Icons and Symbols used in iTunes and IOS Music

[This article was written many eons ago. There have been numerous updates for IOS and iTunes since then, and Apple Music has been released. Basically, I’m saying that this page is outdated. ?]

There are numerous icons and symbols used in iTunes (v12.3) and Music (IOS 9). Most of their meanings are pretty straightforward, but often, only after the meaning is known!? Here are their meanings:

IOS MusicOn this page (which you may click to expand):

  • Favourite will add Allen Stone as a favourite (for later quick retrieval).
  • Create radio station will create a radio station with music similar to Allen Stone,
  • Share will allow Allen Stone to be shared.

IOS MusicOn this second page:

  • Search allows a search of music,
  • My account is for adjusting your account settings,
  •  Play plays the music,
  • For You , New , Radio , Connect , or Music my music along the bottom changes the section of Music:
    • For You is music that Apple thinks you make like (based on your listened to and downloaded music),
    • New is, well, things new in Music,
    • Radio is, well, radio stations based on different genres of music, Connect is social media connection with artists you follow (or Apple has decided you may want to follow), and
    • My Music is the music that you have uploaded/downloaded/chosen to listen to.
  • IOS MusicThe Music explicit content(an ‘E’, which appears in red in iTunes) means that the music contains ‘explicit content’.
  • The More options means there are more options available.


On this page of iTunes (which can be clicked to view larger):

  • iTunes waiting to be uploaded (a dotted cloud) means ‘waiting to be processed and uploaded to the cloud’. I’m not too sure what this means that iTunes is doing, as I’ve had this symbol on some of my tunes (e.g. The Beatles) for months and nothing has happened. [See comment by Jacob Landes below]
  • Available to be downloaded means that the song(s) is available to be downloaded to the device (for offline play)
  • There are many other cloud symbols, their meanings explained at Apple.
  • Add means to add a playlist (‘smart’, normal, or otherwise)
  • Playlist action means to action the selected playlist (e.g. edit it, burn it, duplicate it, etc)


  • Volume control is the volume control. Slide (drag) to increase/decrease the volume.
  • Previous track is the previous track
  • Next track is the next track
  • iTunes shuffle is to shuffle the music/play in a random order
  • Redirect sound to an airplay device redirects the sound to an airplay device (e.g. Apple TV, Airport Express)

If I’ve missed any, or provided inaccurate explanations, please comment below.

48 thoughts on “Icons and Symbols used in iTunes and IOS Music”

  1. If using iTunes Match, you can force iTunes to upload “dotted cloud” tracks by going to File > Library > Update iCloud Music Library.

  2. could you please tell me what the word clean means on some of my podcast downloads. it appears on the title line in a box |clean|

    Thank you

    1. It means that the podcast does not contain any offensive material (such as swearing, etc). It is optional for the publisher to provide the ‘clean’ tag. [It is the opposite to the ‘explicit’ tag.]

    2. It means the lyrics are clean, aka not explicit. No swear words. They are probably beeped out or replaced.

  3. Can you please tell me how to move songs up or down in playlists. It shows an edit feature that works in an old playlist, but not since I updated to 9.3.1. Thank you.

    1. After selecting the playlist, select ‘edit’ as you describe. If on an iDevice, touch the song on the right edge, and drag it to your required order.

      If using OSX, there is no edit. Select the playlist, select ‘songs’ (in the top right corner), and then drag the song with your mouse/trackpad using again, the right edge of the song.

      1. Greg,
        What you say does work that way in my old playlist in version 8.4 as I noted, but does not work in the 9.3.1 version. That’s the problem, and I wonder if Apple is working on a solution for the new version.
        Thanks for your prompt reply.

        1. That’s bad luck ?. Apple has let you down. All works fine on my iPhone 5S.

          There’s a new version of IOS out today (9.3.2). Fingers crossed that it fixes your issue.

  4. I was buying a song and then I ran out of data…now it’s written ‘purchased’ but it’s not playing what does this mean??? And when will it play??? What should I do???

    1. I am on Apple Music, and cannot replicate your problem. For me, in ITunes Store, my purchases have a ‘cloud’ that I can touch to redownload them. [I’m assuming your on IOS and not OSX]. I can redirect you to Apple Support on your issue (I think) at https://support.apple.com/en-au/HT201272. Good luck. You could visit an Apple Store; I found them most helpful.

      I believe that you may be in Natal. If so, Apple Stores/Resellers in Durban can be found at https://locate.apple.com/za/en/sales/?a=durban&pt=all&x=21&y=9

  5. I have a symbol of a oblong with a tick in it, do you know what that means,? It’s on my iPod touch

    1. I need some more information to try to assist.

        What screen are you in (e.g. playlists, up next, etc)?
        What version of IOS are you using (e.g. I have an old iPod that isn’t compatible with the latest version of IOS)?
        What are trying to do with Apple Music at the time?

      Often a box with a tick in it means that you have selected it (for later playing or editing).

    2. I think it means the tune has been downloaded to the device, if absent the tune is still in the cloud. Greg…could you confirm please?

  6. On my iPhone in Music are two arrows one on top of the other, going in opposite directions. What do they do?

    1. I can’t find what you are describing. In which section of Apple Music is the icon you describe, and what happens if you touch it?

      Opposing vertical arrows normally indicate that there is a list of more items that will be displayed if you touch the arrows.

  7. What does the symbol of an iPhone mean beside SOME of my playlists in the Apple Music app on my iPhone 6?

    1. If it’s the symbol that I think you are referring to, it means that the song/playlist has been downloaded and is on your iPhone. [And does not need downloading to play, and can be played offline.]

