4 Ways to Delete Music from iPhone, iPad, iCloud, or iTunes

Whether you’re trying to delete a single song or your entire music library, removing music from your iPhone can be a big process with a lot of questions that come up along the way. For instance, a lot of users are confused about where songs are deleted from. Especially if you have Apple Music, it’s good to know the difference between deleting a song from your iPhone and deleting a song from iCloud Music Library or iTunes. There also may come an occasion when you want to delete all the music from your iPhone. Or maybe you have limited iPhone storage and you need to free some space up by removing downloaded music from your iPhone without deleting the music from your iCloud Music Library collection. We’ll cover everything you need to know about deleting songs from your iPhone, iTunes, and iCloud.

Related: How to Make All Your Music Available Offline in Apple Music

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There are few important but subtle differences between users that subscribe to Apple Music and those that don’t. Especially when it comes to deleting your music from iPhone, it’s best to have a concrete idea of which songs you want to erase and from where: iPhone or iPad, iTunes, or iCloud. Furthermore, if you’re trying to delete all the music from your iPhone but don’t want to mess with your iTunes or iCloud Music collection, our tip on that below will be a huge time saver. It may seem like a lot to process, but read the section below thoroughly if you’re unsure about when and where music is removed or deleted from your iPhone, iPad, or other devices connected by the same Apple ID.

If I Delete Music from My iPhone, Will It Stay on iTunes? What about iCloud?

  • Apple Music subscribers have access to iCloud Music Library, which allows you to store music in the cloud. Since that music is in the cloud, it’s accessible on all devices (iPad, iPhone, and Mac).

  • When you download a song from the cloud onto your device, it’s downloaded locally, allowing you to listen to the song offline.

  • A song that’s downloaded on your iPhone doesn’t automatically download to your Mac or iPad but is available online via the cloud.

  • When you delete a song from your iPhone, you can either delete the download or the song. Here’s the important part:

    • If you delete the download, the song will no longer be available offline, but it will still be in your iCloud Music Library. The song will also still be available across all of your iCloud-connected devices for online listening, whether on Wi-Fi or cellular. This means the song is also available via iTunes.

    • If you delete the song from your music library, you delete it from your collection, which means you’re deleting it from your iCloud Music Library. It will not be available on any of your devices. This means the song is also gone from iTunes.

  • Non Apple Music Subscribers: All songs you sync from iTunes are stored locally on your device. When you delete a song from your iPhone, you remove it from all of your devices. However, the song you delete from your iPhone will still be available in your iTunes library or via your iTunes purchases. Non Apple Music subscribers do not have access to iCloud Music Library unless you’re subscribed to iTunes Match, in which case the “important part” above applies to you. But songs you delete that you’ve purchased can still be redownloaded via your iTunes Store Purchases.

How to Delete Songs from iPhone

This is also how to remove a song from your iCloud Music Library. When subscribed to Apple Music (or iTunes Match), you have access to iCloud Music Library. You’re able to play songs in your iCloud Music Library that aren’t stored locally on your device, when connected to Wi-Fi or cellular data. When you delete a song from Apple Music, you are deleting that song from your iCloud Music Library and all of your devices connected to the Apple ID associated with your iCloud Music Library. However, if you want to delete a song you own within your iTunes library, you’ll need to get on your computer. To delete songs from your iPhone:

  • Open the Music app and find the song or album you want to delete.

  • If you have 3D Touch, Peek & Pop the song or album to bring up your options.

  • If you don’t have 3D Touch, tap and hold the song to bring up the menu.

  • Select Remove... from the list.

  • Tap Delete from Library. Deleting a song from your library will also remove the download.

  • If you don’t have Apple Music or iTunes Match, your only option will be to Delete from Library.

  • On iPhone, you can redownload the song by visiting the iTunes store and restoring your purchase of the song. If it's a song you own (have downloaded from somewhere other than the iTunes Store), the song will still be available in iTunes on your computer.

