Optimize Storage for Apple Music on macOS?

Hi folks!

I’ve been trying to free up disk space on my laptop, which is my secondary Mac. I see that:

~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Music

is using 25GB, right around the same amount of space that the same folder uses on my my iMac.

Now, I’m a recent subscriber to Apple Music. I keep all my originals on my iMac, and almost all of those are either Matched or Uploaded to iCloud. So all I need on my MacBook is access to my library, not all the media downloaded.

iPhone has an Optimize Storage feature for just this purpose, and my phone says it’s only using 1.64GB of music space right now, even though I have the feature OFF (so, that’s weird, but that’s not my main point).

But where I really want this feature is on my MacBook, but I don’t see it. Am I missing it? Is there a way on macOS, as on iOS, to offload your Apple Music library to iCloud so that it only downloads on demand?

If you right-click on a song in a playlist in Apple Music app, there is an option to “Remove Download”.

Maybe test it on a few songs to make sure they are still available to re-download (again, right click on a track that is not stored locally should give an option to “Download”) and then do it for all the songs you want to remove.

I do this a lot when traveling and then when home.

Okay, so this was a great idea.

I tried it on everything, and the vast majority of the space previously used by this folder on my local drive was freed up. The songs that remain appear to be the bunch of Duplicates that I have yet to resolve.

So I guess this works. But it doesn’t seem like “the Apple way”. Like, how does this work going forward? Do they remain non-downloaded until/unless I force a download? Or will they start downloading if they get played enough? (A few test plays shows songs staying in cloud; but strangely one song that is clearly in the Finder claims to be in the cloud in Music; oh well!)

Anyway, thanks, because this might get the job done!

yes, and in my experience, you don’t have to download to play if you have a good internet connection.

Also I remember that if you migrated from an iTunes library to the newer Music library, you might have two repositories of the actual files, both found in ~/Music

Music / Settings, General tab, make sure that “automatic downloads” is turned off (which I believe will download any new music that you add to your library.)

Thanks. That is already unchecked on my MacBook. Help for that says:

Automatically download music to this computer from your other devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or another computer):

  • Music purchases from the iTunes Store
  • Apple Music songs you add on other devices (Apple Music subscribers only)

Maybe it was a one-time thing when I switched to Apple Music. I will certainly keep an eye on it going forward.

Thanks, all!