iPhone and iPad Mac

5 Ways to Sync Music to Your iPhone Without iTunes

Tim Brookes 14-02-2017

You don’t need to wrestle with iTunes in order to get music onto your iPhone. There are several alternative methods and workarounds, from full-on media transfer replacements to cloud-based workarounds and direct media playback.


You’ll still need to use iTunes to sync your iPhone, but you can sever ties with Apple’s bloated device manager when it comes to personal entertainment.

Use the iTunes iOS App

Perfect for: iTunes customers who have purchased media from Apple in the past.

If you’re a loyal iTunes customer, and you have media purchases tied to your account, you can download music while avoiding the desktop app entirely. Provided your device is signed in to the same Apple ID you used to buy your music, you can simply open the iTunes Store app on your iPhone or iPad and head to More > Purchased > Music to see your catalogue.

5 Ways to Sync Music to Your iPhone Without iTunes itunes purchased

From here you can hit the cloud icon next to your music to download it. You can also purchase more music on the Music tab if you want to, then access it on any of your devices.


Alternative Library Managers

5 Ways to Sync Music to Your iPhone Without iTunes ios music

Perfect for: Copying music to your core iOS library, for use with the default Music app and other apps that provide media playback functionality. As this is a third party method, there is some risk involved.

Your iPhone stores its music in a media library, for which the Music app is essentially a front-end. Music that is stored in the core iOS library is easy to implement into other apps, which is how workout apps allow you to listen to music while receiving audio feedback at the same time.

It’s the way Apple designed music to work on your device, with iTunes serving as the entry-point for new files. There are a growing number of apps that write directly to this library, providing the “full fat” iOS music experience without the need for iTunes. The one drawback is that these are unofficial, so there’s a slight chance things will go wrong.


The best app for the job that we’ve tested is WALTR, a drag and drop affair that converts and transfers music directly to your device. Music added using WALTR is playable using the regular music app and other apps that use the iOS media library. The biggest drawback is the price, at just shy of $40. There’s a free trial available, so we suggest you try before you buy if you think you’re interested.


There are many iOS music manager apps The Best iPhone Music Apps and Alternative Music Managers for iOS What's the best music app for iPhone? Here are the best paid and free options for listening to music on iOS. Read More that offer this sort of functionality, but we’ve not tested them all: CopyTrans, Wondershare MobileGo, iMusic from iSkysoft, and AnyTrans to name but a few. They’re all a bit steep in terms of price, but most offer a free trial so you can make sure they work as you expect.

Streaming Music Services

Perfect for: Quickly building a music library from a cloud-based catalogue, with a monthly fee for accessing as much as you want.


If you don’t have a huge library of music, or you appreciate the flexibility of a subscription-based “all you can eat” model, then streaming services are a good alternative. The most obvious choice for iOS users is Apple Music 10 Essential Apple Music Tips You Really Need to Know Since its launch in 2015, Apple Music has come a long way, baby. Unfortunately, it's still not the easiest or most intuitive service to get to grips with. Which is where we come in... Read More , as it integrates into the stock Music app and is billed through your iTunes account.

5 Ways to Sync Music to Your iPhone Without iTunes icloud music library

With an Apple Music subscription, you can enable iCloud Music Library Apple Music Deleted Your Library? Tips for When Music Disappears Apple Music deleted your library? Songs you thought were safe in iCloud gone missing? Here's what you can do to recover and safeguard your collection. Read More under Settings > Music and build a catalogue of music in the cloud. Whatever you add to your collection on your iPhone will appear on your iPad, Mac, and other devices. It’s easy to download music to your device for offline use too, simply tap the cloud icon next to a playlist, album, or song to save to your device.

If Apple Music doesn’t appeal to you, you have options: Spotify, SoundCloudDeezer, YouTube Red, Google Play Music, Amazon Prime Music, Microsoft Groove, and Tidal to name but a few. Each provides both streaming playback and the ability to download music for use without an internet connection (and to save bandwidth).


