How to properly use “Likes” in Apple Music

I use the “Like” system in my music services all the time because I want it to learn from my listening habits and be more personalized for my tastes. However, it seems that every service uses this system in different ways, so I talked to Apple about how you should use likes with Apple Music.

First, let me tell you one of my big problems, or sources of confusion, with likes on streaming services. Let’s say I’m listening to a Metal station and a great song comes on, but I consider it to be Rock. Do I like it? I enjoy the song, but I’m afraid if I like it, more Rock songs will come on the Metal station, diluting it.

What if I don’t like it? Will it never show up again, even in Rock? Perhaps I should skip it, but is that equivalent to a “dislike”? These are the questions and concerns I had as I listened to Apple music.

So, here’s some guidance on what you should be doing.

Apple’s built in Radio stations are all handpicked songs. They are handpicked with a thought to what song is playing and what song comes after it. By doing this curation, Apple strives to make one song flow into the other so, hopefully, you won’t need to skip songs—or at least skip less often.

When you play a radio song, you will notice a heart—this is the like button. If you tap the heart, indicating you like that song, it does absolutely nothing to “tune” that station. Since the stations are human curated, there is no need for a tuning algorithm.

Tapping the heart does affect “For You,” the section of Apple Music that’s custom built with playlists, albums and songs tailored to your individual tastes. For You also takes into account music you add to your library and full plays you listen to. Skips aren’t really taken into account, because there are so many reasons you may skip a song—maybe you’re just not in the mood for it right now.

You can further tune the For You section. If you go to For You and there is a recommendation for an album that you just don’t like, tap and hold on the album. A menu will popup where you can choose “I Don’t Like This Suggestion,” allowing Apple Music to further learn about your musical taste.

Now, If you build a station yourself by searching for a band or song and tap “Start Station,” you’ll notice the heart changes to a star. In this instance, you can tune the station to your likes and dislikes.

Tapping the star gives you a “Play More Like This” or “Play Less Like This.” These choices can be made on a per station basis without worrying that you are affecting your overall enjoyment of a particular song or band.

Using these tips should give you finely tuned For You section and enjoyable custom radio listening experience in Apple Music.

  • Has anyone found a way to tune the For You section in iTunes on desktop?

    • lorenzobenoglio

      There’s no way sadly…one of the many things not working on iTunes and working only on iOS

      • Alijah Simon

        OS X needs a “Music” app. Just mirror the iOS app and reconfigure the interface a little, like Photos.

  • RickDeNatale

    I’m confused what is happening when I’m listening to Beats1.

    If I click on the song title I get a screen with a cover picture for the song, which also has the heart. If I touch the heart it fills in with black. When the next song plays the heart is still filled in.

    What’s up with that?

    • Tom_P

      I think it’s a bug. There’s still bugs in Beat 1, like you can’t add some songs to playlist even though those songs are available to Apple Music.

    • hungrybear

      I was wondering about that as well. The heart button seems to be sticky. Jim do you know?

    • David Brockley

      I’ve had it work like that, and also clear after a new song starts. I think it depends on whether you connected to iCloud. When it was sticky, iTunes Match wasn’t working. Logged out and back in again and iTunes Match worked and so did the heart.

  • Terry Grier

    Do you mean the playlists or the radio stations? (Free) The radio stations do not sound any different than the itunes radio. Still rather dull and do not sound “hand picked”

  • Daniel Harlow

    Anyone locate the “I Don’t Like This Suggestion” on iTunes 12.2 For You section?

    • lorenzobenoglio

      No it doesn’t work on iTunes only on iOS

      • BC2009

        It actually only works on iPhone (and maybe iPod touch). Tapping and holding on iPad seems to have no effect.

  • pdr

    Is there any way to see a list of songs you have previoulsly liked?

    • I made a smart playlist to do just that. Not the most elegant solution, but it worked in a pinch. Also, by going into Settings/General/Restrictions and turning off “Connect,” the Music app on iOS will show the Playlist button at the bottom.

      • pdr

        Thanks for the reply. That only shows liked music from your Music Library, not any other liked music elsewhere in Apple Music, such as their curated playlists of songs that aren’t in you library.

        • Had the same issue with this. ‘hybrid’ smart playlists are not there it seems.

    • Yeah, I’d love to be able to see this as well. I don’t necessarily want to add every song I like to my library, but I would like to be able to browse through or play them again later. Hopefully they’ll add this feature in the future.

      I’d also love to see a way to see my iTunes Store Wish List in Apple Music so that I can add those albums and songs to my library. Currently I’ve just been looking at my wish list and then doing a search on Apple Music for those items and then adding them. But that takes a long time and is very inefficient. In fact, I would love to see options on everything in the iTunes Store to add to your Apple Music Library instead of buying. Everything that’s available on Apple Music, of course.

