How to set up and use iTunes Match

Everything you need to know about subscribing to, setting up, and using Apple's digital music locker service, iTunes Match

iTunes Match is Apple's "music locker" service that allows you to store copies of all your music on Apple's servers and re-download it from any of your devices, at any time. iTunes Match isn't free, however. It comes at a price -- $24.99 a year (in the U.S.). It's also only available in 20 odd regions right now.

iTunes Match limitations

There are a few limitations to iTunes Match which you should be aware of before subscribing.

  • iTunes Match isn't available everywhere yet, only a few reasons. Check your iTunes Match availability by country

  • iTunes Match can only handle 25,000 songs. If your library is bigger than that, iTunes will refuse to match it. About all you can do right now is create a new iTunes library on the same computer with a subset of your songs -- no more than 25,000 -- and use that library to set up iTunes Match. (Just make sure you don't copy your music into new folders, leave it in its existing folders or you'll waste a lot of disk space.)

  • iTunes Match doesn't always do a great job matching every of songs. It could be an issue with metadata, if the song information is really different between the iTunes Catalog copy and your local copy. You could try updating the metadata on your local copies before going through iTunes Match, but it can take a lot of time and results may still vary. (Anything iTunes doesn't match gets uploaded to Apple's servers, so you still have access to it, but in its original form, not the iTunes Catalog copy in 256Kbps AAC with "official" metadata)

#How to subscribe to iTunes Match on Mac or Windows

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  • Launch iTunes (10.5.1 or higher) on your Mac or Windows PC.
  • Click on iTunes Match under the Store menu in the left hand sidebar.
  • If you don't see iTunes Match in the sidebar, click on iTunes Store and then click on iTunes Match in the Quick Links section on the right.
  • Click on Subscribe to iTunes Match for $24.99.
  • Enter your iTunes password to authorize
  • Click iTunes Match in the sidebar again.
  • Click Add this Computer
  • Next, iTunes Match will go through a three step process:

    1. Step 1: Gathering information about your iTunes library. Apple scans all your songs to see what's in your library.
    2. Step 2: Matching your music to songs in the iTunes Store. Apple compares your library to the massive iTunes Catalog. Anything that already exists in the iTunes Catalog is immediately made available to you in standard iTunes format -- 256Kbps AAC with metadata and album art.
    3. Step 3: Uploading artwork and remaining songs. Apple takes any other music in your library -- anything Apple couldn't match with the iTunes Catalog -- and uploads it to Apple's servers so it will still be available to you from the cloud (albeit in its original format, however good or bad that is)

    Depending on how much music needs to be uploaded, and the speed of your internet connection, it could take a while to complete.

    How to set up iTunes Match on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad

    Once you've subscribed to iTunes Match, you can easily set it up on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad.

    • Launch the Settings app.
    • Tap on Music.
    • Toggle iTunes Match to On.
    • Tap Enable to allow iTunes Match to replace your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad music library with your iTunes Match library. (Which should have all the same music, and much, much more.)

    If you don't see the iTunes Match option, make sure you're logged into the same iTunes account with which you subscribed to iTunes Match. If you still don't see it, scroll down to the bottom of the Music Settings and enter that iTunes ID into the Home Sharing login. That should wake it up.

    How to enable iTunes Match downloads over 3G/4G

    iTunes Match can either be Wi-Fi only, or can also let you re-download music over 3G/4G connections.

    • Launch the Settings app
    • Tap on Music
    • Toggle Use Cellular Data to on.

    How to see all your iTunes Match music on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad

    • Launch the Settings app.
    • Tap on Music.
    • Toggle Show All Music to on.

    This will make sure that your Music app shows you every song in your iTunes Match library, whether you've downloaded it to your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad or not.

    How to get more help with iCloud

    If you still need help with subscribing to, setting up, or using iTunes Match on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, or any other iCloud feature, head on over to our iCloud Forum and ask away!

    Ally Kazmucha, Chris Oldroyd, and Gary Mazo contributed major sections of this guide.

    Rene Ritchie

    Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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