Some even allow you to specify the quality of music you stream and download, allowing you to choose between quality and economy, and higher bitrates or more available space. The biggest drawback with streaming services is availability — if you can’t find it in the catalogue, you can’t listen to it. Most services come with a free trial, so make sure you’re happy before you pay.

Local Media Players

Perfect for: Transferring your own DRM-free local media, micromanaging your mobile collection, and audiobooks.

Local media players are different to library managers like WALTR because they don’t write data to your core iOS library. Instead the files are stored in app storage, and are only available to the app you used to import them. The best example of a media player that plays local files is the excellent VLC for Mobile.

5 Ways to Sync Music to Your iPhone Without iTunes vlc browser

We’ve covered the process of ditching iTunes in favor of VLC Ditch iTunes & Use VLC For iPhone & iPad Media VLC for iOS does rather a lot that Apple would probably rather it didn't. It's also better than iTunes for media on the go. Here's why. Read More before, and it can be an elegant solution for those who favor the manual approach to media management. Transfers can be done by drag-and-drop using a web browser and Wi-Fi, or using cloud services, or even connecting to a file server.

You can even send files using AirDrop AirDrop Not Working? Fix It Fast With These Tips Is AirDrop not working on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac? Here are several troubleshooting tips to fix AirDrop on your devices. Read More to your device, then choose which app you want to save the file to for later playback. Check out our full list of iOS music players The Best iPhone Music Apps and Alternative Music Managers for iOS What's the best music app for iPhone? Here are the best paid and free options for listening to music on iOS. Read More  or download VLC and give it a shot. We’ve got a guide to the best DRM-free audiobook players for iOS Top 3 Apps for Listening to DRM-Free Audiobooks on iPhone Don't listen to audiobooks using your iPhone's Music app, use a proper app and vastly improve the experience. Read More too, if thats your thing.

Store Music in the Cloud

Perfect for: Those with a healthy collection who want to access it on-the-go, users with plenty of spare cloud storage.

If you want to store your own personal music collection in the cloud, for access on virtually any device, you might want to look into a cloud solution. The drawback here is that you’ll need a decent amount of cloud storage space, which means paying some sort of subscription once you exceed your free allotment.

One of the best solutions is a Dropbox exclusive, using a free app called Jukebox [No longer available]. The app scans your Dropbox account for music files, then asks you what you want to import locally. It then sorts your files for you and allows you to play them offline. To add more music to your device simply upload it to Dropbox and import using Jukebox again.

There are solutions for virtually every service out there, like Google Play Music. Google’s service provides room for 50,000 personal songs for free, and offers a subscription-based music streaming service with 40 million songs ready to go. Amazon has Amazon Music, which is great if you have lots of existing Amazon music purchases as they’ll automatically appear in your account. Amazon also lets you transfer 250 songs for free, with the option to transfer 250,000 for $25 per year.

Finally a combination of Microsoft OneDrive and the Groove [No longer available] streaming app lets you use Microsoft’s own cloud storage for this purpose. You’ll get 15GB of storage for free, or you can fork over $7 per month for “unlimited” space. Load songs into OneDrive on your PC or Mac, then access them using Groove on your iPhone.

Have You Ditched iTunes?

iTunes isn’t quite dead yet. You’ll still need to rely on it for backing up your device locally, restoring backups (though you can restore your phone without iTunes), and syncing apps. The software is arguably less irksome on a Mac than it is on Windows, but in general it would be nice to see Apple overhaul iTunes and move iOS device management to a separate lightweight app.

Till then we can do everything in our power to avoid using it. For more on this, we’ve covered how to keep your iPhone and iPad synced. And if you’ve given up on iTunes on your Mac, check out these hi-res music player apps for Mac The 5 Best Hi-Res Music Player Apps for Mac If you're an audiophile who prefers high-resolution audio, iTunes simply won't cut it. So here are the best hi-res music player apps for Mac. Read More to enjoy your songs.

Related topics: Apple Music, iPhone, iPod Touch, iTunes, Wireless Sync.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Kaylee
    September 26, 2018 at 8:58 am

    I'd like to add DearMob iPhone Manager to this list. It transfer music between iPhone and computer and also backup iPhone data without iTunes.

