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Make the most of Apple Music with these 10 tips and tricks

Apple Music isn’t for everyone — in fact, it might only be for people over the age of 35. Nonetheless, it’s quickly become a prominent player within four months of its debut, granting iTunes and iOS users access to the new-fangled Beats 1 Radio station and the company’s extensive catalog of tunes for less than the cost of a traditional LP. Success doesn’t necessarily translate to simplicity, though. Apple Music remains riddled with many navigational woes and a severe lack of explanation when it comes to features, despite having garnered more than 6.5 million paid subscribers since its launch.

Related: Why I’m in love with Apple Music (and the reason I can’t leave Spotify)

That said, knowing is half the battle with Apple Music. There are plenty of little tips and tricks that help to understand the service’s inner workings, whether you intend to download tracks for offline consumption or merely want to wake up streaming your favorite Adele song (in this case, Hello). Below are a few of our favorites, so you can make the most of your subscription without having to fumble for hidden features and facets.

Click on a link to jump straight to the tip you want:

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Tip #1: How to customize your playlists with photos

Individual playlists are often indistinguishable from the next, unless your taste truly varies from one mood-setting soundtrack to the next. With Apple Music, their icon takes the form of a grid of album covers, highlighting the selection of music found inside. Fortunately, you can personalize the playlist icon with a photo of your own choosing, whether it be of a ratty pair of tennis shoes or a snapshot of your own tropical paradise.

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iOS: Tap the camera icon in the upper-left corner when creating a playlist, and afterward, either choose a photo from your library or take one using your camera. You can also tap EDIT when viewing a solidified playlist, followed by the camera icon, to bring up the same options.

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Mac or PC: Click the image thumbnail when initially creating a playlist and either choose a photo from your library or take one using your camera. Alternatively, click Edit Playlist and the playlist icon to bring the same host of options for an already established playlist.

Tip #2: How to download music for offline listening

Non-stop streaming consumes data quicker than you might think, so why not download your music for offline listening? Apple Music subscribers can do so, allowing you to quickly save songs, albums, or playlists for offline listening whenever you’re not connected to the Internet or would simply rather play music stored locally on your deivce.

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iOS: Tap the More Options icon — aka the three dots on the right of the song, album, or playlist name — and select Make Available Offline to download your selection. If you want to only view music stored on your device, navigate to the Library tab within My Music, tap the drop-down menu at the top, and toggle the switch beside Only Offline Music.

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Mac or PC: In iTunes, locate the item you wish to save in the My Music or Playlists tab. Afterward, click the cloud icon to the right of the song name, on the album cover, or to the right of the playlist’s name.

Tip #3: How to wake up with Apple Music

“Twinkle” and “Summit” are old news. With Apple Music, you can choose any song available through the service as your alarm ringtone, thus allowing for a staggering amount of possibilities.

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iOS: Launch the Clock app, navigate to the alarm tab, and tap Edit in the upper-left corner. Then, select the alarm you want to customize and tap Sound, prior to selecting Pick a song and choosing your desired alarm tone from the your Apple Music library. Just make sure you’ve added the song to your music library before doing so.

Tip #4: How to follow artists you like

iTunes Ping was an absolute failure, but remnants of the social platform still exist within Connect. The aptly-titled feature gives musicians a way to connect with their fans, allowing them to share short audio snippets, photos, messages, and anything else they may want to impart on their fans. Following artists grants you access to the exclusive feed and lets you “Like” various content, but like other social platforms, you must follow the artist in order to do so.

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iOS, Mac, or PC: Simply top the FOLLOW button, below the artist’s name and above their latest release, when viewing their individual page to add them to your Connect feed.

Tip #5: How to fine tune your favorites

If you’re like most people on this planet, your preferences change as you discover new music and become acquainted with different genres and artists. However, while you likely already specified your favorite artists when you first signed up for Apple Music, there’s always room for improvement. Apple uses the information to curate personalized playlists and album recommendations, so it’s always beneficial to outline the artists you love (and those you don’t).

