iTunes Not Syncing Entire Music Library?

Ok, so here’s a really annoying problem to have: you have a ton of music and you try to sync your entire music library to your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad and instead of getting all the music synced, you only get half or a quarter of the total songs! And on top of that, you have no idea why it won’t sync the rest of your songs.

I just updated my iPhone to iOS 5 and everything worked fine for more than a week. However, all of a sudden, music started to disappear from my phone! Every time I would sync the phone, fewer songs would be copied and I would get a message saying “X number of items could not be synced. Check iTunes”. Too bad iTunes didn’t give me any info either!

What I also noticed was that when I clicked on Music once I connected my iPhone (like below), a lot of the songs were greyed out!

itunes not syncing music

So the above image shows how a normal collection should look when all your songs are syncing fine. Instead of the image above, a lot of the songs were greyed out and there were a strange sync icon to the left of the check marks. Not really sure what that meant, but I could not select any of the greyed out songs or do anything else with them.

I searched online and tried all kinds of crazy stuff like checking random boxes and changing settings, etc, but nothing worked. I figured it had to do with iCloud and iOS 5 since I didn’t have this partial song syncing problem before that.

Here’s what I tried and what worked for me:

Basically, you have to restore your phone. Sounds terrible and all, but it’s really not bad. Even if you just loaded up iOS 5 and performed a restore a week ago, just do it again. I promise it’s worth the trouble, otherwise you will have a flaky phone.

First thing to do is to backup the phone before you do this. You can do that by plugging in your phone and right-clicking on it and choosing Backup.

music not syncing

Once the backup has completed, you should disconnect your phone from the computer. Now you have to erase all content and reset your phone. Don’t worry, you’ll get all your music, messages, movies, songs, apps (with data) and everything else back if you did the backup.

On your iPhone or iPod Touch or iPad, go to Settings and then click on General. Scroll down to the bottom where it says Reset.

reset iphone

Then go ahead and click on the daunting Erase All Content and Settings. This will completely wipe out your phone and reset it to default.

erase all content

Once your phone loads back up, you’ll be at the screen to setup iOS 5 again. When you get to the screen to setup as new iPhone or restore from iCloud or restore from iTunes, choose Restore from iTunes.

restore from itunes

That’s it! Choose the most recent backup that you just made before deleting everything and you’ll have everything back to normal and all your songs will by synced instead of just half of them! If you are still having trouble syncing all your music to your device, post a comment here and I’ll try to help! Enjoy!

Comments [39]

  1. Oh my gosh thank you SO MUCH for this info!! I was trying to have iTunes on a Windows Vista sync my entire library but it only synced like 20-some songs ugh .. thanks to the backup, which I never even THOUGHT of, I now synced my entire library! Thank you so much again!!

    – Georgina

  2. I tried that and now it syncs even LESS of my music. SO frustrating.

    1. Same issue–initially only about 30 songs (of >1500) were greyed out, now all but a couple are. Very frustrating! Still looking for a solution.

  3. Thanks! That seemed to do the trick! Now if I can just figure out why it's telling me that it can't transfer purchases made from iphone. I assume because they were purchased under another account name (icloud – which I am not sure is worth the hassle). At least now I can listen to my music as I figure it out 😉

    Thanks again,


  4. hey im having the same problem with my ipod. i had this problem before which forced me to buy a new ipod, but now my new one has done it to me again

    what happend is, i accendently deleted all my songs off my ipod.. so then i went to sync my libary back on my ipod, but it gets half way or even quarter way and shows errors… there are songs that are grey the wont copy to my ipod like you explained

    songs never dissapeard of my ipod tho… i just deleted all the songs of my ipod by mistake….

    this has happend to me twice now

    i have tried restoring ipod through itunes, the computer, and through the ipod.

  5. Oh my… thank you so much.. you've saved me from so much frustration.. do you know if you can turn iCloud backup back on and not have the same problem after doing this? thank you so much for your help sir / madam :):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):)

  6. This is a helpful post, thanks. However, I'm having the opposite problem, where songs I purchased on my iPhone 4S are greyed out in iTunes (with a sync icon next to them), but transferring purchases says they are already transferred. Syncing transfers free podcasts of the iPhone but not the songs I bought. This was never a problem until recently (past week) and I haven't changed anything except for upgrading to iOS 5, so I'm guessing it's related. Do you think your iTunes backup/reset/restore will solve my problem as well?

  7. ive only just restored my ipod touch and that messed my ipod up the first time and some music wont transfer and i will not restore it again

  8. I followed each step, but the music still did not download. It’s still showing “greyed out”.

    1. I’m sorry … I spoke too soon!!! My phone had not completely finished restoring. I just noticed the music is not being downloaded! Thanks for your help!!!

  9. Was having the same problem with iPhone 4. Only half music library was transferring from iTunes to phone. Your solution worked first time. Bit scary deleting all content though just in case!!!! All restored perfectly and all library transferred:) thanks, you’re a star

  10. I’ve been having a problem with my iPhone and my new desktop mac. None of my iTunes music will sync over, none of the purchased music and none of my music I ripped from cd’s. I’ve tried restoring the phone regularly and then I just tried your process described above. Neither have worked. I’m pulling my hair out trying to figure out why it won’t work. All of my apps will restore back to my iPhone but not music. Please help!!!!

  11. Made no difference here. It’s exactly the same after the restore.
    IPad2 syncs apps etc fine. But the iTunes music library and podcasts do not get transferred despite being clearly set to sync the whole library.

