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. Nick says

    Thanks you for the guide. I spent 30 minutes simply trying to find the way to copy a playlist to my iPod (I’d created others back in iTunes 10, simply checked manually sync and playlist tree would come up so you could select from there) and was in disbelief about two things…first, how NON-intuitive it was. Second, how absolutely useless iTunes help was when I entered “add playlist to ipod” in the help search…a pack of things came up, and the first ten didn’t relate. Apple is the worst in search help…Adobe is a close second…lol Microsoft is better for crying out loud! Don’t they have enough money to hire someone who is actually GOOD at making the user experience intuitive (instead of just slick and different). While they’re at it, hire another person to help them understand that, while the UX group may like to keep themselves busy changing things, it’s NOT changing good things that no one’s complaining about that makes the users happy. Sheesh, absolutely terrible. And they’ll keep on doing it.

  2. Keith says

    I ran into a problem with iTunes 12 Option 1, Step 4 (or Option 2, Step 2). When I select the Sync Music checkbox, a warning box appears asking, “Are you sure you want to remove existing music” etc. “from this iPod and sync with this iTunes library?” I’m sure I DON’T want to remove everything else and sync the entire library. I just want to copy a single playlist to my iPod without changing anything else. But the options are “Cancel” and “Remove and Sync.” What do I do?


  3. Cris says

    Thank you for the guide. I used ‘iTunes 12 – Option 2′ and it worked!

    Now, can iPod be made to play tunes in the order I select? The playlist is in the desired order, and “Copy to play order” is clicked (but no checkmark appears beside it). All the tunes get to the iPod but arrive there in a random order.

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