How to Manually Add Music to Your iPhone

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

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If you've only ever synced music to your iPhone using the default method, then you'll probably know that all the songs in your iTunes library get transferred. You can make much better use of your iPhone's storage capacity by only syncing songs you actually want to play.

Follow this iTunes tutorial to see how simple it is to transfer only certain songs and playlists from your library.

Before Connecting The iPhone

If you're not that familiar with syncing files to the iPhone then its a good idea to work through the following check list first.

  • Is your iTunes software up-to-date? Apple regularly iron out bugs in their software and so it makes sense to first check that you have the latest version of iTunes before connected your iPhone. iTunes normally checks this automatically when the software runs but you can manually check at any time. You can do this by clicking the Help menu tab and then selecting Check for Updates (for Mac: click the iTunes menu tab, followed by Check for Updates). If you're happy that iTunes is up-to-date then close the program and then run it again to make sure the updates are applied.

  • Need to download the iTunes software again? Sometimes you may need to download the iTunes software again and install it on your computer. This could be if you can't get iTunes to update or it doesn't run anymore. If you need to do this then the iTunes website always has the latest version available to download. After this step you may find you need to restore your iTunes library from a previous backup.

  • Keep in mind that iTunes performs a mirror backup. Rather than a two-way synchronization, remember that the iTunes software only performs a one-way synchronization to your iPhone. Put simply, this means that any songs found on your iPhone that aren't in the iTunes library will be deleted (on the iPhone).

Viewing Your iPhone in iTunes

In order to configure how iTunes syncs to your iPhone you'll need to perform the following steps:

  1. Using the dock connector that came with your iPhone, plug it into your computer -- this is usually a USB connection.

  2. Run the iTunes software.

  3. In the upper left part of the iTunes window, click on the iPhone icon.

    iPhone icon in iTunes window

If you're having problems with your iPhone being detected, read through fixing iTunes Sync Problems for a possible fix.

Setting up Manual Transfer Mode

By default, the iTunes software is set up to use automatic syncing. However, working through this section will show you how to switch to manual transfer mode.

  1. At the top of the main iTunes screen, click on the Summary menu tab.

    Summary tab in iTunes on macOS
  2. Click the checkbox next to the Manually manage music and videos option to enable this mode.

    Manually manage music and videos checkbox in iTunes on macOS

  3. Finally click Apply to save the settings.

Manually Syncing Only Certain Songs And Playlists

With iTunes now in manual syncing mode you can select individual songs and playlists for transfer to the iPhone. To see how this is achieved, follow the steps below.

  1. Click the Music option in the drop-down media menu in the upper left of the iTunes window.

    Music in media drop down menu
  2. To transfer a single song from your iTunes library to the iPhone simply drag and drop from the main iTunes window to your iPhone's icon (also situated in the left pane under Devices).

    Dragging one track from iTunes song window to iPhone icon in left pane in macOS iTunes
  3. If you' want to transfer multiple songs in one go then you can use keyboard shortcuts. Hold down the [CTRL Key] (for Mac use the [Command Key]) and choose your songs -- this will then enable you to drag the selected group of songs to your iPhone in one go.

  4. To transfer playlists, simply drag and drop them (just like songs) onto your iPhone's icon.

iTunes helps you to see how much storage space is remaining on your iPhone. It's recommended to check this before transferring songs and you can use the capacity meter near the bottom of the screen to help you.

If you have a lot of songs to transfer then you might find it easier to create playlists first. They're easy to make and will save you a lot of repetitive work when syncing the songs you want on your iPhone.