If you don’t know by now, Apple has officially opened up their iTunes Match service to the public, bringing with it 256-kbps AAC DRM-free copies of your non-iTunes purchased music for $25 a year. To help familiarize users with the service, Apple has posted the following chart walking us through some new iTunes Match related iCloud icons you’ll start to notice in iTunes.

In addition, they also dropped some helpful guides explaining the ins and outs of the service including Troubleshooting iTunes Match, How to subscribe to iTunes Match, How to add a computer or iOS device to iTunes Match, and How to delete songs from iCloud.

In the troubleshooting guide, we learn you can enable a column within iTunes to display the iTunes Match/iCloud status of any given song in your library. For example, whether it’s a “Matched” song or just “Uploaded”. To do this, click “View > View Options” or press “Command-J“, and click the “iCloud Status” checkbox (same place you also enable “iCloud download”).

A MacRumors forum poster also offers a few helpful hints, while noting iTunes Match keeps your meta-data (a nice touch if you tend to edit data associated with your songs), the post clears up some concerns regarding the intricacies of what happens with your local copies: 

“Nothing happens to your local music when you run match. If you have a lower quality song that was matched you can remove it from your local library and then replace it with the 256k version. What happens is you delete the song, but the entry in iTunes stays, but a little cloud now shows up in a newly added column that shows you that you have a song that is in the cloud but not in your library. You can click on the cloud and it will download it to your local library, where again it is now permanently yours at the higher bit rate.”

If you need yet more clarification regarding DRM and which songs are eligible for iTunes Match, Apple breaks down the main things you need to know:

  • iTunes Match is currently available only in the United States. Songs purchased outside of the United States iTunes Store containing DRM will not be matched or uploaded to iCloud.
  • If a song contains DRM and is no longer available on the iTunes Store for purchase, the song is uploaded to iCloud and made available for download in protected DRM format. You will be required to authorize your computer or device for playback.
  • A song will not be uploaded to iCloud if the song contains DRM, was purchased using a different Apple ID, and could not be matched.
  • When you subscribe to or enable iTunes Match, your iOS device or computer will be associated to the Apple ID being used for iTunes Match.

As for iTunes Match supported file formats, Apple explains:

  • Songs encoded as MP3 or AAC that have been matched to the iTunes Store will be made available for download as 256 kbps as AAC from iCloud.
  • Songs encoded as MP3 or AAC that cannot be matched to the iTunes Store will be uploaded as is. These songs will be made available for download in the same format it was uploaded in.
  • Songs encoded as MP3 or AAC with a bitrate of 96 kbps or less will not be matched or uploaded to iCloud.
  • Songs encoded as ALAC, WAV, or AIFF, will be transcoded in iTunes to 256 kbps AAC when uploaded to iCloud.
  • Song files over 200 MB will not be uploaded to iCloud.

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