Call me unusual, but I don’t keep any music on my iPhone—I have an iPod touch for that. In the not-too-distant past, the Music app on my iPhone would show no music, which is exactly what I want.
But with my current iPhone running iOS 15.1.1, it’s not that straightforward. When I launch Music, it shows me all of the tracks I’ve purchased from the iTunes Store over the years. If I play one, it streams the music over the Internet. I would prefer that Music didn’t even show these tracks, but that’s another topic. What I want to share with you today is an interface oddity in Apple’s Music app for iOS.
If I show one of these songs (that has not yet been downloaded to the iPhone) and tap the ••• button next to the track, there is a Download item, which downloads the song to my device. There’s also a down-pointing arrow button at the top-right corner of screens that list songs (playlists and albums) which will download everything on the list. After downloading a track, the root level of the Music app now shows a Downloaded category that contains the tracks that I’ve downloaded. So far, no problem—this all makes perfect sense and works as expected.
Here’s where the issue starts. There are two different ways to delete a downloaded song:
- I can tap the ••• button and choose Remove. That presents two options: Remove Download and Delete from Library.
- Remove Download does what I want. It removes the downloaded file, leaving the song behind on the main library list. This is the state I was seeing before downloading the track—I can re-download it or play it via streaming.
- Delete from Library removes the download and deletes the entry from the library. It is no longer available anywhere.
- I can also swipe left on the track and tap the trash icon. This is the equivalent of Delete from Library but doesn’t give you any warning or confirmation request. This is nuts. Remember that I’m on the Downloaded screen. If I swipe to delete a track while on this screen, I would expect iOS to remove the download, not delete it from my library.
What if I want to put the deleted song back in my library? This is the crux of the issue. There doesn’t seem to be any mechanism in the Music app to show me these deleted tracks so I can return them to my library.
If I use the iTunes Store app to review my purchase history, the song isn’t there. If I search for it, I can find it (if it’s still available for purchase) with a Purchased tag where the price would have been, but tapping that tag does nothing.
The tracks still exist on my Mac, so this Delete from Library action on the iPhone didn’t actually delete anything from my real library. Who knows what would have happened if I’d had iTunes Match running?
I eventually figured out …….