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iOS, Mac, or PC: If you like a particular song or album, tap the heart icon visible when viewing or playing the selection. Alternatively, if you don’t like a particular suggestion within the For You tab, tap and hold the selection before selecting I Don’t Like This Suggestion from the list of pop-up options.

Tip #6: How to turn off the auto-renewal

Just because you opted for the three-month trial of Apple Music doesn’t mean you’re forced to stick with the service once your free subscription comes to a close. You can easily turn off the auto-renewal feature, which is enabled by default, if you’d rather avoid paying the $10 subscription fee or the $15 fee associated with a family membership.

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iOS: Tap the silhouetted head icon in the upper-left corner of your display, followed by View Apple ID near the bottom of the resulting page. Afterward, tap the blue Manage link, selecting your Apple Music membership, and toggle off the slider beside Automatic Renewal. Tap Turn Off in the resulting window to confirm.

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Mac or PC: Click View Account from the main Store menu at the top, and enter your login credentials when prompted. Next, click the blue Manage link on the next page beside Subscriptions, select your iTunes Match membership, and check the Off bubble directly right of Automatic Renewal. Click Turn Off in the resulting window to confirm.

Tip #7: How to listen to past Beats 1 playlists

Beats 1 isn’t just a novel part of Apple Music — it’s a critical component to the service’s appeal and its longevity. Renowned musicians such as St. Vincent and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age routinely host shows, while international radio stars like Zane Lowe and Julie Adenuga spearhead the project throughout the day. The best part? You can still listen to each show after the fact, or browse the playlist if listening to radio personalities isn’t your thing.

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iOS, Mac, or PC: Navigate to the Radio tab, whether in iTunes or using the bottom of the mobile interface, and click the Beats 1 logo at the top. Afterward, choose a DJ from the list of upcoming shows or scroll to the bottom and select one from the swath of featured shows. The resulting page will showcase the artist’s most recent radio show, along with individual playlists for past episodes and access to their Connect page.

Tip #8: How to use Siri to play music

Siri is capable of far more than we give her credit for, especially if you know the right thing to say. Apple integrated the voice-activated feature with Apple Music, and as such, she can perform a string of useful actions on command.

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iOS: Press and hold the Home button on your device, then simply say a voice command. For instance, you can ask Siri to play a song or album by a specific artist, or to add a particular song to your library or queue. You can even ask her to play the hits from a certain decade or name the song you’re currently listening to, among other actions.

Tip #9: How to bring back the playlist tab

Frankly, not everyone wants to “Connect,” well, at least not in the Apple sense. The music-centric social network isn’t for everyone, and if you’d rather implement a quicker way to access your playlists instead, Apple allows you to do so with little-to-no hassle. This replaces the Connect tab with an aptly-titled Playlist tab in iOS, giving you access to your playlists directly from the main interface.

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iOS: Launch the main Settings app, tap General, and select Restrictions. Next, if you haven’t done so already, tap the blue Enable Restrictions and enter your passcode to confirm. Then just toggle the slider beside Apple Music Connect to off.

Tip #10: How to change your nickname

Nicknames aren’t crucial with Apple Music, but they are important. Your nickname represents your own unique handle, one that’s automatically associated with your shared playlists and visible when you comment in Connect. Apple automatically creates your nickname using your Apple ID by default, but it’s easy to change if you want something more personal (or personable).

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iOS: Launch Apple Music and tap the silhouetted head icon in the upper-left corner of your display. Then, select your display name at the top and tap the red Edit link before entering your desired nickname in the entry field below your username. Also, keep in mind you can only use alphanumerical characters and underscores when creating your name.

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Mac or PC: Click your username in the top-right corner when viewing any tab in iTunes. Afterward, select your display name from the resulting drop-down menu and enter your desired nickname in the entry field below your username. Click the blue Save button when finished.