  2. Tomik
    February 17, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    I use MyAudioStream and can listen music directly from Synology NAS' upnp server, and from ArkMS on Mac mini, even lossless formats. To listed outside my flat, I downloaded some albums. Also it can play music directly to my Sonos speaker. Everything in one place.

    • Alex Wrong
      March 1, 2018 at 10:11 am

      Try downloading MusConv app it's the best

  3. MrMinty
    July 29, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    WALTR is crap. Routinely misses songs out when syncing albums, i wouldn't recommend it.

    • Pako
      January 27, 2017 at 12:45 pm

      Are you kidding? WALTR is the best thing ever happening to my iPhone. If you have some issues, get them resolved with the tech support. You are just misleading people so much right now!
      Was using WALTR for so long, me and friends, and it always worked flawlessly!

  4. free585885
    July 27, 2016 at 4:21 am

    Dude, thanks. Nice and detailed post. I also hate iTunes. WinX MediaTrans is working good for me since I pick up it. Fast, stable, and zero data loss.

  5. Anonymous
    September 25, 2015 at 9:45 am

    well, if you want to sync music wirelessly, you can try the popular app - dropbox. If you want to do it on computer, FonePaw iOS Transfer is your first choice. I use both of them. They are great.

  6. Anonymous
    July 30, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    Hi everyone! I see comments about our product. We're currently developing WALTR and this is a really handy app that allows to copy music and videos to iPhone without iTunes in a very few seconds. There are versions available for Windows and Mac. You don't need to convert or sync your media anymore. Just drag and drop. WALTR is fast and simple in use, makes your life to be easier. Give it a try!

  7. Anonymous
    July 23, 2015 at 8:57 am

    Nice post, big thank to the author! For me WALTR app works the best to transfer music to iPhone without iTunes on both Win&Mac. I think it deserves to be accepted into your list!:)

    • Anonymous
      July 23, 2015 at 10:21 am

      yes!this app is really amazing! I agree, it definitely should be in the list!

      • Alex
        December 11, 2015 at 9:36 am

        Plus to both of you, guys. I've used WALTR to sync music (even FLAC!) that was my dream as I'm in love with High Quality sound. And it worked with any format. Strogly recommend it.

  8. carol2
    April 13, 2015 at 8:22 am

    I didn't use the 6 apps the article introduces. The only one I use is FonePaw iOS Transfer, which allows me to transfer music from iPhone to iTunes and back freely.

  9. Shady
    February 9, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    Thank for this wonderful toturial.... it really helped me alot....

  10. Iphone data transfer
    January 21, 2010 at 1:41 am

    These ways of syncing music to iphone without iTunes are really worth for transferring music from iphone, being easy to use because of its intuitive interface but what about contacts, SMS, emails of iphone or what to do when they have to be synced.

  11. anon
    January 18, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    It doesn't work Apple set up encryption on the touch to stop it.

  12. colarmac
    January 4, 2010 at 7:45 am

    I'd also like to recommend this iTunes alternative, I always use it to upload songs and videos to iPhone.

    December 25, 2009 at 12:39 am

    Listen up for you XP and MAC users Linux guys maybe can use wine with this.

    Iphone explorer will let you move files back and forth.

    pwnplayer allows you to play music off the filesystem.


  14. sal
    December 21, 2009 at 7:40 am

    Thanks, I hate iTunes

  15. Steffen
    December 16, 2009 at 2:10 am

    Thanks for this article. SharePod it is!

  16. LameAsses
    December 14, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Thanks Damien! MediaMonkey is the shiz!

  17. John
    December 10, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Hi all,

    I found this excellent tutorial on how to manage iPhone without iTunes

    Very interesting


  18. Dave
    December 4, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    ShareTunes just changed my life! It seems like such a simple program and it works so perfect! Thank you!

    Is anyone else tired of hearing the Apple maniacs pretend not to understand why we don't want to use iTunes? No one is that stupid. They are just stubborn and I'm so tired of hearing their BS. It's all good now though. I can finally control the music going onto and off of my iPhone without iTunes deleting my personal collection.

