Tip: How to get more apps and media onto your iPhone and iPad

Fit More Media

Have a rather large iTunes library and curious how to still get it all your apps, games, movies, music, TV shows, and podcasts onto your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad? Fret not, w're going to show you a neat little trick to help cut down the size of your music and fit more of everything else... after the break!

Built right into iTunes is a feature that automatically converts your higher bit rate song (256kbps is the current standard) to 128kbps for optimized transfer to your iPhone and iPad. Music lovers might not want to risk any loss of quality but for most people the difference is not distinguishable and the storage savings are significant. Here's what to do:

  • Plug your iPhone and iPad into iTunes
  • Select "Convert Higher Bit Rate Songs to 128kbps AAC"
  • Sync
  • That's it!

Note: if you have a large iTunes library it might take a long time to do the initial conversion (my 495+ song took about an hour) but it only happens the first time and when it's done you'll have tons of space for videos, apps, or anything else (I saved about 3.4GB!)

Bonus tip: With iTunes 10, if you just select the "convert" box, the memory display bar will automatically adjust, so you can see how much space you'll be saving before hand and can decide if it's really worth it to you.

It's too bad they don't offer this for video! If you try it out, let us know how much space you saved and if you have any questions, leave them in comments!

Tips of the day will range from beginner-level 101 to advanced-level ninjary. If you already know this tip, keep the link handy as a quick way to help a friend. If you have a tip of your own you'd like to suggest, add them to the comments or send them in to dailytips@tipb.com. (If it's especially awesome and previously unknown to us, we'll even give ya a reward.)

George Lim

Writer for iMore, YouTube Vlogger, and Host for [TEChBrits]

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Reader comments

Tip: How to get more apps and media onto your iPhone and iPad

35 Comments

Does it change the actual file (meaning that song will be at the lower bit rate even when you play it through iTunes)? Or, does it just create a lower-bit rate for your iDevice?

I appreciate the fact that you guys are trying to provide great tips from beginners to expert level, but how can someone with no knowledge of 'bit rate', 'kpbs' understand the whole importance of this.
I think maybe providing links at the bottom of your articles as a 'wiki' section to some of the terms used will even further educate new comers of these devices.
Thanks for the tip.

It creates a device-only lower quality version only when transferring/syncing. The tracks on your computer are unaffected. The first sync after checking the box is slow as it does every track on your phone. After that, just anything new you add. If you regularly change your phone's library then it will make each sync a bit slower.

I did this last year and it did save a lot of space... and since 99% of the time the music I listen to from my iPhone is through the standard Apple white ear buds the reduced sound quality was acceptable. But I remember there being some problem -- like it not syncing certain files that it couldn't convert or something like that... I want to say it might have even been podcasts... so I went back to the regular files. I might try it again though -- maybe whatever problem I had has been fixed with the iTunes upgrades since then...

Or you could just use audiogalaxy or streamtome and not have to use any storage on your iDevice period:)

my suggestion, run the 128Kbps the first time before you go to sleep. In the morning, the ipad is 100% charged and all the music is copied.

My collection is about 275 gigs. They don't make an iPhone big enough or a conversion algorithm tight enough for me to carry all of my music.
Here File File on the other hand, gives me full access to my music while I'm away and it works over 3G!

It's a good tip. I saved 3.6GB. It doesn't affect the original files, only the copies actually on the device.

Can't get this to work. My iTunes crashes every time I try to sync after selecting the AAC selection. No biggie. I'll just go back to the way it was.

This sounds like a great tip. I'll have to give it a try. For the comments about streaming, remember that if you do it on 3G you're paying for more data. If you're paying $5 more per month for unlimited, that's $60/year (or $120 for a two year contract). Streaming is cool, but it's expensive. Personally, I don't stream anything unless I'm on wifi, and I get by fine on the 200MB plan. I save $15/month ($180/year) over unlimited.

Nope, 320Kbps is the lowest I'll go for portable media. Quality beats quantity any day. It's just easier to create playlists of your most favorite music IMO.

