iTunes: 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 depending on the version you are using. Here’s how it’s done.

iTunes 12 – Option 1

  1. Connect your device to the computer.
  2. Select the icon for your device, located at the upper-left portion of the screen.
  3. Select the “Music” option on the left pane.
  4. Ensure the “Sync Music” check-box is selected.
  5. In the “Playlists” section, check the playlists you wish to sync with your iOS device.
  6. Select “Sync” and your playlist should sync.
    iTunes sync playlist option 1

iTunes 12 – Option 2

  1. Connect your device to the computer.
  2. Ensure the “Sync Music” check-box is selected under device icon > “Music“.
  3. Select the music note icon located at the upper-left portion of the screen, then choose the¬†“Playlists” tab at the top center portion of the screen.
    iTunes 12 Playlist tab
  4. Playlists are listed in the left pane. Select¬†the playlist(s) you wish to sync, then drag them to your device listed in the “Devices” section on the left pane. They will then sync to your device.
    iTunes Drag Playlist

iTunes 11

  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. Julie says

    I don’t have a “Sync Music” option, all I have in the music section is, “iTunes Match is On” with a “Sync voice memos” option:( how do I get the “Sync Music” option?

  2. Steve Lawson says

    I went to dozens of websites trying to solve my sync problems and was finally able to solve the problem with directions on this page.

  3. KAREN says

    Wow! Finally got one playlist onto my iphone (option 2 for iTunes 12) the only snag being the final point 6 ‘Sync’ is for me ‘Apply’. This has taken me literally days. Thanks so much.

  4. Tony says

    It looks like Apple has caved to the RIAA on how to make it nearly impossible to do anything with music on a device. Im sitting here a very tech savvy person wondering to myself if Ive been drinking too much lately and can’t figure this out. Its an absolute shame that its this hard to use iTunes now.

  5. Ron says

    Like many others, I cannot get the “sync playlist” button to appear AND I
    cannot get iTunes Match to turn off. It is great to have all this iCloud stuff but without high speed internet I need my playlist and they are trapped in iTunes Help! this is new what the —- did they do? I am trying to move Playlists to iPhone

  6. Roekie says

    Apple 2015 is upon us – use it wisely and write us a iTunes for blondies please. This is sad that we have to use blogs to try and figure out how to get music onto our apple devices. Why other devices makes it so easy and apple use to be but what happend.

  7. Meyer says

    I am a huge Apple fan, BUT what in the world were they thinking with the latest iTunes 12 update? I am computer literate but why have thy made it so hard to see your music, devices, and playlists at the same time like in the previous versions???? It has taken me over 2 hours to update a playlist. Please go back to the previous version where it was easy to drag a drop a some into a playlist, organize your music and move songs around in seconds not hours.

  8. Brett says

    Umm, sure if I want everything on my Ipad wiped out sure it works… no thanks… HOW hard is it Apple.. do you deliberately make things difficult?! How hard would it be to make it so we are still able to drag the playlist to the ipad or even just click the 3 dots next to the title and say add to ipad, just the same as any other album or artist. Or better yet make it like Android… just drag and drop the music I want on my device by picking it up dragging and dropping it on the device… how genius is that!!? Grrr…

  9. Audrey Carrier says

    Oh my gosh, I just spent a week trying not to stomp on my iPod because I couldn’t get my “Seasoned Greetings” playlist to sync. Your very clear, concise guide saved my poor little iPod from a sad, sorry fate. Thank you, thank you, and thank you.

  10. Dgard5150 says

    After you drag the playlist to the ipod it will flash, once that happens go back to your ipod and click synch in the lower right hand corner the playlist will then show up.

  11. Mike says

    For those who aren’t seeing the Sync Music checkbox, try this: In iTunes, go to the Store dropdown at the top of the screen and select Turn Off iTunes Match. The Sync Music checkbox should appear, then you can follow the instructions to sync the playlists you want. Once you’ve synced your iPod, you can unplug it and turn iTunes Match back on.

  12. Michael says

    Great post. Your use of graphics to number and highlight the steps for iTunes 12 was super helpful. Those having a problem need to be sure they are following the steps exactly, e.g. if you’ve not checked the Sync Music box (and selected playlists, artists, albums & genres radio button beneath that), then it won’t work. Thanks again, Mitch!

  13. Bianca says

    Hi all i tried several times but cannot copy playlists from itunes to iphone as described above. Reason is that i dont see the “sync music” button but rather i see “itunes match is on” and i can only select “sync voice memos”. How can i just sync playlists from itunes to iphone?

    thanks bianca

  14. Rob says

    Thanks for the iTunes 12 playlist instructions. I hate this new interface without the sidebar and couldn’t figure it out but now I got it, thanks.

  15. Colleen says

    I have version 12. I clicked the notes button for my ipad. Then I went and tried to drag a playlist to the ipad icon on the side (NOT the one on the top). The thing is, I have to scroll up to get to that. The little draggy thing only goes to the top of the visible window and it won’t scroll. I am very confused by all this because I don’t have a good mental map of what is ACTUALLY on the device. On playlists it just has a few tracks but there is way more music on the device. I would expect to see PLAYLISTS there, not tracks. Please help.

  16. Jeff Warner says

    Mitch — Your solution for IT12 looks good. Will the process clean the previous playlist/songs from the phone? Which boxes are ticked in the Summary section? Thank you.

  17. Nancy says

    This is not working. I have followed the steps for version 12. When I drag the playlist to the device it doesn’t sync. Just goes right back to playlist……so frustrating!

  18. Bill says

    Hi I have tried your directions and many others but my playlist will not drag to my iphone nor can i get sync to highlight Ive tried selecting and syncing playlist selected, full library etc to no avail. I have installed and uninstalled Itunes, and resett my phone. Nothing works

    can you help Im at my wits end.:D

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