iTunes Match is a part of Apple’s iCloud suite of web-based services. It enables you to upload the entire music collection to your iCloud Music Library. You can also share it with other devices with the use of the same Apple ID. iTunes Match enables to obtain all of your music on any compatible device. The service works through scan your library and matches as many tracks as it can with songs from iTunes’s 20 million song catalog.
How iTunes Match Works and Whether You Should Subscribe
- If you have a poorly-encoded copy of a song and that song exists in iTunes’s 20 million song catalogue, you can re-download those tracks as 256-kbps DRM-free AAC files.
- iTunes Match offers this service for up to 25,000 tracks not originally purchased with your Apple ID.
- You need a paid annual subscription for iTunes Match. When you subscribed, the service automatically renews every year unless you cancel it.
- It enables you to access all of your music on all of your devices even songs that you have imported from other sources such as CDs.
- It uploads your music library from the iTunes for Windows on your PC or Music app on your Mac.
- It enables you to access your music library on all of your devices that have Sync Library turned on.
If you want to subscribe to iTunes Match, you need to update your Mac to the latest version of macOS. You need to ensure that you have the latest version of iTunes for Windows on your PC. You also need to make sure to always have a back up of your music collection before you make any changes.
Subscribe to iTunes Match
Follow the below steps to subscribe to iTunes Match
- You need to open the Music app on your Mac. And on your PC, you need to open iTunes for Windows.
- Then go to the sidebar and click iTunes Store on your Mac. If you do not see the iTunes Store on your Mac, click Store at the top of the iTunes window on your PC.
- Then scroll to the bottom of the Store window.
- Then click iTunes Match under Features.
- Then click the Subscribe button.
- You need to sign in with the Apple ID and password.
- Then confirm the billing information and add a valid payment method.
- Then click Subscribe.
- Once you subscribe, it automatically scans your music library for matches.
A status indicator allows you to track the scan’s progress. You can manually pause and resume the scan at any time by clicking the Stop or Start button. If your PC or Mac disconnects from the Internet during the upload process, iTunes Match will automatically resume. When you open the Music app or iTunes for Windows next time, it will open from where it left off. When your music library is uploaded, you can see the Download icon next to songs that are available for download from iCloud. If you do not see the download icon, the song is already in your local music library.
Music File Formats in iTunes Match
iTunes Match supports all the below file formats that iTunes does:
- Apple Lossless.
It is not necessary that the songs it matches from the iTunes stores in these formats. Music that you purchased through the iTunes Store or that is matched by the iTunes Store is automatically upgraded to DRM-free 256 Kbps AAC files. Your computer will convert songs encoded using AIFF, Apple Lossless, or WAV to 256 Kbps AAC files and then upload them to your iCloud Music Library.
High-Quality Music Files and Backups
When iTunes Match makes a 256 Kbps AAC version of a song, it only uploads that version to your iCloud Music Library. It does not delete the original song. If you want to download one of these songs from iTunes Match onto another device, it will be the 256 Kbps AAC version.
It is necessary to always back up your original music files, even though iTunes Match keeps a copy in iCloud. Creating backups is particularly important for those high-quality music files that you may own. If you want to delete that higher-quality version of the song from your computer, you only have the 256 Kbps version from iTunes Match.
Number of devices uses iTunes Match
Apple allows access to some services such as uploading and matching libraries, streaming music limited to 10 devices. It includes:
- iPod touches
- Apple TVs
Turn iTunes Match on
Follow the below steps to turn iTunes Match on:
- You need to go to Settings on an iOS device.
- Then Music and then Turn On.
- You need to open iTunes on a Mac and click the Store menu
- Then click Turn On.
- And on an Apple TV, you need to go to Music and then iCloud Library.
Match status, uploading, downloading
You can match or upload any music format which is compatible with iTunes. These are:
- Protected (DRM)
- AAC (.m4p)
- Apple Lossless and more
You can also re-download music videos from the iTunes Store that you originally bought. But the service will not match video content and not any other iTunes file types.
Difference between Matching and Uploading
If a song of yours returns as Matched, iTunes has a high-quality version available in its track catalog. You do not need to upload your current version. It does not automatically delete your current, low-quality file. If you want to replace it, you need to delete your current file from your library and re-download. The uploaded songs are tracks that iTunes Match has not been able to reconcile with its catalog.
How can I know which songs have been Matched? Uploaded? Downloaded?
- You need to first sign up for iTunes Match.
- Then turn on the iCloud Download and iCloud Status columns by going to View then View Options.
- iCloud Status enables you to know which songs in your library have matched, uploaded, or otherwise.
Streaming Music from iTunes Match
- You can stream or download songs from your iCloud Music Library on a computer.
- Then click the iCloud button next to a matched song.
- Then download that song to your computer.
- If you just double-click to play it, the song will stream without downloading.
On an iOS device, you can both play and download a song while on an Apple TV, you can only stream music.
Updating your iTunes Match Library
It will automatically attempt to add your new songs to the iCloud Music Library as long as iTunes Match is turned on. Follow the below steps to force an update to iTunes Match:
- You need to click on File.
- Then click on Library.
- Then update iCloud Music Library.
Limits to iTunes Match and DRM
There are few limits that iTunes Match has other than the one restricting you to 100,000 songs. You cannot upload songs that are larger than 200MB or longer than 2 hours to your iCloud Music Library. You can only upload songs with digital rights management (DRM) enabled if your computer is already authorized to play them. A total of 10 devices can share music on an it’s account.
iCloud Music Icons
When you signed up for and enabled iTunes Match, you can view a column in iTunes that shows a song’s iTunes Match status. By default, these icons appear in the Music app. Follow the below steps to enable it:
- You need to select Music from the drop-down in the top left.
- Then Songs in the iTunes sidebar.
- Then right-click on the top row.
- You need to check the options for iCloud Download.
iTunes on a Mac with the iCloud Download menu setting highlighted
An icon appears next to each song in your library:
- Cloud with a downward arrow: indicates that this song is in your iCloud Music Library but is not on this device. You need to click the icon to download it.
- The cloud with a dotted outline: indicates a song that either has not been uploaded or is waiting to be uploaded.
- Cloud with an X: means the song has been removed from your iCloud Music Library through another computer or iOS device that has access to it.
- Cloud with a line through it: signifies a song that is not eligible for any number of reasons.
- Cloud with an exclamation point: indicates that the song not added to your iCloud Music Library due to an error. You need to update your library to try adding it again.
In the same menu, you can click iCloud Status for a text description of each song:
- Apple Music means it comes to the iTunes library from the Apple Music service.
- Matched means either Apple Music or iTunes Match matched it to the library.
- Purchased appears if you bought a track from the iTunes Store.
- Uploaded is for songs you added from a CD or other source.
- Not Uploaded means the song came from another device, like an iPhone, but your computer does not have the file.
- Ineligible is for songs that you are not allowed to play. You need a different Apple ID to purchase them or they do not fall into iTunes Match’s length or size limits.
- Waiting means a track is in the process of uploading but has not done so yet.
- Removed songs are on your computer but not your iCloud Music Library.
Cancel your iTunes Match subscription
Your iTunes Match subscription automatically renews at the end of a one-year subscription by default. If you signed up for iTunes Match but want to cancel your subscription and you cancel your its subscription, all of the music in your iCloud Music Library stays where it is. But you cannot add any new music or download or stream songs without subscribing again.
iTunes Match is a part of Apple’s iCloud and iTunes in the Cloud initiative. You do not need an iCloud account to sign up, only an Apple ID associated with iTunes.