With music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, many people don’t store music locally on their phones anymore. However, if you have an iPhone and use iTunes to manage your music library, you may want to delete songs from your phone to free up storage space while still keeping them in your iTunes library on your computer.
Yes, you can delete music from your iPhone while keeping it in your iTunes library on your computer. When you sync your iPhone to iTunes after deleting music from the phone, the songs will be copied back onto your iPhone from your iTunes library.
Can I delete music from my iPhone and keep it in iTunes?
Yes, you can delete music stored locally on your iPhone and keep it in your iTunes library on your computer. Here is how it works:
- The music stored on your iPhone is just a copy of songs from your iTunes library. Your actual music library lives in iTunes on your computer.
- When you delete a song from your iPhone, it is simply removing the local copy of that song from your phone’s storage. The original version remains safely in your iTunes library.
- The next time you connect your iPhone to iTunes and sync, the songs you deleted from your phone will be copied back over from your iTunes library to your phone.
So deleting music from your iPhone does not mean losing it from your iTunes library. You are simply freeing up storage space on your phone while retaining the songs in your overall iTunes collection.
How to delete music from iPhone but keep it in iTunes
Follow these steps to remove music from your iPhone while keeping it in your iTunes library:
- Connect your iPhone to your computer and open iTunes. Connect the phone using the USB cable and launch iTunes on your computer.
- Select your iPhone in iTunes. Look for the little phone icon at the top left to find your iPhone. Click on it.
- Go to the Music section. On the left sidebar, click on Music to show all the songs synced to your phone.
- Select the songs to delete. Ctrl-click on PC or Command-click on Mac to select multiple songs. You can also click Edit > Select All to choose all songs.
- Right-click on the songs and select Delete. This will delete the songs only from your iPhone, not iTunes.
- Sync your phone. Click the Sync or Apply button in iTunes to save the changes.
The selected songs are now deleted from your iPhone, but remain safely in your iTunes library on your computer. The next time you sync your phone, iTunes will copy those songs back to your phone from your library.
What happens when you delete music from iPhone?
Here is a more detailed look at what happens when you delete music from your iPhone:
- You select songs on your iPhone and delete them (either individually or by selecting multiple songs).
- This removes the local copied version of those songs from the storage on your iPhone.
- The songs are not deleted from your master iTunes library on your computer.
- When you next sync your iPhone, iTunes looks at the phone and sees those songs are missing.
- iTunes then copies those songs back to your iPhone from your iTunes library to match what is in the library.
So in essence, deleting music from your iPhone just temporarily removes local copies of songs until the next sync, when iTunes will restore your phone’s music to match your library.
Will deleted music be restored from iCloud?
If you have iCloud Music Library enabled, deleting music from your iPhone does not remove it from iCloud either. So those deleted songs would also be restored from iCloud on your next sync.
With iCloud Music Library, your music is safely stored in the cloud. Deleting local copies from your devices does not affect the master library in iCloud.
What about Apple Music songs?
Songs you have downloaded from your Apple Music subscription work the same way. When you delete downloaded Apple Music songs from your iPhone, they are removed from local storage but remain available to download again from your Apple Music library in the cloud.
Can I see music I deleted from my iPhone in iTunes?
When looking at your iPhone’s music in iTunes, you will no longer see the songs you deleted from the phone. But don’t worry, they are still in your iTunes library.
To view your full iTunes music collection in iTunes:
- Click on Library in the top left navigation bar.
- Select Music to see all your songs.
This will show your entire iTunes music library, including any songs no longer synced to your iPhone.
What happens if I delete music in iTunes?
If you permanently delete songs from your iTunes library on your computer, they will of course no longer be available to sync to your iPhone.
To delete music from your iTunes library:
- Go to Library > Music in iTunes to see your full collection.
- Select the songs you want to delete.
- Press the Delete or Backspace key on your keyboard.
This will permanently remove those songs from iTunes. They will no longer be available on any device you sync to that library.
Tips for managing iPhone and iTunes storage
Here are some tips for freeing up storage space on your iPhone and computer by better managing your music between devices:
- Delete old music from iPhone first. If you have songs you haven’t listened to in a while on your phone, delete them first to free up space.
- Use iTunes Match. This stores your library in the cloud so you can listen without taking up local space.
- Turn on iCloud Music Library. This gives you online access to your library to stream songs on demand.
- Delete unused songs in iTunes. Deleting old songs you don’t listen to can free up computer storage.
- Use Apple Music. Streaming music takes up no local storage space on your devices.
Deleting music from your iPhone does not remove it permanently from your iTunes library. Those songs remain in iTunes on your computer and can be transferred back on your next sync. So feel free to delete music from your iPhone to manage storage, while retaining your full music collection in iTunes.