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A Clear Explanation of iTunes Match

After a bit of delay, Apple launched iTunes Match today. The new $25/year service offers users the ability to match their existing iTunes library with high quality versions in Apple's iCloud. The new service, however, has generated a bit of confusion about what exactly happens to your music library after you have enabled it.

One of the first questions, how to determine the iCloud status of a particular song, is solved by right-clicking the column bar at the top of the iTunes window (or pressing Command-J) and making sure "iCloud Status" is selected.


MacRumors forum user Nunyabinez has written a detailed explanation of how iTunes Match works that should answer a number of potential questions if you are planning to enable the feature. We've summarized the key points here, but the full post is worth a read if you are planning on using Tunes Match.
- When you enable Match it goes through a three step process. Analyzing your library, matching songs, uploading non-matched content. It does this for your whole library. You can't choose to exclude songs other than taking them out of your library.

- If a song is matched, it becomes available to download in 256K AAC. If a song is not matched it is copied in its current format and bit rate up to 320K. If the file is Lossless however, it is converted (presumably by your computer) to a 256k AAC file and then uploaded.

- Nothing happens to your local music when you run match. If you have a lower quality song that was matched you can remove it from your local library and then replace it with the 256k version. What happens is you delete the song, but the entry in iTunes stays, but a little cloud now shows up in a newly added column that shows you that you have a song that is in the cloud but not in your library. You can click on the cloud and it will download it to your local library, where again it is now permanently yours at the higher bit rate.

- Match uses your meta-data. If you in an anal-retentive fashion have made lots of custom edits to your files, that is what gets copied to the cloud. Even if you replace your songs with the upgraded versions you keep your previous meta-data.
iTunes Match launched earlier today with the arrival of iTunes 10.5.1. The $24.99/year service offers cloud-based matching and upload of users' complete iTunes libraries.

Top Rated Comments

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40 months ago
I feel like iTunes goes against everything Apple stands for. I'm sure it wasn't the intention of Apple to have it that way, but it's true. Apple is all about simplicity and intuition. iTunes is the opposite of either of those. Over the years it's become a complex, WAY too feature-heavy application. Let me clarify that I don't mean that iTunes is slow or "bloated", just way, way too complex. If it was designed right in the first place, we shouldn't need a "clear explanation" on how it works. Apple's thought process is to make things simpler to use. Less is more and whatnot. Instead, all that happens with iTunes is more crap is tacked on, adding even more garbage to the already overpopulated and unorganized side bar.
Rating: 14 Votes
40 months ago

Stop being a music hoarder. Reduce the size of your library. You'll never listen to 25,000 songs, much less 90k+. Subscribe to a streaming service.


Ignorant statement. I have 60,000 plus songs loaded and I'll probably double that when I load in all my CDs. People who say "you'll never listen to all that..." don't understand the concept of a library. The match allows you to listen anywhere on your devices. If you are on the road you want to CHOOSE from that huge library. Obviously you won't listen to them all but you have options. Real book libraries hold many more books then you'll ever read but they give you the choice...

And streaming services don't have evberuthin the I would have in my collection.

You are missing the point. We want access to our libraries wherever we go. If they made a 1T iPod Classic there are many of us collectors who would buy one. The match service should allow us to haploid huge libraries, even if we have to pay a bit more for the service.
Rating: 13 Votes
40 months ago

Stop being a music hoarder. Reduce the size of your library. You'll never listen to 25,000 songs, much less 90k+. Subscribe to a streaming service.


Who are you to tell someone to..........?!

Good lord. :rolleyes:



Maybe iTunes should have a pop-up when you try to purchase your 25,001st song from the iTMS, saying:

Sorry, please stop hoarding music.
Perhaps you'd like to buy an App or a movie instead?

[Go to App Store] [Go to iTunes Movie Store] [Cancel]

Yeah, right.... never gonna happen.
Rating: 11 Votes
40 months ago

Do you have an entire local library in your house? No. You have a small library of books, but have access to a vast library, called....The Library. So do you need a library of 60k+ music files, No. You need access to a vast library of music and that's called Spotify (Or your personal flavor of the week.)

Now, if you do have a large local library of books at your house, and you have 60k+ Music Cd's, there's a show you need to check out, called, Hoarders. :)


The problem with Spotify or services like that is that they don't have everything that you may want. I'd like all of my songs in one place, rather than having to swap between Apps to play different albums.

I don't see anything wrong with having your own choice of music available to play whenever you want, all in one place.
Rating: 9 Votes
40 months ago
The author gets two big thumbs up for listening to Tanya Donelly!!!
Rating: 9 Votes
40 months ago

No one really cares if you actually own the CDs or not, it's just a matter of allowing you access based on your existing songs, but some people have more songs while others have less, which makes it unfair. Why not just let everyone download anything, without having to previously own the song?


Yes, it's so unfair that we have spent thousands of pounds over the years to get our music, but Apple won't give it to you for nothing isn't it.

Do people really believe that they should have everything for nothing these days? Who is actually going to do the work?

Tip for you. If you spend your money on things then you will have more things than people who don't spend their money. That isn't unfair, it's life.
Rating: 9 Votes
40 months ago

is all the private music created by home musicians being sucked into the cloud and made available for plagiarists.

Another BIG HIT "written" by Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, ad nauseum.....


Yeah because we know that Apple has always been in the business of stealing music off of people's hard drives and then freely making it available to the whole world.

Oh wait.
Rating: 9 Votes
40 months ago

That's my point. Apple has created a service that doesn't really do anything 100%. This service is a mash-up of half-baked services that don't completely serve any purpose.


So you'll decide what iTunes Match is supposed to do, and when it doesn't meet your criteria, it's failed to do anything 100%. Come on.

You're paying Apple to rent your music forever. The same could be said with someone who has thousands of songs, it would just take longer to reach the point at which you've paid for all your content yet you still don't actually own it in Apple's eyes. The point is, this service isn't doing anything for you.


You're not paying to rent the music, once you pay for it, you own it.
'Storing it on the Cloud' is a misleading metaphor that reduces the Cloud to external storage.
You're paying Apple to deliver your non-iTunes music to your device wherever you are and keep your music synchronized across devices. It's like paying someone to bring your LPs wherever you are, instantaneously (among the other things it does).
If you pay for your thousands of songs through iTunes, you don't need to pay for Match.
If this service isn't doing anything, then neither is Google's nor Amazon's music service, so are you saying they don't do anything either?
Finally, Google's and Amazon's music services differ in salient ways from Apple's service which might matter to people and thus warrant the fee.
One would have to ignore the above to think Match is unequivocally a 'bad deal', I remain convinced that I have a better perspective on this. Cheers!
Rating: 9 Votes
40 months ago
keeping the metadata is a big win for me. I may actually use this now.
Rating: 8 Votes
40 months ago

WAIT A MINUTE. When I play music from the cloud on my iPhone via wifi/3g its not STREAMING it? Instead its DOWNLOADING it?! WHY would anyone want that? What kind of stupid idea is that? I only have 16 gigs on my iPhone I don't want this crap storing on my phone. The whole point of this iTunes match should be to have your iCloud music library streaming onto your device so you don't take up space on your phone! PLEASE tell me this isn't true.

yes, it's downloading. your entire world is falling apart. this. very. minute.
Rating: 7 Votes

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