iTunes11: How to Copy Playlists to iPhone, iPad or iPod

Apple iTunes has been redesigned, and figuring out the new interface can be a bit daunting. Copying playlists to an iPhone, iPad or iPod is a bit different. Here’s how it’s done.

1. Connect your device to the computer. A button should appear for your device in the upper-right portion of the screen. Click it.

2. Select Add To… This will make a contents menu available on the right side.

3. Select Playlists at the top of the screen.

4. Drag any playlist from the left side to the right side.

5. Click Done, then select the Sync button in the lower right corner of the screen to sync your changes.

You have successfully transferred a playlist to your Apple device. If you liked the old way of doing things, you can always enable the left sidebar again.


  1. Dan says

    I have an iPhone5C and iTunes 11.4. This exact procedure didn’t work for me. I saw no button as described.

    However, I did this:

    1. Click on Device in left menu bar, .e.g., My iPhone 5

    2. There should now be a top bar with “Summary, Info, Apps, Music…” etc.

    3. Click on Music

    4. You should get a Sync GUI screen with various options for getting your music and playlists to the iPhone. I didn’t have enough space for “Entire Library” so I chose “Selected Playlists, Artists, Genres, Albums”…” and then I checked the Playlists I wanted and pressed “Sync” I could also have done it via the other options, e.g., I went back later and added a specific album, and I got that album and it left the Playlists on the iPhone intact.

  2. Jerry says

    Your procedure worked for me up until recently. Now I no longer see the iPod button shown in Step 1. It used to be there. I know that iTunes has detected my iPod, as it is shown under Devices in the panel at the left side of the screen (which allows me to view the contents of Music, Books, individual Playlists, etc. on the iPod). I can send a screen shot of how the screen appears now, if that would be helpful.

    I suspect that I have inadvertently changed the iTunes configuration so that the iPod button (nor the iTunes Store button, the View or Add To icons) are no longer presented.

    I am running iTunes on Windows XP, Service Pack 2

  3. Micheline says

    Thanks so much for your help. I was trying to get music to my iphone in order to bring it into iMovie. Worked perfectly.

  4. Astor says

    I am unable to create playlists on my iphone4s when connected to itunes. I believe the reason is that I don’t have the “Manage Music Manually” selected. When I select that option, I get a message that my iphone is synced with another itunes library, and that the contents will be erased and synced with this library.

    Is there anyway to save my current playlists so that they can be added back to my iphone if I proceed with this option?


  5. Laurie says

    Thank you so much. I couldn’t figure that out to save my life. New iTunes is not user friendly!

  6. Pam says

    This doesn’t seem to work if you are trying to copy/add a Playlist from your shared library. It seems you need to copy it first to your direct library on the physical computer the iPhone is connected to and then you can add it. I also found when I added the playlist from the shared library to my computer that it did not maintain the playlist – some songs were removed and others from the same album were added. The playlist from the source library contains 121 songs. Once copied to my laptop, it contains 115. Weird.

  7. Astor says


    I have the same problem as Chapps. When I select my device I don’t get the add button. I added a Playlist to my iphone manually in the iphone itself, but when I sync the phone, it does not add the playlist in itunes. In my settings I don’t have “manually manage music” checked, so I don’t know if that’s the reason. Thanks for helping me.

  8. Doug says

    A thousand thanks for helping me get this done in 45 seconds after spending nearly 10 minutes trying (and failing) to find a help topic related to it on iTunes! Apple should hire you and pay you a gazillion dollars to help them figure this stuff out! Thanks again!

  9. Sean says

    Steve and Chapps: follow the link in the article labled “enable the left sidebar”. I had the same problem as you guys and this cleared it up

  10. Steve says

    Same problem as Chapps. iPod Touch 3rd Gen, iTunes 11, iOS 5. When I click Music in the Device window, all I see is the message “The Touch can access music in iCloud. Songs can be downloaded and played via Wi-Fi or a cellular network.” There is no music at all in the window below that. On the Touch I see my playlists, but if I can only play them via the Cloud (and obviously not via a cellular network), that’s useless to me since I have no Cloud access where I want to play them. I need the music on the device! Turning off “Sync to iCloud” seems to have no effect.

  11. Chapps says

    Hmm. This doesn’t work for me. If I first click on the device, there’s no Add To button that appears under the device toolbar. However, if I first select Playlists, and highlight a single playlist, *then* I get the Add To button. If I click that button, all I get are the albums/songs on the left and the previously selected playlist on the right. There’s no way to get the device sidebar to appear – on my iTunes, it’s a full page and never a sidebar.

  12. Karen says

    Thanks for posting this, you saved me. Not sure what Apple was thinking by removing every existing user interface convention they’ve used up to now. I’m sorry I did the upgrade but at least now I can load my playlists.

  13. Susan says

    Thank you. It certainly is not intuitive, and your article made it easy to transfer newly-purchased songs to my older iPod classic, iPod nano, and iPod touch from the new iTunes 11.

  14. Pythonista says

    Good article. Now how do you do the reverse? Somehow I managed to have playlists present on my Nano that didn’t make it into the new iTunes. I can finagle the iTunes interface into showing my Nano playlists on the right, and my iTunes playlists on the left, but I cannot copy the playlists, or the playlist files from the Nano to iTunes. [I'm not an experienced iTunes user]

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