Forum Question: Does iTunes Match Physically move my iTunes Library to iCloud?

I know the topic can potentially require several hundres words to address, but obviously I’m not looking for that. Here is my question: Does this service physically move my iTunes Library to iCloud? Therefore, when I want to hear a particular track the music is streamed from the cloud?
Ray Craft

Comments: 76 Responses to “Does iTunes Match Physically move my iTunes Library to iCloud?”

    11/15/11 @ 1:45 pm

    Well, “move” is the wrong term. Saying “copy” would be correct. And it doesn’t really copy it to iCloud, which would refer to your iCloud space where you store contacts, events, email and documents. It is separate from that. Think of it as iTunes Match servers, not iCloud servers.
    It will first see what you have that already exists in iTunes. It doesn’t copy those, but just creates links to the one place they exist in iTunes. If you have a lousy 128kbps version of the song, you now have access to the 320kbps version in iTunes.
    For the rest of your music, it copies it to Apple servers. For me, it matched about 5/6 of my songs with iTunes songs, and then uploaded 1/6 of them.
    I now have access to all of these songs on all of my devices (iPad, iPhone, Mac Pro, MacBook Pro).
    It doesn’t really “stream” the music. It basically downloads it when you want to play it. A subtile technical (and legal) difference. So I choose a song to play on my iPhone and it starts downloading it to my iPhone. I don’t have to do anything special, it takes care of the details. While downloading it starts playing. I can pretend it is streaming, but I can return later and play that song again and it will probably not need to download it again as it is there in a kind of temporary storage.
    I can also tap on the little cloud icon to force my iPhone to download a song, even if I don’t want to listen to it at the moment.
    It remains to be seen how well this will work when we have limited Internet access.

    Joe Giacalone
    11/15/11 @ 4:21 pm


    So I have about 1,400 songs in my iTunes library, which is about 6.5GB. Will that be used from my iCloud storage? I’m just wondering because as you know iCloud only gives you 5GB of memory for free. Will I have to buy extra storage?

    Love the show!



      11/15/11 @ 4:30 pm

      No. This is unrelated to iCloud storage. I have 6,000+ songs and 1,200 of them were not matched so they were uploaded. I’m still using less than 1% of my iCloud 5GB.

        12/25/11 @ 5:08 pm

        Up to 25,000 tracks/songs

        1/13/13 @ 3:20 pm

        Hi Gary, I found this thread a little late but I’m in need of some advice regarding my iCloud account. I was running out of space on my HD so I uploaded all of my songs into the cloud. I then deleted the original song from my HD to free up space (thinking the songs would forever be available in the cloud). Now, my phone is empty (as planned) but all of my songs are greyed-out in iTunes. iTunes shows them in my account, but it won’t let me download them, play them, etc.

        Any ideas would be greaty helpful.


          1/13/13 @ 5:49 pm

          So I assume you mean iTunes Match, not iCloud.
          Do you see a little cloud icon next to them? If so, tap that to download it. Or just tap to play the song and it should happen automatically.

    Joe Giacalone
    11/15/11 @ 5:17 pm


    Your always my go-to-guy when I need an answer about Apple.

    Keep up the great work with the show.

    Thanks Gary!!!

    Hector Alicea
    11/21/11 @ 5:18 am

    my iPhone only have 16GB of capacity, I am a little afraid to fill the whole capacity of mi phone… what stored on the cloud mean?? it occupies space on my iPhone?? or my iPhone space remain the same???

      11/21/11 @ 7:21 am

      iTunes Match is made for your situation. All of your music is on the iTunes Match servers. You can download and listen to songs when you want, but the music doesn’t have to stay on your iPhone after you listen to it. It just makes it easier to get music on to your iPhone from anywhere, temporarily.

        Hector Alicea
        11/21/11 @ 5:53 pm

        Thanks Gary, macmost is one of my favorite sites, full of valuable information..

        1/28/12 @ 6:12 pm

        does this affect my data package?

          1/28/12 @ 6:30 pm

          What do you mean? Your data package usually refers to your wireless carrier. iTunes Match is a service that uses data, but it doesn’t change you agreement with your carrier.
          If you mean will it use data over your 3G connection — the answer is that it is up to you. There is a setting where you can prohibit iTunes from using this service unless you are connected to wifi. Or, you can just not use iTunes when you are using 3G.

