How to download your entire music library to your iPhone or iPad

download music library

I’ve cut the cord between my iPhone and iTunes a long time ago, and the rise of Apple Music has given me one less reason to plug my iPhone and sync it up with iTunes. After all, it offers virtually all the music in the world at your fingertips.

But what happens if you want to download your entire existing music collection for offline listening? In that case, well, you’re still going to have to rely on the good old cable to sync up with iTunes because Apple Music doesn’t offer an option to download everything at once.

In this tutorial, we will show you a trick that will allow you to download all your songs to your iPhone or iPad using Apple Music and iCloud Music Library.

Basic requirement

Before we get started, there is one basic requirement that must be met for this to work. You must be an Apple Music subscriber and have iCloud Music Library enabled.

Can’t you just download songs or albums one by one from your iPhone?

Sure, one way to download your entire music collection from your iPhone or iPad is to download your albums or songs one by one directly from the Apple Music app. This works, but this is not practical if like me you have over 600 albums and over 7,000 songs.

The problem is, Apple Music doesn’t offer one master download button to download everything at once. Instead, download options are limited to songs, albums, and playlists.

Playlists are the magic trick!

Download all your music collection using iCloud Music Library

Here is an overview of what we’re going to do. First, we’re going to create a smart playlist containing all your songs. That playlist will also be set to automatically update as you add more songs to your library. From there, the playlist will be synced to your iPhone and iPad thanks to iCloud Music Library. And because Apple Music allows you to download entire playlists on your device, will will finally download the playlist containing all your songs on your iPhone or iPad.

That sounds like a lengthy process, but it should only take a few seconds to set up.

1) In iTunes on your computer, go to your Library by clicking on the Library tab. You should now see your entire music library, as well as a navigation bar to the left.

iTunes Library

2) In the left navigation bar, right click on Music Playlists and select New Smart Playlist…

New Smart Playlist iTunes

3) You will now be presented with several variables that will allow you to create rules in order to generate your smart playlist. There are different rules that could be applied here, but we’re going to go with what I believe to be the most simple one.

create smart playlist in itunes

First you want to make sure that the Match checkbox is selected, and that music is selected from the dropdown menu.

As for the rule itself, you want to select Time / is greater than / 00:01.

What we are doing here is creating a playlist based on the length of songs. We are telling iTunes to add all the songs that are longer than one second in time to be added to this playlist. This should effectively add all your songs to that playlist.

As you can see, there are other options available. You can for example set a limit to how many songs are in this playlist, and have the smart playlist match only checked items from your library. For our purpose, I suggest to leave these two options blank.

I also highly suggest checking the Live updating checkbox as it will make sure to add new songs to your smart playlist as they are added to your library.

Click OK to save your playlist.

4) iTunes will now open that playlist. From there you will be able to give a name to that playlist, as well as verify how many songs have been included in it. I chose to name this playlist All My Music.

name smart playlist in itunes

5) Now that we have created that playlist in iTunes, we want to load it up on iPhone or iPad and get downloading. To do so, simply launch the Music app on your iPhone or iPad. Navigate to the Library tab at the bottom, then select Playlists.

6) Assuming you do have iCloud Music Library enabled, your newly created playlist should be there. Tap on it to select it.

7) Final step, tap the Download icon at the top and wait patiently for your entire music collection to be downloaded to your device. Obviously, the more songs you have, the longer it is going to take.

Download all my music

If you have more than a handful of songs, I would suggest plugging your iPhone in to charge it because you’re going to be running out of battery fairly quickly. It’s also to be expected that your device will heat up a little bit as it is downloading all the music files.

Twenty four hours after starting this process, my 7,000 songs haven’t been downloaded yet. Some of them have, but it seems the download process times out after a certain amount of time. It should be pretty quick if you have a few hundred songs, but prepare for the process to take several days if like me you have several thousands.

Once the process is done, you should be able to access your entire music collection for offline listening.

Credit goes to John Gruber for sharing this trick on his podcast The Talk Show.