How to Manually Add Music to Your iPhone

Take control of iTunes by syncing only the songs you want on your iPhone

What to Know

  • macOS Catalina and later: In Finder, go to iPhone settings and enable manual control. Open Music app and click and drag music to iPhone.
  • Mojave and earlier: Switch iTunes to Manual mode (iPhone icon > Summary). Check Manually Manage Music and Videos.
  • Then, go to iTunes Library. Select Music, and drag songs or playlists into your iPhone (under Devices).

This article explains how to manually sync specific songs to your iPhone via the Apple Music app (macOS Catalina and later) and the alternative, Syncios. It also includes separate instructions for anyone using a Mac computer with macOS Mojave (10.14) or earlier.

With macOS Catalina (10.15), Apple relocated the content and features of iTunes into distinct apps based on media type: Music, Podcasts, TV, and Books.

Manually Add Music to Your iPhone: macOS Catalina and later

Beginning with macOS Catalina (10.15), music syncing is controlled via the Music app, but you must first enable manual control via Finder.

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer using its cable.

  2. Open a Finder window and select iPhone from the menu bar on the left. (It is found under Locations.)

    manually add music to iPhone Finder
  3. In the General tab, select the Manually manage music, movies, and TV shows check box.

    manually add music to iPhone checkbox
  4. Select Apply in the lower-right corner.

    manually add music to iPhone apply button
  5. Open the Music app and navigate to the media you would like to add to your iPhone.

    manually add music to iPhone Music app
  6. Click and drag any song, album, or artist to the iPhone button under Devices in the left menu bar.

    manually add music to iPhone click and drag to iPhone
  7. Repeat for all other music or media you'd like to add to your iPhone. When finished, return to a Finder window and select the Eject button next to iPhone before unplugging the device.

    manually add music to iPhone eject iPhone

Switch to Manual Mode Using iTunes: macOS Mojave and earlier

When you sync music to your iPhone using the default method, all the songs in your iTunes library are transferred. To make better use of your iPhone's storage capacity, only sync the songs you want to play. To add certain songs and playlists from your library to your iPhone, you must first enable manual control.

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer using its cable.

  2. Open iTunes and select the iPhone icon.

    iPhone icon in iTunes window

    If you have problems with your iPhone being detected, see how to fix iTunes syncing problems.

  3. Select Summary.

    Summary tab in iTunes on macOS
  4. Select the Manually manage music and videos check box to enable this mode.

    Manually manage music and videos checkbox in iTunes on macOS
  5. Choose Apply to save the settings.

How to Add Specific Songs to Your iPhone: macOS Mojave and earlier

With iTunes now in manual syncing mode, you can choose individual songs and playlists to transfer to your phone.

iTunes helps you to see how much storage space is remaining on your iPhone. Check this before transferring music, or you might max out your space and have no room for apps, videos, or more music.

  1. From your iTunes library page, select the drop-down menu in the upper-left corner of iTunes, then choose Music.

    Music in media drop down menu
  2. Select which music you want to copy from iTunes to your iPhone.

    Dragging one track from iTunes song window to iPhone icon in left pane in macOS iTunes
  3. To add multiple songs in one go, use keyboard shortcuts. Press and hold Ctrl (Windows) or Command (Mac) and select each song you want to copy to your iPhone. This lets you drag all of them at once.

    If you have lots of music to transfer, it's easier to create playlists first. Playlists save you from repetitive work when syncing the songs you want on your iPhone.

  4. To transfer a playlist or single song from your iTunes library to your iPhone, drag and drop the item from the right pane into the left pane, directly onto the item that is your phone (under the Devices section). It might be called iPhone.

iTunes Alternatives

You can add music to your iPhone without using iTunes. There are other programs that transfer music and other files between your computer and iPhone.

Syncios is one example of a free iTunes alternative for Windows and Mac. It supports copying music (as well as other files like documents, videos, apps, and images) to and from your iPhone.

To add music to your iPhone with Syncios, open the Media folder, then tap Add to see another menu. There are two options to add individual music files to your iPhone and entire music folders.

Syncios with the Add menu highlighted

Another way to add music to your iPhone is to utilize music streaming via cloud storage services. For example, upload your favorite songs to Dropbox or Google Drive and use those apps on your phone to stream only those files instead of your entire music collection.

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