The new iTunes Match service from Apple allows you to keep your entire music collection in the cloud. You can access all of your songs from any Mac or iOS devices you own. Find out what it does and how it works.
Hi, this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today’s episode, let’s take a look at iTunes match. So, iTunes match went live this week. It’s a new service, just in the US for now, for $25 a year and what happens is it takes your entire iTunes music collection and puts it in the cloud so you can access it from all your devices. Now, this leaves open a lot of questions. Let me try to answer them.
So first, what happens when you set it up? Well, you start off you get a screen that looks like this setting up iTunes match. Has a bunch of information and after you accept everything and pay the $25 through your iTunes account, it looks like this for a while as it goes and figures out which music you’ve got on your Mac and whether or not it needs to upload it.
So, the basic idea is this: all the songs either get uploaded or matched. So ‘matched’ means the song already exists in iTunes. It’s a song that apple sells. So, instead of uploading it, it’s basically going to put a check mark next to that song for you, saying that you own that song. If it’s not in the iTunes database, then it will take your song or the version you have on your computer and upload it to an iTunes match server. So, the end result is that all of your music is available in the cloud, whether it’s a matched song or whether it’s a song uploaded from your computer during this initial process.
When you add new songs to iTunes, it’ll do the same thing. It’ll figure out whether it needs to match it or upload it. So if you rip a CD that you got, it’ll do the same thing. Now, if you purchase a song from iTunes, it already knows, of course, that it’s there, so it won’t bother to do that check. It’ll just know that it’s a matched song.
So this is what your iTunes library kind of looks like once you have iTunes Match turned on. Now I’ve got two columns here. You can see this first one here has this cloud and there’s one called cloud status. By default just the cloud was there and if I go to view and view options I can turn on and off both of these â€“ iCloud download and iCloud status. They basically mirror each otherâ€”one’s an icon and one’s a word.
So you can see for normal songs, I get either, say, ‘matched,’ meaning it found it in iTunes and it’s basically matched with the higher quality version up there, so didn’t have to upload it. I have ‘uploaded,’ which means it didn’t find it up there, so it uploaded my version of the song. And sometimes I get different things. For instance, if I go back to the top here, I have some Errors and I’ve got some ‘not eligibles’, like, for instance, three of these here are .pdfs that were downloads with mountain* so that’s not part of it. I’ve got some waitings here, so these haven’t completed yet, for one reason or another and even indicates a few duplicate files I’ve got, so it’s not going to upload those.
I find that some of these, like, say the errors, I can click on the cloud and ill get a message here and I can actually control-click on it and select add to iCloud to try again and for some of these it actually worked and I have far less errors than I had before.
Now what are the advantages? Well, one small advantage is that if you had a song that was lower quality, say 128 kbps mp3, it’s now going to be in iTunes match as 256 kbps aac, so much higher quality. Another advantage of course is that you can easily access these songs from all of your devices. So for instance, if you have a mac desktop, a mac laptop, an iPhone, or an iPad, turn on itunes match for all those using the same account and now you can access you entire library on any of those devices. If a song isn’t available locally on the device, it’ll look like it is and you can download that song and play it on that device. Even while you’re not on your local Wi-Fi network, you can be half way around the world.
So now here I am on my laptop on my MacBook air and I’m running iTunes and I’ve got iTunes match turned on. Now most of this music was not on this laptop before, but now that iTunes match turned on I can see it all. Now you can notice that the little cloud icon there says that it’s not on this local machine. It is in the cloud, but I can play that music by just double clicking on it and what will happen is it will start to load it from iCloud and it will start to play it. Now, once it’s fully downloaded you can see a little progress bar there on the left inside* inside the little circle. Then it will be available on this machine locally and I’ll see it disappear. This icon will change. I know that I can play it anytime, even if I’m not connected.
Now I can select a bunch of songs, say an entire album, and if I control-click I get a download button there, so I can quickly say before going out of range of the internet I can select a bunch of songs and download them here locally so that I’ve got them for travel.
So, this leaves open a lot of questions. One is, what happens to your original songs? Well, they don’t go anywhere. So, if you have a lot of songs, say, on your internal drive or on your external drive on your Mac and you do the iTunes match thing, there all still going to be there– all your original files.
Well, what if you wanted to replace a song with a higher quality version on iTunes match? You could delete it locally, and then it will appear as a song in iTunes match, not on your local machine and then choose to download it. Then, you’ve got the higher quality song.
Now how about storage costs? Well, there are none. This has nothing to do with the iCloud storage space that you have. So, even if you’re going to upload, say, 1000 songs that are not matched, this doesn’t count against your iCloud storage and you won’t even see it accounted for anywhere. It’s part of your $25 fee. Now, there is a 25,000 song limit, and these include matched songs and songs that you’ve uploaded, but they don’t include songs that were purchased in iTunes.
Now what about metadata, like if you’ve entered in some special information about a song or some lyrics or you’ve got your ratings or number of plays? Well, that’s all now in iTunes Match so if you download a song to another device, you’ll have all that information. Now it’s not all quite synced up if you download it on one device and you update it on the other, it won’t automatically update, but it is there in the cloud so you can pull that new version down and it’ll have all that metadata there.
So essentially, you can think of iTunes match like sharing, but sharing on more than just your local network because once you set up an iTunes cloud you can share wherever you want. So if you travel between home and work, it’s kind of ideal because you can do this and then on your iPhone or on your work Mac, you can have access to all of your music that’s in the cloud.
So there are the basics. If you want to use iTunes match, just have the latest version of iTunes. Go into the store menu and turn on iTunes Match and then it walks you through the process of paying for it and getting all set up.
Now, it’s pretty early with it, so we have still yet to hear whether or not there are some advantages or disadvantages that haven’t yet been discovered and of course Apple may be changing things and adding new features in the future. Hope you found this useful. Till next time; this is Gary with MacMost Now.