  • Dirk Lenz

    It seems that some of the key features like the one described in this article or the “New Station from Artist (Song)” option don’t work for some users on the Mac.

    • lorenzobenoglio

      I confirm it doesn’t…honestly is the main reason I’m still on Spotify…I use my music mainly from my Mac and mainly to discover new stuff. Apple Music really needs a proper iTunes release, this one is beta at best…

      • MVP watch, MVP streaming, what’s next? Absolutely ‘millenium edition’ feeling to this release

  • The single greatest frustration I have with how Apple has implemented this is that there is no way for me to get a view of music I have Liked. I tried adding a smart playlist, but that only shows songs I’ve liked that I’ve added to my library.

    When I listen to a song, the most convenient button Apple has provided is the Like button. Since this doesn’t add it to My Music, I have to tap twice to add it to My Music. That seems highly counterintuitive to me – all of these playlists and no easy way to add those songs to My Music? Spotify provides a “+” button that essentially Likes the song for the recommendation engine and then adds it to your library – Apple has made adding music the secondary action behind tuning their recommendation system.

    • Yes, this is annoying.

    • Lakersallday87

      Super annoying I wish they would add this feature.

  • lorenzobenoglio

    Can anyone tell me if it’s normal that sometimes starting a Radio from a Track or Artist, if they’re ‘less famous’, leads to nothing happening? Is this something that will improve as well with time?

    • mark

      you should at least get to hear stuff from that artist (even if they’re weird/obscure)

      smells like a bug to me.

      • lorenzobenoglio

        Indeed! I’ve done a quick test now and same artist/song not working on Mac it seems to work instead on iOS! It seems to me iTunes was not really ready for release…maybe that’s why it was delayed. Other things not working on iTunes like for example adding Music tracks directly to a playlist if from search results…I have to do it once I go in the album! Also is not possible to Dislike suggestions in For You, it works only on iOS. Annoying…anyone else noticed this strange behaviour of Artist/Song stations not working on iTunes but working on iOS?

      • lorenzobenoglio

        Actually same error on iOS after few songs…seems is broken, where instead Spotify works flawlessy being able to stream tracks from same song radio for days… Screenshot of error on iOS pretty much generic and useless

  • Do stars come into play at all?

    Also, if I ask “hey Siri, rate this song 4 stars” it does it but if I say “heavy Siri, like this song” or “heart this song” or “love this song” Siri doesn’t know what I’m talking about. How can I get Siri to “like” a song?

  • Idon’t Know

    Pandora does human curation as well as algorithms and takes my skips and likes and dislikes into account..I’m pretty darn sure their radio stations are better than Apple Music’s. They are better than Spotify’s that’s for sure. I pay for both Pandora and Spotify for this reason but thought Apple Music would cover all my bases. So far I’m not overly impressed with Apples radio stations, interface (better than Spotfy’s but that’s not saying much), how my music and streaming music integrates, and especially iTunes Match integration. I’m going to have to use it awhile longer but right now I’m not sure I will be keeping it. Also I flat out don’t like “For You” and was really happy to find that I could hide Connect which I will never use.

  • The fact that there is so much confusion is a testament to how much more work should have been spent in testing the UI.

  • Drew Richards

    Does anyone know if there’s a way to combine different genres into one custom station? For example, if I “start station” from a particular artist/song, it seems to limit the station to only that genre of music. How can I add other types?

    • eyeseeyou

      I think this feature has been removed which was one of my favorite features of itunes radio stations. Whats more annoying is that you can’t save a custom station at all.

  • I understand them going curated music. But being able to create you own station or have a station based on your taste would make this ideal. Yes I understand you can create a station based off an artist, however creating your own station and adding a few songs to it, like creating a playlist would be perfect.

    • I’m not sure I understand what you’re asking for here. Creating your own radio station, the way you describe it, is akin to creating a playlist and putting it on shuffle play. Or am I mistaken in what you mean?

      • No a radio station is based on your tastes. Ie the more you heart something the more it know. I’m saying give the option to use a playlist to generate a radio station using those songs as hearted songs for that specific station

        • GFYantiapplezealots

          Well then select ‘Play more like this’ on songs you like. Apple Music Radio does EXACTLY what you are wanting it to do.

          • I don’t see the “Play more like this” option (OSX desktop). And I get what @tfraley:disqus is saying. That was my most valuable feature on Rdio (RIP) – the ability to listen to non-curated songs based on my “favorite” tracks, regardless of genre. I haven’t found this yet with Apple Music. Unfortunately.

  • Craig Jacobs

    When you need an article like this explaining a feature you have to wonder if the UX designers know what they are about. I’ve been using iTunes exclusively since 2003. It’s gotten to be such a train wreck that I’m moving all my music to a DLNA server and moving to Denon’s Heos system exclusively. I used to love iTunes. Now I get that same irritated angry feeling when I use it that I get when I have to use Windows 8.