  19. valqk
    November 13, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Be aware. I wasn't able to get pwnplayer running on 3.1.2 and it simply crashes before start counting seconds of warning menu. (installed from cydia)
    I use dTunes now (took me half an hour to find pwnplayer alternative). dTunes supports torrent downloads ;-)

  20. ahmed
    October 27, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    thanks alot mate SharePod was amazing i was able to copy the music and videos from my iphone to my laptop with no problems and add music on the phone by draging

  21. iphone app reviews
    October 7, 2009 at 11:17 am

    I luckily already had iTunes when I purchased my iPhone. I can just imagine how much of a hassle it would have been if this article was never written. Really informative stuff.

  22. Susen
    September 27, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    Here is the step by step guide shows (dvd-video-soft.com/dvdvideoguide/transfer-songs-from-ipod-itouch-iphone-to-computer-or-itunes.html) how to add audio and video files from your PC to your iPod/iPhone, such as music and movie.

  23. TheMaestro
    September 15, 2009 at 4:41 am

    Quick update:
    CopyTrans Manager supports iPhone OS 3.1 natively.

  24. Snakeq
    September 6, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Damn, doesn't work on 3.0 OS

  25. Snakeq
    September 6, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Thanks a lot for the post!

  26. Matty
    August 7, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    This article needs a major upgrade! This is already out of date - worthless in the current scheme of iPhone 3GS and 3.0 firmware.

  27. James
    July 30, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    Don't listen to all this copytrans spam. You can't transfer music to your 3.0 IPHONE with it. It can only play and copy music to your computer... but there are plenty of free alternatives out there...

  28. Jared
    July 30, 2009 at 11:43 am

    CopyTrans Manager, works perfectly. Ensure to load klite before trying to play video. Should already have it installed but you know.

  29. Will_Petersen
    July 27, 2009 at 4:11 am

    Kash, I switched to CopyTrans Manager when I bought an iPhone 3GS last month. Works great so far.

  30. Kash
    July 23, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    I have an iphone 3GS. I have no idea how to get songs onto my iphone and I refuse to use itunes. What program can I use? Please help.


    • SuperJerk
      July 31, 2009 at 5:11 pm

      Kash - Try "ImToo iPhone Transfer"...works great, I'm still using the trial period version because Im a cheap bastard. After transfering about a hundred files, it will only add one file at a time, but is still free. Also you can try "iPhonebrowser"...you can drag and drop files in or out but it's a bit more complicated...Good luck

  31. Avery
    July 10, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    Anyone get gtkPod to work. I followed the instructions but still can’t get it to work.

  32. Samuel_Leonard
    July 9, 2009 at 8:33 am

    Thanks for this article.

    I tried Mmonkey but it doesn't seem to work with the latest iPhone 3GS and OS 3.

    For now, it appears that CopyTrans Manager is the only free iTunes alternative that works with iPhone 3GS and firmware 3.

  33. Konstantin
    June 19, 2009 at 6:00 am

    "...that you can use to sync your iPhone and iPod Touch with your computer."
    Yes this is really interesting.

  34. Prince
    June 9, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    i downloaded sharepod and it works great for my iphone, now i don't have to use itunes any more.i lv this software!!!!!!

    • Damien Oh
      June 10, 2009 at 8:48 pm

      I am glad that it works for you.

  35. Chris
    May 28, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    Songbird isn't much good because it doesn't do album art.
    Thumbs up for Sharepod though, it's great!

  36. Daniel
    May 28, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    iphones are the best tech. I have seen it's like a mini computer really, itunes slows my computer down to a crawl and software unlocked iphones can cause your phone to brick if you dont know what you are doing LOL...

  37. Dav
    May 27, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Pretty useless info, me being a Linux user. Just a repeat from other articles. Did you just copy and paste this info?

  38. Jay
    May 26, 2009 at 7:57 am

    Thanks for this great article!

    I use CopyTrans Manager with my iPhone. I think the interface and the usability are much better as Sharepod.

