It is now really hard to find someone who has never heard of iTunes. Also, thanks to the success of devices such as the iPhone and iPad and the birth of services such as Apple Music, Apple’s program to manage and play multimedia files (music in the first place) has become very famous, but this does not mean that everyone knows how to use it to the fullest.
If you too are part of that group of users who have always heard of iTunes, perhaps they have just downloaded it on their PC for the first time but do not know how to exploit its full potential, get ready: we are going to deepen the matter with a tutorial. – I hope sufficiently clear and linear – in which we will analyze all the main scenarios of use of the software in question.
Whether you have a Windows PC or a Mac, it doesn’t matter: if you want to find out how to use iTunes, all you have to do is read on. All the info you need is right below. Happy reading and have fun!
How to Download iTunes For Windows Mac
The first step you need to take, of course, is to get iTunes.
If you use a PC equipped with Windows 10, you can download the program directly from the Microsoft Store (the store of applications and games included in the Microsoft operating system): just open this link, press the Get and Open buttons (to allow the store opening) and click on the Install button of the Microsoft Store. If necessary, log into your Microsoft account.
If you use an older version of Windows or need to use a program that explicitly requires the “classic” version of iTunes (e.g. programs to explore iPhone or to jailbreak iPhone), you can get the software by connecting to the website by Apple and first clicking on the Windows link located next to the item Are you looking for other versions? (below) and then the Download iTunes for Windows (64-bit) Now button. If, on the other hand, you have a 32-bit operating system, click on the item below Are you looking for the 32-bit Windows version? Download the app from here.
When the download is complete, open the .exe file obtained and wait for the initial loading bar to complete. Then click on the Next button, choose whether to add a shortcut to iTunes on the desktop and whether to use iTunes as the default player for audio files (by ticking or deselecting the appropriate boxes) and press the Install, Yes, Yes, again Yes and Finish buttons, to conclude the setup.
If you are using a Mac updated to macOS 10.15 Catalina or later, you should know that iTunes is no longer supported or included in the operating system.
Its functionalities have been divided among various applications: in Music, TV, and Podcast the functions of managing and playing multimedia content have been included, while the Finder has been entrusted with the task of managing portable devices (iPhone, iPad, and iPod) connected at the PC.
On previous versions of macOS, however, iTunes is included “as standard” and therefore should not be installed. In the unlikely event that you have removed it or it does not work properly, you can download it from the Apple website and install it again by opening the .dmg file obtained, starting the executable contained within it, and following the instructions on the screen. More info here.
How to Download iTunes on a computer
At this point, you’re ready to find out how to use iTunes. The indications I will give you will be valid for both Windows and older versions of macOS with iTunes included. There are some small differences only on macOS 10.15 Catalina where, as mentioned, the functionality of iTunes has been divided into other applications. In any case, you will find everything explained in detail below.
How to Download iTunes with iPhone
One of the main usage scenarios of iTunes is related to connecting iPhone (or other Apple portable devices) with a computer.
If you also have an “iPhone” and want to know how to use iTunes with iPhone, all you have to do is connect the phone to the computer via cable, wait for iTunes to start automatically, and click on the iPhone icon, top left. If you are using a Mac with macOS 10.15 Catalina or later, you must instead manually open the Finder (the icon with the smiling face on the Dock bar) and select the iPhone icon from the left sidebar.
If this is the first time that you have put iPhone and computer in communication, you must respond affirmatively to the alerts that appear on both the computer and on the phone and type the unlock code on the smartphone.
Now you can manage your iPhone from your computer and transfer the files of your interest to it. All you have to do is select one of the items available in the iTunes sidebar or the top bar of the Finder and proceed as you prefer.
