How To Sync iTunes Songs to Your iPad

Turn your iPad into a portable music player by syncing music from Itunes

Man listening to music on iPad

Geber86 / Getty Images

The iPad is a tool for surfing the Internet, running apps, and watching movies, but this multimedia device is also great at being a digital music player, too.

Apple's tablet comes with a pre-installed music app that lets you play your music collection. But what's the best way to get your iTunes library from your computer?

If you've never used your iPad for playing digital music or need a refresher on how to do it, then this step-by-step tutorial will show you how.

Before Connecting

To ensure the process of transferring iTunes songs to the iPad goes as smoothly as possible, it's a good idea to check you've got the latest version of the iTunes software. Having an up-to-date version of iTunes on your computer is always recommend.

This is normally an automatic process when your system boots or whenever you launch iTunes. You can also check for an update manually. Here's how:

  1. From any application, click the Apple Menu in the upper-left corner of the screen and click App Store.

    You can also open the App Store from your Applications folder or your Dock.

    Opening the App Store from the Apple Menu on a Mac.
  2. The App Store should go directly to the updates page. If it doesn't, click Updates near the top of the screen.

    Updates tab in App Store
  3. Check the list to see if iTunes has any available updates. If it does, click Update and reload the program when it's done.

Connecting The iPad to Your Computer

When the iPad syncs with iTunes, the process is only one-way. This type of file synchronization means that iTunes updates your iPad to mirror what is in your iTunes library.

Any songs you delete from your computer's music library will also disappear from your iPad. So if you want songs to remain on your iPad that aren't on your computer, you may want to use the manual syncing method we cover later in this article.

To hook up the iPad to your computer and view the device in iTunes, follow the steps below.

  1. Using the charging cable that came with it, connect your iPad to your computer.

  2. iTunes should automatically run when the iPad is plugged into your computer. If it doesn't, launch it manually.

  3. When the iTunes software is up and running, look in the left window pane to locate your iPad. This should be displayed in the Devices section. Click on the name of your iPad to view its details.

Transferring Music Using Automatic Syncing

This is the easiest method of transferring songs to your iPad and is the default setting. To start copying files:

  1. Click on the Music menu tab at the top of the iTunes screen (located below the 'now playing' window).

  2. Make sure the Sync Music option is enabled. If not, click the checkbox next to it.

  3. If you want to fully automate the transfer of all your music, select the Entire Music Library option by clicking the radio button next to it.

  4. To cherry pick certain parts of your iTunes library, you'll need to choose the Selected playlists, artists, albums, and genres option — click the radio button next to this.

  5. You will now be able to choose exactly what gets transferred to the iPad by using the checkboxes in the Playlists, Artists, Albums, and Genres sections.

Using The Manual Sync Method

To have ultimate control over how iTunes copies files over to your iPad, you might want to change the default mode to manual. This means that iTunes won't start automatically syncing as soon as the iPad is plugged into your computer.

Follow the steps below to see how to change to manual mode.

  1. Click on the Summary menu tab at the top of the screen (underneath the Now Playing window).

  2. Enable the Manually Manage Music and Videos option by clicking the checkbox next to it. To set this new mode, click the Apply button to save settings.

  3. To start selecting the songs you want to sync to the iPad, click the Library option in the left window pane (this is under Music).

  4. To copy songs individually, drag and drop each one from the main screen to your iPad's name (in the left pane under Devices).

  5. For multiple selections, you can use keyboard shortcuts to select multiple songs. For the PC, hold down the CTRL key and choose your songs. If using a Mac, hold down the command key and click the files you want. Using these keyboard shortcuts will enable you to drag multiple files to the iPad in one go saving a lot of time.


  • Using playlists in iTunes is a fast way to transfer multiple songs to your iPad. They are quick and easy to create and you can follow the manual syncing tutorial in the same way for dragging and dropping playlists to your iPad.
  • Before transferring songs to the iPad, it's wise to keep an eye on how much storage space is left. You'll notice that there's a capacity meter near the bottom of the iTunes screen which gives you a visual view.