How to Set Up And Use iTunes Match on iPhone

of 03

Enable iTunes Match in iTunes

Laptop with music notes
\Atomic Imagery/Digital Vision/Getty Images

For just $25 a year, iTunes Match keeps your music synced across all your Apple devices and provides a web-based backup in case you lose music. To learn how to use iTunes Match—from basic setup to more advanced features—read on. This article covers using iTunes Match on both the iPhone and iPod touch and in iTunes on Mac and Windows.

How to Set Up iTunes Match In iTunes

While iTunes Match is designed to free you from your computer, in order to start using it, you'll need your computer. 

  1. To begin setting up iTunes Match, turn it on by clicking the Store menu in iTunes and then clicking Turn On iTunes Match.
  2. The iTunes Match sign up screen offers two buttons: No Thanks (if you don't want to subscribe) or Subscribe for $24.99. In order to subscribe, you need an iTunes account with a valid credit card. That card will be charged $24.99 each year for the iTunes Match service (the subscription automatically renews. To turn off auto-renewal, check out page 3 of this article).
  3. Once you've clicked Subscribe, you'll need to sign in to the iTunes account that you want to add your music to.
  4. Next, iTunes Match scans your library to find out what music you have and prepares to send that info to Apple. How long this takes depends on how many items you have in your iTunes library, but expect to wait a while if you have thousands of songs.
  5. With that done, iTunes begins to match your music. The iCloud servers compare the information gathered in step 4 with the music available at the iTunes Store. Any songs that are both in your iTunes library and the iTunes Store are automatically added to your account so you don't have to upload them (this is the match part of iTunes Match).
  6. With the match complete, iTunes Match now knows what songs in your library need to be uploaded. Ideally, this is a relatively small number, but that depends on your library (for instance, a lot of concert bootlegs means a lot of uploading, since those aren't sold in iTunes). The number of songs you need to upload determines how long this step takes. Album art is also uploaded.
  7. Once all your songs are uploaded, a screen lets you know the process is complete. Click Done and you'll be able to share your music across all the devices that have access to your Apple ID.

While it's possible to subscribe to iTunes Match from your iPhone or iPod touch, you can only upload and match songs from the desktop iTunes program. So, you really should start in iTunes even if you don't plan to go back to it.

of 03

Using iTunes Match on iPhone and iPod touch


Cate Gillon / Staff / Getty Images


Managing music on your iOS device used to require you to sync with your desktop computer. With iTunes Match, you can add the songs you want to your iPhone or iPod touch without ever syncing. 

Why You May Not Want To Do This

Linking your iPhone or iPod touch to iTunes Match deletes all the music on your device. You don't lose the music permanently—it's still in your computer's iTunes library and your iTunes Match account—but your device is wiped. This means that if you've carefully curated the music on your device, you'll have to start from scratch. It also means that you can't use syncing to manage your music unless you turn off iTunes Match.

Linking your iPhone and iTunes Match offers a lot of benefits—no need to sync with your computer to get music, for one—but it's a big change.

Enable iTunes Match on iPhone and iPod touch

If you want to proceed, follow these steps to enable iTunes Match on your iPhone or iPod touch:

  1. Tap the Settings app 
  2. Tap Music 
  3. Move iTunes Match slider to On/green
  4. If a warning pops up, tap Enable.

Next, all the music on your iPhone is deleted. Your device contacts iTunes Match and downloads a full list of your music. It doesn't actually download the music, just a list of artists, albums, and songs.

Downloading iTunes Match Songs to iPhone

There are two ways to add music from iTunes Match to your iPhone: downloading them or listening to them:

  • To download a song from iTunes Match, go to the Music app and tap the cloud icon next to the song. To download an album, tap the cloud icon at the top of the album screen. As of this writing, there is no way to download all music from an artist with a single button.
  • When you tap a song to listen to, it automatically downloads. While the song plays just like it's on your iPhone, it's actually downloading and playing as it goes. Next time you won't have to download; it will already be on your iPhone.

What the Cloud Icon Means in iTunes Match

With iTunes Match enabled, there is a cloud icon next to each artist or song. This icon means that that song/album/etc. is available from iTunes Match, but is not downloaded to your iPhone. The cloud icon disappears when you download songs.

It's actually slightly more complicated than that. To understand how we have to go from the song level up to the artist level.

  • If you've downloaded all the songs from an album, the cloud icon next to the album disappears. If, however, you download some, but not all of the songs on the album, the cloud icon still appears. 
  • When you've downloaded all the music by an artist, the icon next to the artist's name disappears. If you've downloaded some, but not all, of that music the cloud icon remains (like with albums).

