Can you find old Apple Music playlists?

Quick Answer

Yes, it is possible to find and recover old Apple Music playlists that you may have deleted or lost access to over time. Apple provides a few different options for recovering old playlists:

  • Check your Recently Deleted Playlists – Playlists are held here for 30 days after deletion
  • Restore from an iTunes or Apple Music backup – Playlists can potentially be retrieved from backups
  • Use playlist recovery software – Third party apps may be able to find residual playlist data not accessible through Apple

With the proper tools and backup availability, you have a good chance of being able to recover an old playlist that you thought was gone forever.

Can you recover recently deleted Apple Music playlists?

If you have recently deleted an Apple Music playlist, you may be able to find and recover it through Apple’s Recently Deleted Playlist feature.

When you delete a playlist using Apple Music, the playlist is not immediately erased. Instead, it is moved into a Recently Deleted Playlists container that preserves playlists for up to 30 days after deletion.

To access Recently Deleted Playlists and find your lost playlist:

  1. Open the Music app on your iPhone, iPad or Mac
  2. Tap or click on the “Library” tab
  3. Scroll down and select “Recently Deleted Playlists”
  4. You will see a list of any playlists you have deleted within the last 30 days
  5. Tap on the playlist you wish to recover
  6. Tap or click “Recover Playlist” to restore it

Playlists stored in Recently Deleted Playlists remain there for 30 days after the initial deletion. After that point, the playlist data is permanently erased and can no longer be recovered using this method.

So if you act quickly enough after accidentally deleting a playlist, you have a good chance to find and restore it from the Recently Deleted section. But after 30 days have passed, you’ll need to use other recovery options.

Can you recover old Apple Music playlists from backup?

If your deleted or lost Apple Music playlist is more than 30 days old, you won’t be able to find it using the Recently Deleted method. However, you may still be able to recover old Apple Music playlists by restoring playlists from an iTunes or Apple Music backup.

Here are the steps to recover lost Apple Music playlists from a backup:

  1. First, check to make sure you have a recent backup of your Apple Music library or iTunes library where the missing playlist was originally stored. Backups may exist on your computer, external hard drive, or iCloud account.
  2. Restore your iTunes or Apple Music library from the backup. On a Mac, you can use iTunes’ Preferences > Devices menu to restore from a backup. On Windows, use iTunes’ File > Devices > Restore from Backup menu. For iCloud backups, restore from Settings > Your Name > iCloud > Manage Storage > Restore Data.
  3. Once your library is restored from the backup, open your Music app and go to your library. Check the list of playlists to see if the missing playlist has reappeared.

The effectiveness of this method depends on having an up-to-date backup that contains the lost playlist data. If you regularly backup your Apple Music or iTunes library, there is a good chance your lost playlist can be found in one of those backups.

Can third-party software recover old Apple playlists?

If you don’t have access to a backup containing your lost Apple Music playlist, your last option is to try using third-party Apple Music recovery software.

Here are some of the top playlist recovery apps to consider:

  • iMyFone TunesMate: Scans your iPhone or iTunes backup for residual playlist data and can rebuild lost playlists.
  • Fonelab: Extracts iTunes backup data to recover deleted Apple Music playlists.
  • iSkysoft Toolbox: Claims to recover playlists lost due to accidental deletion, device damage or other issues.
  • Jihosoft 4uKey: Specifically designed to recover iTunes playlists and has various scanning tools.

These apps work by scanning for playlist residuals and metadata that may still exist even if the playlist itself is not visible. The recovery process involves:

  1. Installing and opening the playlist recovery app on your computer.
  2. Following the app’s guidance to scan your iPhone or iTunes backup for recoverable playlist data.
  3. Previewing the playlists found by the app and selecting those you wish to recover.
  4. Saving the recovered playlists back into your Apple Music library.

Playlist recovery software provides one last option to salvage your playlist if all else fails. However, no method is guaranteed to work if the playlist metadata has been completely erased from your devices and backups.

Can you recover Apple Music playlists without backups or software?

Unfortunately, without access to an iTunes/Apple Music backup or third-party software, there are very limited options for recovering a lost Apple Music playlist.

Some steps you can try without backups include:

  • Checking iCloud – If you have iCloud Music Library enabled, some playlist data may be found in the cloud.
  • Browsing Recently Added – Look for tracks you added around the time of creating the playlist.
  • Searching History – The Apple Music and iTunes apps keep limited playback history that may reference the playlist.
  • Asking Friends – If you shared the playlist, friends who still follow it could share it back to you.

However, these steps are a long shot and you are not likely to recreate an entire lost playlist using them. Some key limitations:

  • iCloud only keeps limited recent data and tends to sync with your erased local library.
  • Your Apple Music history only goes back a few weeks or months at most.
  • Friends can only share back the songs they have downloaded, not necessarily the full playlist.

So without backups or playlist recovery apps, your options are very limited. That’s why it’s crucial to regularly backup your Apple Music library and be ready to use playlist recovery software if needed when playlists go missing.

Can you recover playlists created by other Apple Music users?

If you have lost access to a playlist that was shared with you by another Apple Music user, the options for recovery are also limited.

Some potential ways to get the playlist back include:

  • Asking the original playlist creator to share it with you again
  • Checking your email or messages for the original playlist share link
  • Looking for downloads or backups of the playlist on your devices
  • Using recovery software to extract residual playlist data from your library

However, you won’t be able to use Apple’s Recently Deleted feature or access backups made by the other user. Your only way to fully restore the playlist is to get the original owner to send it to you again.

Otherwise, you may be able to restore portions of the playlist by digging through your library data for any traces that remain. But there is no guaranteed method for recovering a playlist shared by someone else unless you can get them to re-share it.

How can you prevent losing Apple Music playlists in the future?

While it may be possible to recover lost Apple Music playlists in some cases, the best strategy is to avoid losing playlists in the first place by taking preventative measures.

Here are some tips to keep your Apple Music playlists safe:

  • Turn on iCloud Music Library syncing – Keep your playlists up to date across devices automatically.
  • Backup your library regularly – Backup to iTunes on your computer or use iCloud backups.
  • Avoid mass deletions – Delete playlists selectively rather than clearing your entire library.
  • Share key playlists with friends – They can share it back if you lose it.
  • Archive important playlists – Keep a manual backup or export of special playlists.

The safest approach is redundancy. Make sure playlists are backed up in multiple places both through Apple’s tools like iCloud and your own manual backups.

You can never completely prevent human error resulting in accidental playlist deletion. But having backups and archives can enable you to swiftly recover from any losses.


While losing access to your Apple Music playlists can be frustrating, in most cases it is possible to get them back. As long as you act quickly after a deletion or have an archived backup, you can use Apple’s built-in tools or third-party software to recover lost playlists and get your music library back to normal.

Consistency is key – regularly backup your Apple Music library and playlists using multiple methods. Turn on all available syncing and digital storage options. And be ready to employ playlist recovery software when needed if you don’t have backups available.

With the right tools and preventative habits, you can minimize permanent losses of important Apple Music playlists. Be vigilant about backing up your music library and keeping your playlists synced across devices. Then you can relax knowing your playlists are not at serious risk of being lost forever.