Creating iTunes library on external hard drive | iLounge Article

Article

Creating iTunes library on external hard drive

Ask iLounge offers readers the opportunity to get answers to their iPod-, iPhone-, iPad-, iTunes-, or Apple TV-related questions from a member of the iLounge editorial team. We'll answer several questions here each week, and of course, you can always get help with more immediate concerns from the iLounge Discussion Forums. Submit your questions for consideration using our Ask iLounge Submit Form. We reserve the right to edit questions for grammar, spelling, and length.

View the complete Ask iLounge archives...

Q: I have many, many GBs of music stored on an external drive due to the fact that I use a Macbook Air and space is limited. I want to be able to access this music with iTunes but NOT import it to my Air. What do I do? I’ve tried moving the iTunes folder to the external disk, but I can’t access the music. Can you help?

- Paul

A: There are two ways that you can approach this depending on whether you want iTunes to manage your music library for you or not. The settings you need to tweak here can be found in your iTunes Preferences, on the Advanced tab:

The simplest (and recommended) approach is to change your “iTunes Media folder” path to point to the external hard drive. This is where iTunes will store all of your content by default, including files you add, downloads from the iTunes Store and tracks imported from CD. By pointing this to the external hard drive, anything you import will be copied to this folder.

Note, however, that the emphasis here is on copied—tracks imported from outside of the iTunes Media folder are copied into that folder with the original file left wherever it was to begin with. On the other hand, if you’re importing files that are already IN the iTunes Media folder, iTunes will by default move these files around into its preferred organizational structure rather than making copies. The concept is relatively straightforward: Files that are in the iTunes Media folder belong to iTunes and it can do what it pleases with them, files outside of the iTunes Media folder are left alone as they’re considered outside of iTunes’ control.

The advantage of this approach is that you don’t need to worry about the underlying file system as iTunes manages your file and folder locations for you and you simply access your music through the iTunes application.

An alternative approach is to turn OFF the setting Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library. In this scenario, anything you import into iTunes is added to the library database but otherwise left in its original location. Note, however, that this setting only applies to existing media files that you add to iTunes; tracks imported from CD or downloaded from the iTunes Store are still placed in the iTunes Media folder.

The approach has the advantage of allowing you to preserve your own file and folder organization, but it comes with the price of less flexibility should you want to move your library in the future to another computer or hard drive, and you have to be extremely careful as iTunes doesn’t track changes to file names or locations, so it’s much easier to end up with broken links in your iTunes library if you decide to move things around in the file system yourself.

Many users are hesitant to give up control of their manually-organized file layout, but there’s rarely a good reason to worry about letting iTunes manage the file and folder layout for you unless you’re using other media management applications in addition to iTunes. Once you have everything in your iTunes library, you can simply access everything from there without worrying about exactly where each file is, and iTunes even allows you to perform operations like copy tracks simply by dragging them from the iTunes window straight into the Finder window, again without needing to know or care where the files are actually stored.

You can find much more detailed information on how all this works in our tutorial on Transferring your iTunes Library.

 

 

The most asked question at iLounge.com:

How do I copy content from my iPod/iPhone onto my computer?

Converting DVDs, web video, TV shows and more:

The Complete Guide to iPod, Apple TV and iPhone Video Formats

Converting DVDs, web video, TV shows and more:

The Complete Guide to iPod, iPhone and Apple TV Video Conversion (Mac)

Converting DVDs, web video, TV shows and more:

The Complete Guide to iPod, iPhone and Apple TV Video Conversion (Win)

Best Speakers?

Best Headphones?

Best Case?

Best In-Car Solution?

Best Battery Extender?

Find more answers in the latest publications in our Library. Free downloads developed by the editors of iLounge!

Ask iLounge Archives:

1-24-14: Viewing only downloaded iTunes Match tracks

1-22-14: Splitting purchased content between two iPads

12-13-13: Non-Bluetooth Lightning dock speakers

12-11-13: Shared Apple ID and switching away from iPhone

12-6-13: Syncing multiple iCloud data with a family Mac

Read more recent Ask iLounge articles...

View the complete Ask iLounge archives...

« iPhone + iPad Gems: Alfred, Alphabet Fun, Editions by AOL, Skype for iPad + Unfollow for Twitter

iPhone + iPad Gems: Fast Five, Groove Coaster, Luxor 2 + Protoxide: Death Race »

Related Stories

Comments

1

Would you say Handbrake and VLC are also the best software to use when ripping TV show episodes to a iTunes library? I heard the rip software sold by The Little App Factory is good for this.

Posted by David on August 7, 2011 at 6:04 AM (CDT)

2

Ok I have a iphone 16gb 4s and I want to know if I can add a external hardrive a smallone travel size to add memory to my phone. Is that possible to have a external hard drive that just plugs in and is just extra memory?

Posted by Jimmy Todd on April 21, 2012 at 12:03 AM (CDT)

If you have a comment, news tip, advertising inquiry, or coverage request, a question about iPods/iPhones/iPad or accessories, or if you sell or market iPod/iPhone/iPad products or services, read iLounge's Comments + Questions policies before posting, and fully identify yourself if you do. We will delete comments containing advertising, astroturfing, trolling, personal attacks, offensive language, or other objectionable content, then ban and/or publicly identify violators.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.
Sign up for the iLounge Weekly Newsletter

Email:

Recent News

Recent Reviews

Recent Articles

Sign up for the iLounge Weekly Newsletter

Email:

iLounge is an independent resource for all things iPod, iPhone, iPad, and beyond.
iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTunes, Apple TV, Mac, and the Apple logo are trademarks of Apple Inc.
iLounge is © 2001 - 2014 iLounge, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use | Privacy Policy