    Kim Søgaard
    12/3/11 @ 8:52 am

    I am wondering about backup of my pc iTunes liberty – do I stile have to have backup of the iTunes liberty when I have iCloud and Match?
    Or is it possible to download the complete iTunes liberty to my pc after a HD failure ?

      12/3/11 @ 9:38 am

      iTunes Match means that all of your songs are on Apple’s servers. So consider them backed up. But that is just music. It doesn’t take into account other things like videos, apps, etc.
      Of course you might want to still back up your library locally.

    12/28/11 @ 9:49 am

    Ok so how do I download my library from I cloud? I had a HD failure and need to do so but I can’t get any information more than what services I cloud offers.

      12/28/11 @ 10:01 am

      Did you sign up for iTunes Match? If so, then you should still see all of your songs listed. Just double-click to play it and it will download and play.

        1/5/12 @ 9:44 am

        I want to download my entire library due to getting a new computer, I can see all my songs that are in iCloud on my itunes now no problem but I want the physical files on my computer, do i have to click the button to download from icloud for every single song, or is there a quicker way to select download all?

          1/5/12 @ 10:25 am

          Just select multiple songs (or all) and control+click on one of them and select “Download.” It will download all of the songs selected.

    2/1/12 @ 11:33 am


    this is a really good post! I’ve iTunes Match set up as well and have 2.5k songs there. Problem is my laptop is about to die as it is an old Dell. Can I just trade it in and then with my new laptop sync it with the new machine or do I need to physically transfer everything to new laptop??? any help appreciated…..

      2/1/12 @ 11:57 am

      If everything has been uploaded to iTunes Match, then theoretically you can just run iTunes on the new computer, log in to iTunes Match, and everything will be there — download songs as needed.
      But if you have any songs that have not been matched and/or uploaded, then you would lose those. So check. I would do a complete backup of an old computer anyway, as a safety net (for other things as well).

    4/11/12 @ 10:40 pm

    For some reason iCloud has made it so that my entire itunes library is on my phone. How can i make it so only my playlist are on my phone? I dont want to have 3,000 songs or whatever take up that much storage space on my phone…please help on how I can fix this..

      4/12/12 @ 6:36 am

      Are you using iTunes Match? If so, that’s what it does. But the songs aren’t on your phone ,they are “in the cloud.”

    Bill Cowan
    4/24/12 @ 1:02 pm

    I have two different iTune locations. One on my PC and the other on my laptop. I am using my PC location to convert my vinyl to MP3’s. Will iTunes Match allow me to access both libraries from a single location (iCloud)?

      4/24/12 @ 4:29 pm

      The way iTunes Match works is that you have ONE library that you can access from any device (with your ID). It is unusual that you have two libraries. But it should just upload one, then the other. I’d back them up first, or consolidate them into one first before starting with iTunes Match.

    Carolyn Wade
    5/3/12 @ 12:09 pm

    I purchased the 16gb 4s. My itunes library is approximately 8gb, and is comprised of songs that I purchased from Itunes AND songs that I downloaded from CDs. Will the icloud store the music that I downloaded from CDs in addition to the music I purchased from Itunes? I am trying to understand the Icloud and am considering exchanging the 16gb for the 32 gb, but I want to make sure that’s the right move before I spend the additional $100.

    Thank you!

      5/3/12 @ 12:18 pm

      Yes. That’s what iTunes Match does. With iTunes Match you might not need all of that space as you don’t need to store all of your music on the iPhone. You can just access it through iTunes Match when you want.

    5/11/12 @ 9:10 am

    Just uploaded my library to the iCloud, but need to create space on my hard drive. Can I now delete the songs from the hard drive?

      5/11/12 @ 12:17 pm

      As long as you are sure they uploaded OK, you can. But I would archive them first to an external drive or media.

    5/11/12 @ 9:16 am

    sorry, another question. I’m not that clued up with iTunes and the iCloud… Does this not work on the iPod Classic?

      5/11/12 @ 12:18 pm

      No, it does not work with the classic. It only works on devices with the Mac OS X operating system or the iOS operating system. The old iPod Classic is more of an “appliance” than a computer, so it doesn’t have the ability to do this sort of thing — not to mention that it isn’t a network device either, so it can’t connect to any networks.

