RIP, iTunes. This is what happens to your Apple music now (2023)

This story is part of WWDC 2022, CNET's complete coverage from and about Apple's annual developers conference.

iTunes is as good as dead, leaving many to wonder: When iTunes goes, what happens to all your music? Don't worry -- Apple isn't taking away your tunes. But it is carving up iTunes' duties into four parts, givingApple Musicthe bulk of the work. It'll be a shock for loyal iTunes users who, for 18 years, learned to rely on the app for everything from syncing their iPhones to building playlists and buying songs. However, Apple is confident in your ability to teach yourself new tricks, as it channels you to Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, Apple TV and the Finder instead.

Apple's shifting strategy may be jarring for longtime users, but music fits squarely into the tech giant's portfolio of premium experiences that keep loyal users invested in the brand's ecosystem. For a company initially focused on hardware, iTunes was one of Apple's first major successes in this area. People who had bought music from Apple were less likely to stray. Now, Apple is betting that Apple Music help juice Apple's further push into software and services.

Nevertheless, closing down iTunes raises big questions for those who have built up musical collections over the years. What do you have to do, if anything, to keep your investment intact? What if you use iTunes for Windows? What happens to iTunes Match? And why is Apple axing iTunes to begin with?

Here's what we know about Apple's plans to transition you to Apple Music and the rest.

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Does iTunes still work today?

Yes. Apple still advertises iTunes on the website. iTunes will continue to exist for the time being, but Apple won't support it in MacOS Catalina, the upgrade coming this fall.

Why is Apple ending iTunes?

Apple said that iTunes was initially focused on burning and mixing songs on the Mac, but then suggested it was too big and bloated, and lost its purpose. "How about calendar in iTunes?" Apple engineering lead Craig Federighi joked during the presentation. "I mean, you can have all of your appointments and your best tracks all in one app!"

Apple describes Apple Music as being extremely fast, which suggests that iTunes performance had gotten laggy.

RIP, iTunes. This is what happens to your Apple music now (4)

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Do I still get access to the same number of songs with Apple Music?

Yes, Apple advertises a catalog of over 50 million songs, plus collections of music videos (through Apple TV) and podcasts (through the Apple Podcasts app). Scroll to the end for more details.

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Does my iTunes collection go away?

No way. Every song you've ever bought, ripped, uploaded or imported will already be part of Apple Music when you upgrade from your current Mac OS version to Catalina. All the files that are already on your computer will remain. Apple isn't liquidating anything you already own, but it will reorganize where the files live.

Even my ripped CDs, MP3s and playlists?

Yep, even those. You'll find them in your Apple Music library.

RIP, iTunes. This is what happens to your Apple music now (5)

Will I still be able to burn a CD with Apple Music?

Yes, if you have an external CD drive and the necessary cables, though this isn't something we've tested yet.

What about backing up my device, restoring my settings and syncing settings?

iTunes is the app you think of for backups and syncs, and those capabilities will exist with Catalina, just not in the Apple Music app. You'll find them by opening the Finder tool in Mac. That's the one with the square, stylized icon of a smiling face that serves as the operating system's file manager. Open it, and you'll see device will appear in the Finder menu, for example: "Jessica's iPhone."

How will I move music onto a device?

If you want to move music onto a device, you open one of your media apps, click and drag from your music library into the folder for your connected device, and it will transfer over.

RIP, iTunes. This is what happens to your Apple music now (6)

What happens when I sync my iPhone or other device?

Today, iTunes pops up when you plug in your iPhone to sync devices, but that's not the case with Apple Music. If you want to sync, you'll find the setting in the sidebar in Finder. Apple is making this more opt-in (you trigger the syncing in Finder) rather than opt-out (you close the window if it pops up and bugs you).

What happens to people who use iTunes on Windows?

iTunes will continue to work on Windows as is.

Will iTunes still work on older version of MacOS?

You can still use iTunes on a version of Mac that predates MacOS Catalina (e.g., Mojave), but it won't be available when you make the upgrade.

RIP, iTunes. This is what happens to your Apple music now (7)

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I'm confused. How is Apple Music different than iTunes?

iTunes is a free app to manage your music library, music video playback, music purchases and device syncing. Apple Music is an ad-free music streaming subscription service that costs $10 per month, $15 a month for a family of six or $5 per month for students.

Apple Music closely competes with Spotify and you can listen to songs offline across your devices.

Do I have to subscribe to use the Apple Music app library?

No. You can still access your music collection if you don't subscribe to Apple Music. That is completely opt-in.

Is the iTunes Store going away?

The iTunes name will fade away, but Apple will keep the store and its functionality in the Apple Music app. You can call it up if you want to buy new songs and albums, but if you do subscribe to Apple Music, you likely won't have much use for a store.

