How to Sync iTunes Songs to Your iPad

Turn your iPad into a music player by syncing music from iTunes

The iPad is a tool for surfing the web, running apps, and watching movies, but this multimedia device is also great at being a digital music player. The Apple tablet comes with a pre-installed music app that plays your music collection and gives you access apps for streaming music, but how do you copy music from your computer onto your iPad?

If you've never used your iPad for playing music or if you need a refresher on how to do it, use this step-by-step tutorial to learn how.

These directions are relevant for all iPad models with any iOS version. However, if you aren't using the most recent version of iTunes, the menu names and screenshots might look different than what you see on your device.

iTunes is no longer used in macOS beginning with Catalina. Syncing on Mac computers is now managed by Finder.

Before Connecting Your iPad

To ensure that the process of transferring iTunes songs to your iPad goes as smoothly as possible, make sure you have the latest version of iTunes. Updating iTunes is normally an automatic process when your system starts up or whenever you launch iTunes, but you can also check for updates manually.

In Windows, check for an iTunes update through the Help menu. Choose Check for Updates.

iTunes for Windows with the Check for Updates command highlighted

Plug Your iPad Into 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's in your iTunes library.

Songs you delete from your computer's music library also disappear from your iPad. So, if you want songs to remain on your iPad that aren't on your computer, use the manual syncing method.

Here's how to hook up your iPad to your computer and view it in iTunes.

  1. Connect your iPad to your computer using its charging cable.

  2. Open iTunes if it doesn't launch automatically.

  3. Select the mobile device icon at the top of iTunes to open the settings for your iPad.

    iTunes with the Device Icon highlighted

Sync Songs to iPad Automatically

This is the default and easiest method for transferring songs to your iPad.

  1. Select Music from the left sidebar.

    iTunes with the Music tab highlighted
  2. Select the Sync Music check box.

    iTunes with the Sync Music option highlighted
  3. Decide which songs from your computer to load onto your iPad:

    • Select Entire music library to automate the transfer of all your music.
    • Select Selected playlists, artists, albums, and genres to pick certain parts of your iTunes library to sync to your iPad. You'll choose which items to sync.

    You can also select Include videos or Include voice memos to sync those things, too.

    iTunes with the Sync options highlighted
  4. Select Apply or Sync at the bottom of iTunes to sync those songs.

    iTunes with the Apply button highlighted

Transfer Music to iPad Manually

To control which songs sync to your iPad from iTunes, change the default mode to manual. This stops iTunes from automatically syncing music as soon as your iPad is plugged in.

  1. Select Summary from the left sidebar of iTunes.

    iTunes with the Summary section highlighted
  2. Scroll down the right pane and select the Manually manage music and videos check box, then choose Apply at the bottom.

    iTunes with the Manually Manage Music option highlighted
  3. Select Done to return to your iTunes library, and then select the songs you want to sync to your iPad. You can copy items from Albums if you like to sync whole albums with your iPad or use Songs to pick individual songs to copy.

    Select more than one song or other items at once with the Ctrl or Command key.

    Selected songs in iTunes for Windows
  4. Copy the songs to your iPad by dragging and dropping songs to the Devices area on the left side of iTunes.

    iTunes with the Devices section highlighted


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