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What happens to music ripped from CDs in the new Mac Music app?

The decision to retire iTunes in favor of a standalone Mac Music app (alongside separate Podcast and TV apps) will please many of us, but it did leave a few unanswered questions.

With Apple these days very focused on streaming music, what happens to music ripped from CD once we make the switch to the new Music app in macOS Catalina, for example … ?

ArsTechnica got some brief answers from Apple. First, our iTunes libraries – with their mix of ripped, downloaded and streamed music – are safe in the new Mac Music app, and will continue to sync with the cloud.

Apple Music in macOS Catalina will import users’ existing music libraries from iTunes in their entirety, Apple says. That includes not just music purchased on iTunes, but rips from CDs, MP3s, and the like added from other sources.

Further, the existing feature that synced users’ non-iTunes files to the cloud will continue to work, and of course, users will still be able to buy songs from Apple. Apple is not turning Apple Music into a streaming-only experience. For the most part, the end of iTunes seems to be an end in name only: key features will be retained in the Music app.

Apple also revealed yesterday that syncing iOS devices like iPhones and iPads will now take place in Finder, rather than any of the new apps. However, if you were hoping this might mean simple drag-and-drop access to your devices, sadly this won’t be the case.

When you plug your iPhone, iPod, or iPad in, you’ll see it in the sidebar for Finder just like you would any external drive or USB stick.

But when you click it, you won’t just see a file system like you would with those accessories. Instead, you will be presented with an interface very similar to the one you’re used to in iTunes, with many (if not all) of the same features.

So expect the new Finder to look very much like the old iTunes when it comes to syncing.

ArsTechnica also confirmed that nothing changes for Windows users – they are stuck with iTunes.

Many people use iTunes to manage their media libraries in Windows—not just music, but videos and podcasts, too. Apple announced today that iTunes will be broken into multiple applications in macOS, but the company didn’t specify onstage what will happen to the same program in Windows.

The answer, it turns out, is not much. Apple says users of iTunes under Microsoft Windows will not see any changes. It won’t be broken up into several apps; it will work just like it does now. However, Apple did not provide any clarification about what support will be like for future features. The company simply says that Windows users will continue to have the same experience as before and that it is not announcing any plans to end support for iTunes in Windows.

The new Mac TV app will also offer the same functionality as an Apple TV 4K in terms of displaying content on a television (via an HDMI adapter), but you’ll need a 2018 or later Mac for Atmos support.

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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