      1. Why does that symbol (the iphone with a check in it) appear next to some songs and not others even though they were purchased and are from the same album (and was there previously)? Just had several songs that were missing that symbol and could not play them in my car. Happened before but I can’t figure out why or how to fix it. Thanks for your help.

        1. That symbol from what I believe, is to indicate that the song has not been downloaded to your device. When on your wifi, you should be able to click on a dotted cloud to download it to your device, so that you can play it offline, such as in your car.

          BTW, I’m no expert. I put up this webpage because I found all the iTunes/Apple Music symbols confusing and unexplained. People keep asking me for help, and I try to, but I’m no expert.

          In fact I’ve noticed Apple themselves have checked out my site, and created a similar (and most likely more comprehensive) webpage on their Apple Support Site.

  8. Thanks for the reply. Actually, I think it’s the other way around though. The songs that are missing the symbol are not on the device. I’m trying to figure out why they disappear all of a sudden and how to get that to stop happening. I’ll have to try searching Apple support again.

  9. What is the symbol that Looks like 2 arrows making a circle but not intersected like shuffle.

    Is it repeat?


    1. If the symbol is rotating, it means that an operation *eg downloading) is in progress.

      If it’s not rotating, and the two arrows form more of an ellipse than a circle, and is next to the ‘shuffle’ symbol, then you are right. It does mean repeat. It can mean repeat only the current track, or the entire album, depending on how many times you press the symbol.

  10. HI Greg—thanks for your help with symbols. I find the whole procedure on iTunes fairly hard going, I generally manage to stumble through to buy a couple of songs. Help in iTunes does not do a lot for me, perhaps you could lay out the buying procedure, I am on iOS 9.3.5.

    1. I agree with you Stephen, and many others do as well. iTunes has lost it’s way, and should be split into smaller programmes. For example, on IOS, ‘Music’ has been pulled out of iTunes, while on MacOS, this is not the case.

      The purchasing procedure I can’t help with that much, as I don’t purchase from iTunes. I have an Apple Music subscription. May I suggest this Google Search

  11. Hi. I mistakenly Synched my Ipod to a different system I Tune and lost all the songs on my Ipod. Pls can someone pls suggest how i retrieve them. Pls It is Very Urgent. Thanks

    1. I feel for you, but this issue is beyond me. I suggest you post to Reddit. The users of this site are very knowledgeable. Just ignore the downvotes, etc. Users are trigger happy there. Good luck.

  12. What is the meaning of the symbol “!” (with a circle around it) when it appears to the left of a particular song on my playlist?

  13. When playing songs on an iTunes playlist on my phone, I often no longer see left or right arrows to skip to the previous or next song. Instead there’s a circular arrow with “30” inside. This skips within the current song. It will never go back to the previous song played, although pressing many times will make it go to the next song. I don’t want this feature. How can I get simple arrows to skip back and forward?

  14. Hello. thanks for the list. There is still an unexplained symbol. On the page where you are actually playing that song, there is a symbol similar to the shuffle symbol but the two lines don’t cros and there is a number 1 in the top Right corner of the symbol. Thanks.

    1. Hi Stella, by the sounds (pun intended) of your description, it appears that it is the ‘repeat’ symbol. When listening to an album, a number 1 in the top right corner indicates that the current track will be repeated. If the number 1 is not in the top right corner, then the entire album will be repeated. I hope that this helps.

  15. In iTunes library, I can drag (add) songs to my playlists that have the icon of a music symbol next to them, but not playlists with the icon of a wheel/sun next to it. Why?

    1. Hi Connie,

      If I’m reading you correctly, the playlists with the ‘wheel/sun’ icon are smart playlists. The tunes in the playlist are defined by some condition. Hence you can’t manually add tunes to these playlists. To see the condition for the smart playlist, right click on the playlist and choose edit/modify/or something similar (I don’t have iTunes with me right now and cannot remember the correct wording.

      I hope that this has answered you question satisfactorily.

  16. Some numbers of an album have a star to the left of their number; e.g. ‘In a Sentimental Mood’ and ‘My Little Brown Book’ on the album: Duke Ellington & John Coltrane. Where do these stars come from? What do they mean? Thanks in advance!

    1. Good question Jaap! I had to do some research and experimentation in my library. Found the answer (I hope) here. The ‘star’ indicates that this song is very popular on Apple Music.

      BTW, a great choice of music and album you gave as an example! Love your taste in music.

  17. Hi,
    What does the following symbol mean ? how does it work ?
    A Symbol next to a song, appears only when SHIFT is pressed:
    4 lines + on its left a down arrow that points to the bottom line (like a RETURN symbol facing Right instead of Left).
    Thank you !

    1. Can you provide some more information please? Is it in IOS (what version) or Mac? Is it iTunes or Apple Music? Does it happen with every song? If not, is it only ones in your library, or ones that you have downloaded, or any other thing in common?


  18. what does the arrow pointing left and arrow pointing right mean? When I click it, it gets highlighted with a dot. Click it again and the highlight goes away.

    1. It could be ‘shuffle mode’ where the songs will be played in a random order. If you could sent me more information such as is it on an iPhone or a Mac, what version of Apple Music/iTunes, what screen it appears in, and whereabouts on the screen the icon appears, that would be helpful. Kind regards, Greg

  19. When the full screen is open of the song I’m playing, I have 3 symbols across the bottom.
    • a comment bubble with quote marks inside. —WHAT IS THIS?
    • AirPlay
    • shuffle/playing next

    The first symbol is NOT any kind of “cloud”. Help?

  20. I see the same icon Jules is referring to, but accidentally deselected it when I was trying to figure out what it does.
    Now it is grayed-out, and I can’t figure out how to enable it:

    1- How do I re-enable the lyrics?
    2- Once enabled, where will the lyrics be visible?

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