Autofilling a Device from iTunes

Q: I was trying to add songs to my daughters iPhone 4 from my library. I accidentally hit autofill and it started to transfer ALL of my music. It put her way over capacity. I tried to stop the operation, and now the songs more or less show up on her phone but I can’t remove them. Do I have to wipe her music library and start over? She already had other music on her iPhone that I assume will be lost as well.

– JP

Autofilling a Device from iTunes

A: There are actually two ways to Autofill an iPod or iOS device, and using either shouldn’t actually put the device over capacity, as the point of the feature is to simply fill up any remaining available space with music tracks.

Note that iTunes may sometimes incorrectly report the device as being over-capacity in the sync settings, but this is normally just a calculation error and will resolve itself once you actually sync the device.

You can access Autofill either when using automatic synchronization or managing your content manually. When using automatic sync, simply select the Automatically fill free space with songs option found on the Music sync settings.

As the name implies, this option will automatically select music tracks to fill any remaining space on your device that isn’t already being used up by content you’ve specifically selected, regardless of whether the selected content is music, videos, books, apps, or anything else. The random selection will also adjust automatically based on future selections you make, so iTunes will automatically remove some of the “autofilled” tracks to make room for anything you want to specifically select in the future.

Reversing this procedure is as simple as unchecking the option and performing another sync.

iTunes will remove anything on the device that hasn’t specifically been selected for synchronization, leaving everything else in place. In this case, any music that was on your daughter’s device before you enabled autofill would be left untouched.

If your daughter has been managing the content manually, then the autofill option would be found in the “On This iPhone” section in your iTunes device sync settings, in the form of a button that performs basically the same function as described earlier, but provides an additional drop-down menu to the left that allows you to limit the autofilled content to a specific playlist rather than randomly selecting content from your entire music library.


Autofilling a Device from iTunes

When managing the content on an iPod or iPhone manually, you should normally be able to use the same “On This iPhone” section to remove any tracks that you no longer want on the device. This is handled in much the same way as it would be in your actual iTunes library—simply select the tracks and press the DELETE button on your keyboard or choose Edit, Delete from the iTunes menu.

In this case, however, if your daughter has her own iTunes library, you may find that the tracks in the “On This iPhone” section are greyed out, even if the device is set to be managed manually; this is a peculiarity of the iPhone in regard to manual management, and in fact the ability to add content at all to an iPhone from anywhere but the primary computer is a relatively recent addition.