  12. Unfortunately, there are still 1000 songs missing on my iPhone after doing this (200 more than were missing before) and despite backing everything up, lost all of my photos and text messages on my iPhone, which did not back up or restore. Very disappointed.

  13. I just did this to my phone and it would not restore anything back onto my phone. I backed everything up on itunes and when i tried to restore it, it said that itunes was not able to back up anything, even though it says the last back up to the computer was today. I lost everything, including my contacts….now i have to find all the numbers i used to have. I am pissed.

  14. Hey man,

    I just barely restored my Iphone yesterday (6/27/2012), and I was restoring from Backup/iCloud and my music all restored and I deleted it because some of the music wasn’t playing. I synced it (entire library), and I came up with this issue. I checked my Iphone’s music and it claims it’s still all on there as you described in the above image. I keep trying to resync selected/entire libraries, but it won’t work and it only syncs a couple of songs that I purposely don’t want on my Iphone4S.

    I’m not restoring again it took to long to redownload all my apps, games, photos, messages, etc. Also, since I just restored it yesterday I don’t think so.

    Justin Limoges

  15. It did not work for me, I have over 500 songs, and only 253 on my ipod -_-

  16. Thank you very much for this. I’ve read through 8 other posts and this is the only one that made sense.

    This process worked beautifully!

  17. What do you do when everything syncs apart from one song! Eminem – Love the way you lie. Appears on Mac but won’t transfer to iPhone. created a new playlist just for that song. iPhone shows playlist as empty! Any ideas? BTW I don’t have the restrict explicit content box checked.

  18. wow! ur amazing thanks (: it helped me alot because my iphone 4 s would only download partially but after i followed your directions everything went back to normal yay! i was lucky enough my texts and pics stayed also !!!!!

  19. It had been a while since I had last synced my iPod to my computer and since I had songs of my computer that I wanted I thought oh what the heck I’ll just sync it so I can listen to the songs on my iPod. The thing is when I clicked on music to see if the songs had downloaded (this is on iTunes on my computer) I noticed that it didn’t have the songs I had just recently bought from iTunes and at the time I though it was just a glitch or something. A little while later (now) when I was about to go to bed I decided to set my alarm (on my iPod) so I could wake up earlier and when I went to chooses my ringtone I noticed that I was most of my new ringtones too. I noticed that you said your computer had the songs but they were greyed out or something. In my case though that isn’t the problem the thing is that I just all of a sudden lost my new songs and my new ringtones. The only thing that’s weird is that the old ones that I purchased a while back are still there so it’s only the new ones that got “deleted”. I was just wondering if you could help because I would really like my dogs and ringtones back. Oh and I checked on my iTunes app to see if they deleted the songs and somehow gave me my money back or something but when I checks I saw that I still had the same amount of money that I did before ( .45 ) and since I have no idea what to do sice this is the dirt time this has happened I’ve decided to just try to do what you’ve suggested and see what happens!!! Thanks for the help!! 😛

  20. Thank you so much… this was driving me crazy. I worked. Removed over 200 greyed out songs. Bliss. Thanks!

  21. It worked! It was scary to reset the iPhone 4S, but all was well. I lost one or two apps of no consequence, but I’ll be able to get them back. Thanks so much!

  22. You are a lifesaver. This worked perfectly so thank you so much!!

  23. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!! Life as I know it has finally returned. 🙂

  24. I had exact same problem. Had 900 songs in itunes library but when i synced phone it was only copying 612 songs to iphone. I followed the above reset steps. when i turned on iphone i had no songs…got me worried for a second. When i hit sync music it says iPhone was syncing to a different iTunes account(never used another account), i hit erase and sync to this iTunes account, and it worked.

    Thanks for your help…I am not that clued up but have tried countless forums and tried countless things to fix this but this seems to have fixed it. as for other posters who said they lost everything…that was there own fault obviously haven’t backed up the phone properly.


  25. Another thing that sometimes works – before taking the drastic step of wiping everything – is just to uncheck “Sync Music” on the top of the music sub-tab that you get when your device is plugged in and you have it selected in the left column. When you uncheck it, iTunes will give you an “are you sure?” warning that all the music will be deleted from your device. That’s what you want. Sync – then re-check “sync music”, and sync again. Magically, the songs that were “Stuck” before start copying over. (if you are lucky)

  26. i spent alot of time trying to make this work and it made NO DIFFERENCE what so ever. i tried doing it from my mac book pro to my 16gb ipad mini, there is plenty of space left on my ipad so that isnt why the songs arent downloading.

  27. Ok this helped me with nothing, if anything this made me lose all of my apps and photos. I have no music and my music that I did have is gone and wont sync back. I don’t recommend this as helpful at all!

  28. Thank you so much for the useful tips Aseem Kishore. I followed all your instructions and now all my songs are fully synced and enjoying all of them. Your instructions were very clear and easy to follow. I really appreciate your help.

  29. Unfortunately it didn’t work for me. I was really hopeful, but no. I still have random music synced and nowhere near what I have asked it to transfer. I appreciate the effort to try though.

  30. These instructions were absolutely correct and easy to follow. My phone has now successfully uploaded my entire music library from iTunes and honestly, I would have NEVER dumped all my info if I hadn’t read this column. But, since I backed everything up, dumped my info, then restored the phone all over again, all is good.

  31. THANK YOU! I was seriously losing my mind trying to figure this out. Worked like a charm, and was simple as pie thanks to your instructions. You rule dude!

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