Does this situation sound familiar? You go to iTunes to play your favorite album or artist, only to discover that while your music is there, many of the tracks are grayed out!
If you experience the problem of iTunes songs greyed out and found out that you cannot play any of those songs, it’s a very inconvenient truth and super frustrating.
The majority of the time, you solve AND fix these issues simply except in cases when you have unsupported formats or DRM protected tracks.
Let’s explore a few options to help you resolve the problem of your iTunes songs grayed out.
- 10 Amazing Shortcuts To Amp Up Your Apple Music Experience
- Not Signed In To Apple Music Error with iTunes?
- How to View Song Lyrics in Apple Music on iOS, Mac, and Apple TVs
- How to Sort Songs, Albums, and Repeat Songs in Apple Music
- Download All Episodes of Podcasts in iTunes
- iTunes Error 39
Follow These Quick Tips For Times When Your iTunes Songs are Greyed Out
- Restart your iPhone, iPod, or iPad
- Tap Songs from the iTunes sidebar, choose the songs that a greyed out, and right-click selecting Add to Device and select your iDevice
Select your iPod Touch
- Check for DRM protection and unsupported formats
- Right-Click song(s) to Check (or Tick) Selection(s)
- Download the song(s) again
- ReSync your iTunes Music to your iDevice
- DeAuthorize and then ReAuthorize iTunes on your computer
Using Apple Music Subscription Service?
If your songs appear in a light gray text, there are a few reasons
- You’re not connected to iCloud Music Library
- If you see a Disconnected icon in the upper-right corner of iTunes, you’re not connected to iCloud Music Library. Click the icon to reconnect.
- The song isn’t in Apple Music or isn’t available in your current country or region
- You have Restrictions turned on for explicit lyrics
- There are changes or edits to an album.
- Delete that grayed out album from your library and add it back from the Apple Music catalog
Restart Your Device
Before you spend a lot of time troubleshooting, restart your device and see if that solves the problem.
It’s surprising just how many issues a simple restart can fix!
- On an iPad with no Home Button and iPhones X or later: press and hold the Side/Top/Power button and either volume button until the slider appears
- On an iPad or iPhone with a Home Button and iPod Touch: press and hold the Side/Top/Power button until the slider appears
- Drag the slider to turn the device off and after the device turns off, press and hold that Side/Top/Power button again until you see the Apple Logo
- With iOS 11 and above, restart using Settings > General > Shut Down
iTunes Songs Greyed Out: Check the Audio Format of the Problem Track
If you are unable to play specific tracks, it may be that they are unsupported formats or DRM protected tracks.
To check this issue, navigate to iTunes and select the track you are unable to play
- Right-click and choose Get Info
- Under the File tab, look for Kind
- If your song is of an unsupported type or DRM protected you will see “Protected” next to Kind
When you encounter this issue of DRM protected tracks, there are a few options for you to consider.
The first is to explore if you want to upgrade your iTunes account to a subscription-based iTunes Match service or subscribe to Apple Music.
Apple Music and iTunes Match are both subscription services.
iTunes Match Explained
iTunes Match stores all your music DRM-free in iCloud, including songs imported from CDs or music not purchased in the iTunes Store.
With iTunes Match, all your iCloud stored music is available to you at any time on up to 10 of your devices and computers.
This service should convert the majority of your protected songs, but it’s are not always 100% perfect. So be mindful before tossing away all your CDs etc.
Apple Music Explained
On the other hand, Apple Music provides you access to Apple’s full music streaming catalog with no device restrictions.
Play any song in Apple’s Music Catalog, whether you own it or not as long as you continue your subscription. All Apple Music is DRM-protected.
iTunes Match VS. Apple Music
Both services use iCloud Music Library to store your music
Since iTunes is DRM-free, all of your downloaded songs remain playable after your iTunes Match subscription ends.
Not so with Apple Music–you’re only able to play that music as long as your Apple Music subscription is active.
And that’s the biggest difference between iTunes Match and Apple Music.
iTunes Songs Greyed Out: Check your iTunes Settings
Somehow iTunes switches the setting Check Selection on, causing your songs to gray out.
Right-Click on the particular song(s) that you have a problem with iTunes.
At the bottom of the menu, find a setting that says Check Selection (or uncheck selection.)
You may see it called Tick (or Untick) Selection instead—either way both tick and check function the same way.
Click on this Check Selection (or Tick Selection) option, and you should be able to play the song and add it your playlists, etc.
It’s a small and often overlooked setting.
Check out this screenshot below to access this setting for your track(s).
iTunes Songs Greyed Out: Re-download the Song
A straightforward approach to playing the grayed out songs is to check if you purchased that particular track in iTunes.