In the Summary section, you will find all the information on the device connected to the computer (capacity, serial number, etc.) and all the options relating to the iOS update, backup/restore, and data management on the device. More precisely, I would like to point out that in the Options box you will find the functions to synchronize with iPhone via Wi-Fi (therefore to let iPhone and computer communicate wirelessly if connected to the same Wi-Fi network) and to manually manage music and videos if you want to have the ability to copy music, videos and other content to your device without syncing it with your iTunes library.
iTunes and macOS 10.15 (or later) Finder allow you to choose whether to synchronize data with iPhone or simply copy them to the latter’s memory. The difference between the two procedures is quite obvious: in the first case, the computer’s media library (or part of it) is kept in sync with the iPhone, so a change made on either device is reflected on the other; in the second case, however, files can be freely copied from the computer to the iPhone without any synchronization of the libraries and any reciprocity rule.
To synchronize the contents of the iTunes library (or equivalent applications in macOS 10.15 Catalina and later) with iPhone, you must select the items Music (for music), Movies (for videos), TV Shows (for TV shows), and Photos (for photos) from the iTunes Settings menu (on the left) or the menu at the top of the Finder window.
Subsequently, you must tick the boxes relating to the contents to be synchronized with the iPhone (you can choose whether to synchronize the entire library or individual items, eg individual albums or playlists for music) and click on the Apply and Finish buttons.
Note that if you have iCloud Music Library and/or iCloud Photos turned on on your iPhone, you won’t be able to sync content between your phone and computer, as you will have one cloud storage synced across all devices.
For more information, I refer you to my tutorials on how to copy music to iPhone, how to copy videos to iPhone, how to copy photos to the iPhone, and how to insert ringtones on iPhone where you will find all the relevant details.
To copy files to your iPhone without syncing your iTunes library (or the apps that replaced it in more recent versions of macOS), first, make sure you’ve enabled the manually manage music and video feature in the Summary section of iTunes or the Finder. after that proceed like this.
- On iTunes – select the items Music, Movies, TV Shows or Books in the On the device section of the left sidebar and drag the files you want to copy to the iPhone into the iTunes window.
- On Finder – select the Files tab from the Finder menu, click the Manage Space button (top right), choose a section from Movies, TV Shows, Songs, Podcasts, Audiobooks, and Books from the box that appears, and drag and drop files to upload on iPhone in the latter.
If, on the other hand, you want to copy files to third-party applications that support this feature, select the File Sharing item from the iTunes side menu or the File tab from the Finder, choose the app of your interest and drag the files to transfer to the iPhone in the box next to it. For more details, read my guide on how to transfer files from PC to iPhone.
You can connect as many iPhones as you want to the same PC, provided you always authorize communication between the devices as seen above. Therefore, if you want to use iTunes with two iPhones or more, you simply have to repeat all the steps illustrated above.
How to Download iTunes for music
Before the launch of the iPhone and iPad, iTunes was primarily a digital music player and store: it was, in fact, the one that revolutionized the music market, starting the digital download boom.
Today that business model has been overtaken by music streaming à la Spotify and Apple has decided to transform iTunes into the client that allows access to Apple Music: its music streaming service. But now let’s go in order because the software of the Cupertino giant allows you to do everything with music, both locally and on the cloud.
If you want to add songs to the iTunes music library, first set the Music option in the drop-down menu located at the top left. At this point, all you have to do is select an item from Add file to the library (to add individual songs) or Add folder to library (to add entire folders) from the File menu located at the top left and you’re done. Alternatively, you can also directly drag the files of your interest into the program window. iTunes will automatically download the information and the covers of all the songs.
I advise you to activate the Copy files to iTunes Media folder option when adding to the library: in this way, all the files copied to the program’s library will be archived in the same folder and therefore you will be able to manage and possibly export the iTunes library with greater ease. Find the option in question in the Edit > Preferences menu of iTunes, then select the Advanced tab in the window that opens.
To buy songs and albums from the Apple store, however, you can select the Store tab at the top. To complete a purchase, you’ll need to sign in with your Apple ID (if you don’t have one yet, you can create one now) and provide a valid payment method.
