How to Transfer Music from Computer to iPhone

It's simple once you know how

It's easy to transfer music from a computer to an iPhone using iTunes. Whether you have a PC or a Mac, you can sync your entire music library or transfer select songs and albums. On Mac computers with macOS Catalina (10.15) or later, this is done through the Music app. You can also transfer music from one iPhone to another.

Transfer Music from iTunes to iPhone: Preliminary Steps

There are a few things to consider before transferring music to an iPhone. Follow this checklist before proceeding:

  • Install iTunes: Download the latest version from the iTunes website.
  • Keep iTunes up-to-date: Ensure that the latest version of iTunes is installed on your computer before plugging in your iPhone. To manually check for updates on a Mac, select the Apple menu, then choose App Store. On a PC, select Help > Check for Updates. Once iTunes is up-to-date, close the program.
  • You can't transfer music from an iPhone to a computer: iTunes only performs a one-way synchronization to an iPhone. It doesn't work both ways.

If iTunes is installed, but it fails to run or has problems updating, download and re-install an up-to-date version from the iTunes website. After this step, you may need to restore your iTunes library from a previous backup.

How to Connect Your iPhone to iTunes

Follow these steps to connect your iPhone to your computer and select it in iTunes.

  1. Connect the iPhone to the computer using the USB cable.

  2. Launch iTunes.

  3. In the upper-left corner of the iTunes window, select the iPhone icon, located to the right of the media menu.

    iTunes on Mac showing the iPhone access button
  4. The iPhone appears in the left iTunes pane, under the Devices section. Select the triangle next to the device to expand the iPhone entry and select any of the media types.

How to Automatically Transfer Music From iTunes

The easiest way to transfer music to the iPhone is by using the automatic sync method:

iTunes shows you how much storage space is left on the iPhone. Check the capacity meter at the bottom of the screen.

  1. On the iTunes window now showing the device, select the Music menu tab in the left pane.

  2. Select Sync Music to enable it.

  3. To enable the transfer of all your music, select Entire music library.

    iTunes in macOS showing Music and Sync Music sections
  4. If you prefer to select only certain songs from your iTunes library, choose Selected playlists, artists, albums, and genres. To specify the playlists, artists, albums, and genres, scroll down and select the media you want to sync.

    iTunes in macOS highlighting sync of selected playlists, artists, albums, and genres
  5. To automatically sync music to the iPhone, select Apply to start the transfer process.

    iTunes window in macOS showing the Apply button

    If a message appears stating that iTunes can sync with only one library at a time, read it carefully so that you understand what will happen, then select Sync and Replace.

How to Transfer Music Manually From iTunes

If you don't want iTunes to automatically transfer music to your iPhone, it's possible to configure the program for manual syncing. This method offers more control over which of your iTunes media you want on your iPhone.

  1. Near the top of the main iTunes screen, select Summary in the left panel.

  2. Select Manually manage music and videos to enable this mode.

    iTunes window in macOS showing the Summary category and Manually manage music and videos check box
  3. Select Apply to save the settings.

  4. Select the back arrow at the top of iTunes and locate the Library section in the left pane. Select Songs. You can also select Albums, Artists or Genres.

  5. Drag and drop songs from the main iTunes window to the left pane where the phone is listed. If you have several songs you want to sync at once, press and hold Ctrl or Command and then select each song.

    iTunes in macOS dragging multiple songs to iPhone manually

    As an alternative to manually dragging songs to your iPhone, use iTunes playlists. These are easy to set up and save time when syncing. If you previously created iTunes playlists that you want to sync to the iPhone, drag and drop the playlists onto the iPhone icon in the left pane.