I want my iCloud!: a step-by-step guide to iTunes in the Cloud

by David D.

UPDATED for iTunes 10.5 and iOS 5

Thinking about iTunes Match? See Getting the Most out of iTunes Match

Let’s start out assuming you have an iPhone and a Mac or PC running iTunes.  Here’s what you need to do:

1.  Upgrade to iTunes version 10.5 – Open iTunes and select iTunes > Check for Updates.

2.  Get a compatible device – After you get your Mac or PC updated, you will need one of the following* to use iCloud and set up automatic downloads of new purchases:

  • iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 or 4S
  • iPod touch (3rd and 4th generation)
  • iPad, or iPad 2

3.  Update to iOS5 - You’ll need to plug into your computer for this one.  (If you’re already on iOS 5, you can upgrade to 5.0.1 over the air, but you’ll need to plug in to power first.)

4.  Set up or turn on iCloud - After the update, follow the onscreen instructions to setup iCloud, signing in with the Apple ID for the purchases you want to sync.  Want to use a different ID?

If you skipped the setup process, or want to change your settings, go to Settings > iCloud.  Choose the items you want to backup and sync with iCloud.

5. Configure Automatic Downloads - go to Settings > Store.

With automatic downloads set to ON, downloads on one computer or device will show up on the others.

6. Download purchase history and selectively download purchases not set on Automatic.

For songs, go to Music > Store (button at top left) and press the Purchased icon. (That’s where iTunes is hiding in iOS 5.)

Press Music again, then Not On this iPhone, and select All Songs, Recent Purchases or an individual Artist.  Finally, press Download All or the cloud download icon for individual tracks.

For Apps, go to App Store > Updates and press Purchased.

Select Not On This iPhone and press the cloud download icon for any apps you want to install.

Download [Name of Song] for Free!

*The fine print from Apple:

iCloud requires iOS 5 on iPhone 3GS or later, iPod touch (3rd and 4th generation), iPad, or iPad 2; a Mac computer with OS X Lion**; or a PC with Windows Vista or Windows 7 (Outlook 2007 or 2010 or an up-to-date browser is required for accessing email, contacts, and calendars). Some features require a Wi-Fi connection. Some features are not available in all countries. Access to some services is limited to 10 devices.

Music features of iCloud require iOS 4.3.3 or later on iPhone 3GS or later, iPod touch (3rd and 4th generation), iPad, or iPad 2; iOS 5 on iPhone 4 (CDMA model); or a Mac or PC with iTunes 10.3.1 or later. Download iTunes 10.5 free.

**The fine print from MMT: MobileMe users will need OS X Lion to migrate their Macs to iCloud, but the iTunes features of iCloud are working fine for me with Snow Leopard.

Comments Closed


ri po June 8, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Please help me for the following questions:

1) I just have Apps and Books on “Automatic Downloads”, how to get Music?

2) Does this “Automatic Downloads” use the wifi internet, or just the wifi with your Laptop?

3) When will Tunes Music release?

4) If i have song bought from other place and added it in my iTunes, will even that song sync with iCloud?

David D. June 8, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Hi –

If you are not in the US, you will have to wait, or move, because the beta music service is not available in any other country right now. As for your other questions: you will be able to download music via wifi, and optionally, 3G. Apple’s site says the services are “Coming this Fall”, and the iTunes Match service will sync your non-iTunes music for $24.99 a year.


Schpeen June 11, 2011 at 7:30 pm

WOW!! Great info…thanks everything working perfect for me!!!

BGoodman June 20, 2011 at 7:58 pm

When I click purchased, I see the Music, Apps, and Books tabs, but nothing appears under them. I’ve tried restarting, I’ve made sure automatic downloads is clicked… still nothing. I have an Intel Core 2 Duo and I’m running OS 10.5.8 and iTunes 10.3.1.


David D. June 20, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Not sure what the problem is. Here’s how I’d troubleshoot:

1. Are you logged into your iTunes account on the computer or device? (Nothing will show up unless you are logged in.)
2. Where are you clicking “Purchased”, on your computer or a on device?
3. If a computer, click on all of these after iTunes Store > Purchased: All | Songs | All Songs
4. Buy something new.
5. Still not working? Update your OS and iOS to the latest versions and try again.

loa October 17, 2011 at 5:44 pm

I’m a musician and I record a lot of my music on my iPod via voice memos and it automatically loads into iTunes when I connect my iPod to my macbook. I just bought the iPhone 4s and was talked out of buying the 64gig model because storage is no longer necessary…all my music can be in iCloud. But…everything I see about iCloud refers to purchased music. I don’t have any purchased music in iTunes…it is all recordings from classes and rehearsals. Is it possible to get that stuff into iCloud and shared across my devices?

David D. October 17, 2011 at 7:23 pm

Three things:

1. Right now, iCloud will only sync music purchased from iTunes.
2. Later this month, iTunes Match will allow you to upload any files that don’t match a song in the iTunes database. Presumably, this will allow you to sync your personal recordings to all your devices, at the cost of $24.99 per year.
3. Don’t know why they would discourage you from purchasing extra storage. iCloud doesn’t really stream music to your devices, it stores a copy in the cloud and syncs to each device by downloading the files. So you will still need local storage for all the songs you want to be available on your device.

Oh, and all the songs will count against your storage limit: 5GB free for everyone, 25GB for iTunes Match customers. After that, it’s $2 per GB per year (sold in 10GB increments).

Let me know how it works out!

Murphy Mac November 20, 2011 at 10:59 pm

I have this weird thing going in the Music app on my phone: Artists show up with clouds next to their name. But Match is currently turned off on the phone, and the artists with the cloud are not iTunes purchases.

Another thing: It seems like you can’t manage playlists for your iPhone from iTunes if you enable Match on the phone. That’s kind of short-sighted. I’d like to have the playlists I created sync to the phone. This HAS to be a temporary oversight, I hope.

Angela December 23, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Thank you for this info. This was such a huge mystery for me and wasted way too much time!

David D. December 23, 2011 at 1:02 pm

You’re welcome and happy holidays!

Greg January 7, 2012 at 10:19 pm

every thing is working excetp when i get into the music that is “not on this ipod” there isnt a download all button. any idea on how to fix it?

Greg January 7, 2012 at 10:19 pm

oh and my ipod is jailbroke

David D. January 8, 2012 at 2:21 am

At the “Not on this iPhone” screen, is there a line for “Recent Purchases”? If so, tap that and see if “Download All” appears.

Patty Mitchell January 20, 2012 at 8:09 pm

I downloaded a free full episode of the pilot of upcoming TV shownSmash. I saw it download then gone. I did find it in iTunes Fter hitting purchase..changing from music to TV app. I hit play and it keeps giving me 30 seconds of show that is 48ish minutes. Also looked i under video and found it but again only shows preview. Help!!

lokeswari January 22, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Are you downloading on one device, then trying to find it on another? If so, make sure you are signed in to the same iTunes account on both devices. If it still doesn’t show, try again — it’s free!

Spiro July 3, 2012 at 6:00 am

Hi guys,
Can anyone please tell me how I can transfer files to my ipad?

Recently a friend gave me me a USB with a few hundred books. These are loaded onto my Macbook pro but I cant seem to find a way to send these through icloud to my ipad. I would appreciate any help please

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