How to restore Apple Music library

6 min read

Even though we live in the age of unlimited music streaming, it feels great to create and cherish a personal music library. While streaming services allow you to mix in your personal files into the library, they remain in a precarious state and could be removed by accident, a bug, or a change in features. 

How can you keep your music library intact? What do you do if you find music missing on iPhone? And how do you restore Apple Music library on Mac?

Why is your Apple Music library missing?

Apple Music is an app on all Apple devices that is both a streaming service and a library of purchases. It was built on top of iTunes and has a convoluted UX due to the amount of features jammed in one place.

That’s why there are plenty of reasons for seeing music missing on iPhone and Mac: 

  • Your library might not be properly synced between devices (either partially or completely)
  • Physical music files might have been moved to a different location on your Mac
  • Music files might not have been downloaded from the cloud
  • Files have been deleted
  • Apple Music is experiencing server issues
  • There’s not enough storage space on your device

Let’s go through all the bullet points in detail and see how we can fix them.

How to recover deleted music from iCloud

If you have been buying music on iTunes and Apple Music, and now want to sign up for the Apple Music streaming services — beware. 

Apple Music syncs files to all your devices from its streaming library. It scans your local library first, replaces any matches with equivalent streaming files (that’s how people lose their local library), and then converts any leftover local files to Apple’s standard 256 Kbps AAC format. 

In case the music you purchased from iTunes has disappeared from the library, you can re-download it by going to Account > Purchases.

Find purchased music in Music on Mac

Other local music files should stay intact, although there have been bug reports of them being deleted as well. You might have to re-download the music from various sources again and remember to always keep an up-to-date backup.

There are, however, more reasons for music missing on iPhone and Mac.

Music not syncing on iCloud

If you see your music files on Mac but don’t see them on iPhone, it’s likely because the devices haven’t been synced in a while or the sync is currently turned off.

To re-sync devices, connect your phone to your Mac via USB, open Finder, click on the phone icon, switch to music, and click sync (either complete or selective). 

To re-enable syncing, go to Settings on your phone, scroll down and tap on Music, and toggle on Sync Library. 

Music moved to a different location

If your Music app doesn’t make copies of your local music files but instead references them somewhere on your Mac, moving those files around would result in them disappearing from the Music app. 

To fix this, you can use File > Import (Command + O) to find the new location. 

To future-proof this fix, you can go to Preferences > Files and check “Copy files to Music Media folder when adding to library.” Now all the imported files would be copied to instead of referenced in the library.

Import Apple Music library

Music has been deleted

If you happen to delete a song, an album, or a playlist, you can try restoring them from the Trash right after. In case your Trash has been emptied, the only solution is to use file recovery software like Disk Drill. 

Disk Drill is a professional data recovery app, which can help you retrieve files regardless of the loss cause, whether they were on your Mac or external drive. In addition, the app features a useful disk space analyzer and a simple backup solution.

To get missing music back with Disk Drill: 

  1. Launch the app
  2. Select your hard drive
  3. Click “Search for lost data”
  4. Recover any music files detected

data recovery tool

Apple Music servers are down

While server outages are rare, they do happen. In case that your library has disappeared and you can’t stream any other music either, check whether the Apple Music server is operational: 

  1. Visit
  2. See if there’s a green or red light next to Apple Music

    Apple Music servers status check

Even if the Apple Music server is down, it should be back online within a few minutes.

Not enough available storage on Mac

If you can’t retrieve music from iCloud and your music library is not syncing offline properly, it might be due to the lack of storage space on your Mac. 

One option to help restore Apple Music songs on iPhone and iPad and Mac is to find and delete files that take a lot of space manually. But this can take a lot of time. 

A better idea is to use an automatic cleaning solution like CleanMyMac X. 

CleanMyMac X is a quick and powerful way to clean and speed up your mac in seconds. It features a wide range of scans, from malware to system junk, and lets you delete large, unused, and useless files instantly. 

To use CleanMyMac X to free up space: 

  1. Launch the app
  2. Navigate to System Junk in the sidebar
  3. Click Scan
  4. Select the files you want to remove
  5. Remove

free up your disk space

How to back up your Apple Music library

Now that you’re able to retrieve music from iCloud again, the last important step is to make a backup you can depend on in case your files ever get lost again. The ultimate tool for making Mac backups is Get Backup Pro. 

Get Backup Pro makes any type of backup easy, whether you’re looking for simple copy, clone, incremental, or versioned options. You can specify a schedule, a folder, and a destination (e.g. external hard drive). You can even synchronize files between two Macs. Recovering any files is just as easy, and you don’t even need Get Backup Pro installed to recover them. 

backup Music Library

You can see how making sure you don’t get music missing on iPhone and Mac is just a matter of making a few tweaks in Apple Music settings. But it’s always better to have the right tools on your Mac that can help you with any emergencies, such as Disk Drill for file recovery, CleanMyMac X for freeing up disk space, and Get Backup Pro for high-quality backups.

Best of all, you can get Disk Drill, CleanMyMac X, and Get Backup Pro free for seven days through the trial of Setapp, a platform with more than 240 curated apps across all categories for both Mac and iOS. Try every Setapp app that’s interesting to you at no cost today and find new favorites.

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