iTunes Sync: How to Sync Only Certain Songs

Put only the tracks you want on to your iOS device

If you have a large music library or an iPhoneiPad, or iPod touch with limited storage capacity, you may not want to sync every song in your iTunes library to your iOS mobile device. If you store and use other kinds of content besides music, such as apps, videos, and e-books, you may want to customize syncing. When you want to manually manage music and transfer only certain songs to your device, uncheck songs in your iTunes library or use the iTunes Sync screen.

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

These instructions apply to iTunes 12 and later.

Sync Only Checked Songs

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 that's located at the top of the sidebar.

    Download music to iPad
  3. Choose Summary.

    Download music to iPad
  4. In the Options section, select the Sync only checked songs and videos check box.

    Download songs to iPad
  5. Select Done to save the setting.

    iTunes open on a Mac with the Done button highlighted on the Device Summary page
  6. In the Library section of the sidebar, select Songs to display 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.

    Download music to iPad
  7. Place a checkmark next to the name of any song you want to transfer to your iOS mobile device. Remove the checkmark next to the names of songs you don't want to sync to your iOS device.

    To select contiguous items, click the item at the beginning of the group you want to uncheck, hold Shift, then click the item at the end. All the songs in between will get checkmarks. To select non-contiguous items, hold down Command on a Mac or Control on a PC and click each item you want to check or uncheck.

    Download music to iPad
  8. Return to the Summary page for your device and select Sync to update the music.

    Download music to iPad

Use the Sync Music Screen

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.

    Download music to iPad
  3. From the Settings section for the device, select Music to open the Sync Music screen.

    Download music to iPad
  4. Select the Sync Music check box.

    Download music to iPad
  5. Choose Selected playlists, artists, albums, and genres.

    Music screen in iTunes with Selected playlists button highlighted
  6. Place a checkmark next to any item you want to sync with your iOS device. You can sync playlists, artists, genres, or albums.

    Items to sync to an iPad in iTunes
  7. Click Apply to make the changes and transfer your selections.

    Music settings in iTunes with the Apply button highlighted

To manage multiple devices, only sync certain playlists to each device.