How to use Apple Music without iCloud Music Library

iPod touch (7th gen)
iPod touch (7th gen) (Image credit: iMore)

When you've subscribed to Apple Music and want to access it from more than one device, it works best when you have iCloud Music Library turned on for all supported devices you want to use Apple Music with, but that doesn't mean you have to use iCloud Music Library with all of your devices. If, for any reason, you want to use Apple Music, but not iCloud Music Library, you have the freedom to choose.

Why wouldn't I use iCloud Music Library with Apple Music?

One of the biggest reasons some people may not want to enable iCloud Music Library is Apple's 100,000 song limit. If you have more music than that, you won't be able to fit your entire collection in the cloud.

Another reason, and probably the one that evokes the most fear of using iCloud Music Library, is that some people have very organized and meticulously tagged metadata that they don't want Apple's iTunes Match to mess up.

Whatever the reason, when you turn off, or if you never turn on iCloud Music Library, you can still use Apple Music, just with some limitations.

What happens when you don't use iTunes Music Library?

When you disable iTunes Music Library on *all your devices, this is what happens with Apple Music and your personal collection:

  • You can't stream music from your Mac's music library to your iPhone, iPad, or other Macs when outside your home wi-fi network.
  • You can't download Apple Music content and sync it between devices. You can't access Apple Music offline either.
  • If you want to sync your local music library from your Mac to another device, you'll have to do so manually by connecting your device to your Mac and transferring it.

What if I want to use iCloud Music Library on some devices, but not others?

It's so easy to turn iCloud Music Library on and off (though it may take a long time to sync), that you can decide that you only want to share your music in iCloud on just your iPod but never your iPhone, or something similar.

If you choose not to enable iCloud Music Library on one or more devices, even though you have it enabled on your Mac, it won't affect what happens to devices that have it enabled. Your Apple Music activities also won't have any effect on the devices that don't have iCloud Music Library enabled.

Any songs, albums, or playlists you have saved from Apple Music won't be synced with devices without iCloud Music Library turned on, even if you've downloaded them onto your Mac.

How to disable iCloud Music Library

On iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch

  1. Launch the Settings app.
  2. Tap Music.
  3. Tap to turn off iCloud Music Library.

Open Settings, then tap Music, then tap iCloud Music Library

If you have been using Apple Music on your device, you'll receive a warning that any Apple Music tracks you've downloaded will be disabled.

On Mac

  1. Launch iTunes.
  2. With iTunes selected, click on iTunes in the app menu in the upper-left corner of the screen.
  3. Click on Preferences.
  4. Select the General tab.
  5. Tick the box for iCloud Music Library.

Pick on Preferences in the app menu, then disable iCloud Music Library

If you have iCloud Music Library enabled on any device, and want to disable it on your Mac, you'll have to first disable it on those connected devices or the option to make changes will be grayed out on your Mac.

Any questions?

Do you have any questions about what happens when you disable iCloud Music Library while using Apple Music? Put them in the comments and we'll help you out.

A little something to go with your Apple Music


Apple AirPods 2 (Image credit: Apple)

AirPods (From $159 at Apple)

The smallest headphones with the biggest features. You can enjoy streaming music, making calls, and asking Siri for help.

Wonderboom 2

Wonderboom 2 ($100 at Apple)

Portable size with a booming sound. The Wonderboom 2 is a great travel companion and is even water resistant.

Seagate Backup Slim

Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB External Hard Drive (Image credit: Seagate)

Seagate Backup Slim (From $55 at Amazon)

Make sure to always back up your music collection before you disable iCloud Music Library with an external backup drive.

Lory Gil

Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books.  If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).