If you have a number of different Apple devices, chances are you have various versions of your iTunes library on each. You may have one main library on your Mac, some of which you sync with your iPhone and iPad, and perhaps you have a few favourite playlists copied onto your work computer. Wouldn’t it be great if you could access all of your music wherever you are on whichever device you have access to? Well, now you can.Thanks to Apple’s iTunes Match you can listen to your iTunes library on any of your computers or iOS devices. Plus, if you own low bit-rate, copy-protected tracks purchased from iTunes, you can download higher-quality versions. iTunes Match costs £21.99 a year. Follow our guide to make your transition as smooth as possible.
Step 1: Good housekeeping
Before signing up to iTunes Match do some house keeping to avoid a long night. If you don’t want it to upload huge voice memo files, for example, select them and press C-I. Click Options > Media kind > Audiobook and those files will move to the Book Playlist and won’t upload to iTunes Match.
Step 2: Set up
You’ll need iTunes 10.5.1 or later. In the menu bar select Store >Turn on iTunes Match and enter your Apple ID. Apple will scan your library, matching songs that are in the iTunes Store, and uploading those that aren’t. This process takes a while, but happens in the background so you can continue to play music.
Step 3: In the cloud
Once iTunes has finished the uploading process, a cloud icon will appear next to the Music item in your iTunes sidebar, and a new column heading with the same icon in your library. You’ll see a cloud download icon for songs stored in the cloud. Tracks stored locally won’t show anything in this column.
Step 4: Match point
To find out which songs in your library have been matched, uploaded or otherwise, add the iCloud status column. Go to View > View Options and select iCloud Status. That column shows if a track is matched, waiting for a match, a duplicate of a matched song, or has been removed from a device.
Step 5: High fidelity
If you have tracks bought in the early days of iTunes, iTunes Match will convert them to higher-quality versions. But it won’t offer a higher-quality download unless you delete the originals from your library. If there are a few tracks you wish to update, select them, hold down Option, and press Delete.
Step 6: Replacement
Confirm that you want to remove the track from your library, but not from iCloud. Now the Download icon will appear next to the deleted tracks. Tap the download icon and the new version will be downloaded to your library – your old play count, and any playlists it was part of, will remain the same.
Step 7: Smart lists
If you have lots of low bitrate tracks to replace, make a Smart Playlist with the following attributes: Bit Rate is less than 256kbps, Media Kind is Music, Any of the following are true: iCloud Status is Matched, iCloud Status is Purchased. Now delete all those files. Yes, really.
Step 8: Download
Select the tracks again, Control-click and choose Download. If the Smart Playlist has disappeared, click on the cloud icon in your library to sort by cloud status or create a new Smart Playlist: Location is iCloud, Location is not On this Computer, Media Kind is Music. It will include every song you can download from iTunes Match.
Step 9: In metadata
Newly downloaded iTunes Match files will be listed as Matched AAC (and will be 256kbps AAC files). Note: your Apple ID is now part of its metadata. Click on an iCloud-download track and choose File > Get Info, and you’ll see your name and iTunes email address, so don’t share it.
Step 10: Another mac
Once iTunes Match has finished examining your library you can set it up on other computers and devices. Open iTunes on another computer, select Store > Turn on iTunes Match and click Add This Computer. Your iTunes Match music collection will soon appear and the tracks in it will be available for download.
Step 11: Match Pad
To activate iTunes Match on your iOS devices go to Settings > Music and switch the iTunes Match slider to On. Though iOS warns you that this will replace your Music library, any tracks already on the device will remain locally stored there. Tracks that are stored in the cloud will now feature a download icon.
Step 12: Stream
If a track isn’t located on your Mac, iTunes streams it. To play a track on an iOS device, the track is downloaded – and the next time you want to play that song it will be there. You can select several tracks for download to your device at once.
Step 13: WiFi or 3G
On your 3G iPad or iPhone you can configure iTunes Match to only work over WiFi, or to stream music over 3G. Go to Settings > Store and enable Use Cellular Data. If you try to play a track over 3G without this enabled
you will get an error message inviting you to enable the option.
Step 14: Flight path
If you won’t have access to data for a while (say on a flight) you can get the iOS device to show only those tracks stored on it by going to Settings > Music and switching the Show All Music option to Off. On your computer you can go to View > Hide Music not on this computer to get the same effect.
Step 15: Playlist
iTunes Match tracks that haven’t been downloaded to your iOS device can be treated the same as locally stored songs. You can sort them, search them, drag them to playlists, or use Genius to find similar songs. If you decide to free up some space on your device you can delete the songs you have downloaded to your library. The cloud download icon will appear next to the songs.