What happens if I delete a playlist on Apple Music?

A playlist on Apple Music is a customized collection of songs that you can create and organize. Playlists allow you to group songs together based on genre, mood, activity, or anything else you want. When you delete a playlist on Apple Music, the songs themselves remain in your library. Deleting a playlist only removes the playlist structure, not the music it contained. In this article, we’ll cover exactly what happens when you delete a playlist on Apple Music.

Playlist Data Remains

When a playlist is deleted on Apple Music, the playlist itself and all of its associated data are removed, including the playlist name, description, song order, and which songs were in the playlist. However, deleting a playlist does not delete or remove the songs that were contained within the playlist from your Apple Music library. The songs themselves remain safely in your library and can be added to new playlists or accessed like normal.

In essence, deleting a playlist removes the “container” of the playlist but the contents inside – the songs – stay put in your overall Apple Music collection. So you don’t have to worry about accidentally losing your songs or music when getting rid of an old playlist.

Apple Music playlists are similar to creating a folder on your computer. If you delete the folder (playlist), the files (songs) inside aren’t deleted – they remain accessible elsewhere on your device. Only the organizational structure of the folder (playlist order, name, description) is removed when deleting the playlist.

Recently Deleted Playlist

When you delete a playlist on Apple Music, it doesn’t get permanently erased right away. The playlist actually gets moved to the Recently Deleted Playlist section where it stays for 30 days before being permanently deleted [1]. This gives you a grace period to recover your playlist if you accidentally deleted it or changed your mind.

To access your Recently Deleted Playlist, open the Playlists tab in Apple Music and scroll down. You’ll see a section called Recently Deleted with your deleted playlists. Simply tap on the playlist to restore it back to your library.

Keep in mind the 30 day timer starts as soon as you delete the playlist. So if you want to recover it, be sure to check Sooner rather than later. After 30 days, the playlist will be gone for good.

Play Counts Reset

When you delete a playlist in Apple Music, the play counts for the songs in that playlist are not deleted. The songs will retain their current play count totals even though the playlist itself is gone. However, note that if you re-add the deleted songs back into a new playlist, their play counts will be reset to 0 according to users on Apple’s forums and Reddit. So deleting a playlist does not directly reset song play counts, but adding the songs into a new playlist later will cause the count to start over.

Playlists Shared With Others

When you delete a playlist you’ve previously shared with others on Apple Music, it is removed from their libraries as well. The playlist will disappear from their account, even if they had added it to their own playlists or downloaded it.

As noted on Apple’s discussion forums, “If you shared a playlist with a friend and they saved it to their device, the playlist disappears. Your library and playlists don’t change.”[1] So once you delete a shared playlist, it is no longer accessible to anyone you had previously shared it with.

The only way for others to retain the playlist is if they had made a copy of it in their own account before you deleted it. But the original shared playlist itself will be removed from all libraries when you delete it.

Recommendations Unaffected

Deleting a playlist on Apple Music does not affect the service’s recommendations for you. Apple Music’s algorithm looks at your full listening history and preferences to suggest music, not just specific playlists you may have created. As explained on Apple’s support site, “Apple Music recommends music based on what you already listen to and like, not just the artists and songs in any given playlist” (source).

So if you delete a playlist, even one with many songs or listens, it will not reset or change the personalized recommendations you see in Apple Music. Those suggestions are based on your overall taste profile and total listening behavior, not any one playlist. You can continue enjoying personalized music recommendations after deleting a playlist.

Recovering Playlists

If you accidentally delete a playlist on Apple Music, you may be able to recover it from Recently Deleted before 30 days pass. Apple Music stores deleted playlists in Recently Deleted for up to 30 days before permanently removing them.

To recover a deleted playlist on iPhone or iPad:

  1. Open the Apple Music app and tap on the Library tab.
  2. Scroll down and tap on Recently Deleted.
  3. Find the playlist you want to recover.
  4. Tap on the 3 dots next to the playlist and select Recover.

The recovered playlist will reappear in your library. This allows you to undo accidental playlist deletions within 30 days. However, once 30 days have passed, the playlist will be permanently deleted from Recently Deleted and irrecoverable according to Apple (source).

Permanently Deleting

When you delete a playlist on Apple Music, it is moved to the Recently Deleted section and remains there for 30 days before being permanently deleted. After 30 days have passed, the playlist is irrecoverable and cannot be restored.

Playlists that are in the Recently Deleted section can be recovered during the 30 day window by opening Recently Deleted and tapping on the playlist to restore it. However, once the 30 day period has elapsed, the playlist is gone for good.

So if you accidentally delete a playlist you want to keep, make sure to recover it from Recently Deleted within 30 days. Otherwise, there is no way to get back a playlist after it has been permanently deleted from Apple Music.

Creating Backups

It’s always a good idea to create backups of your Apple Music library and playlists in case you want to restore anything later. There are a few ways to do this:

On a Mac, you can use the Export Playlist feature in Music. Select a playlist, go to File > Library > Export Playlist, choose a location to save the file, and click Save. This will export the playlist as an XML file that can be imported back into Apple Music if needed. You can also back up your entire Apple Music library by finding the Music folder under Users > Your Name > Music and copying it to an external drive.[1]

On Windows, use the Export Playlist option in iTunes. Select the playlist, go to File > Library > Export Playlist, pick a save location, and click Save. To back up everything, find your iTunes media folder (usually under My Music or Music) and copy it to external storage.[2]

You can also manually copy playlist and music files to another location as a backup. Some users recommend regularly backing up the entire Music folder that contains your Apple Music library as a form of protection.[3]


Here’s a recap of the key points on what happens when you delete a playlist on Apple Music:

  • The playlist itself is removed from your library, but the songs in the playlist remain in your Apple Music catalog.
  • Recently deleted playlists can be recovered for up to 30 days after deletion.
  • Play counts for the songs that were in the deleted playlist are reset to 0.
  • Shared and public playlists are removed for everyone.
  • Apple Music’s recommendations are unaffected by playlist deletion.
  • You can recover playlists from a backup or by re-adding the songs.
  • After 30 days, playlists are permanently deleted from Recently Deleted.

In summary, deleting a playlist removes it from view, but does not delete the songs or your Apple Music account data. You have options to recover or recreate playlists if needed.