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How to transfer mp3 files and playlists from Windows PC to iPhone

I recently got my first iPhone and wanted to transfer some audio mp3 files from my PC to it. It is not so easy as the interface is not very intuitive. I had to spend a couple of minutes figuring out how to do it. Here’s what I’ve learnt.

How to copy single mp3 file from PC to iPhone

First things first. In order to transfer files from your computer to iPhone, you need to install iTunes first (if you do not have it, grab it here). After you download and install it, you also need to connect your phone to your PC with a USB cable. You should see something like that:


iTunes first open

Now we are ready to start. Click on the small iPhone icon first, we need to change some settings. iTunes wants to do things for you which may not be such a brilliant idea. Uncheck Automatically sync when this iPhone is connected option. Then check the one at the bottom which is Manually manage music and videos. Do not forget to confirm these new settings by clicking on the Done button at the bottom of the page.

Change iTunes settings

In the iTunes, on the left-hand side, you will see two areas: Library (different files from your PC) and iPhone (of course your connected iPhone). Before we can transfer mp3 file to the iPhone, we need add it first to the library. Use the File menu and choose either Add folder to the library (if you want to add to Library many files at the same time) or Add file to the library. I will be adding just one music file, so I will choose the latter.

Once you click, you need to point to the folders or files you want to add (a small window will pop out where you can choose the files, I am sure you know how to navigate through your computer hard drive to the correct place). If you want to add multiple files at once, you may press Shift or Ctr key on your keyboard and click them. Click Open to add them to the library.

Add files to the library

At this stage you should have one or more files in the library, but, of course, our main objective is to transfer them to the iPhone. You can do it by dragging and dropping the files. If you have many files, press Alt + A on your keyboard to mark all of them. Then click and hold on any file, drag it to Music folder in the iTunes and finally drop it (if you transferring single file, click and hold, drag it to the Music folder of the iPhone and drop there.

Drag and drop mp3 file(s) from library to Music folder in iPhone

That is all really, the iTunes will automatically copy file(s) to your iPhone. You can verify if by clicking the ‘Music’ folder or by opening Music app on your phone. The mp3 file should on your iPhone and should be able to listen to it.

How to transfer Playlist with mp3 files from PC to iPhone

Many mp3 files on the internet lack good metadata and if you transfer such files to your iPhone it is difficult later on to organise them. So I think it is a good idea to organise all your files in the iPhone in Playlists. This is how to do it.

Basically the first few steps will be similar as before. Of course you need to open your iTunes and connect your iPhone. Later, you need to make sure that the general iTune settings will allow you to Manually manage music and videos (to access these settings, you need to click on the iPhone icon at the top).

Now, instead of adding one mp3 file, you add a few ones. Let me add one more file to my previous file (again, I use Add file to the library from File menu at the top).

I have two mp3 files now that I want to group in one Playlist. I press Alt + A or select the files with the cursor and then right-click. Choose from the small menu Add to playlist and New playlist (we do not have any playlists at the moment, so we need to create one):

Create playlist

Type the name of your playlist and press Enter (I named my playlist ‘Pop songs’). Obviously, you will be able to add new files to your playlist. All you have to do is to add them to the Library, select them, right-click and add them to the playlist. But for this tutorial we will add only two files. This is how my playlist ‘Pop songs’ looks like:

Name your playlist

At this point we have our songs and playlist in our library but we need to copy them to the iPhone. We use slightly different method because, as far as I know, you cannot drag and drop playlist.

First, click the iPhone icon again and then choose ‘Music’ from the menu. On the right-hand side you should see Sync Music checkbox. Select it and then choose Selected playlists, artists, albums and genres.

Activating this option will allow you to transfer specific files (parts of playlists, albums and so on). In my case I will just mark one Playlist ‘Pop songs’. Basically, select what you want to transfer to your iPhone. Once you are happy, confirm by clicking Apply button at the bottom.

Copy playlist to iPhone

Once you click Apply button, the playlist together with the tracks will be transfer automatically to the iPhone. While the files are being transferred, you can see the information about what is going on at the top of the page. In my case the process took only a few seconds but if you transfer more data it will take longer. Once the process is finished, you can check what was transfer by clicking on Music from On My Device menu on the left. I could see that both track has been transferred successfully. At the bottom you will also see your iPhone playlist. If you click on it, it will show all the tracks on that playlist. Obviously, you can also see the playlist and the tracks on your phone as well.

Final information. Using this second option for transferring playlist with mp3 files dis-activates the Manually manage music and videos. If you want to drag and drop files later on or manually delete playlists or files, you need to activate it again. To access this option, you need to click the ‘Summary’ on the left-hand side (almost at the top, just below the iPhone icon).

OK, that is all for today. I hope you have found it useful, please let me know if you have any questions in the comments below. I have created a short YouTube video with this tutorial. If something is not clear at this stage or you prefer video format, have a look below.

How to transfer mp3 files and playlists to iPhone (video tutorial)

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