iTunes is Apple’s desktop media management application for organizing and syncing content like music, movies, TV shows and more to Apple devices. When you connect your iPhone to iTunes and enable syncing, it will automatically transfer purchased content from your iTunes library to your device. However, sometimes not all music transfers over when setting up a new iPhone or upgrading to a newer model. There are several common reasons why some songs may get left behind during the sync process.
In this article, we will cover the most frequent causes of music not transferring from iTunes to an iPhone and how to troubleshoot and resolve them. The main culprits tend to be incorrect sync settings, storage space issues, file corruption, software incompatibilities, connection problems, unsigned files, interrupted syncs, mismatched libraries, and manual user errors. By reviewing these potential problems and solutions, you can get your full iTunes music collection onto your iPhone.
Checking iTunes Sync Settings
The most common reason for music not transferring from iTunes to an iPhone is incorrect sync settings in iTunes. To check your sync settings:
Open iTunes and connect your iPhone. Click on your iPhone icon and select the Summary tab. Make sure “Sync Music” is checked. If it’s not checked, check the box to enable syncing your music library.
Underneath “Sync Music” you’ll see options for syncing your Entire music library or Selected playlists, artists, albums, and genres. If you want all of your iTunes music to transfer, choose Entire music library. If you only want to transfer specific music, choose Selected playlists, artists, albums, and genres and check the boxes next to the music you want.
Double check that you don’t have “Sync only checked songs and videos” checked, as this will only sync items that are manually checked. Having the Entire music library or Selected playlists/artists/albums/genres chosen will sync your whole library.
After adjusting your sync settings, try syncing your iPhone again to transfer music from iTunes. Check that “Sync Music” and your desired library selection are still set before each sync to avoid issues.
For more help ensuring your sync settings are configured correctly, see this Apple discussion thread.
Insufficient Storage Space
One common reason for music not transferring from iTunes to a new phone is having insufficient storage space on the new device. The storage capacity of modern smartphones can vary greatly, with entry-level models offering as little as 16GB while high-end phones may have 256GB or more.
According to research, the average iTunes library contains over 7,000 songs . Even after accounting for file compression, that amount of music can easily exceed the storage limits of many phones. Before syncing your iTunes library, check how much free space is available on your new phone under Settings > General > Storage. If there’s not enough room for your entire music collection, you’ll need to select only your favorite songs and playlists to transfer over.
Corrupted or damaged files in your iTunes library can prevent music from properly syncing to your new phone. This can occur if certain songs or files become corrupted due to issues like improper computer shutdowns, software crashes, or file transfer interruptions.
You can check your iTunes library for corrupted files by going to the iTunes folder location on your computer. On Windows, this is usually in C:\Users\Username\Music\iTunes. Browse to the iTunes Media folder and open the Music subfolder. Here you can scan for any files that show up as missing or have a ! symbol.
If you discover corrupted files, you can either delete them or attempt to fix them. Deleting will remove them from your iTunes library so they no longer cause issues. To try repairing, you can right click the file, select Properties, and use the Error Checking button. This may recover playable versions of the files. For more help, see this guide on How to Fix a Corrupted File in iTunes.
After removing problem files, you can sync your iTunes library again to transfer the music that’s still intact over to your new phone.
One potential reason why all of your music didn’t transfer to your new phone could be that you are using an outdated version of iTunes. Older versions of iTunes may not fully support new devices and their syncing capabilities. According to Apple Support, “iTunes 10.6.3 is the last version of iTunes to support Mac computers with Mac OS X 10.5.8 or PowerPC processors.” 1
To resolve this, you will want to update to the latest version of iTunes. For Windows 10 users, you can check for updates in the Microsoft Store. The latest version for Windows is iTunes 12.12. Apple recommends keeping iTunes up-to-date to ensure compatibility with iOS devices and access to the latest features. Updating to the newest version of iTunes may allow full music syncing between your library and new phone. 2
One of the most common reasons for music not syncing properly from iTunes to an iPhone is connection issues between the computer and the phone. There are a few things to check here:
First, make sure there is a proper connection between the computer and the iPhone. Use the cable that came with the phone if possible, and plug it directly into a USB port on the computer rather than through a hub. The connection needs to be stable in order for syncing to work properly.
