Apple has two music subscription services available for you: iTunes Match, and Apple Music. Let's talk about iTunes Match.

iTunes Match isn't the same as Apple Music. With Apple Music, for $9.99 a month, you can stream Apple's song catalog. With iTunes Match, for $24.99 a year, you can upload up to 25,000 songs from your iTunes music library to iCloud, where you can then stream and download them—DRM-free—to up to ten other registered devices in your possession. Here's how it works, how you can subscribe, and how you can get the most out of it!

How iTunes Match works

When you subscribe to iTunes Match, Apple scans your iTunes music library to prepare for uploading it to iCloud. Currently, you'll need an iTunes library with 25,000 songs or less in it for iTunes Match to work correctly; if you have too many songs, here's how to create a secondary iTunes library.

To save space and upload time, any track in your library that's also available in the iTunes Music Store catalog will "match" to the catalog version; this means that when you play that track on your iPhone or another Mac, you'll get the iTunes Music Store version (a DRM-free, 256kbps-quality AAC file, for those wondering), rather than your original file.

Any songs that don't match will be uploaded to iCloud in their original form, save for tracks that are too low-quality (under 92kbps), too long (over two hours), too big (over 200MB), or you aren't authorized to play (say, a song from another user's iTunes account that you don't have the username and password to unlock).

If you have a song in your library encoded in ALAC, WAV, or AIFF, those may be transcoded into an AAC 256 Kbps file when uploaded to iCloud; the original file in your iTunes library won't change.

After your songs are uploaded, they get stored or matched to your iCloud Music Library; any device you own (up to 10) can stream or download songs back from it.

What you can and can't do with iTunes Match

Now that we've explained what iTunes Match is, here's a quick rundown of what it can and can't do.

With iTunes Match, you can...

  • Stream your Mac's library to up to ten different devices you own (including up to 5 Mac or Window PCs).
  • Delete matched tracks you own on your Mac and redownload them to get high-quality 256kbps DRM-free versions from the iTunes Store (useful if you have low-quality ripped tracks).
  • Use it in tandem with Apple Music: Here's how to do so.

You can't...

  • Manually sync music from iTunes to your iPhone: It's all done over the air now.
  • Stream music from the Apple Music catalog: You need Apple Music for that.
  • Use iTunes Match with Family Sharing: Each Apple ID is separate; you can download communal purchases from iTunes, though.
  • Upload more than 25,000 tracks that weren't purchased from the iTunes Store: If you still want to use Match, make a secondary iTunes library.
  • Use it in every country: Here's Apple's list of the countries iTunes Match currently supports.

How to subscribe to and enable iTunes Match on your computer

  1. If you're signed in to your iTunes account, open iTunes and navigate to the Account menu
  2. Click Sign Out.
  3. Click on the Match tab that appears in iTunes, (or go to Account > iTunes Match).


  4. Select Subscribe for $24.99 per Year.
  5. Enter your Apple ID and password.


  6. After your subscription goes through, select Use iCloud Music Library.
  7. Click Add This Computer to upload and match your computer's music library to iCloud Music Library. (This step may happen automatically, so don't panic if you don't see it.)


How to add an additional computer

Adding an additional Mac or Windows PC is similar to the initial signup process; it's also a great way to unify a music library if you've been accidentally building separate collections on your personal and work machines—once you enable iCloud Music Library on both machines, you can download all the songs from your secondary PC or Mac onto your primary computer.

  1. On your secondary Mac, open iTunes and navigate to the Account menu.
  2. Click Sign Out.
  3. Click on the Match tab that appears in iTunes, (or go to Account > iTunes Match).


  4. Select Subscribe for $24.99 per Year.
  5. Enter your Apple ID and password. (You may have to enter it twice.)


  6. Select Use iCloud Music Library to use it on this computer.
  7. iTunes will remind you that you've already subscribed to iTunes Match, and ask you whether you want to activate it on this computer. Click Add This Computer to connect your computer's music library to iTunes Match and iCloud Music Library.


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

On your iPhone, you won't see iTunes Match when you're logged in to your iTunes account; instead, you'll see information about iCloud Music Library.

  1. Launch the Settings app from your Home screen.
  2. Tap on Music.
  3. Switch iCloud Music Library to On.


How to enable iTunes Match downloads over cellular

If you want to stream iTunes Match songs over your cellular data connection as well as over Wi-Fi, you can do so by following these steps.

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
  2. Tap on iTunes & App Store.
  3. Switch Use Cellular Data to On.


Keep in mind that this option not only enables iTunes Match over LTE or 4G, but it also turns on cellular data for automatic downloads and Apple Music. If you'd rather avoid that, you can disable automatic downloads on your devices, or only enable the Use Cellular Data switch when needed.

How to see your local music on your Mac

  1. Open iTunes
  2. Select the My Music tab.
  3. Select the Songs dropdown from the upper right corner.


  4. Click on the Show Columns option.
  5. Select iCloud Download.

The resulting column will show no icon if your track is stored locally; a cloud icon with a downward arrow if your track is stored only in iCloud; or a cloud icon with a line through it if the track is local, but ineligible for iCloud Music Library (usually a PDF).

To reverse this, tap the dropdown again and turn the Show Music Available Offline switch off.

How to see your local music on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch

  1. Open the Music app.
  2. Tap on the My Music tab.
  3. Select the Albums dropdown from the middle of the screen.
  4. Switch Show Music Available Offline to on at the bottom of the pop-up.

To reverse this, tap the dropdown again and turn the Show Music Available Offline switch off.

Troubleshooting iTunes Match and iCloud Music Library

If you're running into any iTunes Match problems, here are some solutions to the most common issues. Still have a question about it? Let us know in the comments.

Ally Kazmucha contributed to earlier versions of this article.