If you need to delete all music or a lot of music from your iPhone, use this part of the article to easily do so within Settings.

How to Remove Music from iPhone but not iCloud

When you’re subscribed to Apple Music, iCloud Music Library is the home for all of your songs. If you use the tip above to delete a song from your iCloud Music Library, you’ll have to open Apple Music, find it, and add the song to your iCloud Music Library once more.

This tip, however, allows you to simply remove the download of the song on your iPhone. Doing so is the best of both worlds because the song will remain in your collection yet it won’t take up space on your iPhone. To remove a song from your iPhone but not your iCloud Music Library:

  • Open the Music app and find the song you want to remove the download of.

  • If you have 3D Touch, Peek & Pop the song or album to bring up your options.

  • If you don’t have 3D Touch, tap and hold the song to bring up the menu.

  • Select Remove... from the list.

  • Select Remove Download(s).

How to Delete ALL Music from iPhone or iPad

If you need to delete all the music from your iPhone or iPad, you can access your music collection within the Settings app to easily mass delete songs. This is probably the fastest way to remove music from your iPhone. If you’re an Apple Music subscriber, this is a nice option for deleting all of your music because you can only delete downloads. Removing songs from Music in Settings will not affect your iCloud Music Library collection. If you’re not an Apple Music subscriber, you can use this tip to easily delete music from your iPhone.

  • Open the Settings app on iPhone.

  • Tap Music.

  • Under downloads, selected Downloaded Music.

  • Tap Edit in the top right corner.

  • To delete ALL music from your iPhone, tap the red circle next to All Songs. Select Delete.

  • To selectively mass delete music, tap the red circle next to any artist’s music you want to delete. Tap Delete.

  • When you’re finished deleting music from your iPhone or iPad, tap Done.

How to Delete a Song from Your iTunes Library (Mac or PC)

If you still own music—as in have the files on your computer, imported into iTunes for use with your device—then you can use this tip to delete said music forever. If it’s music you’ve purchased from iTunes, you can delete it and still be able to download it later by restoring your purchases. If it’s an Apple Music song, it’s part of your iCloud Music Library and will be deleted from said library. But if it’s a song you imported from a CD or downloaded from a different place on the internet, then you can really, truly delete the song and its file from your computer’s hard drive. To delete a song from your iTunes library:

  • Open iTunes on your Mac or PC. It doesn’t matter which you have in this case—once the software is downloaded, it’s roughly the same on both Mac and PC.

  • Locate the song you want to delete. (*note that you can also multi-select songs to be deleted).

  • Right-click on the song.

  • Click Delete.

It will ask if you want to keep the file on your computer or delete the file. If you keep the file, you can always change your mind and import the song to iTunes later. If you delete the file, it will be moved to your computer’s trash bin. 

How to Optimize Music Storage with iOS 10

Optimizing your iPhone music storage in iOS 10 is pretty easy to do and completely automatic. Optimizing storage on iPhone means selecting a minimum amount of storage your music can take up and allowing your iPhone to remove the downloads of all that extra music you rarely listen to. I love this feature because it helps me create more storage on my iPhone automatically while keeping all my music available in the iCloud Music Library. To turn on automatic music storage optimization:

  • Open the Settings app.

  • Tap Music.

  • Select Optimize Storage.

  • Toggle on Optimize Storage.

  • Under Minimum Storage you’ll see five options: None, 4 GB, 8 GB, 16 GB, and 32 GB.

  • Select the amount of music you want your iPhone to keep downloaded on your iPhone.

When your music storage capacity exceeds the limit selected, your iPhone will automatically remove the downloads of music you rarely listen to. But turning this on will not affect your iCloud Music Library collection at all, only the music downloads.

 

Top Image Credit: Yeamake / Shutterstock.com
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Becca is a blogger, freelance writer, and iDevice addict. She lives in the middle of the Arizona desert with her husband and two boys, and can't imagine life getting any better. Read about her crazy life at MyCrazyGoodLife.com, or connect with her on twitter @BeccaLudlum