ITunes Sync: How to Sync Only Certain Songs

An iPhone is connected by USB to a Mac laptop.


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Whether it's because you have a huge music library or an iPhone, iPod or iPod with limited storage capacity, you may not want to sync every song in your iTunes library to your iOS mobile device — especially if you want to store and use other kinds of content besides music, such as apps, videos, and ebooks.

There are a couple of ways to manually manage music and transfer only certain songs to your device — by unchecking songs in your iTunes library or by using the Sync Music screen.

If you are a member of Apple Music or have an iTunes Match subscription, you already have iCloud Music Library turned on, and you can't manually manage music.

Sync Only Checked Songs

Limit iTunes Syncing, step 2

Lifewire / S. Shapoff

To sync only checked songs in your iTunes library on your computer, you need to first make a setting change:

  1. Open iTunes on your computer and connect your iOS device.
  2. Select the device icon at the top of the sidebar.
  3. Select the Summary tab in the Settings section for the device.
  4. Place a checkmark in front of Sync only checked songs and videos.
  5. Click Done to save the setting.

Then you are ready to make your selections:

  1. Click on Songs in the Library section of the sidebar to bring up a listing of all the songs in your iTunes library on your computer. If you don't see the Library section, use the back arrow at the top of the sidebar to locate it.
  2. Place a check mark in the box next to the name of any song you want to transfer to your iOS mobile device. Repeat for all the songs you want to sync.
  3. Remove the check mark next to the names of songs you don't want to sync to your iOS device.
  4. Connect your iOS mobile device to the computer and wait as the sync occurs. If the sync doesn't occur automatically, click Sync.

If you have a large number of items you want to uncheck, there's a shortcut you should know. Begin by selecting all the songs you want to uncheck. If you want to select contiguous items, hold down Shift, click the item at the beginning of the group you want to uncheck and then click the item at the end. All the items in between are selected. To select non-contiguous items, hold down Command on a Mac or Control on a PC and click each item you want to uncheck. After your selections are made, click Song in the iTunes menu bar and Uncheck Selection.

When you've completed unchecking all the songs you don't want, click Sync again. If any of the unchecked songs are already on your device, they'll be removed. You can always add them back by rechecking the box next to the song and syncing again.

Want another method? Keep reading to learn how to use the Sync Music setting to do the same thing.

Using the Sync Music Screen

Limit iTunes Syncing, step 3

Lifewire / S. Shapoff

Another way to make certain only the specific songs sync is to configure your choices in the Sync Music screen.

  1. Open iTunes and connect your iOS device to your computer.
  2. Click the device icon in the iTunes left sidebar.
  3. From the Settings section for the device, select Music to open the Sync Music screen.
  4. Click the box next to Sync Music to place a check mark in it.
  5. Click the radio button next to Selected playlists, artists, albums, and genres.
  6. View the options that are visible — Playlists, Artists, Genres and Albums — and place a check mark next to any item you want to sync with your iOS device.
  7. Click Done, followed by Sync to make the changes and transfer your selections.