    5/12/12 @ 1:57 pm


      5/12/12 @ 3:51 pm

      You don’t do it one by one. You sign up for iTunes Match. Then iTunes does all of them.

    6/26/12 @ 7:50 pm

    Any updates about how the iCloud works when wireless service is not working (like when I’m riding the subway?) Thanks.

      6/27/12 @ 1:52 am

      iCloud? Or iTunes Match? This topic is about iTunes Match, so I’ll assume you mean that, not iCloud.
      It doesn’t work at all. If you don’t have the song on your iOS device and you don’t have a connection to the Internet, there’s no way for you to get the song. Of you have the song on your iOS device (you recently listened to it, for instance, or manually tapped it to download) then you can play it.

    6/29/12 @ 4:06 pm

    My iTunes library is about 25 GB. If I move the library to the iTunes match, can I then delete the library from my computer and free up the 25GB?

      6/30/12 @ 12:04 am

      You could, once the “matching” was done. But most people don’t. Some do, but after archiving to an external drive first. It is up to you.

    6/30/12 @ 2:51 pm

    Question on iTunes Match: if I am regularly downloading songs from Match after listening to them, how do I remove them to open up space for other songs if I max out the memory on the iphone(only 8g)?

      7/1/12 @ 2:04 am

      iTunes handles it for you. As you download more, and space gets tight, it will remove songs you haven’t played in a while automatically. Think of it just like a browser cache.

    7/8/12 @ 7:23 pm

    Hello, Gary. I would like to download my whole iTunes Match library to my MBP. I have the space on the drive, but I get network errors from iTunes, even when I use a hard ethernet connection (I have FIOS). Is Apple having problems with their servers? I just want one “Gold” download of my library (about 3100 songs). Thanks for any insight.

    7/27/12 @ 10:39 am

    Hi. I am mainly concerned about backing up the multiple playlists that I’ve spent countless hours compiling. Will iTunes Match store and update my playlists regularly? I am concerned as to if ever my hard drive crashes or I need to format or upgrade to a new PC, etc.; will the library and playlists all still be there to access and download to the new/re-formatted hard drive?

      7/27/12 @ 10:45 am

      iTunes Match does not replace backing up. It puts your iTunes library into the cloud, but doesn’t back up your iTunes settings. You should be backing up your hard drive with Time Machine. That would include everything on your drive, including your iTunes library, settings (including playlists).

        7/27/12 @ 12:20 pm

        Thank you for that information, Gary. If you could answer one more question please if possible. Let me specify a scenario: I plan on upgrading my PC to Windows 8. Since that I will have to format and install the new OS to my boot drive, I will have to re-install iTunes. My iTunes media libraby folder is manually set to a separate hard drive and all of my iTunes music files are stored there. All of the iTunes settings and playlists are saved elsewhere of which I cannot designate (probably somewhere in the system files on the boot drive). I have had to re-format and re-install my current Windows 7 OS before and attempted to keep my iTunes playlists intact. I’ve searched for and made backup copies of all the iTunes settings files I could find scattered throughout my system in the convoluted Windows infrastructure. After re-installing the OS, I tried copying the old files back to the same locations and tweak all the settings as they were prior. Even after all of this my efforts to preserve my playlists failed and iTunes did not recognize any of it; like it was just new install and new computer. I definitely do not want to go through this again.
        I just hope that and need to know if iTunes Match will save my playlists so that I can just re-sync it to my local iTunes if ever this situation comes up (Windows 8 will have a different infrastructure so backing up my entire hard drive will not help either).

          7/27/12 @ 1:13 pm

          I’m not a Windows guy, but I’m pretty sure you don’t have to format the drive to upgrade Windows. I know you haven’t had to do that on Mac for a long time, and probably not on Windows for a long time either. Just install normally and save the time and hassle. I’m not a Windows guy, but that’s what I would do if I had to.
          I don’t believe that iTunes Match will save your playlists — that’s just not what it does.

