If you notice a small cloud symbol next to songs, albums, or playlists in your Apple Music library, it means that content is not downloaded and available for offline playback. The cloud icon indicates that the music is only available for streaming while you have an internet connection.
What does the cloud icon mean in Apple Music?
The cloud icon in Apple Music signifies that the music content has not been downloaded to your device’s storage and is only available to stream. Apple Music automatically makes some recommendations and popular playlists available for streaming. Still, it does not download your full music library to save storage space on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, etc.
When you see the cloud symbol next to a song, album, artist, or playlist, it means that content will require an internet connection to stream. If you tap on the cloud icon, you will see an option to download the music so you can listen offline when you don’t have an internet connection, like when traveling on a plane.
Why is some of my music showing the cloud icon?
There are a few common reasons why you may see the cloud icon next to some of your Apple Music content:
- You have not downloaded the music for offline playback. Apple Music does not automatically download all your library content.
- The content is a Apple Music recommendation or playlist, which requires streaming.
- Your iCloud Music Library is enabled, so your full library is accessible but not all downloaded.
- You reached your download limit for the number of songs/albums saved offline.
Essentially the cloud icon indicates that the music is not physically stored on your device. To save storage space, Apple Music avoids downloading your entire library and instead makes some recommendations and playlists readily available to stream. The rest of your library can be downloaded for offline playback as needed.
How do I download music to remove the cloud icon?
It’s easy to download music in Apple Music to remove the cloud icon and make songs, albums, and playlists available for offline playback:
- Find the content you want to download in your Library tab.
- Tap the cloud download icon next to the song, album, artist, or playlist.
- Select Download. This will begin saving the music to your device’s storage.
Downloaded content will show a checkmark icon rather than a cloud icon. You can see your full list of downloaded music in the Downloads section of the Library tab.
How much music can I download offline?
Apple Music members can download up to 100,000 songs for offline playback. The exact limit may vary based on your subscription plan and device storage capacity.
Some key factors for offline download limits include:
- Individual plan – Download up to 10,000 songs per device.
- Family plan – Download up to 100,000 songs per account.
- Student plan – Download up to 100,000 songs per account.
- Device storage – Older devices have less storage for saving songs.
You’ll get a notification when trying to download music beyond your limit. You can manage your storage by removing downloads or upgrading your iCloud storage if needed.
Why can’t I download certain songs or albums?
In some cases, you may see the cloud icon next to songs or albums in your library but not have the option to download for offline playback. There are a couple reasons this can happen:
- The content is not available for download due to licensing restrictions. Some albums or tracks are stream-only.
- You have exceeded your offline download limit, so that content cannot be downloaded.
- The song is a Apple Music radio track that cannot be downloaded.
- Your Apple Music subscription expired, so downloads are disabled.
If you think download restrictions are a mistake, you can contact Apple Music support for help troubleshooting your offline playback and download issues.
Should I download my entire Apple Music library?
It’s not necessary or ideal to download your full Apple Music library for offline playback. Here are some things to consider:
- Storage space – Downloading all songs fills up device storage quickly.
- Data costs – Large libraries use cellular data when downloading.
- Offline limits – Most plans limit how many songs can be downloaded.
- Changing tastes – You may not listen to all downloaded music later.
Instead of downloading everything, be selective in choosing your most listened to playlists, favorite albums, go-to artists, and other music you want ready for offline playback. Remove downloads you no longer need over time to manage storage.
How do I remove music downloads to free up space?
If you want to remove downloads to free up storage space on your device, you can easily delete saved music in Apple Music:
- Go to Library > Downloads to see your full list of downloaded content.
- Tap Edit.
- Tap the delete X icon next to content you want to remove from device storage.
- Tap Remove Download to confirm.
This will keep the music in your Apple Music library but remove the downloaded copy from your device. The cloud icon will reappear next to any songs, albums, or playlists you delete.
What music do I keep downloaded?
To make the most of your offline download limit in Apple Music, here are some tips for managing which music to keep saved for offline playback:
- Favorite playlists – Keep top playlists downloaded for offline lists.
- Recent albums – Download the latest albums you’re listening to regularly.
- Go-to artists – Save music from your top artists for offline access.
- Upcoming trips – Download playlists or albums for flights or upcoming travel.
- Old favorites – Keep classic songs and albums ready for nostalgic listening.
Review your Downloads section periodically and remove anything you don’t need offline anymore to free up space and stay within your download limits.
Is streamed music quality worse?
With Apple Music, there is no difference in audio quality between downloading songs for offline playback vs. streaming online. The bitrate and quality remains the same.
When streaming over a cellular connection, lower bandwidth could occasionally impact buffering. But overall streaming quality is comparable to playing downloaded songs stored locally on your device.
So you don’t need to download everything solely for audio quality purposes. Consider downloading based on when you need offline access, not for sound improvements.
Do song downloads expire?
Once you download a song, album or playlist in Apple Music, that content remains in your device storage unless you manually delete it. Downloads do not expire after a certain time period.
However, there are some scenarios where downloads may need to be renewed:
- Getting a new device – Downloads do not transfer automatically.
- Subscription lapses – Resuming your subscription requires re-downloading.
- Switching streaming services – Downloads do not carry over if you cancel Apple Music.
As long as you keep your Apple Music subscription active and stay logged into your account, any song downloads you make remain available for offline playback indefinitely and do not expire.
Do I lose my downloads if I cancel Apple Music?
If you end your Apple Music subscription, you will lose access to download and play any music saved for offline playback. Canceling does the following:
- Stops ability to download additional songs
- Removes already downloaded songs from your device storage
- Stops ability to play downloaded songs offline
Essentially all your Apple Music content including playlists and libraries will be unavailable. To keep downloads, you would need to maintain an active subscription.
What happens to downloads when switching devices?
Your Apple Music downloads are device specific, so any songs, albums or playlists downloaded for offline playback will not automatically transfer when you switch to a new iPhone, iPad, Mac, etc.
To move your downloads and maintain offline access when getting a new device, you need to use the Apple Music app’s Transfer Playback feature. This will transfer your Apple Music content and data to another device signed into your Apple ID.
How to transfer Apple Music downloads between devices:
- On your new device, open the Apple Music app and sign in with your Apple ID.
- On your old device, go to Settings > General > Transfer Playback.
- A code will appear. Enter the code on your new device to connect it.
- Tap Transfer to begin moving your Apple Music content and data.
- Downloads along with playlists, preferences and other data will copy over.
Once complete, your new device will have your downloads ready for offline listening. You can then delete the content from your old device if you want.
Seeing that cloud icon next to songs in your Apple Music library simply indicates that content has not been downloaded for offline playback. While streaming music is fine in most cases, downloading your favorite playlists, albums, and artists allows you to listen offline while traveling or without an internet connection.
Be selective in choosing what to download based on your listening habits and be sure to delete old downloads over time to efficiently manage your device storage. With smart download management, you can enjoy seamless access to music whether online or off.