S2M Explains: What Is iTunes Match & How You Set It Up.
iTunes Match is a member of Apple’s iCloud suite of services, with which you can download your entire music collection from your Mac or Windows PC to your iCloud Music Library. You can then access or share your music on any compatible device with sync library enabled using the same Apple ID.
While it doesn’t get as much attention as Apple Music, you can use it if you subscribe to Spotify or another service but want to access your music from anywhere or just don’t want to pay for the service.
iTunes Match works with iTunes 10.5.2 or later and requires a paid annual subscription that automatically renews every year unless canceled.
However, you can get all of its benefits if you have an Apple Music membership, as well as access to the full Apple Music catalog and family memberships to share with family members.
What is iTunes Match and how it works
iTunes Match backs up your entire music collection to your iTunes library, whether you ripped it off CD, bought it from the iTunes Store, or got it from another online source.
It then compares every song in your music library against the millions of tunes in Apple’s library and determines if there is a match in the iTunes Store, so you don’t have to upload anything from your computer to the cloud.
For each match it finds, the version found in the iTunes Store is flagged for inclusion in your library, which usually has a higher fidelity than yours as they are stored as 256Kbps AAC files.
One of the downsides is that you won’t be able to play the matching songs if you unsubscribe from Apple Music because they are blocked from downloading.
Songs without matches are loaded, but with size restrictions. However, you still keep the original music file that you used for matching. Alternatively, you can create a backup and delete it completely, then download or transfer a version from the iTunes Store to your devices.
Apple Music and iTunes Match are related, but there are some functional differences between them, but many people pair them up to have unlimited access to all their favorite music and their Apple Music library.
How to set up iTunes Match
iTunes Match works with your computer’s music library, so update to the latest macOS or the latest iTunes for Windows before signing up for iTunes Match.
After you sign up, follow these steps to set up iTunes Match and start downloading or streaming DRM-free songs on compatible devices.
Set up iTunes Match on your Windows PC
- Open iTunes on your Windows PC.
- In the toolbar, check to see if the Music drop-down menu is highlighted. Click Store.
- Scroll down to the bottom section, find “Features” and click iTunes Match.
- Click Subscribe.
- Enter your Apple ID and password, then click Subscribe again to confirm the action.
- Accept Apple’s terms of service and then allow iTunes to scan for song matches and download unmatched music files. When the scan is complete, click Finish.
Set up iTunes Match on Mac
- Open Apple Music on your Mac. Click iTunes Store in the sidebar.
- Scroll down to the Features section and click iTunes Match.
- Click the blue Subscribe button, sign in with your Apple ID and password, and verify your billing information.
- Click Subscribe again to confirm the action.
Note. If your computer is disconnected from the Internet while iTunes Match is downloading your music, the service will be paused and resume where it left off the next time you open iTunes or Apple Music.
- Turn on library sync across all your devices to access songs using the same Apple ID. iTunes Match may take a while to load your music collection from your computer, so if the music doesn’t appear on other devices right away, please try again later.
A small cloud icon with a down arrow will appear next to songs that can be downloaded from iCloud. If there is no icon, the song is already in your library.
How to Add Music to iTunes Match
You can add up to 100,000 songs using iTunes Match to your iCloud Music Library in three different ways:
- Purchase from the iTunes Store, which automatically becomes part of your music library. Any songs purchased or matched by the iTunes Store are updated to DRM-free files, after which they are converted to a compatible format and uploaded to your iCloud library.
- Match the music in your iTunes library. to what’s available in the iCloud Library.
- Upload songs in AAC MP3 formats to iCloud so you can play them on any compatible device with iTunes Match enabled.
Note. ITunes Match works with iTunes (Mac or Windows) and the iOS Music app.
How to cancel iTunes Match subscription
Before canceling your iTunes Match account and subscription, please back up your music collection before making changes to ensure it’s safe.
- You can cancel whenever you want. Just go to the list of subscriptions, find iTunes Match, and click Change.
- Click “Unsubscribe” in the new window.
- Press the blue Confirm button to confirm your action.
You will notice that your active iTunes Match subscription will have an expiration date instead of a renewal date.
The subscription will be valid until the end of this year. Your music collection in iCloud Music, as well as collections purchased from the iTunes Store, downloaded or linked from your computer, remain intact.
You cannot stream, download or add new music without re-subscribing.
Does iTunes Match have limits?
Yes, iTunes Match limits you to 100,000 songs, but it also limits downloads of songs longer than 2 hours or more than 200 MB to your iCloud Music library. Also, if you want to play DRM-enabled songs, you’ll need a computer that has permission to do so in order for the songs to be downloaded.
Plus, you can share your music across 10 devices in your iTunes Match account.
Is it necessary to have a compatible iTunes when you have Apple Music?
No, you don’t need an iTunes Match subscription if you have Apple Music, because the latter includes iTunes Match, so you will be charged for one subscription and use both services. You don’t need a separate one for iTunes Match.
However, you still need to back up your music collection as these are not backup services.
If, on the other hand, you don’t need Apple Music, you can cancel your subscription and still use iTunes Match by signing up for it or renewing your subscription at any time if you already had one.