  • A way to downvote or dislike an artist or track would help.

  • Michal Pfeil

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong here but there seems to be a huge disparity between the previous version of iTunes Radio and what we just got. I can’t delete a custom station anymore. I can’t see a history of songs played anymore. And the tuning slider also seems to be missing. Now I get maybe getting rid of the tuning slider if it is now human curated but to not be able to delete a custom station I created nor a way to see a song that just played that I may want to buy or add to my music is beyond bewildering. On a positive note the curation does seem to have been improved dramatically.

  • Mr. Vegetable

    So nice that Apple made such great system that only needs one page of guidance

  • Excellent explanation. I too suffer from the like/dislike neurosis you describe above. This “like” functionality seems just right (compared to other services).

  • I have it but Apple Radio isn’t available where I live.

  • Rick

    “Skips aren’t really taken into account”

    Jim, could you clarify what “really” means in this case? I’m interpreting it as meaning that they are taken into account, but have less weight than other signals.

  • Great point you make there. good POST.. I like your perspective on this subject.

  • sunzeneise

    I just getting to know “For You,” I love it, but I don’t understand there varying musical types, categories. I’m listening to a Sinatra playlist all of which I like. As regards Sinatra, I don’t understand the musical standard used to discern “Pop,” “Jazz,” “Easy Listening,” “Vocal Pop,” and “Standards.” All “distinctions without a difference.”

    Man, it’s all Frank, and he swings. They’re all standards, easy to listen to, swingin’ jazz, and their popular. It’s a a product of the dictates of a retrospective analysis by those that were not present at the creation Indeed, not born then,and now they want to rearrange the furniture .

  • Mat Surtees

    I can confirm it does work on iPad, but it’s the albums that are suggested it only works on, not the playlists. Simple option, don’t listen to the suggested playlists you don’t want. It’s still early days, and Apple are obviously still trying to find their feet with this. Give it time.


    I’ve found, through empirical analysis (trial and error and heavy use) that the “For You” section most assuredly does not use nor reference any content from your library to aid or otherwise influence the suggested albums, playlists nor artists.

    “I don’t Like this” also is not something present for everyone – I’ve not been able to ever reveal that menu option through any manner of invocations, taps, holds, etc. The music app is somewhat incomplete and experiences with it are mixed to be polite. Tapping on an album for instance from a playlist will bring up a “match” for “unknown artist” and “unknown album” instead of what you’d expect – the full track list for the album the clicked on song belongs to.


    Anyone else finding that Apple Music eats about 1% of battery every minute on an iPhone? That’s my experience on a 4S.

  • Thank you for this! Nice to know I’m not the only one who hyper-analyzes things like this. 🙂

  • Joseph

    How can see what i have “hearted” (liked)

  • Well that is annoying. Usually when you like something on a music app those likes are curated into a playlist which you can refer to.

  • Joe

    When I start a Station and I lose my Like button, is there any easy way of marking a song as Liked rather than just “Play More Like This”? Sometimes the Station will play something I want to be considered a Like, but not necessarily something that works well for the station. I can do this on iTunes, but not on the iPhone. I can use Siri, by telling her/him, “Love this track”, but that means the music is paused while I’m fiddling with Siri. Any other way?

  • Jake Williams

    Can anyone help me, I have a problem. Something similar to what Jim said above. I listen only to the Christian & Gospel Music Genre (super genre). Initially things were fine and my Apple New Music Recommendations were on point. I think I misconstrued this functionality however. I started using the dislike button also, thinking it would fine tune my recommendations on a ‘per artist basis’.

    So I thought If I ‘loved’ Paul Baloche and ‘disliked’ Jeremy Camp (both Christian artists), the so called ‘intelligent’ algorithm will recommend me ‘Christian Songs’ similar to ‘Paul Baloche’. So I happily went about, loving and equally ‘disliking’ other songs.

    But each passing week, I started noticing my apple music recommendations get more and more messed up. By week 9, what used to be only Christian and Praise and worship, started getting replaced by ‘Rap’ and genres I don’t listen to .

    So my thought and warning is, don’t use the ‘Dislike’ button. It doesn’t do what you think it does. Though I have ‘Loved’ a lot of Christian tracks, I think in Apples algorithm somehow, ‘Dislikes’ supersede ‘Loves’. So, even though I ‘loved’ some Christian Artists, it completely stopped showing me music from the ‘Christian Genre’ just because I disliked some other Christian artist’s tracks.

    And to make matters worse, I can’t even undo what I did because I didn’t save any of those songs I disliked to my library. (I mean who in their right mind would). And now I can’t view them, or even have the option to ‘Undislike’ them to reset this error!

  • TT

    I play random playlists and like songs in them. I also have my own albums and playlists and like songs in them. An I also like song in several (and my own) radio. Why these likes don’t match? If I like song in some playlist, the same song is not liked in radio.