If you had bought the song before, then proceed to delete the song and redownload it from the purchased section in iTunes
- Click on iTunes Store on the top right
- Next, click on your account and from the drop-down, you will find the Purchased option
- Reinstall the song from here and test it see if it plays correctly
iTunes Songs Greyed Out: ReAuthorize
If the steps above did not resolve your problem, you can try this option before calling Apple support. Sometimes iTunes “forgets” to authorize your music.
Refresh the authorization by de-authorizing and then re-authorizing your computer.
- To de-authorize your computer in iTunes, click on the Store menu option on the top of iTunes. You find both these options here
- Proceed to De-authorize your computer, then sign out of iTunes from your account
- Restart your computer, then log in to your iTunes account
- Re-authorize your computer back in iTunes
- This process resolves many issues associated with iTunes problems
iTunes Songs Greyed Out: On your iPhone or iPad
If you face this issue on your iPhone and iPad, you can follow the same step as above which is to try deleting the song and re-installing it.
- To accomplish this on your iPhone, Tap on Settings > General > Storage > Music
- For older iOS go to Storage & iCloud Usage and under storage choose to Manage Storage
- Select your Music and tap edit. Next, tap the symbol on the left for all songs and select Delete
- This process deletes all your songs from your iPhone. If it works correctly, you should see that your storage is freed up quite a bit on your phone depending on how many songs you have on the device
- Next, sync your iPhone to your iTunes and this re-installs all the songs. Hopefully, at that point, you’ve resolved the problem.
ReSync Your Music
This problem often occurs because of a syncing issue.
If you removed some songs from your computer in methods other than iTunes when you sync iTunes music with your iPhone, those removed songs show up as missing (and therefore are grayed out.)
First, before connecting your iPhone, delete the grayed out songs from iTunes and then refresh your iTunes library and playlists and ensure all songs are available.
Finally, resync again using your lightning cable NOT WiFi.
Other possible solutions
- Enable Use Cellular Date for iTunes. Go to Settings > iTunes & App Store > Toggle ON Use Cellular Data. If you don’t want to use Cellular Data when connected to WiFi download all the songs you want by tapping on the cloud icon to the right of the track’s name
- Sign Out of iTunes on your iPhone, wait 30 seconds or more, and sign back in. Go to Settings > iTunes & App Stores > Tap your Apple ID and choose Sign Out
- Uncheck Sync Music on iTunes. Now, sync your iPhone to iTunes. Unplug your iPhone and then restart it. After restarting, plug your iPhone back into your computer (with iTunes open). Wait for a backup or manually make a backup. Now re-check the box to Sync Music and click on the Sync button
- Re-sync all your iTunes music by going to Settings > General > Storage ( for older iOS, Storage & iCloud Usage >Under STORAGE, Tap Manage Storage) > Music. Now delete all your music and resync with iTunes
- John found this worked for him and it was fast! In your iTunes song list, choose a greyed out song. Then from the Song menu in the top iTunes menu, select “Add to device”
Select your iPod Touch
- One of our readers, Cijidunne, discovered a strange but successful way to get songs back. So why not give this reader tip a try. First, CTRL+ SHIFT and select on ALL UNCHECKED songs. Then go back, do ANOTHER CTRL+SHIFT and RECHECK all those same songs. As Cijidunne reported, all of a sudden the playlist was no longer grayed out and even synced to the iPod just dandy!
- When you view by songs in iTunes, notice that the ones that are greyed out are the ones that aren’t checked. Select all, Ctrl-click, and select check selection
- Turn off auto-synching in iTunes on your computer
- Beth looked at her complete music list as ‘songs’ on the top left and discovered that all gray ones were unticked! So she ‘selected all’ and then ‘ticked’ the selection, so every song was then ticked. The graying problem now solved even with home recordings and old CD’s etc. etc. x
- Open your iPhone in iTunes (plug it into your computer via USB)
- Go into the Summary menu (this is the main screen for the iPhone in iTunes)
- Check the Manage Music Manually button. What happened here for me is iTunes said that multiple libraries could not sync
- Click Apply. Click Sync
- After it syncs, go to the On My Device area and click Music
- Right-click on grayed out music and delete the tracks
- Unplug the phone from the computer, make sure the music app on the phone is closed (force stop it) and then plug it back in. Without reopening the app begin copying the songs from iTunes onto the phone. You should see a blue progress bar at the top of the screen under the song info showing they are being copied. This bar does not show up if they are not being copied correctly. I have not had a single problem since doing it like this. I hope it works for you as well.
Wrapping it up
We hope that this article helps to solve this issue of iTunes songs greyed out. If you find a better or easier way to resolve this issue, share it! That’s how we all learn and troubleshoot–the power of many.
Obsessed with tech since the early arrival of A/UX on Apple, Sudz (SK) is responsible for the original editorial direction of AppleToolBox. He is based out of Los Angeles, CA.
Sudz specializes in covering all things macOS, having reviewed dozens of OS X and macOS developments over the years.
In a former life, Sudz worked helping Fortune 100 companies with their technology and business transformation aspirations.