MacMost Now 632: iTunes Match

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.

Video Transcript
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 – iCloud download and iCloud status. They basically mirror each other—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.

Comments: 47 Responses to “MacMost Now 632: iTunes Match”

    11/16/11 @ 9:21 am

    With play counts- does it update in iTunes when you play on another device?
    Also, what about “remember playback position”? Does it synch across devices?

      11/16/11 @ 9:27 am

      I’m sure it does update play count at sound point, but I’m not sure when, exactly. Don’t think it does playback position.

    11/16/11 @ 2:21 pm

    Does iTunes match work cross platforms? Say one computer is a Mac and the other computer is a widows but share the same apple account. Will it work with sharing the music between the two?

      11/16/11 @ 3:32 pm

      Yes, I believe it works on iTunes for Windows too. That’s what I’ve read, but haven’t tried it. Easy enough to see: Just update to the latest copy of iTunes for Windows and see if iTunes Match appears in the menu.

    Peter Emery
    11/16/11 @ 4:30 pm

    What happens to your online matched content if you decide not to renew the $25 fee in 12 months time? I am asking this question on behalf of a friend who is uncertain.
    It’s my belief that if you haven’t downloaded the higher-quality items, then they will be lost to you if you don’t pay the subsequent years fee.

      11/16/11 @ 4:37 pm

      I would guess that you wouldn’t have those high-quality songs anymore, right. Unless you downloaded them. And you would still have all of your files, so assuming you have copies of everything else you will be fine.
      But perhaps when it comes time to do that there will be an unsubscribe process that will let you download everything.

    11/16/11 @ 4:59 pm

    Hi Gary,

    Thanks for the ITunes match tutorial. One question I have is what if I uploaded my music to iTunes and those that are matched have been matched. Can I remove the physical copy from my hard disk to claim back space on my mac? Also what would be the best and easiest way to move my iTunes library to an external drive for permanent offline storage?

    Cristian Chieregati
    11/17/11 @ 3:56 am

    Hi Gary; thank you for your wonderful videos!!!
    What about iTunes Match on Apple TV 1G and 2G? I suppose that on the Apple TV 1G the songs are directly downloaded from the “cloud” to its hard drive. But the Apple TV 2G doesn’t have storage capacity. So, is the music streamed, maybe with buffering?

      11/17/11 @ 7:41 am

      There is a little bit of storage space on the Apple TV 2 (Flash memory, just not a hard drive). So the files are stored there, I assume. But the process is seamless so it seems like streaming. I don’t think iTunes Match works at all on the Apple TV 1.

    11/17/11 @ 12:58 pm

    Kind of related to the Apple TV 2 question about. Is iTunes Match the only way to get music to the ATV2 whether it’s bought on iTunes or not. Am asking because as far as I know content you have purchased through iTunes store can be redownloaded to any device, like an iPhone, iPad, Mac etc without having iTunes match. But there is no way to get that content on the ATV2

    However if you pay for iTunes Match I have seen a video that shows it works as you have described above. But am wondering if it will also let you access stuff you have purchased through the itunes store even though strictly speaking that doesn’t need to be matched as it’s already in the iCloud?

    Hmmmm hope that makes sense – let me know if I need to be more clear!!

      11/17/11 @ 1:01 pm

      Previously (and still) you can play any music on your Apple TV that is stored on your Mac and being shared. So turn on Home Sharing and Apple TV can stream music from your Mac running iTunes. You don’t need iTunes Match for that. It hasn’t changed, but the new functionality has been added.
      Anything you buy in the iTunes store becomes part of iTunes Match.

    11/17/11 @ 1:11 pm

    Thanks Gary you answered my question perfectly.

    I’d like the match option as sometimes the computer I stream from can’t be left on as it’s in a spare room where my mom often sleeps if my dad is snoring! So the iTunes match will be excellent for me as it means I can get all my content without having to have the main computer on. So good to know that purchases that are bought directly through iTunes are also available in iTunes match (and not just matched content)

    Many thanks

    Many thanks again

    11/17/11 @ 5:10 pm

    I’ve got a limited data plan (200 mb) per month. Will iTunes match force me to increase my data limits?

