How to Copy a Playlist from iPhone to iTunes
By Laurel Storm
If you just want to copy a playlist that you've created on your iPhone over to iTunes 12 on your computer, just sync the iPhone to your computer, and any playlist that you created or modified on the iPhone since you last synced to iTunes is automatically copied. Once the playlist is in iTunes, you can also export it to a file and share it with others -- although the resulting file, regardless of the format, is just a list of songs and doesn't include the music files themselves. Deleting an imported playlist from iTunes also deletes it from the iPhone when you next sync it to your computer, unless you modify it on your phone before syncing -- in this latter case, iTunes treats the playlist as if it were completely new.
Launch iTunes and connect your iPhone to your computer. If your iPhone is not configured to sync automatically, start a sync. Wait for the sync process to complete. If all you want is to copy your iPhone playlists to iTunes, you are now done -- click "Playlists" to view them. If you want to export one or more playlists to a file to share with others, click "Playlists" and proceed to the next step.
Select the playlist you want to export in the left sidebar to view the music included in the playlist.
Click "File," hover over "Library" and select "Export Playlist."
Navigate to the location where you want to save the file. By default, iTunes uses a file name matching the name of the playlist; to use a different name, type it in the "File Name" field.
Select the file format you want to use from the "Save as Type" drop-down menu -- to be able to import the playlist back to iTunes, you must choose either the XML or the M3U format. As far as iTunes is concerned, there is no functional difference between the XML and M3U formats -- either work for reimporting. If you want to import the playlist to a different music player, consult that player's help file for information on what format to choose.
If you want to save information about the songs in the playlist, choose the TXT format instead. The resulting text file contains not just the title of the song and the name of the artist, but also -- provided that information was available in the song file -- other data, such as the composer, the album, the year of release, how many times it was played and skipped, the rating you gave it, the location of the file on your hard drive and so on.
- If you subscribe to the iTunes Match paid service, your playlists are saved to iCloud and kept in sync between all your devices and iTunes.
- To transfer a single iPhone playlist to iTunes on a different computer, export it as a file on your usual computer, copy the file to the new computer and import it. If you are switching to a new computer and want to transfer your entire iTunes library as well as your playlists, the process is more complex (see Resources).
Laurel Storm has been writing since 2001, and helping people with technology for far longer than that. Some of her articles have been published in "Messaggero dei Ragazzi", an Italian magazine for teenagers. She holds a Master of Arts in writing for television and new media from the University of Turin.