How to Conserve Data When Using iTunes Match

If you're planning to download a lot of songs, connect to a Wi-Fi network, not 4G. Wi-Fi is faster and doesn't count against your monthly data limit. Most iPhone users have some limit on their monthly data use and most music libraries are pretty big. If you use 4G to download songs, you'll probably exceed the monthly limit and have to pay overage fees ($10/GB in most cases).

Avoid using 4G by following these steps:

  1. Tap Settings
  2. Tap iTunes & App Store
  3. Move the Use Cellular Data slider to off/white.
of 03

Using iTunes Match with iTunes

using iTunes Match in iTunes

An iPhone isn't the only place to use iTunes Match. You can use it with iTunes keep your computer in sync with your devices or other computers.

How to Download A Song Using iTunes

Downloading a single song from iTunes Match onto a new computer is simple:

  1. If it's not already enabled, turn on iTunes Match (as explained on page 1). If it wasn't previously on, you'll need to wait for it to match and upload music.
  2. When iTunes displays all the available music, you'll see an icon next to them (songs without an icon are on the computer you're using).
  3. Find the icon of a cloud with a down arrow in it (you'll see this in virtually any iTunes view, including Songs, Albums, Artists, and Genres). Click that button to download the song from iTunes Match to your computer.

Downloading Multiple Songs from iTunes Match

That process is good for one song, but what if you've got hundreds or thousands to download? Clicking each one would take forever. Luckily, you don't have to.

To download multiple songs, single click all the songs you want to download. To select contiguous songs, click the song at the beginning of the group, hold down Shift, and then click the last one. To select non-contiguous songs, hold down Command on a Mac or Control on a PC and click all the songs you want.

With the songs you want to download selected, right-click your selection and click Download from the pop-up menu. 

How to Stream Songs

iTunes Match can stream songs without downloading them. Streaming only works on the 2nd generation Apple TV and newer (iTunes Match always streams on the Apple TV; you can't download songs to it) and with iTunes (on iOS devices, streaming and downloading happens at the same time). To stream a song on your computer, rather than downloading it, just double-click a song to play it (of course, you need to be connected to the web).

Adding Songs to iTunes Match

To add songs to iTunes Match:

  1. Add a song to your iTunes library by purchasing it, downloading it, ripping it from CD, etc.
  2. Click Store
  3. Click Update iTunes Match
  4. The same process set up occurs and adds any new songs to your account.

Deleting a Song From iTunes Match

Before iTunes Match, deleting a song from iTunes was easy. But now, when each song is also stored on Apple's servers, how does deleting work? In a very similar way:

  1. Find the song you want to delete, right-click on it, and click Delete.
  2. A window pops up. If you want to delete the song from both your device and your iCloud account, make sure the Also delete this song from the iCloud box is checked and then click Delete. Watch out: Doing this permanently deletes the song from iTunes and iCloud. Unless you've got another backup, it's gone.

If you select a song and use the Delete key on your keyboard instead of the onscreen menu, that deletes the song both from your library and iCloud and it's gone. 

Upgrade Matched Songs to 256K AAC Files

One of the best features of iTunes Match is that it gives you a free upgrade on all matched music. When iTunes Match matches your music library to the iTunes database, it uses songs from Apple's master iTunes library. When it does this, it adds the songs as 256 kbps AAC files (the standard used at the iTunes Store)—even if the song on your computer is lower quality. Free upgrade!

To upgrade all your music to 256 kbps, follow these steps:

  1. Find the song you want to upgrade and delete it from your library using the technique described above. Make sure that the "also delete from iCloud" box is unchecked. This is crucial—if you don't do this, the song will be deleted from both your iTunes library and iCloud accounts and you'll be out of luck.
  2. When the cloud icon appears next to the song, click it to download the song and get the 256 kbps version (if the icon doesn't show up right away, update iTunes Match by going to Store > Update iTunes Match).

Canceling Your iTunes Match Subscription

To cancel your iTunes Match subscription:

  1. Sign into your iTunes account at the iTunes Store
  2. Find the iTunes in the Cloud section of your account
  3. Click the Turn Off Auto-Renew button. When your current subscription runs out, iTunes Match will be canceled.

When you cancel your subscription, all the music you've matched up to that point stays in your account. Without the subscription, you can't add or match any new music, and you can't download or stream songs again until you resubscribe.