Moving iTunes content to another 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: How do I store my music on my internal slave drive and still have it accessible through iTunes?
Q: How do I move the library (both downloaded from CD and purchased via iTunes Store) to an external hard drive, so that my iPod finds the library for download and I do not “lose” any files and also insure that the iTunes Store files are not confused by iTunes/my iPod as “pirated?”
A: Firstly, it’s important to note that iTunes makes a distinction between its configuration and database files (your “iTunes Library Database”) and your actual media content (your “iTunes Music Folder”). By default, iTunes stores both of these on your primary hard drive, where your operating system is installed. This is located in a subdirectory called “iTunes” under the current user’s “My Music” folder (Windows) or “Music” folder (Mac). The media content by default is contained within this “iTunes” folder, in a sub-folder labelled “iTunes Music.” Despite its name, the “iTunes Music” folder contains all of your media content including music, audiobooks, videos and even games.
Changing the location of the iTunes Music Folder is relatively straightforward, and can be done through the iTunes preference settings. iTunes preferences are accessed through the Edit, Preferences menu on Windows, or the iTunes, Preferences menu option on Mac OS X. From the Preferences window, the iTunes Music Folder is specified under the “Advanced” tab, along with some other relevant settings for where and how your media content is stored:
Note, however, that changing this location only affects where iTunes places new music files that you import. Existing files will remain in whatever location they were originally imported to. Since iTunes stores the specific location of each and every individual file, simply moving the files themselves manually will not generally work, as iTunes will still look for these files in their original location. Fortunately, there is a function built in to iTunes to facilitate this, the “Consolidate Library” function. Our iPod 201 article, Moving your iTunes Library to a New Hard Drive provides an excellent step-by-step set of instructions for moving the iTunes Music Folder to a new hard drive of new location through the use of this function. Whether moving to a new location on an existing hard drive, a secondary internal hard drive or an external hard drive, the process is basically the same.
One important thing to note when specifying this location on an external hard drive is that if the external drive is not available when iTunes starts, it will revert to using the default library location (under the “My Music” folder). This can cause confusion, as any tracks imported will end up on the local hard drive rather than the external drive. To avoid this, always ensure the external hard drive is connected and visible to the operating system before starting iTunes.
Note that none of this will affect any authorization information for iTunes Store content, as this is stored internally to the computer and iTunes database, and is not in any way based on the location of the purchased content. Content purchased from the iTunes Store should continue to be recognized and play properly as long as it remains listed in the iTunes library regardless of its physical location on your computer.
Keep in mind that this will move your media content, however the iTunes Library—that is the database and other files that make up iTunes’ configuration and the index to your music, will remain in their initial default location. However, these files take up relatively little space compared to the “Music Library” itself, so if optimizing disk space is the only consideration for moving your library to another hard drive, it probably doesn’t hurt to leave these files in their default location.
For those that would like to move the iTunes database files themselves, however, the good news is that iTunes 7’s “Multiple Library” feature now allows you to do this as well. To do this, one would simply need to shut down iTunes and then copy the entire “iTunes” folder (located under your “My Music” folder) to the new location. Then, when starting iTunes, simply hold down the SHIFT key (Windows) or the OPT key (Mac) until iTunes prompts you to choose a different library:
Simply select “Choose Library” and browse to the location that you copied the “iTunes” folder to. iTunes will open its library database from the specified location and will continue to use that location each time you open the program.
Note that if you choose to move the iTunes Library Database to an external hard drive, you will not be able to use iTunes at all unless the external hard drive is connected.
- 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?
- Invoxia adds Amazon Alexa to Triby
- Apple provides more details on new Apple Music API
- Apple Music for Android adds music videos, Family Plan support
- Icahn pulls out of Apple over China concerns
- Apple launches CareKit, with four apps debuting today
- Alleged schematics for iPhone 7 ‘Pro’ show up in Japanese magazine
- Nintendo bringing Fire Emblem, Animal Crossing to iOS
- FBI will not disclose San Bernardino iPhone hack
- Notes from Apple’s Q2 2016 earnings call
- Apple Q2 results: $50.6B revenue, 51M iPhones, 10M iPads sold
- August Doorbell Cam
- August Smart Lock HomeKit enabled + Smart Keypad
- ecobee3 HomeKit-enabled smart Wi-Fi thermostat
- Zagg Now Cam
- Yantouch EyE Portable Wireless Speaker
- Netatmo Wind Gauge
- Incipio Stashback for iPhone 6/6s
- Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt with HomeKit support
- ClamCase ClamCase Pro for iPad mini 4
- Brydge BrydgeMini II Keyboard for iPad mini 4
- Filling the Gap: A look at third-party HomeKit apps
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 9.2
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.3
- Opinion: Why Apple needs a dedicated HomeKit app
- Inside the betas: What’s new in iOS 9.3 and tvOS 9.2 (Updated)
- Life with HomeKit: Our experiences with Apple’s home automation system
- Under the Radar: 10 ‘hidden’ details about the new Apple TV
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.0
- Under the Radar: A closer look at smaller iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus changes
- A First Look at iOS 9’s Transit in Apple Maps (Updated for watchOS 2)