If you want to be able to share your Mac's tracks with all your other devices and download songs from the Apple Music catalog, you need to enable iCloud Music Library.

iCloud Music Library is Apple's cloud-based repository for all your music (and music you've saved or downloaded from Apple Music). Anyone who has an Apple Music or iTunes Match subscription can take advantage of it. But before you enable iCloud Music Library, there are a few things to know.

Cloud-based matching can be buggy

Apple has been working on the iCloud Music Library concept for just over four years—the company started with a version of it called iTunes in the Cloud back when iTunes Match first launched in 2011. A lot of the bugs have been straightened out, but you may still see errors here and there if your music library is particularly complex.

What kind of errors? Stuff like:

  • missing or mismatched album artwork
  • live tracks matched to their studio versions
  • wrong metadata

The vast majority of people's libraries shouldn't see these errors, but regardless: Before spinning up iCloud Music Library, you should make a backup of your music library. This way, in case anything goes pear-shaped, you have a place to reset.

What do I lose when I disable iCloud Music Library?

If you choose to turn off iCloud Music Library, you'll no longer have access to:

  • A cloud-based copy of your Mac's iTunes library
  • Your Mac's Matched or Uploaded tracks to stream on your other devices (if using Apple Music or iTunes Match)
  • Any saved songs from the Apple Music catalog

Even with iCloud Music Library off, however, you'll still have access to purchased iTunes content; that's always available for streaming across your devices whether you have iCloud enabled or not.

Don't want to use iCloud Music Library but still want to jam out to Apple Music? Here's how to use Apple's subscription service without it. You can also use iCloud Music Library with a secondary iTunes Library if you want to keep your primary music collection separate, but still sync some of your tunes to your other devices.

How to enable or disable iCloud Music Library

If you want to turn iCloud Music Library on or off, here's how you go about doing that.

On your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch

  1. In the Settings app, tap Music.
  2. Scroll down to the iCloud Music Library setting.

  3. From here, you can either enable it (which then asks you to Merge or Replace the music currently on your iPhone), or disable it (which then warns you that any Apple Music tracks you've downloaded will disappear).

On your Mac

  1. Open iTunes.
  2. Go to the iTunes > Preferences menu.

  3. Under the General tab, check or uncheck the iCloud Music Library option.

Any other questions?

Let us know in the comments. (We've also got a bunch of iCloud Music Library troubleshooting articles available.)