iTunes on Mac

iTunes on the Mac has played a number of different roles over the years. First, it was a jukebox to play, store, and organize music copied from CDs to your Mac's hard disk. Soon after it became the means for transferring your music from your Mac to an iPod, so you could take your music collection with you anywhere you wanted to go.

Then iTunes became the storefront for purchasing and downloading music...and movies, television shows, audiobooks, podcasts, and more. It was the conduit for syncing information between your Mac and iOS devices. It became the way to store all your music in the cloud and, most recently, the doorway into Apple Music and the world of streaming content.

Whew.

So what's the best way to get started with all this? With an Apple ID.

What's an Apple ID?

The key to doing many things with iTunes--particularly things that have to do with the internet--is an Apple ID.

An Apple ID is the account you use to access any of Apple's online services including iCloud, the iTunes Store, Apple Music, and more.

An Apple ID consists of an email address that you already have (and if you don't have one, you can get one for free from Apple) and a password you choose.

Chances are close to 100% that you already have an Apple ID because whenever you set-up a Mac (or an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch) you're prompted to enter your Apple ID—or to create one if you don't have one.

If you already have an Apple ID, you can—and should—use the same one for iTunes. Though you can have multiple Apple IDs, it's a lot simpler to use the same one when you sign into any of Apple's services.

How to use your Apple ID to sign in to the iTunes Store

When you open iTunes for the first time and agree to a few terms and conditions, you'll be guided through the steps to sign into the iTunes Store with an existing Apple ID. If you don't have an Apple ID, see the next section.

  1. Click Sign in to the iTunes Store.
  2. Enter your Apple ID.

  3. Click Sign In.
  4. Enter your Password.

  5. Click Sign In.

If you have two-factor authentication enabled on your Apple ID, enter the six-digit verification code from another of your trusted devices.

If you are already using iCloud to store your music or are an Apple Music subscriber, iTunes will populate music content and playlists from your iCloud Music Library.

How to create an Apple ID and sign in to the iTunes Store

If you don't have an Apple ID, here's how to create one after you open iTunes for the first time and agree to a few terms and conditions.

You'll need:

  • A valid email address to use as your Apple ID username

  • A strong password (8 or more characters the include upper and lower case letters and at least one number)

  • Your date of birth

  • Three security questions and answers used to verify your identity

  • A rescue email address, if you don't use two-factor authentication with your Apple ID

You'll have the option to provide credit card information for future purchases.

Once you're ready, Launch iTunes to get started.

  1. Click Sign in to the iTunes Store.
  2. Click Create New Apple ID and follow the steps to create a new Apple ID. Then, you can sign in to your new iTunes account.

  3. From the Account menu, choose Sign In....
  4. Enter your Apple ID.

  5. Click Sign In.
  6. Enter your Password.

  7. Click Sign In.

If you have two-factor authentication enabled for your Apple ID, enter the six-digit verification code from another of your trusted devices.

How to sign up for Apple Music

Apple Music is Apple's subscription music service. You can listen to any of the 50 million songs stored in Apple Music's library (ad-free!) whenever you want. Music can be streamed from the internet (meaning a copy of the music is not stored on your Mac) or you can download it to your Mac to add it to your music library and listen to it when you're not connected to the internet. Songs can also be added to playlists that you create.

If you're not sure whether or not you want Apple Music, there's a free three-month trial available so you can try it. After that Apple Music costs $4.99 per month for college students, $9.99 per month for individuals, or $14.99 per month for families who are using iCloud Family Sharing.

How to subscribe to Apple Music on your Mac

How to purchase music from the iTunes Store

Even in the age of Apple Music — where subscriptions and streaming are king — you can still buy songs and albums from the iTunes Store. You can also buy or rent TV shows and movies, purchase audiobooks, and download podcasts.

The steps are similar for all these types of content. Here's how to purchase a song, which will be downloaded to your Mac.

  1. From the media type menu, choose Music.
  2. Click on the iTunes Store tab and browse to the music you want to buy.

  3. Click on the price.
  4. Enter your Apple ID password.

  5. Click Buy.

How to import existing media on your Mac into iTunes

If you have some music files on your Mac—say, content you might have transferred over from a Windows PC or purchased from another service—you can add them to your iTunes music library with a simple command.

  1. From the File menu, choose Add to Library.
  2. Navigate to the folder that contains the music you want to add.

  3. Click Open to import the music files that are inside the folder.

If you have multiple folders, repeat this process until you've added them all. You can find the imported music in the Recently Added section of your Library in the iTunes sidebar.

Questions?

Let us know in the comments below.