iPhone and iPad

A Guide To Easily Managing Playlists On Your iPhone

Bakari Chavanu 07-11-2012

manage iphone playlistsWhile I think managing and playing tunes on your iPhone is not as good as doing so on the classic iPod The iPod Classic: Still The Best MP3 Player For Music Lovers [Opinion] Back in 2001, the release of Apple's iTunes brought me back to listening to jazz, and a little of rap and R&B music. A few years before then, I was reluctant to shell out $15... Read More , there are a few advantages with the iPhone and other iOS devices that you might not be aware of. The storage space on a typical iPhone is not large enough for say a 40+ GB iTunes library collection, so you definitely need to manage playlists on your iPhone.


However, creating and adding playlists on your iPhone and iPod touch is now easier with wireless syncing. You can now keep your mobile device freshly stocked with new songs and playlists without the hassle of plugging your device to your computer. In fact, even if you don’t have a computer, you can still download and manage music on your iPhone.

Initial Setup

To get started with creating and managing playlists on your device, you first of course need to get music on your iPhone. To do so, you can either make a wired or wireless connection to the iTunes library on your computer, select your iPhone (or iPod touch) under Devices, and then select the Music category.

manage iphone playlists

Select the Sync Music box, and if your entire music library is larger than the amount of space you have on your iPhone, you should select “Selected playlists, artists, albums, and genres.” With the latter option, you can go through and select which current playlists, albums, etc. you want to add to the Music library on your device.

The storage bar at the bottom of iTunes shows how much space you have left on your iPhone as you add selected content to it. Finally you click the Sync button to add the selected content to your device.


managing playlists on iphone

You can also download music directly to your iPhone via the default iTunes app or the Music app on your device.

managing playlists on iphone

Finally, to complete the initial setup, launch the Settings app on your iPhone, and tap on General > iTunes Wi-Fi Sync to enable automatic wireless syncing between your iPhone and the iTunes Library on your Mac or PC. The device will sync when you plug it into a power source and are connected to Wi-Fi. You can also manually force it to sync by tapping the Sync Now button.


managing playlists on iphone

Another way to set up playlists on your iPhone is to use iTunes Match. James explained how to do so in his definitive guide How to Set Up iTunes Match for the First Time: The Definitive Guide Our definitive guide to what iTunes Match is and how to upgrade all your matched songs to high-quality versions. Read More . You can also use Home Sharing The iPod Classic: Still The Best MP3 Player For Music Lovers [Opinion] Back in 2001, the release of Apple's iTunes brought me back to listening to jazz, and a little of rap and R&B music. A few years before then, I was reluctant to shell out $15... Read More which enables you to share the iTunes library on your iOS device.

Managing & Creating Playlists

With a sync connection set up, you can at anytime open your iTunes and select and deselect playlists to sync back to your iPhone. As you play songs on your iPhone and your computer, the play count and ratings you add will also sync between devices. See my article, How To Create 5 Smart iTunes Playlists For iPad, iPhone & iPod How To Create 5 Smart iTunes Playlists For iPad, iPhone & iPod Read More for more ideas about playlists.

Now that you have music on your device, you can also create new playlists without your computer connection. In the Music app on your iPhone, tap on Playlists. You’ll see your existing playlists from your computer. But to create another list from your existing content, tap on “Add Playlist…” and give the list a name.


managing iphone playlists

Next you simply go down your Artists, Songs, Albums or Genres lists and select songs you want to add to your new playlist.

managing iphone playlists

Genius Playlist

Another even faster way to create playlists on your device is to use the Genius Playlist feature. Genius Playlist works like a DJ, selecting a playlist of songs for you based on a song you choose.


The easiest way to set up a Genius Playlist is to tap on a song in an existing list, and then tap on the Genius Playlist icon under the title of that song. If the iTunes library on your device has enough similar songs to the one you selected, then it will make a playlist for you.

managing iphone playlists

The Genius Playlist will use the title of the song you selected as the title of your playlist. Notice also you can Save, Refresh, and Edit a Genius Playlist. Refresh means that new songs will be added or replace other songs on the list. You can also remove individual songs from a Genius Playlist that you think don’t fit.

manage iphone playlists

For other iTunes-related articles, check out these:

Let us know what you think of the playlist features for the iPhone and other iOS devices. What features do you wish were added?

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  1. Anonymous
    June 10, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    Thanks for the playlist management tips. What I would like is to be able to play a song on my iPhone and while plating or just after adding it to a playlist, or remove it. This would allow me to maintain or improve my playlists continuously while listening to the music.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      June 11, 2015 at 5:23 pm

      Hi Dusan, thank for the feedback. There's been some significant changes to iTunes since I wrote this article. Your selected songs and playlists on your iOS device are supposed to stay in sync with the iTunes library on your Mac, but I get mixed results in that area. Unfortunately I haven't had the time to investigate further how to get iOS music to sync well with iTunes. If I can ever figure it out, I'll see about writing an article about it.

  2. Boni Oloff
    November 8, 2012 at 3:59 am

    Do you know guys, that the new iTunes is delayed again?
    I see it is will released in October, and then i see again it changed to November. Are they really serious about it?

    • Bakari Chavanu
      November 8, 2012 at 4:41 pm

      Yeah, Boni, it's been delayed big time. I personally don't have a problem with iTunes, but it has a lot of features and sections that make it somewhat complicated for many people to use. So I suspect Apple is trying to make sure it's good and ready for release.