Smartphones have all but eliminated the need for a dedicated MP3 player. After all, if you’re carrying one device with a headphone socket and some storage capacity in your pocket, why carry another? That doesn’t solve the problem of actually putting music on your smartphone and playing it, of course, but that’s where this guide helps.

iPhone / iPad

Although it’s by no means perfect, the best application from managing music on an iPhone is Apple’s own iTunes - and it’s a free download.

Step 1: Add music to your iTunes library

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iTunes will offer to search for music on your PC the first time you run the application, else you can add music manually. Click the menu button at the top-left of the window, select Add File to Library and browse for a folder on your PC that contains some music.

Step 2: Show the iPhone music settings

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Copying music from your iTunes library to an iPhone is called ‘syncing’, so start by connecting your iPhone to your PC with its USB cable. The easiest option is to just select the music you want to copy. Click the iPhone symbol that appears on the iTunes toolbar when an iPhone is connected and then click Music under Settings in the list on the left of the window.

Step 3: Set up the iPhone for syncing

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This opens the iPhone’s music settings page. Click to enable the Sync Music option, if it isn’t enabled already. If Tunes asks if you’re “sure you want to remove existing music…”, click the Remove and Sync button - but be warned that any content already on your iPhone will be erased.

Step 4: Choose music to sync…

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Scroll down the window and select the playlists, artists, genres and/or albums you want to copy by ticking the appropriate boxes. When you’re finished, click the Apply button to start the sync process.

Step 5: …or copy tracks manually…

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Alternatively, you can just drag and drop music from your iTunes library onto a connected iPhone. Click the Music icon on the iTunes toolbar, then select Songs from the drop-down list at the top-right of the iTunes window.

Step 6: …by dragging and dropping

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Next, select Playlists from the four options at the top-middle of the window. Now simply select any music to copy and drag it onto the iPhone icon under Devices in the left of the window. This triggers a sync automatically.

Android

Android smartphone users have either an easier or harder time of things, depending on how you look at it. If you’re not concerned about ‘managing’ your music on your PC in any way, then copying music to an Android smartphone is a cinch — you just drag and drop between folders.

If you want fine control of which music you sync using playlists on your PC or any other means, however, there’s no standard Android equivalent of iTunes. There are lots of third-party options, though - DoubleTwist is a good one. We’ll stick with the first option where, since it’s simple and works with all Android smartphones.

Step 1: Find the Android Music folder

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Connect your smartphone to your PC with a USB cable and when the Windows AutoPlay dialog box opens, select the Open folder to view files option.

Step 2: Drag and drop files to your smartphone

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When the Explorer window opens on the Desktop, look for the Music folder — but don’t select it. Now open another Explorer window and browse to the music files on your PC you want to copy. Now all you have to do is drag and drop them onto your smartphone’s Music folder in the other window.

Do you play music on your smartphone, or do you listen to the radio on your mobile? Let us know in the Comments section below.