Managing iTunes media files on an 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.
Q: I’m looking for a third party application for use on Mac OS X (Leopard) that allows me to add songs to my iPod from an external hard drive without making copies of those songs onto the computer’s hard drive. I have over 150GB of music and a MacBook with a 120GB HD, so I have no room for storing libraries of copied MP3 files. As far as I can see iTunes always makes copies of the songs. If there’s a way of managing it so it just retains a link with the files on the external drive, that would be a solution I guess.
A: Actually, iTunes can take care of this for you without a need for any third-party applications. Specifically, there are two different ways you can handle this, depending on how you prefer to manage your music files.
The simplest solution is just to set your “iTunes Music folder” location to the external drive within your iTunes preferences. To access this setting, simply open your iTunes preferences (select Preferences from the iTunes menu), and choose the Advanced tab:
At the top of this screen, simply click the “Change” button and browse to the new location for your iTunes Music folder—in this case on the external hard drive. Once you have updated this setting, any music files you add to your iTunes library will be copied to this location, instead of your MacBook’s internal hard drive. Note that your iTunes library database will still remain in your Music/iTunes folder on the MacBook itself (although you can also move this using a separate procedure if you so desire), but all of your actual media files will be stored in the “iTunes Music folder” location specified here. Only iPhone/iPod touch applications and Click-wheel iPod Games will remain in the MacBook’s “iTunes” folder.
Note that if the external hard drive is not available when you start iTunes, the iTunes Music folder setting will revert back to the default location on your MacBook. This is a temporary change, however, and if you connect the external hard drive and then restart iTunes, it will remember your specified iTunes Music folder location on the external hard drive and automatically switch back to it.
The second approach if you would prefer to keep your iTunes Music folder on your MacBook and simply leave the files on the external hard drive in whatever location you’ve already put them is to turn off the “Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library” setting found in the Advanced preferences. With this setting off, iTunes will never copy an imported file into your iTunes Music folder—instead it will simply link to the original file. If you take this approach, however, you should ensure that you have placed your files where you want them before importing them into iTunes, since iTunes will be pointing to each file in its specific location.
Keep in mind also that even if you turn off the “Copy Files” setting, any tracks you import from audio CDs or download from the iTunes Store are still placed in the iTunes Music folder, since they are created by iTunes rather than being imported from another file location.
You can find more information on using an external hard drive with iTunes in our iPod 201 article, Managing your iTunes Library on an External Hard Drive.
- Will removing a credit card from Safari also remove it from Apple Pay?
- Can I mute Handoff calls coming into my Mac from my iPhone?
- How do I keep my iPhone calls from ringing on my Mac?
- Why doesn’t Traffic show up on my Today Notifications Screen?
- Why doesn’t my iPhone reconnect to Wi-Fi after I turn it on?
- Why can’t I see the iPad-style landscape view on my iPhone 6 Plus?
- Report confirms legitimacy of at least some of the stolen iCloud credentials being held for ransom
- New (PRODUCT)RED iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone SE, and 9.7” iPad now available to order
- Apple Store down again ahead of new iPad, Product(RED) iPhone launch
- Apple acquires automation app Workflow
- Nintendo updates Super Mario Run, makes more courses available for free play
- Apple confirms iCloud and Apple ID systems have not been breached in response to hacker threat
- Hackers claim to have access to millions of iCloud accounts, demand ransom from Apple
- Apple’s Siri in the running to voice control room functions at Marriott’s Aloft hotels
- Apple releases iTunes 12.6 with new cross-device movie rental feature
- Apple introduces Clips video app
- ExoLens PRO with Optics by ZEISS Wide-Angle Lens Kit
- Blue Sadie Headphones
- Circle with Disney Parental Control and Internet Filtering System
- Pioneer Rayz Plus Lightning Connector Earphones
- BEEM United BeMe D200 Lightning Connector Earphones
- Jam Audio JAM Xterior Max Rugged Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
- HiFiMAN Edition S Headphones
- Divoom Timebox Mini Bluetooth Speaker
- iClever BoostSound BTS-09 Bluetooth Speaker
- Soundcast VG1 Bluetooth Speaker
- Top Five: The Best Products for Building a Smart Home with HomeKit
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of watchOS 3
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 10
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 10
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Photos gets Advanced Computer Vision
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Music app delivers ‘clarity and simplicity’
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Maps gets a major redesign
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 shakes up the user experience
- Inside the betas: watchOS 3 promises a real speed boost
- Inside the betas: A sneak peek at what’s new in tvOS 10