Google Play Music - Download to phone issue


Dec 19, 2016
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Morning everyone,

I've switched from an iPhone a little way back and have just got round to uploading all my music to GPM. Apart from some silly issues (artwork missing on individual track etc) it all went well.

Now having read all the guides, i though having "Auto-Offline" enables in the GPM app would then start downloading all my music locally so i can play without a data connection.... Doesn't seem to want to work. I've tried toggling on and off, left it overnight connected to wifi and power, having download over wifi on and off, cleared the cache, rolled back the app and updated again. Nothing.

There doesn't appear to be an issue with me manually starting a download of say an entire album/playlist. It just wont do it automatically.

I can do it manually, but I'd really like the confidence of when I'm listening to music say abroad, that it's offline. So to me, having the confidence of when I add music to my online library, it downloads to my phone.

Any experiences or advice?

PS: I have asked google pixel support for help too.

B. Diddy

Senior Ambassador
Mar 9, 2012
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I spent a little while looking into this, and wasn't able to find any good answers on tech blogs or forums. After playing around with it on my phone, the best I can figure is that the Auto-Download feature causes GPM to automatically cache the next 3 songs in your queue (i.e., your album or playlist), so that you can listen to your music smoothly without any pauses related to a poor network connection.

So for example, I started listening to an album with Auto-Download off (but Cache Music While Streaming on), and then turned on the Downloaded Only switch in the nav drawer. When I looked at the album, it showed only one song downloaded -- the first song that I was playing, which was being cached as I listened to it.

Next, I cleared the cached music from within the GPM settings, and then turned on the Auto-Download setting. When I started playing that first song of the album again and then turned on the Downloaded Only switch, the album now showed 4 songs downloaded -- the first song, and the 3 that follow. I then skipped ahead to the 4th song, and then soon after, it showed that 7 songs were downloaded (i.e., the first 4 songs plus the next 3).

So the bottom line is that the feature is not intended to download your entire music library to your phone. It's to help you listen to your music seamlessly, even with poor signal.

By the way, it seems that the Auto-Download feature should really be called the Auto-Cache feature, since the downloaded songs are not considered true downloads by the GPM app (i.e., the songs or albums that you actually tap the Download option for). True downloads can be seen when you go to the GPM settings and tap Manage Downloads. You'll notice that if you tap the Clear Cache option, the songs or albums that you manually downloaded don't disappear. The fact that the Auto-Downloaded songs don't remain after the Clear Cache indicates that those songs are considered part of the cache.

Sorry, I hope that's not too confusing, but it's a little hard to explain!

Gabriele Molinarolo

New member
Oct 29, 2013
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Thanks for taking the time to explore - I also had the same curiosity and your findings confirm what I was suspecting. Honestly I thought the "Cache music while streaming" would cache more than one song, therefore I didn't see the point in the "Auto-Download".
But also, this explains why is not possible to enable "Auto-Download by keeping "Cache music while streaming" is disabled.

However, even if I switched all the options needed to stream and download music on Wi-Fi only, I could still notice a relatively big amount of data being consumed by Play Music (all of it background data). So I disabled the background data from the Android mobile data settings, to make sure Play music doesn't take ANY mobile data :)