If you want to avoid syncing songs in your library with iTunes Match, you can tag them as Podcasts or Audiobooks; unfortunately, they’ll have to stay like that as long as you have iTunes Match enabled.
Another option is to sync your entire music library with iTunes Match, then enable Match on a secondary computer (or a second iTunes library). On this secondary computer, locate the songs you want to remove (they’ll show up in your library with an iCloud download icon), highlight them, and press delete. When you return to your original music library, those downloaded tracks will still exist, but they’ll show up with an iCloud status of Removed, with an icon of a cloud with an X through it. iTunes Match will continue to scan new tracks from your library, but Removed tracks will stay out of the cloud unless you manually tell them to re-sync with Match.
Do my playlists sync across devices?
Yes, they do! You can create, edit, or delete a playlist on your Mac, PC, iPhone or iPad, and those changes will sync across any iTunes Match-enabled device you own. One caveat: Playlists with ineligible files in them (videos, Voice Memos, or PDFs, for example) will not sync.
I don’t want to see any music I don’t have on my device, but I don’t want to turn off iTunes Match. How can I hide cloud-based songs?
Both iTunes and the Music app have settings which allow you to hide songs not on your device. On your Mac, open iTunes and Go to Music -> Hide Music Not On This Computer. On your iOS device, go to Settings -> Music and turn off the Show All Music toggle.
What if I have more than 25,000 non-purchased tracks?
There are a couple tricks to get around this—chopping up your library, or tagging some of your songs as Podcasts or Audiobooks—but there’s unfortunately no easy way to go about it as of yet. For that, we’ll have to wait and see if Apple expands the number of tracks you can add, or develops a way for users to sign up even if they have more than 25,000 songs.
Can I use iTunes Match to copy the songs from one computer to another?
If I sync music to my iOS device via iTunes, will it replace my music with iTunes Match songs?
As we discovered during our testing, it depends. If your iOS device was synced to a music library you’ve connected to iTunes Match, it will only supplement your currently synced content, leaving already-synced songs alone and adding iCloud download icons for those that haven’t been added to your device. If it’s synced with music not in your iTunes Match collection, however, all of that will be replaced.
I want iTunes Match on my computers, but not on my iOS devices. Can I still sync music normally?
Absolutely. If you leave the iTunes Match toggle flipped off on your iOS device, it will continue to sync normally with your computer—even if that computer is using iTunes Match.
What if I add new music to my library? Do I have to manually tell iTunes Match to scan it?
Nope. iTunes Match will automatically rescan for content every so often, though you can force a refresh by going to Store -> Update iTunes Match within iTunes. If you run into errors on individual songs, or you have songs tagged as Removed that you’d like to re-add, you can manually tell Match to scan those songs by right-clicking on a song and clicking Add To iCloud.
Now that I’ve uploaded and matched everything, I want to trust in the cloud. Can I delete everything off my computer and just use my stored Match collection from iCloud?
Sure. Apple doesn’t require you to have a local copy of your files, so you can theoretically match and upload everything to the cloud, then delete all those files from your computer. We will say, however, that while it’s likely that the iTunes Match servers are ironclad, and there’s little risk of losing your data, flying without any backup is never something we recommend. (If you want to save space on your main computer, you should make a copy of your iTunes Media folder and stick it on an external drive, at the very least.)
What happens if I don’t re-subscribe after the first year? Will I lose any upgraded songs?
Nope. Any songs you’ve upgraded or downloaded again are completely safe. The only thing you lose is the central storage—iCloud will no longer let you stream or download matched or uploaded songs to your various devices.
Senior editor Chris Breen and staff writer Lex Friedman contributed to this story.
[Serenity Caldwell is a Macworld staff editor.]
Updated at 8:24 a.m PT to add a question about song deletion on iOS.