      11/17/11 @ 5:31 pm

      Only if you USE it. So I wouldn’t recommend it for you if you have such low bandwidth limits.

        11/19/11 @ 8:45 am

        I do have unlimited wifi. Is there a way to prevent Match from using my 3G data transfer and only use it on wifi? I’m beginning to think that, for me at least, this is not a “Match” made in heaven.

          11/19/11 @ 8:54 am

          iTunes Match only contacts the servers when you request something. So don’t request to play/download songs that aren’t local when you are on 3G.

    Joe Debono
    11/18/11 @ 4:34 am

    Nobody has mentioned what happens if you stop paying the annual subscription, will you lose access to your music in the cloud or just not be able to add new songs? Will you still be able to keep your local copies?

      11/18/11 @ 7:05 am

      Actually, it is discussed in the comments above. I’d imagine you’d just lose access to your music in the cloud. But it wouldn’t affect your local copies. I speculate that you would at least be warned, but maybe even get the opportunity to download everything.

    11/18/11 @ 1:05 pm

    I love the concept behind iTunes Match but I was wondering if you know of ANY way to have an account with more than 25,000 songs? I am a HUGE music lover and would love to add all my 12,000 cds in my collection and then have everything accessible via the Cloud but have a lot more than 25,000 in my collection. I’d totally be willing to pay more to have more storage but don’t think this is even possible. Thanks for ALL that you do with your tutorials!

      11/18/11 @ 4:37 pm

      There are other competing cloud-based music services. They won’t integrate with iTunes/Mac/iPod/Apple TV like iTunes Match, but they may offer services that you like. Can’t recommend any as I have never tried them.

    11/19/11 @ 2:13 pm

    Is there iTunes Match available for movies that you have downloaded from iTunes?

      11/19/11 @ 6:26 pm

      There’s been no mention of movies as far as I can see.

    11/28/11 @ 7:42 am

    How do you choose which songs get matched if your collection is greater than 25,000? Once matched, can you later un-match songs and match new songs?
    Thanks for the vids, I’ve learned a lot from your website!

      11/28/11 @ 7:52 am

      I believe you can’t use iTunes Match with a library of more than 25,000 songs at all. You just get a message saying it won’t work. Now keep in mind that the 25,000 doesn’t include music you purchased through iTunes. Just music you ripped or bought somewhere else, etc.
      So to use iTunes Match I believe you need to simply create a new iTunes library, fill it with less than 25,000 songs (taking into account iTunes purchases if you like) and then use it. Put the rest of your music into another library, I guess, or just archive it.

    12/3/11 @ 9:03 pm

    I just signed up for iTunes match on my desktop using my apple Id. How do I access my music using my wife’s iPhone (she has a different Id). Thanks.

      12/3/11 @ 11:27 pm

      You’d need to sign in to your Apple ID to access them.

        Doug Thompson
        1/12/12 @ 5:35 pm

        If I want my wife to have access to my iTunes Match, but she has her own Apple ID, I’m assuming that I have to change her store settings. However, won’t that also cause her phone to sync everything to MY iCloud?

        Scenario: I have an iOS5 device and iTunes Match. My old Apple ID has been converted to iCloud. My wife has an older iOS5 device. She has converted her own Apple ID to iCloud. Is there a way that I can have her access MY Apple ID for iTunes Match, but HER Apple ID for her own iCloud syncs and apps purchases?

          1/12/12 @ 5:48 pm

          I’m not sure. Try authorizing your account on her copy of iTunes. That may work. But iTunes Match isn’t meant to work this way, I think.

            3/21/12 @ 8:15 pm

            Gary, my dear sweet wizard…I need help with this…how does my husband “sign in” with my apple ID on iTunes match? On his iPhone4, when I go to settings>Music>Itunes Match..I turn it on and it says “You are not currently subscribed to iTunes Match. Use iTunes on your computer to subscribe”. It doesn’t provide a “sign in” option; AND I cannot find where I would “subscribe” his Apple ID in iTunes on my computer! Does the Apple ID in the App store have to be my Apple ID? I don’t want to pay for his app purchases.

              3/21/12 @ 8:23 pm

              I think it gets the Apple ID from the iCloud settings. That means that he can’t sign in to your iTunes Match account without signing himself out of iCloud and signing in as you. Probably that’s how it is designed as you aren’t supposed to share iTunes Match with another person.

    Brandon Chung
    12/18/11 @ 9:29 am

    The disadvantages about iTunes Match is they do not upload or match lower than 100kbps songs in your library.

    Brandon Chung
    12/18/11 @ 5:26 pm

    To avoid this problem, select the music that lower 100kbps on you iTunes library then convert to AAC format. After that, iTunes Match will be upload or match your song.

    12/20/11 @ 1:57 pm


    Any comments or knowledge on songs that were uploaded (lower than 256 kbps) that actually are available for purchase on iTunes and therefore should have been matched? I have several songs that fall into this category, including songs on albums where half the album was matched and half was uploaded. I can’t find any online forum that really addresses this issue. Thanks.

      12/20/11 @ 1:58 pm

      Did you try simply control+clicking on the song and trying to match again?

        12/20/11 @ 2:47 pm

        I have. Nothing. By a fluke two of the 175 songs did re-match last night (yes, I’m complaining about not very many issues). Also, I was able to convert the song to AAC, delete the old version from the cloud and my iTunes library and then re-match, but it still marks the song as an upload.

          12/20/11 @ 3:02 pm

          Nothing you can do but try again later. In the meantime you still have the songs, so is it really that big of a deal?

    1/8/12 @ 9:37 pm

    Hi Gary,

    I have iTunes Match and have been using it for about a week now. My 32 GB iPhone is at full capacity – I already had a lot of music on it prior to using iTunes Match, but now after using iTunes Match for a week I’ve also downloaded a lot of new music on my iPhone. And when I sync my iPhone with iTunes there is no way of removing songs from my iPhone. Do you know how to do this? (I know you can swipe and individually delete songs off your iPhone but that takes a lot of time…)

      1/8/12 @ 11:21 pm

      Have you tried syncing with your Mac and then using iTunes to define which songs are on your iTunes. Play around with that interface in iTunes and you should be able to specify what is there.

        1/9/12 @ 8:14 am

        Yep – when I sync my iPhone (just like I always did before I had iTunes Match) by clicking the music tab on my connected iPhone, it just says: “iPhone can access music in iCloud. Songs can be downloaded and played via Wi-Fi or a cellular network.” It doesn’t allow me to select or choose which songs to load or remove from my iPhone. It’s strange. Do you still have the option to select and deselect playlists/songs like you did before you had iTunes match?

    The Hamburger
    7/3/12 @ 10:21 am

    How do you listen to music when in Airplane mode or when in an area with no cellular signal?

      7/3/12 @ 2:39 pm

      You would have had to pre-load it onto the iOS device beforehand. Same as if you were syncing from your Mac/PC instead of using iTunes match.

    9/11/12 @ 4:07 pm

    I have about 3000 songs that can’t be matched. Will the upload of these songs increase my broadband bill as I have only a limit of 8Gb? will these uploads affect this limit?

      9/11/12 @ 6:48 pm

      You’ll have to ask your ISP about that — but almost certainly, yes.

    10/10/12 @ 9:42 am

    Hi Gary
    Awesome video! Is there anyway of having a local copy of some of my playlists on my iphone so I don’t pay 3G data costs to listen to music on the move?

      10/10/12 @ 9:50 am

      Of course. While you are connected to wifi, just go to that playlist. Scroll to the bottom and you’ll see the iCloud download button. Tap it to get the songs onto your iPhone so they are there when you play them later.

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