sure you really understand the implications before making it. 
  • Cancel: If you've changed your mind and no longer want to delete the song or album, click this button to stop without deleting anything.
Delete options for a song in iTunes

If you choose an option that deletes a file, you might need to empty your trash or recycling bin to free up space on your hard drive.

Deleting Songs from iTunes Playlists

If you're viewing a playlist in iTunes and you want to delete a song from inside the playlist, the process is a little different. If you follow the steps already described when you're in a playlist, the song is just deleted from the playlist, not from your computer.

If you're looking at a playlist and decide you want to permanently delete a song from your hard drive, follow these steps:

  1. Select the song or songs you want to delete.

    Songs in an iTunes playlist
  2. Hold down Option + Command + Delete (on a Mac) or Option + Control + Delete (on a PC). You can also right-click the selection and select Delete from Library in the menu that appears.

    Delete from Library option in iTunes
  3. Click Delete Song. Delete Song, in this case, removes the song from both your iTunes library and from every compatible device that has it.

What Happens to Your iPhone When You Delete Songs

If you use Apple Music or iTunes Match, changes you make to the iTunes library on your computer will automatically carry over to any devices using those services. So, if you remove a song from iTunes the same change will happen on your iPhone.

If you manage music on your iPhone by syncing with your computer, however, the changes you make to your iTunes library won't happen right away. They'll apply to your iPhone the next time you sync.

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