How to Use iTunes Match

When Steve Jobs introduced iTunes ten years ago, it changed the world. But not without having to drag the record labels kicking and screaming to it. But a decade later, the music industry has been reborn and downloads are common place. And, as Steve Jobs predicted, people who want their music “ala carte,” are more than happy to pay for it. But they also want to be able to use the music they buy with all their devices. And that’s how iTunes Match was born.  For $24.99 a year, iTunes Match allows users to store their music in the cloud and access it from up to 10 different devices. So, finally, not only can music fans finally just buy the songs they like, they can listen to them anywhere on just about any platform. And it couldn’t be easier to set up. Here’s what you need …

1. Be up to date

First, make sure you have the latest version of iTunes (vs. 10.5.1). It should automatically ask for your approval to update it when you go into iTunes, but if not, then PC users can select About iTunes from the help menu that then Check for Updates. If you’re a Mac user, go directly to Check for Updates from the iTunes menu. Download and install.
This is also a good opportunity to make sure you have all the songs in your iTunes library you want to match initially. You can always add later, but remember that iTunes will store purchased song from the iTunes Store for free in the Cloud, but ripped songs will count against your iCloud storage allotment.

2. Lay down the plastic

Once iTunes is updated, then open and look under the “Store” category. Your second choice will be iTunes Match. Once you click on that, iTunes will give you one last spiel (including reminding you will have millions of songs with which to match, and listen to at 256kbps) and then ask you to subscribe for $24.99. Click on the button and iTunes will ask you to login into your Apple account, where upon the charge will go onto your stored credit card.

3. Scanning commences

Once you’ve finalized paying for your iTunes Match subscription, iTunes will begin to scan your library and match it with the higher 256kbsp versions in the cloud. Any songs you may have that iTunes cannot match will then be uploaded along with matching artwork. Once this three step process is finished, you can then proceed to adding up to 10 iOS devices or computers to your iTunes Match list.

4. Add your computer

To add your computer to your iTunes Match list, go back to the iTunes Match option under Store and iTunes will depict a splash screen with a blue radial button which says “Add this computer.” Select it and your computer, iTunes Match will repeat the process of scanning, matching and uploading any available songs. Only do one library at a time, since iTunes Match will not allow for simultaneous matching. Once matched, your computer is ready to listen. Songs that have been matched will have a familiar cloud and arrow head. Click on the Cloud and you can download those songs to enjoy.

5.  Add Your Mobile Devices

Now it’s time to add your mobile iOS devices (i.e. iPhone, iPad or iPod). But before you take the plunge, make sure you’ve backed up your device to iTunes (before you match would be ideal). The reason is that when you match your iOS device, it will replace your music library with the matched library. This is a good thing as iTunes will be replacing them with higher quality 256kbps versions.

Next, access Settings in your iOS device and then Music. There will be a new menu item at the very top for iTunes Match. You’ll want to turn that on. Then, Match will request your Apple ID password. Once entered, select Enable. The your iOS device will proceed to match your music found on your device.

Once matched, there will now be another item in your Settings menu … Music screen: Show All Music. When you enable, all the songs that iTunes has matched will be shown in your iOS library. They will be the songs with the little cloud icon to the right. When you choose the song to play, iTunes will download it to your device to play and the cloud will disappear. If you leave the Show All Music option off, you won’t see any of the songs from the cloud in your library. Each song in the cloud will be listed with a cloud/arrow head and you can select as many songs as you would like to queue up and download. And here’s a neat thing, the song will play as it downloads.

6. Wrap Up

And that’s it. Now you have access to all your songs in the Cloud. But understand that while iTunes has access to millions of songs in it’s master library, not everything is up there. So if you have an eclectic ear, or love to listen to obscure and older artists, you may have to wait a short interim until iTunes acquires those songs. But that’s the price for being eclectic, isn’t it?

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