How to Set Up And Use iTunes Match on iPhone

Use Apple's service to sync your music across your devices

For an annual fee, iTunes Match syncs your music across all your Apple devices and provides a web-based backup in case you lose any files. The service creates a single library that you share between your Mac, iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, and if you add a song in one place, it automatically appears on the others. Here's how to turn on iTunes Match and use the service.

These instructions apply to iTunes 10.5.2 and later and devices with iOS 5 and newer.

How to Set Up iTunes Match In iTunes

To set up iTunes Match on your computer, use the iTunes Store.

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.

  1. Open iTunes.

    A Mac desktop with the iTunes icon in the Dock highlighted
  2. Select Store.

    iTunes on a Mac with the Store heading highlighted
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and choose iTunes Match.

    iTunes on a Mac with the iTunes Match item highlighted
  4. On the next screen, select Subscribe.

    To subscribe, you need an iTunes account with a valid credit card.

    The iTunes Match screen with the Subscribe button highlighted
  5. Sign in to the iTunes account that you want to add your music to.

  6. iTunes Match scans your library, sends the information to Apple, and syncs your library with the iTunes Store. Any songs that are in both your iTunes library and the store will match to your account.

  7. iTunes analyzes your library and uploads your library to the cloud, along with the album artwork.

  8. Once all your songs are uploaded, a screen lets you know the process is complete. Select Done, then share your music with the devices that have access to your Apple ID.

Use iTunes Match on iPhone and iPod Touch

Managing music on your iOS device used to require you to sync with your desktop computer. With iTunes Match, you add the songs you want to your iPhone or iPod touch without connecting your iOS device to your computer because your library syncs from the cloud.

Linking your iPhone or iPod touch to iTunes Match deletes all the music on your device to replace it with your online library. 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. If you've carefully curated the music on your device, you'll have to start from scratch. You also can't use syncing to manage your music unless you turn off iTunes Match.

How to Enable iTunes Match on iPhone and iPod touch

Follow these steps to enable iTunes Match on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch:

  1. Open the Settings app.

    The iPad Settings app
  2. Tap Music.

    Settings app on an iPad with the Music heading highlighted
  3. Move the iTunes Match slider to On/green.

  4. If a warning displays, tap Enable.

  5. Your device deletes all the music and replaces it with a list of the library you're storing in the cloud.

Download iTunes Match Songs to an iOS Device

You can add music from iTunes Match to your devices in two ways:

  • 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.
  • When you tap a song to listen to, it automatically downloads. While the song plays just like it's on your device, it's actually downloading and playing as it goes. Next time you won't have to download it; it will be in your storage.

What the Cloud Icon Means in iTunes Match

With iTunes Match enabled, a cloud icon appears next to each artist or song. This icon means that the song or album is available from iTunes Match but isn't downloaded to your device. The cloud icon disappears when you download songs.

An iTunes library with the cloud icon highlighted

How to Conserve Data When Using iTunes Match

If you plan to download a lot of songs to your iPhone, connect to a Wi-Fi network instead of using cellular data. Wi-Fi is faster and doesn't count against your monthly data limit. Most iPhones have some limits on monthly data use and most music libraries are large. If you use cellular to download songs, you may exceed the monthly limit and have to pay overage fees.

Avoid using cellular data by following these steps:

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Tap iTunes & App Store.

  3. Move the Use Cellular Data slider to Off/white.

    Settings, iTunes & App Store, and Use Cellular Data settings on an iPhone
  4. Now, unless your phone is connected to Wi-Fi, it won't download anything.

Add Songs to iTunes Match

After you set up your iTunes Match, you only have to add a song on one device to access it on your other devices. Whether you rip a CD to iTunes or buy a track from the Music app on your iPhone, iTunes Match automatically updates the library. When your devices resync, the changes transfer to them.

How to Delete a Song From iTunes Match

Deleting a song from iTunes used to be enough to remove it from all the devices you synced to your computer. But with iTunes Match, you have a decision to make every time you take a song out of your library.

  1. Right-click the song you want to delete.

    iTunes on a Mac with the right-click menu of a song in the library open
  2. Select Remove Download to keep the song in your library but remove the file from your computer. You'll still be able to stream the song, but it won't take up space on your hard drive.

    iTunes song menu with Remove Download option highlighted
  3. Select Delete from Library to remove the track from your computer and from iTunes Match. It will no longer appear in iTunes or on any of your other devices.

    Song menu in iTunes with Delete from Library highlighted
  4. If you select a song and press the Delete key on your keyboard instead of the on-screen menu, that deletes the song both from your library and iCloud.

Upgrade Matched Songs to 256K AAC Files

iTunes Match gives you a free upgrade on all matched music. When iTunes Match matches your music library to the iTunes database, it uses songs from the Apple 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.

To upgrade a song to 256 kbps, right-click it in iTunes and select Remove Download to clear the existing track from your computer. When you click the cloud icon to download it again, the new version is the higher quality song from the master library.

If you subscribed to iTunes Match before Apple Music was released, you may be wondering whether you still need both. We've got the info to help you decide in I Have Apple Music. Do I Need iTunes Match?