How To

Why extra iTunes playlists appear, and how to fix them

Trevor Hutchins


It’s about time someone had a clear answer for this problem!


iTunes users probably know the feeling: you have a playlist (yep). You get a few new songs (uh-huh). You plug your phone into your laptop to update the music library (so true). Then, you unplug your phone and find an annoying duplicate of the playlist! It looks something like this:


Well, we’re here to fix the problem. We’re here to discuss…

Why extra iTunes playlists appear, and how to fix them

The tried and tested explanation


We rooted around on the internet for answers. It took many minutes of sorting through theories before we arrived at an Apple discussion thread with a solid answers to the question:

User Jon Milan suggested the duplication happens when iTunes is open and playing a playlist during the syncing routine.

We began testing the idea by changing a “Halloween” playlist and syncing our phone without iTunes running. Nothing happened. We altered the music and synced again, while the playlist was running. To our surprise: “Halloween 1” appeared. So far, theory confirmed!

And it makes sense; having iTunes playing during an update could cause difficulties; instead, the program renames your active playlist and inserts the updated version under the original title. Apple made an understandable decision, we just wish they notified us better when it happens. These duplicates have bothered us for quite some time.

The Fix: shut iTunes off during the sync process. Simple!

Of course, if you already created a playlist by accident, carefully delete all numbered versions (ex: “Dance Party 1”) in the main iTunes playlist. Then, without unplugging your phone, re-sync again, without iTunes running.

The extra playlists will disappear like magic.

If that doesn’t work


Uh-oh. It’s not over yet.

There are many different settings and versions for iTunes, and all of these can add their own problems or solutions into the mix. If you’re still experiencing issues with playlist doppelgängers, try this on for size:

Switching Phone Playlists

Does your phone still have unwanted playlists that load into your mac whenever you re-sync? We believe removing the playlists and syncing again without unplugging your phone can solve the problem, but if that still doesn’t work…

User Kenichi Watanabe suggested another plan: remove iTunes from your phone entirely, remove the unwanted playlists from your music library on the computer, and then re-sync. Since the extra playlists are gone from your laptop and fully deleted from your phone, it’s highly unlikely they’ll still be around afterward.

And if that still doesn’t do the trick…

Online Playlists

Final Effort!

In another forum, users amergin and swedish_chris suggested the issue may be related to an iTunes update in conjunction with the cloud. Much akin to the first issue discussed, the explanation goes something like this: your Mac has one version of the playlist and your iCloud account has another. When you sync, the extra version appears with a number.

To solve this, go into your iTunes account by visiting “Store” and scrolling down to “Account” at the bottom right:

ItunesAccountFrom here, you can change your settings for iCloud and Family Sharing. Once you turn this off, you should be able to remove the duplicates (just so long as you remember to turn iTunes off during the sync).


We hope you resolved the issue with one of these solutions! While we’re pretty sure the “tried and tested explanation” will help most modern users, there’s no telling if someone running an older installment will have unique problems or if a future update will bring back former problems. If you’re still having trouble or found a new solution, please let us know in the comment section. Thanks for reading!

You may also like