RIP, iTunes. This is what happens to your Apple music now (8)

What happens to iTunes Match?

iTunes Match is a feature that gives you access to a song you bought through another service, say Amazon. Apple Music already has the feature built in, so you won't miss out if you subscribe.

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What if I like to make my own mixes?

If you like to DJ your own collection and albums, you'll be able to import those tracks to Apple Music and listen to them across your Apple devices.

What about the Apple TV app -- is that where my iTunes movies will live?

Yep! Any movies you bought via iTunes will move to the Apple TV app for Mac.

The Apple TV app (yes, for all your devices, not just an Apple TV) is where TV shows, movies and music videos will live on the Mac, including HBO and Showtime, and those iTunes movies you bought. It'll support 4K HDR playback with HDR 10 and Dolby Vision graphics and Dolby Atmos audio playback.

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Where does the Apple Podcasts app come in?

Fair question, since Apple is spreading iTunes functionality around. Apple Podcasts is pretty straightforward -- it's where you listen to and search for and subscribe to shows. In MacOS Catalina, Apple Podcasts will also let you type a few words or letters to find a show or episode.

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Change is hard. Is there any reason I should skip the Catalina upgrade?

In addition to speeding up these apps, Apple encourages you upgrade to the newest version for ongoing privacy and security updates. Learn more about all the changes coming to your Mac with the MacOS Catalina upgrade this fall.

See also

  • Apple iOS 13: New Siri voice, camera tools, Dark Mode for iPhone
  • New Mac Pro makes its debut, starts at $5,999
  • Apple gives the iPad its own OS
  • Returning to Apple's WWDC after 20 years, now with 5 OSes instead of 1
  • Get all the latest from WWDC

Published June 5, 2019. Update, June 6, 7, 8, 10, 14, 16, June 17 at 7 a.m. PT: Added a link.
Update, July 5, 2019 at 6 a.m. PT.

FAQs

What happens to my iTunes library with Apple Music? ›

All of your music is now in the Apple Music app

The Apple Music app is where you can find all of your music, including music that you imported in to iTunes, purchased from the iTunes Store, and playlists and smart playlists that you created in iTunes.

Where did my ripped music go on iTunes? ›

Open the iTunes Store app on your device. From the iPhone version, go to More > Purchased > Music. On the iPad version, tap the Purchased icon at the bottom and select Music. You should be able to find your missing music from here.

What happens to your music downloads when you get rid of Apple Music? ›

Subscription music currently in your account is tied to your subscription. Once you cancel that subscription the music is no longer be available in your account. Purchased music that was not part of a subscription is tied to your Apple ID, which is not subscription based, so you can keep that as long as you have a ID.

Can I still use iTunes instead of Apple Music? ›

Any music that you've imported to or purchased in iTunes will be migrated into the new Apple Music app. Any playlists that you've created in iTunes will also be migrated into Apple Music. The iTunes store will still be available in order to buy music on Mac, iOS, PC and Apple TV.

Will I lose my Apple Music library? ›

Once your Apple Music subscription is canceled you will lose access to the playlists you created and any music you've downloaded. Also, your music and playlists would not return if you decide to sign up for Apple Music again in the future.

Can I recover my Apple Music library? ›

Restore your library from a backup

Quit iTunes. Go to "This PC," then click your external drive. Select your iTunes folder, then right-click and choose Copy. Go to the location on your computer where you want your iTunes library, then right-click and choose Paste.

Why did I lose all my music on Apple Music? ›

Make sure that all of your devices have Sync Library turned on and signed in with the same Apple ID that you use with Apple Music. If your music library is stored on your computer, check the cloud status of songs to find missing music and resolve issues.

How do I restore my Apple Music library 2022? ›

Go to Settings > Music > Under Library column, you'll see iCloud Music Library option. If it is already on, you can turn it off and on again. You will receive a prompt asking whether to enable iCloud Music Library or not, please select Merge.

Did I lose all Apple Music? ›

If you found your Apple Music disappeared, you should first make sure you already toggle Show Apple Music on: Go to Settings. Choose Music. Make sure Show Apple Music is turned on.

Can you permanently download songs from Apple Music? ›

Note: You must turn on Sync Library to download music from Apple Music to your library (go to Settings > Music, then turn on Sync Library). Always download music: Go to Settings > Music, then turn on Automatic Downloads. Songs you add are automatically downloaded to iPhone.

How do I get my music back after Apple Music expires? ›

When you resubscribe you will need to download your music again as iCloud Music Library is disabled when your Apple Music subscription is cancelled. "If you have content downloaded to your device, it deletes from your device when you turn off iCloud Music Library.

Is iTunes still available 2022? ›

Today, iTunes as an app still exists on Windows devices and older Mac operating systems, still combining podcasts, videos, audiobooks and device management.