            7/27/12 @ 2:20 pm

            Thanks for the insight, Gary. I fear that Windows requires that you install over the previous installation and in turn removes any previous settings and configuration files; essentially wiping all personalized data from the old copy of windows. Yet another aspect where Mac’s have PC’s beat. Yeah, I typically wouldn’t be a Windows guy either, but I am a gaming enthusiast and unfortunately Windows is the format where most of the games are at. Perhaps I should consider getting a separate system (a Mac) for iTunes and other daily tasks.

              7/27/12 @ 2:37 pm

              Installing “over the previous” and “reformatting and installing” are very different things. The first shouldn’t remove settings for applications. It shouldn’t touch iTunes’ settings. Good luck with whatever you choose to do.

    Jeff Fullerton
    9/13/12 @ 7:31 pm

    I have 3.2 TB of music can I put it on my I cloud account?

      9/13/12 @ 8:08 pm

      iCloud? I think you mean iTunes Match, right?
      iTunes Match lets you store 25,000 songs. It measures in songs, not file size. But I’m guessing that with 3.2TB that you have much more than 25,000 songs. So using iTunes Match wouldn’t be an option for you.

    Jeremy Wilson
    9/30/12 @ 11:57 am

    I am in a remote location with slow, limited internet access. It seems that all my music has just been removed from my iPhone and now has to be streamed. But, presumably because the connection is so slow, the tracks keep being interrupted. How can I quickly and easily get all my music on iCloud back onto my iPhone and iPad and so avoid the streaming process?

      9/30/12 @ 3:02 pm

      It is not a good idea to use something like iTunes Match if you have slow, limited Internet access. Do you still have your music on your computer? If so, just turn off iTunes Match and re-sync.

        Jeremy wilson
        10/1/12 @ 1:15 am

        Brilliant. Thank you. The music is still on my computer (&, it seems, also on my iPad, just not on the iPhone). i’ll re-sync & come back to you if that doesn’t work. Again, thanks.

    Cheryl Neal
    11/15/12 @ 12:20 pm

    I have about 2500 songs in my itunes acct. Some are from cds. I don’t see very much info regarding the storge of docs etc. Are there any other clouds that I can use for my home office as well as my itunes library?

      11/15/12 @ 12:31 pm

      iTunes Match is strictly about music. For documents, you can use iCloud for apps that use iCloud (Pages, Numbers, Pixelmator, etc). For miscellaneous documents you can use any number of third-party cloud services, like DropBox or Google Drive.

    12/8/12 @ 1:20 am

    Hi, I have my all my music sorted in iCloud fine, and also my iPods music is set the same. If I turn on iTunes Match on my iPod can I play it without using an Internet connection that connects to iCloud. So it plays the music just off my device instead?

      12/8/12 @ 8:40 am

      You have to download the music first, but once it is present on your iPod touch (iPod touch, NOT iPod nano, iPod classic or iPod shuffle) you can play it while offline.
      For iPod nano, iPod classic or iPod shuffle you simply continue to sync as before.

    12/15/12 @ 5:21 am

    I have iTunes Match. However, when I received a new iPhone 5 due to a defect, why when I requested everything be restored from the cloud, all but mu music was restored. I did te same thing on my iPad, and everything INCLUDINGmy music library WAS restored.

    Why to one iPad and not the other?

      12/15/12 @ 9:18 am

      No way to know. Does it work now? I assume all “restoring” iTunes Match would entail would be to sign in with your account — then iTunes Match does its thing. So make sure you are signed in. If not, sign in. If you are, then sign out and sign back in again.

    12/26/12 @ 10:08 am

    I have two iTunes libraries, one on my MAC and one on my PC. I want to consolidate these into a single library, and be able to download that library to my iPod Classic. Can I do all of that with iTunes Match?

      12/26/12 @ 10:25 am

      iTunes Match would be one way of doing it, for music anyway. The other way would be to simply copy all of the media files from one machine to the other and drag an drop them into iTunes.

        12/26/12 @ 10:33 am

        The issue I have is that my PC is restricted from copying files out to external devices unless the devices are encrypted. So, for instance, I can no longer synch my iPod Classic to my PC unless I encrypt it first. So, I’m looking to get around this problem. Any other suggestions?

          12/26/12 @ 10:40 am

          No suggestions as I have no idea concerning your odd encryption problem. Can’t you copy the files to a USB thumb drive? Or over the network? Can’t you disable whatever that is for a few minutes so you can copy those files?

