iTunes Match Frequently Asked Questions

Play All of Your Music on Any Apple Device with iTunes Match

MacPro, iPod, iPad, and iPhone
Enable iTunes Match and play your music on any device at any time. Pexels, Pixabay/FirmBee

What Is iTunes Match?

iTunes Match is a feature offered by Apple as part of its iCloud suite of web-based services. It allows you to upload your entire music library to your iCloud account, where you can then share it with other devices authorized to access your account. Now, instead of having to sync your iOS devices to your iTunes library each time you want to add music to them, you can just download the music from your iCloud account via iTunes Match.

This feature is also designed to work closely with the PC-activation features added back with iOS 5. With that, you're able to set up and activate your iOS device without ever connecting it to a computer. ​​iTunes Match/iCloud complements that by allowing you to add music to your device from your central iCloud account without ever syncing your device to a computer.

Both of these features indicate that Apple views the future of its users' computing life not to be their computers, but rather their iCloud accounts. Those centralized accounts will contain all of the user's data, which will then be downloaded to devices as needed.

What Are the Requirements?

In order to use iTunes Match, you must have:

  • An iTunes account
  • iTunes 10.5.1 or higher
  • iOS 5.0.1 or higher
  • iPhone 3GS or higher, 3rd generation iPod touch or higher, all iPad models ​​
  • Annual subscription fee

What Happens If I Cancel My Subscription?

After the year's subscription ends, you can either choose to renew your subscription or not.

If you don't renew, all the music you've added to your iCloud account is saved. However, you can't add any new music, or ​download or stream songs from iCloud, without subscribing again.

How Does iTunes Match Work?​​

Adding music to iTunes Match works in three ways. Any music you've purchased from the iTunes Store is already available in iTunes Match via your iCloud account.

Then you allow iTunes Match to scan your iTunes library to catalog all the songs that are in it. Once that happens, Apple's software automatically adds any music in your library that's also available on iTunes, but that you got elsewhere, to your account. By doing this, you're saved from having to upload these songs, which otherwise could take a very long time for large libraries. Lastly, music in your iTunes library that isn't available at the iTunes Store is uploaded to your iCloud account.

What Song Format Does iTunes Match Use?

Music that you bought through the iTunes Store or that is matched by the iTunes Store is automatically upgraded to 256 kbps AAC. Songs that are not available in the iTunes Store are uploaded in the same format and ​bitrate that they exist in on your computer.

iTunes Match allows users to upload songs in all the file formats that iTunes does, including AAC, MP3, WAV, AIFF, and Apple Lossless.

What Happens If a Song Is Higher Quality in Your iTunes Library?

Many people store the music in their iTunes libraries in formats and at bitrates that are higher quality than 256 kbps AAC. If the songs that you have stored that way are matched in the iTunes Store, the versions added to your iCloud account will be 256 kbps AAC files.

If they're not matched and need to be uploaded, they will be uploaded in the higher-quality format from your computer. Either way, the higher-quality songs on your ​hard drive won't be replaced by the lower-quality iTunes Match songs unless you specifically request it, so your high-quality music is safe.

Does iTunes Match Stream Songs?

Yes and no; it depends on what device you're using. This arrangement is more complex than competing cloud music services, which offer streaming-only options.​

  • On a computer, you can stream or download songs. Clicking the iCloud button next to a matched song downloads the song to that computer. However, if you just double click the song to play it as you would any normal song, the song will stream without downloading.
  • On an iOS device, tapping on a song will cause it to both play and download at the same time. Once the song has played, it will also be downloaded to your computer so the next time you listen to it, it won't need to be downloaded.
  • On an Apple TV, playing a song streams it only. There's no way to download a song to the Apple TV.

Does iTunes Match Support Playlists or Voice Memos?

It does support playlists, but not voice memos. All playlists can be synced to multiple devices via iTunes Match, except those that include unsupported files, such as voice memos, videos, or PDFs.

How Do I Update My iTunes Match Library?

If you've added new music to your iTunes library and want to update the music in your iTunes Match account, you don't actually have to do anything. As long as iTunes Match is turned on, it will automatically try to add new songs. If you want to force the update, though, click on the Store menu, then Update iTunes Match.

What Apps Are Compatible with iTunes Match?

As of this writing, only iTunes—both the desktop and iOS version—is compatible with iTunes Match. No other music manager program allows you to add music to your iCloud account or download it to your iOS device.

Is There a Limit on the Number of Songs In Your Account?

Yes. With the release of iOS 9, you can add up to 100,000 songs via iTunes Match.

Is There a Limit on the Number of Devices Connected to iTunes Match?

Yes. Up to 10 devices can share music via iTunes Match/iCloud.

If I've Pirated Music, Can Apple Tell?

Technically it may be possible for Apple to tell that some of the music in your iTunes library is pirated, but the company has said it won't share any information about users' libraries with third parties—like the record companies or RIAA who might be inclined to sue pirates.​​

How Do I Sign Up for iTunes Match?

Get step-by-step instructions on how to sign up for iTunes Match.

I Use iTunes Match. What Do the Graphics Mean?

Once you've signed up for and enabled iTunes Match, a column will be added to iTunes that shows a song's iTunes Match status. This column is headed by a small version of the iCloud icon. Sorting iTunes by that graphic, though, reveals a number of versions of the icon. Here's what they mean:

  • Cloud with an exclamation point - The song was not added to your iCloud account due to an error. Right-click on the song and select Add to iCloud to attempt the upload again.
  • Cloud with a line through it - The song is not eligible to be added to iCloud (reasons for this can include licensing restrictions).
  • Cloud with a line through it and a second cloud behind it - The song is duplicated in iCloud. Click on the icon and you can choose whether to keep the duplicate it or delete it.
  • Cloud with a downward arrow it - This song is stored in your iCloud account but isn't in your current iTunes library. Click the icon to download it.
  • Cloud with an X in it - The song has been removed from your iCloud account via another computer that has access to it.