Do I need both Apple Music and iTunes? ›

iTunes Match uses the same platform, the iCloud Music Library, to store the matched content. Having both subscriptions, or one subscription vs the other does not matter and is not a requirement.

Which is better Apple Music or iTunes? ›

If all you're looking for is a media library, then iTunes is the best choice for you. Apple Music offers curated playlists (including radio stations), constantly updated based on the user's preferences. If you're looking to download individual songs or albums, then go with iTunes because that's what they specialize in.

How do I import my old iTunes library to Apple Music? ›

In the Music app on your Mac, choose File > Add To Library or File > Import. If you selected “Copy files to Music Media folder when adding to library” in Files settings, you see File > Import. Locate a file or folder, then click Open. If you add a folder, all the files it contains are added to your library.

How do I get all my playlists back on Apple Music? ›

Open iTunes on your PC or Mac > Go to File > Library > Click the Update iCloud Music Library to make it. Updating iCloud Music Library will refresh the whole library on your iPhone, it may help you restore the disappeared Apple Music playlist as well.

How do I restore my old iTunes library? ›

Step 1: Restore your iTunes folder
  1. Select Restore Files. The Restore Files Options (or Get Files Options) window appears.
  2. Update the options to specify the restore location, naming guidelines, and permissions for your restored files.
  3. Click Go. Your download is added to Downloads.
9 Jan 2022

Does Apple Music expire? ›

Sometimes if the time between expiry and renewal is very short they may be preserved, but normally they'll be removed from your library shortly after the subscription expires. Any Apple Music tracks in your library will be deleted.

What can I use instead of iTunes? ›

Best iTunes Alternatives You Should Use in 2022
  • Which iTunes Alternatives Should You Choose?
  • WALTR PRO.
  • MusicBee.
  • Vox: MP3 & FLAC Music Player.
  • WinX MediaTrans.
  • DearMob iPhone Manager.
  • Musique.
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What is the difference between iTunes library and music library? ›

The iTunes Library file is only used by iTunes. iTunes Music Library. xml file contains some (but not all) of the same information stored in the iTunes Library file. The purpose of the iTunes Music Library.

Is Apple and iTunes the same account? ›

Your iTunes login is an Apple ID, as is the login you use for these forums. They have to be the same as each other, or the login for your iCloud account if you have one - it's perfectly possible to have different Apple IDs for each one.

Will I lose my music if I uninstall and reinstall iTunes? ›

Media that you buy from the iTunes Store or songs that you import from CDs are saved in your My Music folder by default. They won't be deleted when you remove iTunes.

Why do I have to pay for Apple Music? ›

Apple Music is all about streaming. You pay a flat fee to unlock access to Apple Music's entire catalog, but you don't actually own the music you listen to. The files don't live individually on your devices; you're instead just listening to tracks stored remotely, that are owned by Apple.

Can you use iTunes without paying? ›

If you're not a subscriber, you can use Music to listen to music synced to iPhone from a Mac or a Windows PC, play and download previous iTunes Store purchases, and listen to Apple Music radio for free.

Should I keep Apple Music or Spotify? ›

Spotify definitely comes out on top in most categories, but if you have a lot of local files in your library or want to listen in Dolby Atmos or Lossless audio quality, Apple Music is still the better option for you.

Does iTunes still exist in 2022? ›

Today, iTunes as an app still exists on Windows devices and older Mac operating systems, still combining podcasts, videos, audiobooks and device management.

Can I access my old iTunes music? ›

You can access your library any time you're connected to the internet, or even offline, if you've downloaded your music. Your music library can keep the following available in the cloud: Up to 100,000 songs, not including songs (or music videos) purchased from the iTunes Store; files can be no larger than 200 MB.

How do I get my old songs back on Apple Music after not renewing it for long? ›

When you resubscribe you will need to download your music again as iCloud Music Library is disabled when your Apple Music subscription is cancelled. "If you have content downloaded to your device, it deletes from your device when you turn off iCloud Music Library.

Why have songs disappeared from my iTunes? ›

If you can't find a song on your device that you once purchased from the iTunes Store, it may have been deleted and you may need to redownload it from the store. iTunes lets you re-download your purchases for free and the following is how you can do it.

What's the difference between iTunes and Apple Music? ›

iTunes includes everything music, movies, TV Shows, podcasts, apps, ringtones, and more. Apple Music is a music and video streaming service. Music can be synced between Apple devices and computer. Music cannot be synced to Apple devices such as iPod Shuffle, iPod Nano, iPad, iPhone, etc.

Does Apple ditch iTunes? ›

As macOS Catalina rolls out beginning this week, iTunes will be replaced by three separate apps: Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and Apple TV.

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