While it’s great to have every album you own always in your pocket, putting all your music on an iPhone can present
storage issues, leaving you with no space for videos, photos and games. Thankfully there are solutions to this issue.
In this article we show how to delete the music on your iPhone, and explain how you can still access the tracks without storing them on your device.
Delete one album at a time
Open the Music app. From the Library tab, select Albums or Songs, and find the track or album you wish to delete.
Force-press (or long-press) the song/album and you’ll be presented with options – one of which is a rubbish bin icon labelled ‘Delete from Library’ (if you’ve selected an album) or Remove (if it’s a song). Tap this and you’ll be asked to confirm the deletion.
Note that if you don’t have the music backed up in iTunes on your Mac, or in the cloud, you might lose the album or have to re-import it to iTunes if you want to add it to your phone again. If you bought the music from iTunes you will be able to download it again for free.
Delete music all at once
If you’ve got a lot of albums stored on your phone, or just want to wipe the slate clean and start again, then there’s a quick way to delete everything in one go. To do this, navigate to Settings > General > iPhone Storage.
At the bottom of the screen you’ll see a list of all the apps on your phone, arranged by the amount of storage they’re taking up. (Data hogs at the top.) Find the Music app, then tap it to continue.
At the bottom of this screen you’ll see your music library listed (alphabetically) by artist, with a figure next to each one indicating how much space they’re taking up. There is also a figure at the top of the list for All Songs.
Tap the Edit button at the top right and small red circles will appear next to each entry. Tap these to delete an artist’s entire output, or absolutely everything by picking All Songs. (You can tap on an artist to see their albums and how much space they take up, and tap on those to see individual tracks, and at any point tap Edit to delete things.)
Once you’ve made your choices, go back up to the top-right corner and tap Done.
Delete music using iTunes
Another tried and tested solution, for those who don’t mind plugging their iPhone into a computer, is to use iTunes. (At least for those running macOS Mojave or earlier, or the Windows version of iTunes. In
macOS Catalina, iTunes’ music duties are taken over by a dedicated Music app, while other roles are shouldered by Podcasts and TV.)
Connect your device to a Mac or PC and open iTunes. Click the iPhone icon at the top left, then select Music under Settings in the lefthand menu.
Make sure Sync Music is ticked, as is ‘Selected playlists, artists, albums and genres’ below. Now you simply have to make sure that nothing is ticked – no songs, genres, nothing. Next to Sync Music at the top it should say ‘0 songs’.
When you hit Apply, iTunes will delete all the music from the iPhone and ‘replace’ it with the new sync – ie nothing at all.
How to keep accessing the music you deleted
Any music you buy from the iTunes store is always available to download again if you delete it, and Apple’s
iTunes Match means that you can have access to your entire sonic catalogue for £21.99/$24.99 per year without carrying it all around with you, provided you’re happy to stream or selectively download content when you need it. There’s also
Apple Music, which offers a huge collection of music and videos ready to stream at any time for £9.99/$9.99 a month, or £4.99/$4.99 if you’re a student. (
Sign up for a free trial here.)
The great thing about iTunes Match and Apple Music is you can download any track from your collection and listen to it whenever you want (as long as you have a data connection). It’s also good because you can delete any tracks on your phone if you need to and be confident that they will still be there in the cloud the next time you want to play them.
If you’d prefer not to store your music in the cloud, you can still go old-school and use your Mac or PC as the central storage hub for your library, and plug your phone in when you want to sync up albums.