    The ratings, artwork and tag editing are very nice functions: Good point for CopyTrans Manager.

    The fix works really fine: Absolutely no problem with iTunes and other apps.

    I will try MediaMonkey and Winamp in a couple of day, but I think they are not a very good solution for people who want to use a light iPod manager.


  39. cpx
    May 25, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    i use amarok for linux.. its much cooler

  40. iPhone
    May 25, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    Anyone get gtkPod to work. I followed the instructions but still can't get it to work.

  41. evan Varsamis
    May 25, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    this is damb m8, why cant u just use itunes?:S

    • maks
      February 7, 2010 at 11:19 pm

      maybe cos... It's TOTALLY CRAP!!!

  42. tripslip38
    May 25, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Uhhh... Amarok? Better than gtkPod in my opinion because it's coupled with an app that useful for something besides syncing the ipod. This article does suck.

    • Sean
      May 25, 2009 at 10:41 pm

      He mentioned Amarok, and said that only the old version can sync to iphone and not the new one.l This is completely true (gtkPod is better anyways though, for reasons I don't feel like getting into).

      You should mention that gtkpod/amarok sync over wireless which can be very convenient.

  43. Lodhi
    May 25, 2009 at 10:09 am

    Winamp works perfectly fine with Iphone 3g! Just download and install the ml_ipod plugin..

  44. Evil
    May 25, 2009 at 7:19 am

    Foobar and foo_dop for the win.

    Supports iPhone+iPod, converts folder.jpg to iTunesDB format (no need to embed art in tags and waste space), converts Replaygain to Apple SoundCheck, transcodes non-supported formats, can copy songs back to PC, and is as simple as right clicking and selecting "Send to iPod".

  45. Movie Guru
    May 25, 2009 at 6:03 am

    Man..i sure dislike iTunes. It clogs up my computer and it's slow as hell on my laptop.

  46. B
    May 25, 2009 at 5:56 am

    Odd that you preface the article with a moan about there being little in the way of offerings for Linux users, and so of the 6 solutions proposed, 1 is specifically for Linux and is afforded less real estate than any of the others, 1 is for any platform but requires jailbreaking, and all 4 of the remaining ones are for Windows? This article should be replaced with an instruction to run a search on Google: it'd be more informative and balanced.

  47. open_source_ftw
    May 25, 2009 at 5:54 am

    Of course, you could always buy an mp3 player from a company that isn't obsessed with stifling creativity and consumer rights with soul-sucking DRM and built-in platform dependence.
    My Android phone works with every computer I plug it into, so long as it supports plugging a thumb drive in.

  48. Konstantin
    May 25, 2009 at 4:55 am

    "iPhone, and IPod connection with computers" - a lot of time trying to put on XP, but failed.

  49. anon
    May 25, 2009 at 3:49 am

    hahah silly ipod users syncing,
    you know how i sync my dap, plug and play baby, plug and play

  50. thegoddamnman
    May 25, 2009 at 2:15 am

    This article is misleading and full of teh suckness. It starts out by talking about linux users who can't sync, but then talks about 4 windows only apps(2 of which don't work), 1 any platform(as long as its an iphone), and 1 linux app (but you have to be "geeky and advantageous enough"). WTF?

    I hate comments, but I hate this article more. Totally Wucking Forthless!

  51. Damien Oh
    May 25, 2009 at 12:35 am

    Winamp work with iPhone provided you install the ml-ipod plugin. You can find more information at http://mlipod.sourceforge.net/wiki/IPhone_and_iPod_touch_support

  52. Mark
    May 25, 2009 at 2:00 am


    The very best player and music collection organiser available.

    Older version, for KDE 3, handles iPods like so:

    The current version, for KDE 4, is described here:

    There are some problems that arise from time to time as Apple introduces new models, but these are normally fixed quite rapidly:

    Media devices is a feature that is still to-do for the KDE 4 version of Amarok, which is Amarok 2.

  53. iPhone
    May 25, 2009 at 12:21 am

    There is always a virtual iPhone like Interactive iPhone

  54. Josh
    May 24, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    What about floola ... floola.com