iTunes match not syncing playlists

We're getting pelted by messages today from readers using iTunes Match, Apple's music locker service, who either can no longer find, or no longer sync their playlists from, to, or with iCloud. Apple's System Status (opens in new tab) isn't currently reporting any problems, which in and of itself seems problematic, given the sudden influx of complaints.

I use iTunes Match but I don't use playlists, though I'm making some now to test out. In the meantime, there's no indication turning iTunes Match off and on again fixes anything, so absent word or a fix from Apple, we'll just keep troubleshooting and see what we can find.

If you're currently having trouble finding or syncing your iTunes Match playlists, let me know in the comments below, and if it starts working again, let me know that too.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Not playlists, but I factory reset my iPad today and none of the album art is syncing via itunes match. I've been trying to figure out why for a few hours now. I wonder if that is related? EDIT: Looks like it is related.
  • Well just like you Rene I use match just not playlists. Also like yourself I made some real quick and mine in not syncing.
  • My iTunes Match won't sync any music period. It has been this way since I updated my MacBook Pro to Mountain Lion on the day of it's release.
  • I have had trouble syncing my playlists yesterday. I made a new playlist, but did not sync over to my iPhone. Thought that if i turned off itunes matcand re-enabled it on my iPhone, it would work, but didn't and ALL my playlists arent syncing at all.
  • Thanks for the post, playlist are not synching and I was going nuts!
  • I just subscribed to iTunes Match a couple of days ago and my music is already 95% uploaded. So far nor playlists or artwork have synced. I thought I needed to wait until all my music uploads but this seems to be a legitimate issue.
  • Apple's systems status page is not showing any outages they're aware of as of 6:06pm EST.
  • The same here. I was wondering why a recently created playlist won't sync. So I turned off iTunes Match and then back on (on iPhone and iPad). And now no playlists at all... :-(
    Oh yeah, no artworks as well...
  • confirmed, I can not sync playlists. First thought was IOS 6.1 Beta 4 bug. But I said to my self, wait a moment... and here is the news...
  • take a look guys: problem is widespread
  • Well, I happened to create a new playlist on my iPhone yesterday. So for kicks, just launched iTunes. The playlist is there. TWENTY NINE times. All of them are empty, though...
  • This exact same thing is happening....multiple playlist (duplication) then vanished content
  • Turned off iTunes Match a few days ago after a restore and when I turned it back on, I noticed that my music was there, but absolutely no album artwork. Funny thing was, in the Album view, no artwork showed but if turned to Cover Flow view, all the artwork was there. I turned it back off, updated iTM on my computer, then turned it back on in my iPhone. Now no album artwork is showing. Sorry this seems a little off topic, but it seemed to be directly related to Playlist issue you're having. Hopefully Apple fixes this soon :/
  • Okay not sure if this can be considered a "fix" but I found that turning iTunes Match Off then back On on your computer adds playlists and artwork back to your iOS device. I made sure to turn iTM off on my iPhone before turning it off on my computer, then turned it back on in iTunes. After adding the computer back and allowing it to finish, I turned it back on on my iPhone (Settings > Music) and voila! Hopefully this helps!
  • Hey, that's exactly what helped! The order of switching off and on seems to be the clue.
    Artwork and playlists are back on the iOS devices! Thanks a lot for sharing this.
  • I had used smart playlists (ex. sync 1 gb of 4 star or above music I haven't heard in the last 5 days) but ever since wifi sync its been screwy and worse since iTunes Match. I've reset my phone a couple times and turned iTunes match off and on since Match tends to accumulate songs but it never can just automatically download and keep music matching those playlists on my phone. Would love to know if someone knows the fix.
  • Same problem here. I was going for a run this morning and I found that a newly created playlist was not synced. I tried turning off iTunes Match and then turning it on, but it didn't work, and now all my playlists are gone from my iPhone. Very frustrating. And the album artwork is gone too.
  • I had the same problem last week, I emailed Apple support and got a few formula replies before it escalated to upper level support. But in that time the problem magically cleared up as quickly as it appeared. I had tried to rename a playlist that wasn't updating, and even creating a new playlist with the same songs in it. It didn't work at first, but again, it cleared up in a couple more days. I have not tested it by making a change since then, so if I have the problem again, I will report on this.
