Regardless of the computer platform that you are running on, using the iTunes program is the best way to transfer songs between your computer and your iPhone. Here are the ins and outs.
The time to move songs between your computer and your iPhone is when you sync your iPhone to the contents of your computer. This sync is normally done using the iTunes program, which comes with Apple computers and can be obtained for Windows systems. If you don’t already have iTunes, you should get it before you attach a new iPhone to your computer. You can get iTunes, for either the PC or the Mac, at this link. All it will cost you is your email address.
Once you have installed iTunes and told it where on your computer to find your music, iTunes will do the rest and you will be ready to move your music to the iPhone. The first time you plug your iPhone into a USB port on your computer using the cable that came with the phone, you are asked if you want to merge data, replace data on your phone, or replace the data on your computer. Except in special situations, since the iPhone will be new and empty, you will want to replace data on the phone.
The sync process synchronizes more than just music between the iPhone and your computer. The iTunes screen that is automatically displayed when you plug in your iPhone has 8 tabs to control the synchronization process, including screens for photos, ringtones, video, and your applications. The controls for keeping your tunes in sync are on the “Music” tab, which looks like this:
Bear in mind that the sync process can be fairly complicated, since you can buy new music both on the iPhone or from your computer. So the sync program has to track which side of the connection has new songs, which could be both, and keep the two devices in lock-step with each other. ITunes will move any new songs on your computer to the iPhone, and will also move any new songs from your iPhone to your computer.
The music sync control panel, shown above, contains the options that you need to control this process. It is important to understand that you can stop the synch process from the iPhone end of the connection until you have set these options, simply by sliding the unlock bar to the right when the synch starts. Most versions of iTunes have also had an option to do this, at least at the time of the first sync.
You can choose not to synchronize any music at all by clicking on the checkbox labelled “Sync Music” and removing the check from it. If there is no check in this box, music will not be synced along with the rest of the selected information from your phone. With that box checked, however, you have a few other options to choose from.
If you select the top choice, “All songs and playlists” that is what iTunes will do; it will synchronize all of the music from both sources. You can also choose to sync music from only certain playlists available in your iTunes installation by selecting the “Selected Playlists” option. This will let you sync just the playlists from the desired ones on your computer. This is especially handy if you have a huge collection of music and don’t want it all (or it won’t all fit) on your iPhone. Just check each of the playlists on the screen to select those to move to the iPhone. You can always change your mind later.
You can also, of course, download music videos to both your iPhone and your computer, and iTunes will also keep these synced for you. Just check the box labeled “Include music videos” near the bottom of the Music tab in order to do this. Bear in mind that videos are larger than audio tracks, and that you could quickly fill up your iPhone with them.
There are other programs available to sync your music with your iPhone. But iTunes is the only one that I have seen that does a really good job of syncing all iPhone data with your computer and especially for no charge. If you know of a program that does as well, please leave me a comment and I’ll try to include it in this article. Even if you want to use another program to organize and play your music iTunes still seems like the best bet, at least to me, for syncing your music and everything else.