Apple Music & Storage: 7 Common Questions (Answered)

Apple Music has become, for its countless users, the number one source of musical entertainment. With over 100 million tracks to explore and listen to, Apple Music’s streaming service offers a vast choice.

However, all these songs can take up space on your device if you want to download them for offline listening. In this article, we look at the most common questions surrounding Apple Music’s effect on storage.

Macbook open on wooden desk. IPhone with apple music on screen. Headphones plugged into iphone.

How Much Storage does Apple Music Use?

The amount of storage space that Apple Music takes up on your particular device will depend entirely on how you use the app.

There are some major factors to consider when trying to work out how much storage Apple Music will take up:

  1. Whether you stream or download tracks.
  2. The audio quality that you download your tracks – quality settings affect the file size for each track.
  3. The amount of music that you download for offline play.
  4. Whether you are clearing the cached files that build up through using Apple Music.

As you can see, there are numerous ways in which your usage of Apple Music can result in your device’s storage space being used up at different levels.

Remember, Apple Music allows you to stream music whilst you are connected to the internet.

Streaming allows the track to be buffered quickly enough to allow continuous and uninterrupted listening. So long as you stay connected, you can listen away without using any of your device’s storage.

However, there is a small exception to this rule, and that comes in the form of cached data.

Apple Music uses cached data to make the process of streaming songs, and associated information, such as album covers, etc, quicker.

Cached data should barely scratch the surface of your device’s storage space, however, if you stream music regularly, it can build up, and it’s recommended to clear it from time to time.

Not all users, however, want to stream their music over the internet. Being able to download tracks for offline playback means complete freedom to take the music you love anywhere you go.

The only problem with this is that it comes at the cost of your device’s storage space. Each track will take up space and, moreover, the size of each track will be much larger if you download it in high-quality settings.

Apple Music offers a range of audio-quality settings, ranging from their standard AAC format to the lossless ALAC.

Apple Music’s lossless Hi-Res audio files contain far more data due to the fact that they provide listeners with every musical detail of the track. Naturally, all this data equates to the track taking up more space on your device.

Apple Music users will need to balance audio quality settings and the number of tracks that they can store on their devices.

If your device has limited storage capabilities, it may be worth lowering the audio quality for your offline tracks or choosing to stream that music instead.

How do you Check How Much Storage Apple Music Uses?

So now that you’ve got a grasp of how and why Apple Music can use your storage space, it’s time to see exactly how much storage it’s taking up on your device.

If you own an iPhone or iPad, use the following steps to understand how much storage Apple Music is using:

  1. Open ‘Settings’ on your iOS device.
  2. Tap ‘General’ followed by ‘Storage’
  3. You’ll now be shown a display of your device’s storage capacity and how much space you have available.
  4. Scroll down and find the Apple Music app.
  5. Here you can view the total storage space that Apple Music is using.

If you want to find out how much storage Apple Music is using on your MacBook, follow these steps instead:

  1. Launch the Finder on your Mac.
  2. Right-click the ‘Music’ folder and select ‘Get info’
  3. A pop-up will now appear and will show you how much data Apple Music is taking up.

If you own an Apple Watch and are subscribed to Apple Music, check the storage use with the following steps:

  1. Navigate to ‘Settings’ on your Apple Watch.
  2. Now select ‘General’ and then ‘Storage’
  3. Locate Apple Music and note the file size.

Does Apple Music take up iCloud Storage?

Apple Music will use local storage when using iCloud if you have downloaded songs from your library.

iCloud works with Apple Music to sync your music library across all devices using the same Apple ID and allows users to download up to 100,000 songs.

Does Apple Music Use Storage Locally when using iCloud?

If you prefer downloading your music rather than streaming, you may be wondering if your downloaded tracks are being stored locally and on iCloud.

Once iCloud and Apple Music are synced, all music that you have downloaded on one device will be downloaded to your other devices that also have ‘Sync Library’ enabled in their Apple Music settings.

It’s worth noting that you do not need to enable ‘Sync Library’ on all of your devices. Instead, you can choose which devices will be affected by any changes you make to your library and offline songs.

If you see the cloud icon next to a song or album, that means the file is stored in the cloud, not on your device. If this is the case, then this file doesn’t use any local storage.

How do you Move Apple Music to iCloud Storage?

You can access your entire music library with Apple Music once you sync to iCloud. In order to do this, you must ensure that you have activated the ‘Sync Library’ setting. 

Use the following instructions to learn how:

  1. Ensure that your device is signed in to Apple Music with the correct Apple ID.
  2. Navigate to ‘Settings’
  3. Select ‘Music’
  4. Toggle ‘Sync Library’ to its ON position.

How can you Reduce Apple Music’s Storage?

There are a few ways in which you can reduce the amount of storage that Apple Music uses on your device.

The easiest way to free up space on your device is to delete locally stored music files on your device, but clearing the cache is also worth doing too.

Here’s How to Delete Offline Apple Music tracks on Mobile Devices:

  1. Launch Apple Music on your device.
  2. Navigate to ‘Library’ and then tap ‘Downloaded’
    • iPad users will find ‘Downloaded’ in the sidebar.
  3. Locate the music you wish to delete.
  4. Tap and hold down on the content until the option to tap ‘Remove’ appears.
  5. Now tap ‘Remove Download’. You can also tap ‘Delete from Library’ to delete the content on all devices.

Here’s How to Delete Offline Apple Music tracks on Mac:

  1. Launch Apple Music.
  2. Click either ‘Albums’ or ‘Songs’ from the sidebar.
  3. Now select ‘View’, found in the menu bar, and choose ‘Only Downloaded Music’
  4. To delete content, simply click the ‘More’ button beside the song or album and then select ‘Remove Download’

Here’s How to Clear the Apple Music Cache on Mac:

  1. Launch the Finder and click ‘Go’ followed by ‘Go to Folder’
  2. Next, enter the folder address listed below, by copying and pasting it into the ‘Go to Folder box’
    • On macOS Catalina and later: ~/Library/Caches/
    • On macOS Mojave and earlier: ~/Library/Caches/
  3. Hit Enter and then locate the ‘fsCachedData’ and ‘SubscriptionPlayCache’ folders.
  4. Move these folders to the Trash and then empty the Trash to delete them.

Here’s How to Clear the Apple Music Cache on iOS:

To clear the cache on iPhone or iPad, you simply need to toggle off and on the ‘Sync Library’ setting. Instructions on how to find this setting can be found earlier in this article.

Remember, to follow’s advice and:

“(…) wait a few minutes to give iOS a chance to reclaim storage space consumed by the caches then turn on Sync Library again.” 

Does Apple Music or Spotify use More Storage?

Apple Music will generally end up using more storage space than Spotify if you are a user who downloads songs at the highest audio quality available.

Spotify does not currently offer any lossless, high-definition audio formats, and thus, the sizes of each individually downloaded song will be between 3MB (Low-Quality Setting) and 10MB (Very High-Quality Setting).

Apple Music, on the other hand, provides its users with the ability to download in Hi-Res, lossless audio formats (ALAC) which can result in file sizes of 20MB per song.

Despite this, Apple Music users do not have to download songs at this quality and can instead download them at the standard settings.

In the end, the amount of storage any music streaming service takes up on your device is entirely down to how much you download and at what settings you choose to do so.


How to delete Apple Music cache to free space on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or PC 

Use Sync Library to access your music library across your devices

How to check the storage on your iPhone and iPad

Delete music in the Apple Music app

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