Try connecting to different USB ports on your computer. Some ports may have issues that prevent proper syncing. If you have another cable available, test using that as well in case the cable is faulty.
If you’re connecting wirelessly rather than via cable, try moving closer to the wireless router and removing obstacles between the devices to improve the connection strength. Restart both devices as well – this can refresh the connection.
Check under iTunes’ Preferences > Devices to make sure syncing over WiFi is enabled if trying to sync wirelessly. Disable and re-enable the setting if needed to reset it.
Finally, go to iTunes > Preferences > Devices and click “Reset Sync History.” Then try syncing again. Resetting can clear out any errors that may be preventing proper syncing.
One potential reason your music didn’t transfer from iTunes to your iPhone is if the files are unsigned or DRM-free. Apple’s proprietary FairPlay DRM is required for songs purchased from the iTunes Store. Songs obtained elsewhere that are unsigned or DRM-free may not sync correctly to iOS devices.
To check if this is the cause, examine the file formats of the music that failed to transfer. Common formats like MP3, AAC, ALAC, and WAV are generally supported. But more obscure and proprietary formats may not work. You can also try re-downloading the files if purchased from iTunes or converting them to a standard format like MP3.
Finally, check that none of the files have DRM restrictions from other vendors like Microsoft or Rhapsody. iTunes will be unable to authorize and transfer these files.
Sometimes a sync can be interrupted before it fully completes. This may happen if the sync is disrupted by an unstable internet connection, the USB cable becomes disconnected, or some other interruption occurs. When a partial sync happens, only some of the music transfers over while the rest remains behind in iTunes.
According to Apple Support discussions, if a sync gets interrupted before it finishes, you’ll need to start over with a fresh sync to get all your music content to transfer. Allow the sync to fully complete without any disruptions to avoid ending up with a partial music library on your device. The full sync should transfer over any missing items from the previous incomplete sync .
It’s a good idea to check for any connection issues first, to ensure sync disruptions don’t occur. Use a high quality USB cable and connect directly to a computer port if possible, rather than through a USB hub. Sync with iTunes closed and no other programs open to avoid resources being diverted. Finally, sync with your device connected to power to prevent it from sleeping and interrupting the transfer.
Incorrect Music Library
One common reason for music not transferring from iTunes to your iPhone is choosing the wrong iTunes library to sync from. Each iTunes library contains its own set of music, playlists, and other content. If you sync your iPhone with the wrong library, it will pull in music and content that doesn’t match what you expect.
To ensure you are syncing from the correct iTunes library:
- Open iTunes and click File > Library > Choose Library. This will display a list of available iTunes libraries on your computer.
- Select the correct library that contains the music you want to transfer to your iPhone.
- Connect your iPhone to your computer and click the iPhone icon when it appears in iTunes.
- Under Music, select “Sync Music” and check the boxes for the playlists, artists, albums or genres you want to transfer.
- Click Apply to sync your iPhone with the selected music from this iTunes library.
If you have multiple iTunes libraries, it’s important to carefully choose the correct one containing your desired music before syncing to avoid transferring the wrong content. Keeping your music organized into a single consolidated library can prevent sync issues caused by incorrect library selection.
Manually syncing your music library from iTunes to your iPhone offers several benefits compared to automatic syncing. As noted in this Apple forum thread, manual syncing gives you more granular control over which songs and playlists transfer to your iPhone. With automatic syncing, your entire iTunes music library may sync to your iPhone, taking up valuable storage space. Manual syncing lets you selectively choose which music to transfer.
Another benefit mentioned on Apple’s support page is that manual syncing prevents accidental deletion of songs. With automatic syncing, any songs deleted from your iTunes library on your computer may also get deleted from your iPhone. With manual syncing, you have to intentionally remove songs from your iPhone separately. This protects your iPhone music library from inadvertent changes to iTunes on your computer.
To manually transfer music from iTunes to your iPhone, first connect your iPhone to your computer using the included USB cable. Open iTunes and click on your iPhone icon. Under the On My Device section, check “Sync Music” and select “Selected playlists, artists, albums, and genres.” Finally, select the specific songs, artists, playlists, or other categories you want to transfer to your iPhone before clicking the Sync button.
Overall, while manual syncing requires more work, it provides you with the most control over your iPhone music library. Automatic syncing is quicker but can unintentionally overwrite your iPhone’s music.