How to Use YouTube Music’s Offline Mixtape

Although it is not The best selection of music services, I use YouTube Music for daily listening. As someone who watches an absurd amount of video along with their music, I appreciate that YouTube Premium lets me enjoy both ad-free for $12 a month.

It’s not just about the package deal, though. The user experience on YouTube Music is solid, with decent features. A recent trip to the beach with my partner, where our rejuvenation levels were high but internet access was scarce, reminded me of one of my favorite features: the offline mixtape.

Downloading music to your phone is easy, safe. But how often do you forget to download a new playlist before embarking on a long plane ride or off-grid adventure? I rarely remember until we’re on the beach, a few beers down and craving high BPM bops. With offline mixtape turned on, YouTube Music automatically downloads a playlist to my phone that’s a mix of long-time favorites and current obsessions.

How to use mixtape offline

To get started, you must have an active subscription to YouTube Music Premium ($10 per month, mostly music) or YouTube Premium ($12 per month, music and videos). Curious to try YouTube Music for the first time? Check out my article full of tips to get you started. The ad-supported tier, ideal for playing songs without a subscription, does not include the option to download music.

It’s important to understand that YouTube and YouTube Music are different apps for your smartphone. The two apps interact when you use the same Google Account. For example, if you watch a Beyoncé video on YouTube and press the thumbs up button, the song is added to a major playlist on YouTube Music with all your likes.

With that out of the way, here’s how to set up your mixtape offline on YouTube Music for an eternal source of custom songs and downloads. (Well, forever as long as you keep paying your subscription fees.) Open the YouTube Music app and go to your libraryand then tap downloads.

You’ll likely see a blue slider near the top of the screen. Use this tool to choose the number of songs, from 1 to 100, that you want YouTube Music to keep downloading to your device. The app calculates the required offline playlist length and storage. If you don’t see the blue slider, tap gear icon in the upper right corner and alternate Download a mixtape offline on the right.

The menu page that appears when you select the gear icon shows your available storage and the last time your offline mixtape was updated. Trying to conserve mobile data? Check that the Download over Wi-Fi only option is enabled. The offline mixtape feature only works if your smartphone retains free space for new downloads.

Select Clear downloads if you ever need more available storage on your phone and want to quickly delete all songs. For a more long-term solution, read contributor Simon Hill’s roundup of the best services for cloud storage.

From my experience with the offline mixtape, a shorter playlist of about 20 songs includes the latest bangers that I keep on constant rotation. Neglected tracks start to resurface when you expand your playlist to the maximum of 100 songs. I appreciate the lack of a discovery element within the offline mixtape: songs by artists I’ve never heard are not included in my downloads.

What’s the point of having all that music available at your fingertips without the means to enjoy it with something a little louder (and less confusing) than your smartphone’s built-in speakers? WIRED’s guide to the best bluetooth speakers is an essential resource. For those still on the fence between music streaming services, writer and reviewer Matt Jancer’s article on the best options will help you select a service based on your listening habits.

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