Don’t mourn for iTunes. Here is how to listen to music on MacOS now

In MacOS Catalina, Apple does away with iTunes and lets the new Music app focus on songs, albums and playlists.

Some have waited years for this moment, the day when Apple killed off its iTunes media app for MacOS and split the exasperating tool into individual pieces, each dedicated to a specific purpose. With the Catalina update, the iTunes grumblers get their wish, because with the new update to MacOS, Apple retires iTunes, replacing it with new Apple Music, Apple TV, Apple Books and Apple Podcast apps. (Here’s the difference between them all.)

Over the years, Apple handed more and more responsibility to the MacOS version of iTunes until the app seemed to be in charge of all your MacOS entertainment needs. Mac users will be much better served in Catalina, which adopts the iOS approach of letting several apps handle individual tasks.

While Apple has split iTunes into three apps, the switch to Catalina doesn’t have to be jarring. Here’s what you need to know about breaking free of iTunes in MacOS Catalina.

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Get started with the new Apple Music app

Apple’s made it fairly easy to move from iTunes to its new music service in Catalina. For example, music that you’ve bought through through iTunes or imports from elsewhere will be available in the new Apple Music app. 

Likewise, music playlists you created in iTunes will already appear in the new app — you won’t have to transfer a thing. iTunes gift cards and credit will still work, and you’ll still buy music through the iTunes Store. Here’s how to get set up and start listening to music.

Tap Catalina’s new Music app in the Dock.Screenshot by Clifford Colby/CNET

1. In the Dock, tap the Music app to open it.

2. When prompted, use your Apple ID and password to sign in to the iTunes Store.

3. Tap the Get started listening button, and the Music app will pull in your iTunes playlists — both the ones you’ve built and the smart ones iTunes made for you. 

4. If none of your music is showing up and you sync your music library with Apple Music or iTunes Match, tap the Show all music button up at the top of the Music app. You can also choose the All Music option from the View menu to see all your songs.

Use the iTunes Store

The iTunes Store still lives over on the left.Screenshot by Clifford Colby/CNET

While Music is new, the iTunes Store is much the same.

1. In the Music app, over on the left in the Music sidebar, and tap iTunes Store.

2. Apple’s music store should look familiar to you, with new music running down the center of the app’s window, charts over on the right and music that might interest you near the bottom.


Sign up for Apple Music

If you are interested, you can also sign up for Apple Music — Apple’s similarly named subscription music-streaming service. 

Sign up for Apple’s Music subscription service for $9.99 a month.Screenshot by Clifford Colby/CNET

1. In the left sidebar, up near the top, tap For You to check out Apple Music, which lets you stream songs, listen to curated playlists and tune into radio stations.

2. Tap Try It Now to start a free three-month trial. After the trial, Apple Music is $9.99/£9.99/AU$11.99 a month. After you sign up, set a calendar reminder so you don’t get charged after 90 days if you decide to back out.

If you are looking for the movies and TV shows you used to keep in iTunes prior to Catalina, those are now in the Apple TV app. Audiobooks are in the Apple Books app, and podcasts are in the Apple Books app. For more on Catalina, here’s our fuller take on the new MacOS.
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