How do I copy music from my phone?

Transferring music from a phone to another device is a common task many people do in order to back up their music collection or move it to a new phone. According to a 2000 Pew Research study, over 11 million American adults were downloading music files back then. Even in today’s streaming era, people still maintain personal music libraries on their devices that they want to manage and transfer.

This article provides step-by-step instructions for locating the music files on your phone, connecting your phone to a computer, selecting the files you want to transfer, copying them off the phone, and pasting them to the desired location on the destination device. It also includes troubleshooting tips in case anything goes wrong during the transfer process.

Determine Your Goal

The first step when copying music files from your phone is to determine your ultimate goal. There are two main reasons you may want to copy music files:

  1. To make a backup copy of your music library
  2. To transfer music files to listen to on a new device

If your goal is simply to back up your existing music library, you’ll want to copy the files to a storage device like an external hard drive or a cloud storage service. This will allow you to restore your music collection if something happens to the phone.

However, if you want to copy music files in order to listen to them on another device like a new phone or tablet, you’ll need to pay attention to the file formats. Some devices may not support certain formats like FLAC or ALAC. It’s best to stick to common formats like MP3 or AAC when transferring to a new device.

Knowing your end goal upfront will help streamline the file copying process and ensure you transfer the music in a compatible format.

Identify the Music Files

Before you can copy music, you need to determine where music files are stored on your phone. For iOS devices such as iPhones, music purchased from the iTunes store or added via Apple Music is stored in the Music app by default. Any mp3, AAC, ALAC, WAV or AIFF files added manually will also appear in the Music app. For devices running Android, the location of music files may vary by device manufacturer but is typically found in an internal storage folder like Music or Ringtones, or on an SD card in a /Music folder. For many modern smartphones, you can also access cloud music storage services like Spotify, Apple Music, or Google Play music.

Connect Your Phone

There are a few options for connecting your Android phone to copy music files. The most reliable method is to use a USB cable. To connect with a USB cable:

  • Charge your phone or make sure it has at least 50% battery life
  • Use a USB to USB-C (newer Android phones) or USB to micro USB cable (older Android phones) of good quality
  • Connect one end of the USB cable to your phone’s charging port and the other end to your computer’s USB port
  • Your phone should display a notification indicating that it is connected. On some newer Android phones, you may need to tap the notification and select “Transfer files” or “File transfer” to enable file transfer mode.
  • Your phone should then show up as an external drive on your computer’s file manager. If not, you may need to swipe down from the top of your phone screen to open notification settings and tap the USB notification to enable access.

You can also connect wirelessly over Wi-Fi by installing an app like AirDroid. Wireless options are convenient but not quite as fast or reliable for large transfers. USB cables remain the best wired data transfer option in most cases.

Use a File Manager

You can use either the native Android file manager or third party apps to copy music files from your phone.

The native Android file manager allows you to browse and manage files and folders on your device. It provides basic functionality for copying, moving, deleting and renaming files. Since it’s built into Android, there’s no need to download another app.

However, third party Android file manager apps like ES File Explorer offer more features and flexibility. These apps allow you to access files stored in various locations, view app info, manage app permissions, and more. They provide additional tools, themes and customization options beyond the native file manager.

The choice between the native file manager or third party apps comes down to your specific needs. If you only need to occasionally copy music files, the native manager should suffice. But power users may benefit from the expanded functionality of dedicated file manager apps.

Select the Files

To copy music files from your iPhone, you first need to select the individual songs or albums you want to transfer. There are a couple ways to select multiple files at once on iPhone:

  • Touch and hold on one file to bring up the Select option. Tap Select to enable multi-select. Then tap other files to select multiple files. Tap Copy when you’ve selected the files you want.
  • Another method is to first tap the icon with three dots in the upper right corner from within the Files app. Then choose Select, then tap the files to select multiple songs/albums. Tap Copy once you’ve selected the files to transfer.

As opposed to select folders, selecting individual music files such as .mp3 or .m4a files provides more granular control. This way you can choose specific songs or albums to copy rather than all music contained in a folder. You may wish to create a playlist first then multi-select songs from that playlist in order to copy over just the songs you want.

For step-by-step guidance on selecting multiple files on iPhone to copy, check out this helpful demo:

Copy the Files

Copying files on your phone makes a duplicate of the files while keeping the original files in place. This is different from moving or cutting files, which removes them from their original location. As this source explains, “When you cut, you remove the material from the source document. When you copy, the material remains in place in the original.”

So when copying music files from your phone, the original files will remain stored on your phone while a duplicate copy is created in the new location. This ensures you don’t lose access to any files in case something goes wrong during the transfer.

Paste to New Location

Choose where to paste the files based on how you want to organize your music library and access it in the future:

  • Paste music into iTunes or another music player app like Windows Media Player to easily find and play your tracks straight from the app.
  • Paste into a dedicated music folder on your computer to access the files from your file manager such as “Music” or “My Music.” This stores all songs together for quick browsing.
  • Paste into an online storage service like Google Drive or Dropbox to access your music library anywhere from your phone, computer, or another device.
  • Paste onto your phone’s SD card or internal storage to access music files directly from your phone without an internet connection.

Create folders within your destination of choice to stay organized by artist, genre, playlist, etc. Consider the purpose and use case before pasting music into your desired location.

Verify Transfer

After completing the transfer of music files from your phone to your computer, it is important to ensure that all the files copied over successfully. To verify the transfer:

  1. On your computer, navigate to the folder where the files were copied to. For example, if you copied the files to your Music folder, open the Music folder on your computer.

  2. Compare the song names and number of song files that were copied with the list of songs/files on your phone. All the music you selected to transfer should be included in the copied folder on your computer.

  3. Play a few random song files in the copied folder to check that the entire songs are playable and not corrupted.

  4. Check that playlists and album names were preserved during the transfer.

If any files are missing from the copied music folder on your computer or cannot play properly, you may need to try the file transfer process again. Make sure your phone has a steady USB connection during the file transfer to avoid any dropped songs or corrupted file transfers.


If you run into issues transferring music files from your phone, there are a few common solutions to try:

Double check that your phone and computer have enough storage space for the transfer. Your phone may reject transfers if it’s low on memory (Apple 1).

Make sure your cables and connectors are high-quality and securely plugged in on both ends. Damaged cables can interrupt transfers (Apple 2).

If using a manual file manager, verify the transfer was initiated and given time to fully complete. Large transfers can take awhile.

Try resetting app preferences on your phone and then reconnecting it. This clears any corrupt transfer settings or caches.

As a last resort, you can manually add music files through the music app on your phone. While tedious, this guarantees successful transfer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *