How to manage and optimize downloaded music storage on your iPhone or iPad

By , Oct 11, 2016

iOS 10 Music teaser silver iPhone screenshot 001

Subscribed to Apple Music? If so, you probably download a bunch of songs to your iOS device so you can listen to your favorite tunes on the go, without an Internet connection. Of course, offline music cache takes up your device’s precious storage and some folks forget that they’ve downloaded songs in the first place.

You can, of course, manually remove any offline tracks stored on the device or have iOS limit music storage on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch—just like on the Apple Watch. This tutorial will teach you how to manage music storage on your iOS device, manually delete offline songs, change settings to your liking and more.

About downloading music

You can download any song, album or playlist for offline listening by tapping the cloud icon next to its name in the Music app, but keep in mind that iCloud Music Library must be enabled in Settings → Music → iCloud Music Library.

To see the download progress, tap Library in the tab area alongside the bottom, then choose Downloaded Music → Downloading.

If your iPhone or iPad is low on storage space, why not tell iOS to automatically free up some space by removing any downloaded music that you haven’t played in a while?

How to optimize music storage on iOS

1) Go to Settings → Music → Optimize Storage.

2) Now choose a minimum amount of storage on your device that you want to dedicate to storing downloaded music files for offline listening.

iOS 10 optimize music storage iPhone screenshot 002

Dedicating a minimum of four gigabytes of storage lets you keep about 800 high-quality offline tracks on the device. By comparison, 32 gigabytes of dedicated music storage lets you keep about 6,400 downloaded songs on the device.

The lower minimum storage you choose, the more usable storage space you will have for apps, photos and other things. If you’d rather iOS use whatever amount of storage space is available for keeping offline music, choose None instead.

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To prevent iOS from automatically managing your music storage and removing downloaded tracks as needed, slide the Optimize Storage switch to the OFF position.

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With the feature disabled, you’ll need to manually delete any downloaded music when your iPhone or iPad is low on space.

Manually deleting music

To delete a downloaded song, album, playlist or music video from the device, tap it in the Music app and hit Remove, then select Remove Downloads.

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On 3D Touch devices, simply press a song or album, then select the Remove option. Any removed offline songs remain in your iCloud Music Library.

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You can also remove all songs or certain artists from your device in the Settings app: go to Settings → Music → Downloaded Music and tap the Edit button.

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Now hit the red minus sign next to All Songs to remove all downloaded music or slide the artists whose music you wish to delete, then tap Delete.

Tap Done to finish deleting your downloaded music.

And now, my final piece of advice to you: to stop your iPhone or iPad from automatically downloading music for offline listening whenever you add songs, albums and playlists to your library, toggle the Automatic Downloads switch in Settings → Music.

If you think this tutorial will be useful to others, please pass it along to your friends, family or anyone who you think might find it useful.

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  • Rodney Coleman

    Don’t see this on beta 3

    • Franklin Richards

      I have beta 3 and I see it.

  • soccervalet

    Very confusing article. 1st paragraph talks Apple Music. 3rd iCloud Music Library. ?!?!

    • iCloud Music Library is a feature that’s part of Apple Music.

  • Mike M. Powell

    this on music is kinda a waste on apples end, should’ve been storage optimization like they did for Sierra on Mac…

  • Even after I do this when I connect my iPad back to my computer iTunes always puts the music back on, so I have to go down the playlist on my iPad to see what songs I deleted then delete them off iTunes on my computer then sync.. It didn’t use to be like that it’s really an annoying inconvenience.

  • upppercut

    How do you segregate downloaded apple music from your own music?

    • There is a tab in the For You tab that shows your Downloaded Music

      • upppercut

        Thank man. I appreciate the tip.

  • igobythisname

    After opening up Settings on my iPhone 6S Plus, I believe the ‘Optimize Storage’ feature is only available in iOS 10, as I’m on iOS 9.3.3 and do not see that. It would be great if you guys include and/or mention that in your articles!

    • WattaBinG

      same deal, i’m on 9.3.3 and realized this after i tried following the instructions and realize there is no optimize storage option in 9.3.3 within music settings… Not gonna update either until a jailbreak is out… thanks though, i’ll bookmark and use this once i’m st a newer iOS..