  • I have the same problem, but add to it that any album I've added for the past few months is absent on my iPhone. They are albums that I've listened to on the same phone as recent as three days ago but thy aren't available anymore. Still on my primary laptop. Not near my lap top that I use just to stream so I can't check. WHAT'S UP WITH THAT?!
  • I've lost all my music. When I go to the music app, all that shows up is the "cloud" picture and a status bar that does not move. Kinda like when you first sync it.
  • I have had 2 problems with itunes match, i also use a lot of smart playlists/playlists and folders. 1. I deleted a whole lot of playlists while cleaning up my library and then about 1 month later they all came back, and merged with my current lists, so i now have duplicates. 2. As of last friday, some of my playlists/folders have completely disappeared from my library. Quite annoying as i use itunes as my main library for DJing/Back Up. Im thinking they might just reappear sometime this week when apple fixes what ever is wrong with their servers etc.
  • Playlists will not sync and no amount of forcing it will get it to work. Spent a few minutes on the phone this evening with an Apple support rep (Sabrina) and after two separate conversations with supervisors she returned with word that this is a known problem with no workaround and Apple techs are working on it. She advised me to try to sync my iPhone to iTunes every 3 days and to call back to tech support in two weeks if the problem has not been resolved. This is a dealbreaker for me and my iTunes Match subscription; if I don't have my playlists then all I really have is a gigantic playlist the size of my library. Moreover, without playlists my car's audio system doesn't see ANY music on my iPhone (why should it; the music exists in the cloud) and so I cannot play a predetermined selection of music in the car. iTunes Match doesn't "just work."
  • I managed to get it to sync only some of the playlists... I think the "error" message for one which did not was something to do with it containing media which could not up load onto the cloud. Of course it has nothing in it which is not on the main list or in other playlists. Latest is no eroor message but no sync....
  • That's true. I was messing with my iTunes playlists yesterday. I noticed if I created an empty playlist, it would show up on my other Macs, iPhone and iPad without a problem. The issue became when I tried to build a playlist from my Mac containing songs not loaded into iTunes Match/iCloud. It won't allow it - presumably because it won't be able to sync songs that don't exist in the cloud. The only playlists that are synced are those that only contain uploaded songs. One way to fix this is to remove songs that are not uploaded and then it should work. Annoying, because I use my gym playlist (labeled "workout") that contains rare songs that iTunes for some reason thinks are ineligible.
  • Itunes syncs all of my playlists through itunes match fine, but the thing that bugs me the most is that it does not have the tracks in the same order as on my iMac. It's a real pita because I like to have my songs newest first at the top. Anyone have a suggestion on this matter???
  • This has been a problem since my upgrade to Mountain Lion; super lame. It used to be that I could select a playlist to sync to a device and iTunes was smart enough to transfer the songs contained within the playlist. My only successful work around was to manually add the songs that were contained inside the playlists AND sync the playlists. Now everything works as advertised. Unfortunately, this kind of negates the biggest advantage to playlists. Boo...
  • I've been having this problem for a while now. It's getting really annoying. I have everything backing up to iCloud, and so syncing with my computer while plugged in isn't even transferring the playlists.
  • Same problem! Rather a relief to find this website as I thought it was just me! Half of my playlists are syncing but not all... and not the one I most want on my iPhone!! Have been using iMatch for several months but have yet to become a fan. Don't think I'll be renewing my subscription when the year is up.
  • Solution: (it worked for me) I deleted everything from Itunes Match (previously I made a full backup in a hard disk) then I made itunes recognize everything again, and voilá, playlist started working perfectly from that moment on. That was one month ago. Sorry for my bad english :)
  • Solution: I simply turned off iTunes match on my mobile device (iPhone) and waited a few minutes and then switched it back on. After about 10 minutes, all my playlists were synchronized.
    I did not need to delete anything.