Its not necessary to have my whole library with me on the go. Do you really listen to 3.5gb worth of music on your morning run/walk?! Sync a playlist or two.

haha, I bet half you people banging on about 320kbps being your "minimum" haven't even done an ABX test.
For what it's worth most people can't tell the difference between 320kbps MP3 & 160kbps when using AAC format.
For what it's worth I have all my 2,000+ CD collection ripped to Lossless, but use 160kbps AAC on my iPod and iPhone.
When I ABX tested myself I couldn't tell the difference between ALAC & 160 AAC often enough to justify wasting the space, even at 160 my music collection takes 140GB of my 160GB Classic.
I dare you to ABX test yourself and you may be more than a little surprised at what differences you "think" you hear and the actual truth.

Can I do this using a different computer (instead of using my own?). I am away from my computer for a while but want to try this, if I used my boyfriend's laptop would it make a difference? I just need my iPhone right...

I completely agree with marketsqhero. I probably didn't do an official "ABX test" but I did listen to the CD vs. 160kbps VBR AAC and it was very similar. I'm in the process of making the transition from 160kbps CBR MP3s and the sound is noticably better.

Agree with marketsqhero as well. This is a great tip, and unless we have mastering engineers here none of you will know the difference.

OK. First, I don't understand the need for storing so much music on your device in the first place. 495 songs?? At +/- 4 minutes per song, that's 33 HOURS of music. Make albums, and sort your stuff. It is far faster to change out albums than go through all this. I have all my collections that way, and I carry what I feel like at the time. Get bored? A quick sync and a have a new set up. It is NOT a contest to see who has the most junk on their phone. 2500+ CD's?? Give me a break. Bet you can't name half of them.

Anyone saying the difference can't be heard. Nonsense. What headphones are you using?? The Apple ones? MAYBE some skullcandies? Thought so....
Try listening to some 128Kpbs material on some UltimateEars TripleFi's. You CAN hear the difference.
How many know how audio compression works?? Parts of the audio a computer thinks you or I can't hear are chucked from the recording. Sure, if you're using garbage headphones you can't tell. Try listening to 128kbps material on a decent 2-ch setup and then tell me it's "the same".
As a backround, my 2-ch setup consists of a $2,000 Pioneer Elite Amp, $700 Pioneer Elite player, and a $1,400 pair of Definitive Technology towers. The analog interconnects are a ~$70 set of Monster L/R RCA's and the speaker wire is Audioquest. Compressed audio is painfully obvious....

toddfromalbes; you're obviously a music techy and that's why you can notice the difference - us 'normal' people (meaning not into music techincally) cannot tell the difference!
That is all.

You guys a wild, he's just offering a tip, take it or leave it! Good tip in my opinion, I actually did this a few weeks back just messing around in iTunes 10 and it saved me about 3GB as well. Can't really tell a difference in the audio output through head phones and through the audio output in the car. If you need space and aren't ready/willing to by a new phone yet, good trick.

Thanks for this great tip! I had no idea what that option meant, so I just ignored it. Now I'm saving even more space and I don't notice a difference.

@toddfromalbes:
I wouldn't let any compressed material near my main system, that's reserved for vinyl.
I pipe lossless music to any room in my house using my SONOS system.
The only time I listen to compressed music is either via the 160GB Classic wired into my car, or on my iPhone whilst at work. Neither of which I feel the need for lossless quality. Lossy is fine for me in those situations.
Yes I can tell the difference, but as I've said after doing a few ABX tests the ability to have all my music library in the car for instant selection meant I needed it compressed, and 160kbps gives me that ability without too much quality loss (not enough for me to worry about in car/at work).
I don't think anyone said there was no difference, I'm quite aware of how audio compression works, but a lot of people who kid themselves they can hear the difference between 320kbps and anything lower in a normal listening situation are

Even in the car I can tell easily the difference. Alpine amp feeding an upper end, albeit a tad older, Boston Acoustic component set.
My life is audio, no matter where it is I guess lol I can't imagine ever listening to a lossy recording.

Hello -
Can the music on my iPhone be converted on-device through iTunes, or do I have to delete the songs on my iPhone, then reload them on with them being converted during the latter sync?