ITunes Sync: How to Sync Only Certain Songs

Put only the tracks you want on to your iOS device

Whether it's because you have a huge 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. You'll especially want to customize syncing if you want to store and use other kinds of content besides music, such as apps, videos, and ebooks.

You can use a couple of methods to manually manage music and transfer only certain songs to your device. One way is by unchecking songs in your iTunes library, and the other is using the iTunes Sync 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.

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 at the top of the sidebar.

    Download music to iPad
  3. Click the Summary heading.

    Download music to iPad
  4. Place a checkmark in front of Sync only checked songs and videos under Options.

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

    iTunes open on a Mac with the Done button highlighted on the Device Summary page
  6. Click 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.

    Download music to iPad
  7. 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.

    Remove the checkmark next to the names of songs you don't want to sync to your iOS device.

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

    Download music to iPad
  9. To select contiguous items, click the item at the beginning of the group you want to uncheck, hold down Shift, and 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.

Using 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. Click the box next to Sync Music to place a checkmark in it.

    Download music to iPad
  5. Click the radio button next to 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
  8. You can manage multiple devices by only syncing certain playlists to each one.