How to Transfer iTunes Music to an iPhone

By Aaron Parson

With the Music app built into your iPhone and the device's sizable storage capacity, there's no need to carry around a separate MP3 player. Except for songs purchased through the iTunes Store on the phone, you'll need to transfer music from your computer using iTunes before you hit the road. If you already use iTunes to manage your library, syncing any or all of your albums to an iPhone takes only a few clicks. Otherwise, add some songs to get started and then pick your favorites to transfer.

Step 1

Add music to iTunes 12 by dragging audio files into the iTunes window, or by shopping on the iTunes Store. To select an entire folder of music to add, choose "Add Folder to Library" in the iTunes File menu or press "Alt-F-D."

Step 2

Connect your iPhone to an open USB port and click the iPhone icon in the upper left corner of iTunes.

Step 3

Open the "Music" tab and check "Sync Music," if it isn't already enabled.

Step 4

Choose either to sync the "Entire Music Library" or to sync "Selected Playlists, Albums, Artists and Genres." If you pick the latter option, check the boxes by each item you want on your iPhone. You need to pick only one applicable category to add a song. For example, checking an artist enables syncing for every song by that artist, even if you don't mark the individual albums.

Step 5

Watch the storage capacity of your iPhone at the bottom of the window as you select songs. If you choose too many and run out of free space, iTunes won't be able to sync all of the music. Mouse over any colored section of the capacity bar to see more details about what's taking up the space. After making your selections, click "Apply" to transfer the music.

Step 6

Press "Erase and Sync" to finish the transfer if iTunes warns you that your phone is already synced with another computer. An iPhone can sync music from only one computer at a time, so you have to erase the existing music if you want to sync a new library. This option does not erase the music on the original computer, only the music on the phone.

Tips & Warnings

  • To add music from a CD, insert the disc, select it in iTunes, uncheck any songs you don't want and click "Import CD."
  • ITunes supports audio files with MP3, M4A (AAC or Apple Lossless), WAV, AIFF and AA extensions, and can convert music from other formats such as unprotected WMA.
  • Check "Automatically Fill Free Space With Songs" to fill all remaining space on your iPhone with random songs. Because this option leaves no room for on-the-go music or app downloads, it's best to leave it off unless you never download content directly to the phone.
  • Download music purchased on the iTunes Store directly on your iPhone by tapping "More" and then "Purchased" in the iTunes Store app. Regardless of where you bought the songs, you won't be charged a second time as long as you log in with the same Apple ID.
  • Leave songs in your iTunes library after syncing. If you remove them, iTunes also deletes them from your iPhone the next time you sync.