Once added to your iTunes library, songs can also be organized into playlists and burned to CD / DVD, in the form of standard audio CDs or MP3 discs. To create a playlist, all you have to do is select the appropriate item from the File menu (top left), then drag the songs of your interest to the title of the playlist in the iTunes sidebar. You can also create smart playlists, which dynamically update their contents based on the parameters you set (e.g. songs you like, recently added, belonging to certain genres/artists, and so on).
If you want to create a disc with your favorite songs, instead, you have to add them to a playlist, right-click on the name of the same in the left sidebar, and select the burn option from the menu that opens.
For more information, read my guides on how to add songs to your iTunes library, how to create playlists in iTunes and how to burn audio CDs with iTunes.
Instead of importing songs from your PC or buying them from the iTunes Store, do you prefer to subscribe to the Apple Music streaming service and create your “infinite” music library synchronized across all devices? Nothing could be easier: select the Discover tab of iTunes, click on the item to log in (if you are already an Apple Music subscriber) or to try the service for 3 months (if you are a new subscriber), log in to your ID Apple and that’s it.
Please note that, as happens with Spotify and the like, Apple Music music is DRM protected, therefore its playback and download are bound to official Apple-supported software and devices ( iTunes / Music on a computer, Music application on iPhone / iPad, and Apple Music application on Android). It is not possible to burn Apple Music music to CD / DVD, but you can create and share playlists.
If you don’t see any option to activate Apple Music in iTunes, go to the program’s Edit > Preferences > General menu and check the Show Apple Music features box. To find out more, I invite you to read my guide on how Apple Music works, where you will find everything explained.
If you use a Mac with macOS 10.15 Catalina or later, you can perform all the operations described above using the Music application, which has practically the same interface as iTunes but does not allow you to manage content other than music.
How to use iTunes for photos
Would you like to manage your photos through iTunes? This is not possible. The images are among the few multimedia contents that the famous Apple software does not manage directly.
The only thing that can be done is to use iTunes to sync photos to the iPhone. In this case, just connect the smartphone to the computer (as explained in one of the previous chapters of the tutorial), select the item Photos from the iTunes sidebar, check the Synchronize photos box, and choose the folder of photos to copy to the phone, using the Drop-down menu Copy photos from.
Subsequently, you must choose whether to synchronize all folders or only select folders on the iPhone (by ticking the appropriate boxes), whether to include the videos in the synchronization and start copying the data by pressing the Apply and Finish buttons located at the bottom right.
I remind you that if you have activated the iCloud Photos service on your iPhone, you will not be able to directly sync photos from iTunes to your iPhone (you will have to upload them to your cloud storage). For more information, you can refer to my tutorial on how to copy photos to iPhone or, in case you want to do the opposite, to my guide on how to import photos from iPhone to PC.
If you use macOS 10.15 Catalina or later, you can follow the instructions I just gave you through the Finder by selecting your iPhone icon from the left sidebar.
How to use iTunes for other content
In addition to music, iTunes also allows you to manage podcasts, movies (i.e. videos), books, and other multimedia content. On the other hand, it is no longer possible to manage the apps for iPhone / iPad, which are managed independently by the portable devices of the Cupertino giant.
To access the other contents of iTunes, all you have to do is select the appropriate item from the drop-down menu located at the top left and proceed more or less as I explained to you for the music.
Movies can be loaded directly from the computer (if in MP4/M4V format) or purchased/rented on the iTunes Store; the same goes for books. The podcasts are free and can be downloaded from the navigation menu integrated into the program. For more details, you can check my tutorials on how to rent movies on iTunes and how to read eBooks on an iPad.
Other data, such as contacts and calendars, are synchronized to your computer via iCloud (on Windows you need to install the appropriate client, as also explained in my tutorial on how iCloud works).
On macOS 10.15 Catalina and later, you need to use the TV and Podcasts applications to manage video content and podcasts, and the Books application for books and PDFs.