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How to Use iTunes Match

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using itunes match

Downloading a song from iTunes Match

Updated May 08, 2013

For just US$25 a year, iTunes Match makes it easy to keep your music synced across all your devices that run iTunes and provides a web-based backup to help you out if you accidentally delete or lose music. To learn how to use iTunes Match--from its basic set up to the more advanced features--read on.

How to Set Up iTunes Match
Setting up iTunes Match is very easy. Essentially, you just turn it on, subscribe, and let iTunes do the rest. For more in-depth instructions on setting up iTunes Match, read this article.

How to Download A Song from iTunes Match
Downloading a single song from your iTunes Match onto a new computer is very simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. Make sure the device you want to download the song to meets the requirements for iTunes Match.
  2. Sign into the iTunes account that you used to set up iTunes Match.
  3. iTunes will update the library on the device to show all the music you've uploaded to the iCloud account associated with that iTunes account/Apple ID. How long this takes will depend on how many songs iTunes needs to display. Expect to wait at least a few minutes.
  4. When iTunes shows all the music in your iCloud account, nearly all songs will have an icon of some kind next to them (the songs that don't have an icon next to them are already downloaded to the device you're using).
  5. Look for the icon that looks like a cloud with a downward-facing arrow in it (you'll see this in virtually any iTunes view, including Songs, Albums, Artists, and Genres). Click that button to download the song from iTunes Match to your device.

Downloading Multiple Songs from iTunes Match
The process just described for downloading from iTunes Match is simple and quick for a song here or there, but what if you've got dozens or hundreds--or more!--songs that you want to download? Clicking each one would take forever. Luckily, you don't have to.

If you want to download multiple songs, follow the first three steps above. When the songs appear with the iCloud icon next to them, select all the songs (not the iTunes Match button; just single click on a song) you want to download with a single click. To select a contiguous group of songs, click the song at the beginning of the group you want to download, hold down Shift, and then click the last one. This will select all the songs. To select non-contiguous songs, hold down Command on a Mac or Control on a PC and click all the songs you want.

With all the songs you want to download selected, right click on the selection and click Download from the pop-up menu.


How to Stream, Not Download, Songs
While it's not as well known a feature, iTunes Match can actually stream songs without downloading them. Streaming only works on the Apple TV, both the 2nd generation and 3rd generation models (in fact, it's always streaming on the Apple TV; there's no way to download songs to it) and on computers (on iOS devices, streaming and downloading happens at the same time). To stream a song on your computer, rather than downloading it, just double click a song to play it. Of course, you need to be connected to the web for streaming to work.


Deleting a Song From iTunes Match
Before iTunes Match, deleting a song from iTunes was fairly easy. But now, when each song is also stored in an account on Apple's servers, how does deleting work?

It works in a very similar way, actually: find the song you want to delete, right click on it, and click Delete. When you do this, a window will pop up. If you want to delete the song from both your device and your iCloud account, make sure the Also delete this song from iCloud box is checked and then click Delete. Make sure you're certain, though, because when you do this, the song will be permanently deleted from iTunes and iCloud; unless you've got another backup, it's gone.

If you'd like to just delete the song from your computer, but not iTunes Match, follow the same steps, but uncheck the delete from iCloud box.

One thing to watch out for: if you select a song and use the Delete key on your keyboard instead of the onscreen menu, that will delete both from your library and from iCloud without giving you the checkbox option.


Upgrade Your Matched Songs to 256K AAC Files
One of the best features of iTunes Match, and one that's not very well known, is that iTunes Match gives you a free upgrade on all music you match. When iTunes Match scans your music library and finds songs in the iTunes database, instead of adding the song directly from your computer, it matches it from the master iTunes library Apple maintains. When it does this, it adds the song as a 256 kbps AAC file (the standard used at the iTunes Store) to your account. It does this even if the song on your computer is lower quality. Voila--free upgrade! But how do you take advantage of this and upgrade all your music to 256K?

To begin with, find the lower-quality song you want to upgrade and delete it from your library using the technique described above. When you do this, make sure that the also delete from iCloud box is unchecked. This is crucial--if you don't do this, the song will be deleted from both your iTunes library and iCloud accounts and you'll be out of luck.

If you just delete the song from your library, though, the iCloud download button will appear next to the song (if it doesn't show up right away, just update iTunes Match by going to Store -> Update iTunes Match). Click that button to download the song and you'll get the 256K version.


Cancelling Your Subscription: How to and What Happens to Your Music
To cancel your iTunes Match subscription:

  1. Sign into your iTunes account at the iTunes Store
  2. Find the iTunes in the Cloud section of your account
  3. Click the Turn Off Auto-Renew button.

But what happens when you cancel your iTunes Match subscription? Does that mean you lose your music? Nope.

When you cancel your subscription, all the music you've matched up to that point stays in your iCloud account. Without the subscription, though, you can't add or match any new music, and you can't download or stream songs again until you resubscribe.



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