8 Ways to Sync Music from Mac to iPhone and iPad

Syncing music between iPhone/iPad and Mac is straightforward. With macOS Catalina, Apple removed iTunes, and thus we use Finder to sync music from Mac to iPhone. The process stays easy and fast.

If you are an Apple Music subscriber and have the same Apple ID on your Mac and iPhone, then you do not have to do anything. All your songs, playlists, ratings, etc. are automatically synced to all your Apple devices. The same happens if you are an iTunes Match subscriber.

Note: The tutorial below is for iPhone users who do not use Apple Music. And if you are an Apple Music subscriber, follow the methods only after turning off the option to Sync Library in Apple Music.

We have focused this post entirely on Mac running macOS Catalina. If you are using a prior version of macOS or using Windows, the steps are the same; just that instead of Finder you have to use iTunes.

How to Sync Music from Mac to iPhone or iPad

  1. Unlock your iPhone/iPad and connect it to Mac using a cable
  2. Launch Finder from the Dock and click on your device from the left sidebar. If Finder asks Trust, click on that, and then see your iPhone and input the phone’s password.Open Finder and Click on Device Name on Mac
  3. Click on Music tab and tick the box for Sync music onto [your iPhone name.]Click on Music Tab and Select Sync Music onto iPhone
  • Here you may see a pop-up that says ‘Are you sure you want to remove existing music, films, TV shows and books from this iPhone and sync with this library.’ If you would like to remove them from the iPhone and sync media with the current Mac, click Remove & Sync. .
  • Now you have two options: Sync entire music Library or Sync selected artists, albums, genres and playlists. Choose the one according to the size of your music library and space available on your iPhone/iPad
  • If you choose selected artists, albums, genres and playlists, then you will have to further select them from the box below. You may also choose to include videos if you have, and automatically fill free space on your device with songs. I used to use the latter option, back in the day, when I had an iPod Shuffle.
  1. Click on Apply from the bottom right. You can see the transfer status in the left sidebar next to your iPhone name.Choose Option and Click on Apply on Mac
  1. Once music sync is complete, click on the eject button from the left sidebar.Click on Eject to Remove iPhone from Mac

Remove Existing Music, Films, TV shows and Books from iPhone Sync with Library

At one time, an iOS or iPadOS device, be it iPhone, iPad Touch, or iPad can be synced with only one Finder/iTunes.

So, if you have previously synced your device to some other Mac/PC, then it asks for your permission to remove those content and sync your iPhone/iPad with media from the current Mac. This pop-up also appears if you are using the same Mac but earlier used manual management of music. (explained below)

If you click on Remove & Sync, your existing music, films, TV programs and books are removed, and what you choose to sync is transferred to your device.Click on Remove and Sync to Delete Existing Files and Sync New Files with Mac

Please note that this does not delete any photo or video from your Photos app. Also, your other apps and app data are not affected by it.

One solution to save your existing music is to follow our guide on how to transfer music from iPhone to Computer without iTunes. Once you have the existing iPhone songs on your Mac, you can open them in the Music app and then sync everything together.

How to Manually Sync Songs from Mac to iPhone

  1. Connect your iPhone/iPad to your Mac running macOS Catalina
  2. Open Finder and select your device from the left sidebar.Open Finder and Click on Device Name on Mac
  3. Under Options: check the box for Manually manage music, films and TV programs.
  4. Click on Apply.Select Manually manage music, films and TV shows and Click Apply on Mac
  5. Now from the top menu bar, click on FileNew Finder Window.Click on File from Top Menubar and Select New Finder Window on Mac

Locate where songs are saved on your Mac. You may use the search bar, or open Spotlight Search, type .mp3, and click on Show all in Finder.

  1. Drag the two windows (one where your song is and another that has your iPhone) and place them side by side. If needed, place your mouse pointer to one of the corners of the window and decrease the size. You may also enable Split Screen
  2. Now drag music file(s) from one window to anywhere inside the General.Drag Music Files and Drop it in General Tab on Mac

Sync Songs from Mac to iPhone using Music App

For this to work make sure you have enabled Manually manage music, films and TV shows from the Finder. (Steps explained above.)

  1. Open Music app on your Mac and select your connected iPhone from the left sidebar.Click on iPhone from Left Sidebar on Mac
  2. Now drag the song from Finder to your iPhone.Drag Music Files from Finder to iPhone

How to Sync Music from Mac to iPhone Wirelessly

Connect your iPhone to Mac using the appropriate cable. In Finder, select your device and enable Show this iPhone when on Wi-Fi. Finally, click on Apply.

Click on Device and Select Show this iPhone when on Wi-Fi and Then Click on Apply

From now onwards, when your Mac and iPhone are on the same Wi-Fi network, it will appear in Finder.

You can sync Music wirelessly and also perform other sync options. Making a backup of your device is also possible wirelessly. You only will need to connect it using a cable if you wish to update the iOS or restore your device.

How to Sync Music from Mac to iPhone without Cable using iCloud

If you are an Apple Music subscriber or if you use iTunes Match, you can sync all your music from Mac to iPhone automatically via iCloud. It is effortless.

To make sure that Sync Library with Apple Music is turned on, sign in to your Apple devices with the same Apple ID and follow the steps below.

On iPhone: Open Settings app → Music → Turn on Sync Library.

On Mac: Open Music app → click on Music from top bar → Preferences → Turn on Sync Library (your Apple ID.)

Do the same on your other Apple devices. Now, all the music you have added or purchased will sync to all your iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, and macOS devices.

How Do you Sync Music from Mac to iPhone Using Third-Party Apps

If you like to take a different route, you can use third-party applications to copy music from Mac to your iPhone. Two apps we recommend are:

Remove Music from iPhone or iPad

  1. Connect your iPhone via cable or Wi-Fi. Open Finder → click on your iPhone from left sidebar.Open Finder and Click on Device Name on Mac
  2. Now click on the Music tab and the click inside the box that says Sync music onto [your iPhone name.]Click on Music Tab and Select Sync Music onto iPhone
  3. Click on Remove.Click on Remove to Delete Music from iPhone
  4. Finally, click on Apply from the bottom right. All songs will be unsynced/removed from your device.Click on Apply to Unsynced All Songs from iPhone
  • If you have synced selected artists, albums, genres and playlist, you may choose to remove some of the music. For this uncheck the artist, album, genre, or playlist you wish to remove and click on Apply to let the changes take place.Choose Selected Artists, Albums, Genres and Playlist and Click on Apply on Mac
  • If you have manually synced songs, open the Music app on your Mac, click on your iPhone from the left sidebar and click on the song (or select multiple songs by holding the Command () key). Now press the delete key on your keyboard and click on Delete from the small popup.Click on Delete to Remove Sync Songs from Your Device on Mac

That’s all, mate!

Summing up…

These were the easiest ways to transfer music from your Mac running macOS Catalina to iPhone and iPad. Which method are you going to use? Share your thoughts in the comments down below. Before you go, you must also check out our guide on 4 ways to transfer music from Android to iPhone.

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The founder of iGeeksBlog, Dhvanesh, is an Apple aficionado, who cannot stand even a slight innuendo about Apple products. He dons the cap of editor-in-chief to make sure that articles match the quality standard before they are published.