How to transfer music from laptop to an iPhone

There are many advantages to Apple's ecosystem. The synergy between the devices is unprecedented. Apple has "simplified" things so much that its products are considered to be easier to use. The products also come with a great ecosystem of accessories which makes owning them a fuss-free experience for most of the people.

However, Apple's approach also adds some complexities. For example, one big problem for the iPhone users is management of their music collection. On the iPhone or iPad you can't "cut, copy and paste" files. Also, Apple owns the iTunes store and in order to avoid piracy it limits the user of an iPhone or iPad to a host PC or a Mac. So how does one transfer music from a laptop to an iPhone? For example you have 10 songs on your computer. You want them into your iPhone. It is an amazingly simple question, but the answer to it is a little complex.

The iTunes method

The iTunes method is what one must use to transfer music from a laptop, external hard-drive or pen drive to the iPhone. To do this, you need to follow these steps:

1- Download and install iTunes on your Windows PC. On a Mac, it will be pre-loaded. When you will open iTunes for the first time, it will scan your computer for all the music and media and add it to the iTunes library. If you have the music stored on an external drive, make sure that's also connected to the computer. It will also download all the music you've bought from Apple once you log-in to your iTunes account if you have used it before to purchase music.

2- Connect your iPhone to the computer using the USB cable.

3- Open iTunes.

4- Locate and click on your device on the left side bar.

5- Click on the 'Summary' tab and scroll down to the Options section.

6- Click the box next to "Manually manage music and videos."

7- Go to the 'Music' tab, check box next to sync music

8- Then click on either 'entire library' or 'selected playlists, artists and genre' which basically allows for manually selecting the songs that you want in the iPhone.

9- Click apply.

Using iTunes, you can also transfer music wirelessly to the iPhone. The process is quite straight forward and you have to follow the following steps.

1- Connect the iPhone to iTunes using USB cable so that the sharing is enabled between the two devices.

2- Ensure iPhone and your laptop which is running iTunes is on the same Wi-Fi network.

3- Open iTunes

4- Once iPhone is connected iTunes, in the summary tab check on the ''Sync with this iPhone over Wi-Fi' tab.

5- Press "Apply"

6- The next time you open iTunes, you will be able to sync music wirelessly --- no USB cable required -- as long as both the laptop and iPhone are on the same Wi-Fi network.

In case you store music in a pen drive or an external hard disk, here is what you will need to do:

1- Select the "iTunes preferences" menu. On Windows you have to go to the tiny button on the top right corner. On OS X, you have to go to the iTunes icon on the top right.

2- Inside preferences you have to jump straight to the last tab (8th) called "Advanced".

3- In the advanced tab, the first thing you will see 'iTunes media folder location'. By default, its path will read something like 'C:\\Users\Sahil\Music\iTunes\iTunes Media'. This is the folder you need to copy if you're backing up your music.

4- In the case you're trying to add music from an external drive you have to change the path. So if you're music is on 'D' drive inside a folder called music all you need to is change the path to D:\\Music and you're good to go.

Copy music using cloud storage

What if you have saved your music on cloud storage platforms like DropBox, OneDrive, or even Apple's iCloud? In most cases you will be able to stream the music directly from the dedicated app of the service. In the case of iCloud, the music finds its way into the Music app on the iPhone by turning on a setting on the phone.

So here's what you must do:

For iCloud

1- Enter the settings menu on the iPhone

2- Go to the iTunes and App Store settings and click the automatic downloads for the music. This will download all the music you have downloaded from the iTunes store on your iPhone. This works even if you made a purchase from a different device, using the same iTunes account.

3- Inside the setting menu, scroll down for the 'music' sub-menu and turn on iCloud Music Library which will either seek to merge your iCloud music with the one on your phone or completely replace the music on your phone with the one on iCloud. Opt for the option that is convenient to you.

For DropBox and OneDrive 

1- Download the respective apps from the App Store

2- Supply your relevant account ID and password to the app

3- Click on the file to play the song. The app will stream it.

4- On OneDrive, on the bottom right corner, click on the contexual menu and click on open with another app option. This will download the file on the phone so that you can play the song using the standard Music app or third party apps like JukeBox.

5- If you have a lot of music on DropBox and you want to download the music on to the iPhone, then download a free app called JukeBox. Once you open the app, it will ask for your DropBox account details and scan and download all the files on the phone so that you can play them.

Third-party solutions

The way iOS is architected there is no file system that's accessible to the user. So if you're looking for the traditional drag and drop method, you can't do it, unless you download a third party app. There are apps for both OSX and Windows. For Windows there is SharePod which can be bought for $20, while for OS X, there are solutions like iExplorer which costs $39 and Senuti which costs $19.

Basically, when an iPhone, iPod or iPad are connected to a PC or Mac which have either of these apps open, users can see the file system and drag and drop files.


1- First connect your iPhone to the PC.

2- Then open SharePod, and it will start scanning for an Apple iOS device.

3- Then choose manually the files that you want to copy and click on the 'Copy to Computer' button.


1- Open iExporer on the Mac.

2- Connect your iPhone or iPad with the Mac.

3- If iTunes prompts you to sync with your computer, select no or cancel.

4- Select individual tracks using the command button on the Mac.

5- Drag and drop the files in the folder of your choice.

It is worth noting that we have not tested either iExplorer or SharePod, but these apps are believed to be very good at extracting data directly from an iPhone by opening up its file system.

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