    Steve Pochmara
    12/30/12 @ 11:26 pm

    Need to know if iTunes stores a hard copy of the movie or tv show I’m downloading to the device I’m doing the download on. It takes up space and I want to know if all my music, movies and tv shows can be stored in the cloud and not take up space on ant of my devices.

      12/31/12 @ 8:42 am

      Music, yes. That’s what iTunes Match is, if you use it. But it doesn’t do it for TV shows and movies. But you can simply download one of those, watch it, and then delete it.

    Bill S.
    2/6/13 @ 9:25 am

    Gary it looks like you have all the answers here, I hope you can help me as well. On my Iphone 4 I only have 231MB of storage left yet my “icloud Storage” still says that the 5.0GB are still available. How do I go about moving all my music from actually being stored on my phone’s memory to utilizing that unused 5GB? I have alot of music left that I want to download from my cd’s to my iphone via Imatch but am almost completely out of room, not to mention I can’t download any more apps. Thanks

      2/6/13 @ 9:32 am

      iCloud storage and iTunes Match are two completely separate things. Maybe that is where you are getting confused. iCloud storage is used for iCloud documents, contacts, events, photos, etc. iTunes Match is a separate service that you pay for and it stores only music. It does not use your iCloud storage space at all, but a separate space.

        Bill S.
        2/6/13 @ 9:55 am

        So if I turn on icloud backup will that move my photos as well as my music over? And if that is indeed the case, would i then be able to erase the music from my phones memory storage, but yet access it from my phone whenever i wanted to?

          2/6/13 @ 10:02 am

          No. First, iCloud backup is just a backup — it is in case your phone is lost, stolen or damaged. Then you can get your data back.
          Second, backups do not backup your music at all. Your music comes from sources — like your iTunes library on your Mac or purchases made online. So you don’t need to backup those as they are not irreplaceable.
          As for photos, only camera roll photos are backed up to iCloud (photos taken by your phone’s camera and not yet saved to your Mac).
          iCloud backup is a good service for people who have an iOS device but do not have a computer, or rarely have access to their computer (travel on business, etc). But it is not something that will help you clear space on your iOS device.

            Bill S.
            2/6/13 @ 10:09 am

            Thank you much Gary. You’ve enlightened me. Good day to you sir.

    Teresa rowe
    2/17/13 @ 9:48 am

    I have iCloud match and it seems that my songs are on there…now how do I access them from my iPhone ? Thanks a bunch

      2/17/13 @ 10:18 am

      Turn on iTunes Match in Settings, iTunes & App Stores.

    2/20/13 @ 4:55 am

    I have been using iTunes Match but my data allowance has just blown out incredibly since starting, to the point where i am hundreds of dollars over.
    This all started because of a dead laptop, coupled with replacing my 4s with a 5. I started using match to get my all my 4s data onto the laptop (only way i could figure it) but now can’t seem to sync to the 5 without having Match enabled?
    I am oblivious to any other method, please help!

      2/20/13 @ 7:04 am

      iTunes Match with a data limit is not a good idea. Seems like you have all of your music now up in iTunes Match. So if you try syncing from Mac to iPhone, it would have to download them to your Mac first, then sync across. That would mean all of that data transfer again. Maybe find a free wifi hotspot you trust somewhere and do it there.

    2/21/13 @ 5:14 am

    Thanks so much for your help.

    This whole thing is driving me nuts, songs that were previously fine are now missing or not playing, some albums seem to be entirely corrupted. Is there any way i can start over again?

      2/21/13 @ 6:05 am

      You might need to give it more time to complete the sync. Hard to say. Maybe a visit to the Genius Bar will help.

    3/4/13 @ 2:51 pm

    I have an old Ipod classic with my entire library (as of about June last year) and a new iphone 5 and ipad. I use itunes Match for the iOS devices to have a selection of music available, but is there any way to get my new purchases onto the classic, so my library on there is complete and up to date? My library now is only consisting of icloud songs, Is there some way of creating a second library with my newly downloaded/purchased songs on it?

      3/4/13 @ 3:11 pm

      You can create a second library if you like — and just use that to sync to the old iPod. But it may be more work than it is worth.

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