Tip: delete Apple Music cache in iTunes to reclaim storage space on your Mac

By , Nov 24, 2016

iTunes Icon

iOS 10 provides a handy feature allowing users to limit the amount of storage space used for keeping songs downloaded on an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. On the Mac, things are a little more complicated because iTunes lacks a dedicated interface for adjusting the size of its cache.

As explained in this tutorial, you only need to delete a pair of special folders on your Mac to free up quite a bit of storage space lost to caches that accumulate as you stream tunes with Apple Music.

iTunes for Mac and Windows uses caches to store streamed Apple Music songs, ensuring you don’t necessarily waste your bandwidth when playing these tracks again.

iTunes keeps its cache inside your home folder in the following locations:

  • Mac: ~/Library/Caches/com.apple.itunes
  • Windows: C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Apple Computer\iTunes\

For those wondering, Apple’s implementation of streaming requires songs to be fully downloaded before they can be listened to. iTunes also stores other related data in the cache like album artwork for both the songs you stream and any recommendations that appear in the For You section.

Cached data is saved in a pair of sub-folders inside the iTunes cache folder:

  • fsCachedData: cached album artwork for streamed songs and For You items
  • SubscriptionPlayCache: caches of streamed songs

You can safely delete both folders to reclaim storage space without losing anything important in iTunes. When you delete the folders, iTunes simply recreates them the next time you launch it.

How to delete Apple Music cache in iTunes for Mac and Windows

1) If iTunes is open, close it to avoid conflicts.

2) Go to the iTunes cache folder:

  • Mac: Choose Go To Folder in the Finder’s Go menu (or hit the keyboard shortcut Shift (⇧)—Command (⌘)—G, then paste the full path (~/Library/Caches/com.apple.itunes) in the box and hit the Go button.

Finder Go to menu Mac screenshot 001

  • Windows: Open the following location using Windows Explorer:

C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Apple Computer\iTunes\

Of course, replace USERNAME with your Windows user name.

3) Hold the Command (⌘) key while selecting the fsCachedData and SubscriptionPlayCache folder, then release the key and choose Move to Trash from the Finder’s File menu (alternatively, hit Command (⌘)—Backspace (⌫)).

itunes cache folders in Finder Mac screenshot 001

Tip: on Windows, hold the Control key while selecting the folders, then right-click one of the selected items and choose Delete from the popup menu.

4) Empty the Trash to permanently nuke these folders out of orbit.

And that’s it, folks!

If you’re an Apple Music subscriber, you’ve just freed up anywhere between a few megabytes to one or more gigabytes of storage space which is typically taken up by iTunes caches, depending on the number of songs you’ve streamed and For You items you’ve checked out.

Don’t worry, the next time you launch iTunes it’ll recreate the two deleted folders so it can start caching album artwork and other data from scratch. Please don’t touch any of the other files or sub-folders you see in the cache folder as some of them are needed for iTunes to work properly.

If you primarily use Apple Music in desktop iTunes, it might be a good idea to create a recurring monthly  or weekly reminder to remember checking if iTunes cache has ballooned beyond your comfort level.

Wondering about clearing Apple Music caches on iOS?

iOS 10 Settings Music iCloud Music Library turned on iPhone screenshot 001

Simply toggle iCloud Music Library off in Settings → Music, wait a few minutes to give iOS a chance to reclaim storage space consumed by the caches, then turn it on again. If that doesn’t work, launch the Music app, tap For You, tap your profile icon at the top right, sign out, quit the Music app, then re-launch Music and sign back in.

How do you like this tip?

If you’re aware of other iTunes tricks that help reduce the cruft that the app creates over time, please do share them with other readers down in the comment section.

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