  • I have the same problem a lot of new playlists that I just created on my iTunes are not available to download on my iPhone, I can only listen to them but I can't download them to my iPhone. And the problem is that when you only listen to the playlists without downloading you spend a lot of internet data. If somebody have a solution please just let me know.
    regards Edgard
  • I was able to resolve the issue of playlists created on my mac not appearing on my iOS device (iphone) via iTunes Match. Step 1) On your computer - within iTunes, click 'Store' on the menu bar, then select 'Turn off iTunes Match.' Step 2) Click 'Store' again and 'Turn On iTunes Match' and authorize the computer for Match. Step 3) Go to your iOS device, select 'Settings,' then 'iTunes & App Stores,' toggle 'iTunes Match' to off. Step 4) Toggle 'iTunes Match' to on and click okay to the warning. Step 5) Hop into your music app - at this point it should show a cloud with a status bar....wait for it to finish syncing. At this point all your playlists should be available on your iOS device. Hope that helps :)
  • Just in case some one else is still having issues with this, I had all my playlist but the one I use the most sync. So, after some research I found the cause iTunes Match will only sync playlist that contain only songs and all the songs have to be eligible to sync to the iCloud. So, basically look through your playlist if there is digital books or songs with the cloud icon with a slash in it. It will not sync, I hope this helps
  • Having the same problems when I got a new computer. 1) The playlists sync intermittently. 2) There are random duplicates. 3) Tunes I purchased pre new computer are gone and I had to repurchase. 4) Many tunes are apparently damaged files so they cut off 30-60 seconds before the actual end of the song, which is incredibly annoying. Is stuff on stored on the cloud is what's damaged? I just want them on my iPod touch, I don't have a smartphone. I'm not trying to use Match, I just want my libraries and playlists to match between my computer and iPod.
  • I added music to my library via a CD and the sync icon shows up on my iPod but it doesn't actually sync, so the music form the Cd is not added to my iPod. I've never had a problem with this before today. What do I do?? :(
  • Playlists and artwork are not syncing via iTunes Match
  • I just signed up for iTunes Match a couple of days ago and noticed that not all my playlists have music. Some do, some don't. I tried the turning it off and then turning it back on but no luck. I checked the playlists in my iTunes but didn't see anything strange. I have 3 iOS devices, iPad 2, work iPhone 5 and personal iPhone 5. They all have different numbers of songs - iPad: 6515, w iPhone: 6508 and personal iPhone: 6480. Not sure what is going on but these numbers are not the total number of songs in my library. If anyone has any ideas I would appreciate it. I thought it might have been smart playlists but it isn't limited to that. Another weird thing is the Playlist is empty but all the songs are actually on the phone or in the Song list. Why isn't it in the playlist?
  • Problem solved. 1. In iTunes, go to a playlist that isn't appearing on your device.
    2. Find the songs with a cloud icon appearing next to them.
    3. Right click and select "Add to iCloud"
    4. Your missing playlist should now show up on your device.
  • Ohmigoodness.... You are my HERO!
    I've NEVER found an easy solution for this before..... Until now.
    Thank you thank you thank you!
  • I finally fixed this bug with my itunes match and want to share it with everyone. I updated to iOS7 on my iPhone 4 and the playlists were all showing as empty or with only a few songs. Tried pretty much everything - hard resets and turning on/off itunes match. Finally I turned off iTunes Match on both the iTunes on my PC and also on the iPhone. Did a hard reset to the phone. Logged out of both (Apple user ID). Logged back in again. Connected the phone via the USB to the PC and then turned match on again inside iTunes on the PC. And then turned it on again on the iPhone. Bingo!! I can now see all my music again :-)))))))
  • Up to a month ago, I could sync any playlist from my Dell laptop to my iphone. I noticed recently that the sync was going thru the motions but not updating/syncing my iphone with changes to my playlists. The crazier thing is albiet the songs are not coming over to my playlist, if i seach new songs that have recently added to my itunes library, they are showing up under the SONGS library on my iphone......hmmmm. Apple is teling me to restore my phone and and itune library and manually add the songs back to library one by one. Huh??!!
  • It's happening to me. As long as I have any playlists selected, iTunes won't sync any music. It's the most frustrating thing I ever experienced with Apple.
  • It s happening to me too. I already updated the ItunesMatch and nothing works
  • I have the same problem, the only way was turn off Itunes Match on Itunes and on again.
  • I am having the same problem with playlists using ios8 as other people appear to be having. Does anyone know if Apple is aware of the problem and is going to issue an update to fix it? I came across imore by googling a question about creating playlists and not having them appear on my other devices. Hopefully I can use your forum for other data in the future. Thanks for being there. Wollyone
  • I have the same problem. I create a playlist on my Mac but it will not show up on my iPhone 6 or my iPad. Does anyone know if Apple is aware of the issue and is going to do something about it?
  • I'm having trouble with iTunes Match not syncing my playlists: