Transferring your iTunes Library | iLounge Article


Transferring your iTunes Library

For most users, iTunes does a great job of handling all of the details of managing your media library for you, allowing you to manage your content through iTunes itself and not having to worry too much about the underlying files and folders that make up your iTunes library.

Unfortunately, this user-friendly approach has one serious limitation: When it comes time to move your iTunes library, it can often be a bit of a challenge to figure out exactly what pieces you need to move and how to go about doing this. Many iTunes users start out with a basic iTunes library and use the default settings to store all of their media content on their primary internal hard drive. However, as you add new content over time, particularly with the additional video content now supported by iTunes, you may soon find that your library threatens to take over your computer.

Another common scenario many users find themselves in is what to do when they upgrade to a new computer. Your iTunes library has been working just fine on your old computer, but you’re left with the question of how to get it over to the new machine so that everything works the way it’s supposed to.

Neither of these situations are at all uncommon, and fortunately it’s really not all that difficult to relocate your iTunes library to another hard drive or move it to a whole new computer once you understand the basics of how iTunes manages your media content and the options available to you.

This tutorial is intended for both the average and slightly advanced iTunes user and will provide the necessary information that you need to know about transferring your iTunes library onto an external hard drive, a secondary internal hard drive, or a whole new computer.

How iTunes Manages Media Content

Before we delve into the steps of actually moving your media content, it’s important to explain in some detail exactly how iTunes handles the management of your media files under the hood, what your options are for relocating these files, and the various pitfalls that you might encounter in this process.

The first and most important point is that iTunes is designed to handle all of the details of the underlying file system for you. By design, the user manages their content through iTunes, and ideally you never need to even look at the underlying file system, much less worry about moving files around. In this scenario, iTunes can even handle the relocation of your media content for you, making the entire process quite seamless.

This may not match every user’s style of media management, but it’s very important to understand how this affects the process of moving your media files to a new location.

The most important point to keep in mind is that once a media file is listed in the iTunes library, it is referenced from iTunes by the specific location (i.e. full pathname) of where this file is located. Therefore, if you move a file, iTunes will almost certainly lose track of that file, and the result will be a broken link in your iTunes library.

This means that you cannot simply move your files manually to a new location and expect iTunes to find them after you’ve moved them, as it will still expect to find those files in their original locations. This one point alone has caused many users a great deal of grief, since repairing this situation can often be a tedious process of either manually adjusting the paths to hundreds of files or manually putting those files back into their original locations so that iTunes can find them again.

Fortunately, if you understand this and use iTunes and its related tools the way they were designed, you can ensure a smooth migration of your iTunes library to an external hard drive or even a completely new computer with minimal problems.

iTunes: The Database versus the Content

Another important point to understand: There are really two components that we are concerned about in this process, and these are somewhat distinct from each other in terms of where and how they are stored.

The iTunes Library Database contains the actual index of your media content. This database itself is a file named “iTunes Library.itl” with several other supporting files stored alongside it. By default this is stored under a sub-folder named “iTunes” in your personal “Music” folder (this is named “My Music” on Windows XP and simply “Music” on Windows Vista/7 and Mac OS X). This path cannot be changed in your iTunes preferences, and in fact could not be easily changed at all prior to iTunes 7. How to change this path is discussed a bit later in this article.

The iTunes Media Folder contains your actual media content. By default this is a sub-folder under the iTunes Library Database folder, but can be changed to any location you prefer via your iTunes Advanced Preferences. Note that prior to iTunes 9, this folder was called the “iTunes Music” folder although despite the name it still just about every other type of media content managed by iTunes as well. In iTunes 9 this was renamed “iTunes Media” to acknowledge that more than just music gets stored here and the subfolder structure was also reorganized accordingly, with Music placed in a subfolder alongside other content types such as Movies, TV Shows and Podcasts. Note that if you’ve upgraded an existing library from a version of iTunes prior to iTunes 9 this folder will still be called “iTunes Music” and organized the original way unless you’ve specifically asked iTunes to convert it to the new iTunes Media organization.

Prior to iTunes 9, click-wheel iPod Games and iOS applications were a special case. These were stored in sub-folders relative to the iTunes database location, specifically in folders named “iPod Games” and “Mobile Applications,” respectively. Relocating your iTunes Music folder did not change the location of these items. In iTunes 9 and later, these folders are now stored in the iTunes Media folder along with your other media content.

Generally, when trying to optimize disk usage, the iTunes Media Folder is what most users will want to move, as it contains the bulk of your library. By comparison, the iTunes Library Database is much smaller and is usually best left in its default location.

Standby to Prepare to Move: Checking your Preferences

Now that you’re armed with a basic understanding of how iTunes stores its media content, and knowing that you cannot simply move files around and expect your iTunes library to be able to find these files, it’s important to look at how your library is currently setup in order to understand what your options are.

The first step to this process is to review your storage settings under your iTunes Advanced preferences, which can be found by selecting Preferences from the Edit menu (Windows) or iTunes menu (Mac), and then selecting the Advanced tab:


The first option, “iTunes Media folder location” indicates where your iTunes media content is stored by default. Remember that this only includes the media content and not the library database itself. Whether all of your content is located in this folder is going to depend upon the next two settings found on this screen:

Keep iTunes Media folder organized determines whether tracks in your iTunes Media folder are automatically organized based on the track information found within each file. With this option enabled, iTunes will move and rename files within the iTunes Media folder as necessary into sub-folders by media type, with music organized in an ARTIST\ALBUM subfolder structure and each file named by its track name from the iTunes library. If this option is disabled, then files within the iTunes Media folder will be left with whatever name and sub-folder they were placed in when you first imported them, regardless of changes to the tag information within iTunes itself.

Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library determines whether files that you add to your library are automatically copied into the music folder, or left in their original location. When you import new content with this option disabled, iTunes simply “references” the file from wherever you’re importing it, rather than making a copy of it in your iTunes Media folder.

Tracks copied into the iTunes Media Folder effectively become “Managed” files; iTunes will manage the location and naming of these files (subject to the “Keep organized” setting above). On the other hand, files that are not copied into the iTunes Media folder are “Referenced” files; iTunes stores a full path to the file, but does not take any further action with those files in terms of organizing, renaming or moving them. In fact, iTunes will not even offer to delete an underlying “referenced” media file when you remove it from your iTunes library. Basically if a file is not in the iTunes Media folder then iTunes considers that file to be outside of its control and does nothing more than point to it.

Note that content purchased from the iTunes Store or ripped from CD is always stored in the iTunes Media folder—iTunes is actually creating new files in this case so it has to have somewhere to put them by default. Therefore, this setting only affects existing files from your computer that are added to the iTunes library using the File, Add to Library option or by dragging-and-dropping them into iTunes from another folder.

So why is all of this important? How you have configured these options is going to determine how much flexibility you have when moving your iTunes media content elsewhere. In a default configuration where all of your media files live within the iTunes Media folder location (“Managed” files), and have been organized by iTunes, the process of moving your library may be considerably smoother than for a user who has a bunch of “referenced” tracks living in various locations and possibly even on different drives.

While iTunes can move your files to a new location in either scenario, the only way to move a library that consists of referenced files is to actually convert them to an entirely managed library in the process. Users who have built their own file-system organization for their media content and want to preserve that layout will find the process of moving their content to be much more challenging without creating a whole new iTunes library and reimporting it.

The New iTunes Media Organization

With iTunes 9, Apple made some changes to how media files are actually organized within iTunes. When iTunes was first released several years ago, music content was pretty much all it supported, and iTunes was designed with this in mind when it came to organizing your content. The top-level set of folders in your iTunes Music folder represented artist names from your music collection, with albums listed beneath each artist, and a few other special folders for things like Compilations.

This was fine back when it was only about the music, but over time new media types gradually appeared in iTunes, including audiobooks, podcasts, movies, TV shows, and now even iOS applications. Despite this, iTunes stubbornly held on to its old style of organization, pigeonholing things like Movies and TV Shows into their own separate folders alongside the artist names for your music. Further, items such as iOS apps and Click Wheel iPod Games were left out of this folder entirely, stored instead within the main iTunes folder, rather than the iTunes Music folder.

As of iTunes 9 non-music content is no longer treated as a second-class citizen in your iTunes library, and media content is now organized in a more balanced fashion. The old terminology of “iTunes Music folder” has been more appropriately replaced with “iTunes Media folder” and when you start a new library iTunes 9 will organize your media content into appropriate top-level folders by media type. Further, the Mobile Applications folder for iOS applications and the iPod Games folder for Click Wheel iPod Games now form part of the iTunes Media folder as well, instead of being stored separately with the iTunes library database.


If you’re starting a brand new library with iTunes 9 or later, this will simply be the folder layout that iTunes uses from the start. However, if you’re coming from a previous version of iTunes, the old music folder style of organization will be left in place. This is done primarily to preserve backward compatibility, since you may have third-party applications that read your iTunes Music folder and expect to find your tracks organized in a certain way.

Fortunately, you can easily update to the new iTunes 9 Media Folder layout right from within iTunes itself. To do this, simply select File, Library, Organize Library from the iTunes menu, and you’ll be presented with a dialog box with the option to either consolidate your files or reorganize your files.



We’ll be discussing the “Consolidate Files” option later, but for now you can just upgrade to the media folder organization by simply checking the second option and clicking OK. iTunes will quickly go through your library and move all of your existing files around into the new layout. Note that only managed files that were originally stored in the iTunes Music folder will be moved—anything referenced from outside of the iTunes Music folder will be left where it is. If your “iTunes Music” folder was in the default location under your main iTunes folder, then it will also be renamed to “iTunes Media” in the process. On the other hand, if you had previously set your “iTunes Music” folder to another location the name will remain the same as it was before.

Note: After you upgrade to the new organizational structure, you may find that you still have Artist folders located at the top folder level. These are most likely files that were in your iTunes music folder but not actually listed in your iTunes database, often as a result of deleting tracks from iTunes but not deleting the actual files. iTunes can only reorganize the files that it knows about, so any stray files left lying around will be left exactly where they originally were. It’s obviously a good idea to double-check these files with your iTunes library, but once you’ve confirmed that they are in fact orphans, it’s perfectly safe to delete these folders.

We definitely recommend upgrading to the new iTunes Media folder organization unless you have a very specific reason not to. The new layout will be much easier to work with, and most importantly your Mobile Applications and iPod Games will also be stored in the Media folder, making it even simpler to move and backup these items along with the rest of your iTunes media.

Moving your Content to a New Computer

If you’re simply looking to move your iTunes library to an entirely new computer, the process is actually quite a bit simpler than relocating the content, provided certain conditions are met:

  1. You are moving your iTunes library between two computers using the same operating system and iTunes version; and
  2. You plan to store the iTunes library database and content in the same relative locations on the new computer

If this is the case, then transferring your iTunes library to a new computer is quite simple: Just copy the entire iTunes folder and all sub-folders from your Music folder on your old computer to the corresponding folder on the new computer.

If you have changed your iTunes Media Folder location from the default, simply make sure you copy that to the corresponding location on the new computer as well. In other words, if you have your iTunes Media folder set to D:\Music then you must copy it to D:\Music on the new computer—remember that iTunes stores the full path to each music file in your library, so your music files must be in the same place on the new computer in order for iTunes to find them.

Note that if you’re using referenced files—those stored outside of your iTunes Media folder—you can copy these to the new computer as well; simply ensure that they are copied to the same relative locations on the new computer as they were stored in on the old one so that iTunes will be able to find them.

You’ve probably read about issues with synchronizing your iPod or iOS device to a new computer. This is not a problem when you’re moving your entire library, however, since iTunes associates your device with the library database rather than the physical machine. This means that once you’ve copied your iTunes library database over to your new computer, you can continue syncing your iPod or iOS device to it in the same way as you did previously—iTunes won’t even notice the difference.

To actually copy the files between computers you can use any file transfer method you normally would for any other type of data, including an external hard drive or USB memory key, a home network between the two computers, or by burning your iTunes data to CDs or DVDs.

Note: If you have previously run iTunes on the new computer at all, even if you haven’t done anything with it, chances are that there will already be an “iTunes” folder present. Unless you’ve already started using iTunes on the new computer and adding content to it, you can safely overwrite this folder as it simply represents the empty database that iTunes initially creates.

Generally, minor differences in operating system versions will not be an impediment to moving your iTunes library directly over to a new computer, nor will moving to a later version of the same operating system (e.g. Windows XP to Windows Vista or OS X Snow Leopard to OS X Lion). Likewise, you can transfer your library to a computer with a newer version of iTunes than the one on your original computer without any problems—iTunes will simply upgrade the database when you start it up on the new computer.

Note that your iTunes preferences are machine-specific, and you will need to go through and re-configure these the first time you run iTunes after copying your library over to the new computer. You can locate the preference file itself on the original computer and copy this over, however this is not recommended as there are frequently machine-specific settings in these preference files that may not translate properly onto the new computer.

If you have any content purchased from the iTunes Store, you will need to re-authorize the new computer for your iTunes Store account. Computer authorization is machine-specific. You should also make sure you DE-authorize your old computer if you no longer plan to use it with iTunes.

If you plan on putting your iTunes Media folder in a different location on the new computer you will want to read on for the process of relocating the iTunes Media folder itself. Whether you choose to do this before transferring your library to your new computer or afterwards largely depends on your specific situation. For example, if your media folder has been stored on a drive on your original computer that does not exist on the new computer, you will need to consolidate your library before moving it to the new computer. Similarly, if you plan to keep your iTunes library on an external hard drive, it makes more sense to consolidate the media folder onto that external drive from your original computer and then just copy the iTunes library database over to the new machine and let it pick up the media from the external drive.

Moving your iTunes library to a different operating system is also possible, and we will discuss that later on this article.

Moving Your Content to a New Hard Drive: The Wrong Way

A very common mistake made by many users is to simply try and move their entire iTunes Media folder to a new location and update the iTunes Media folder path in iTunes’ preferences. In some cases this may work, but in reality you will risk iTunes losing track of some or all of your media files in the process.

The reason for this is that iTunes stores the entire full path to each music file in its library database. If you move that file somewhere else, then iTunes won’t be able to find it, and the result will be a broken link to that file, shown as an exclamation mark in iTunes immediately to the left of the track listing:


If you try to select a track with a broken link, iTunes will notify you that it cannot find the file, and provide an opportunity to locate it yourself:


Selecting “Locate” will allow you to browse for the file, and iTunes will link the current entry to that specific file. This can be a viable solution for a few broken links, but you can imagine that this could become very tedious if you had hundreds or even thousands of files in this state.

Should you find yourself in this situation, the simplest solution is usually just to move your iTunes Media folder back to its original location. iTunes still has the complete path to each file in its database, so if you put the actual files back, it should have no problem finding them again.

Users who have a completely “Managed” library configuration may be able to get away with simply moving their media folder and updating the path, however it is still not the recommended solution unless you are absolutely certain that your library is fully managed and organized in the way that iTunes expects it to be. The reason this method will work in a fully managed library is because iTunes will look for any missing tracks in their default location under the iTunes Media folder path before deciding that the links are broken. So, if your tracks are organized in the way that iTunes expects to see them, then it will be able to find them in the new location. However the problem is that it is not uncommon for users with large libraries to have a few referenced files or files with non-standard names due to changes to iTunes preference settings or even inconsistent behaviour with older versions of iTunes.

The “Consolidate Library” feature, discussed in the next section, will ensure that your library is fully managed and organized the way iTunes expects, but if you’re going to use this option anyway, you might as well let iTunes copy the files to the new location in the process and save yourself a step.

Note: Mac OS X users can get away with moving their media files around on the same drive and iTunes will still be able to find them. This is not iTunes-specific but is actually due to the fact that the Mac OS X operating system itself keeps track of files when they’re moved to new locations on the same drive, regardless of file type. This will not work, however, when moving files to a different drive, partition, or computer.

Consolidate: The Right Way

So, knowing that these pitfalls exist, what’s the best way? Remember that iTunes’ philosophy of managing your media is actually to insulate you from having to worry about the underlying file system. On the basis of this approach, it makes sense that it should provide the necessary tools itself to facilitate moving your library to a new location.

So in other words, rather than messing around copying/moving files through Finder or Windows Explorer, why not let iTunes deal with this for you? This is handled in iTunes through the Consolidate files option, found under File, Library, Organize Library in iTunes.

What the Consolidate files option actually does it to gather all of the files listed in your iTunes library into the iTunes Media folder. It does this by copying any referenced files into the iTunes Media folder, renaming them with the proper track name, and organizing them into its standard file and folder structure. This option is at least partly intended to allow you to bring “referenced” files into the iTunes Media folder from various other locations in the event that you may have added them to your library with the “Copy Files” option disabled.

However the only real distinction between a file that is “managed” and a file that is “referenced” is the actual iTunes Media folder path. Files in this folder are considered “managed” files and anything outside is a “referenced” file. So, if you change the location of the iTunes Media folder to a new path and then use the Consolidate files option, iTunes will happily copy all of these files into your new location, updating all of the file location information in the iTunes database in the process.

Performing the Move

To actually perform the move, start by going into your iTunes Advanced Preferences, and changing the iTunes Media folder path to whatever new location you want your iTunes media files to be stored in. This will usually be an external hard drive, but it can be any valid path, including a secondary hard drive or even a network share:


Once you have updated the iTunes Media folder location, simply select File, Library, Organize Library… (in iTunes 8, this option was “Consolidate Library” and in iTunes 7 and prior, it was located on the “Advanced” menu):


You will be presented with a dialog box with the option to consolidate files or reorganize them. Select “Consolidate files” and click OK.


iTunes will begin the process of copying the files into their proper locations and updating these locations in the iTunes library database. Note that this process copies the tracks to the new location rather than moving them. Although the original tracks still exist, the iTunes library database is updated with the new location for each track, which makes the process difficult to undo unless you have kept a backup of your library database from prior to the consolidation. Making such a backup is certainly an option, although not normally required.

The other important note is that this will reorganize your entire library file system into iTunes’ default way of laying it out (e.g. ARTIST\ALBUM\TRACK.MP3 in the case of music files). This may not be a desirable option for those who have their media file system laid out in their own organizational structure, or who use other third-party applications that expect media files to be organized a certain way. Unfortunately, if you’re in this situation, there really is no easy way to move your iTunes media content to a new location without creating a whole new iTunes library and reimporting all of your tracks into the new library from their new locations.

Note: If you’ve upgraded to the new iTunes Media organization, your Mobile Applications and iPod Games folders will be copied into the iTunes Media folder as part of this process as well.

Confirming and Cleaning Up

Once this process has completed, you should be able to confirm that the files have been copied to the new location and that iTunes is referencing them properly from there simply by selecting a track and choosing File, Get Info. The “Summary” tab for the file properties will indicate the physical location of that track, which should reflect the new iTunes Media folder path.

Since iTunes copies the media content rather than moving it, you will likely also want to delete your iTunes media files from their original locations to free up space.

Note: Keep in mind that iTunes only moves content that is actually listed in the iTunes library database, which means any stray files that were lying around the iTunes Media folder won’t be copied to the new location. This should not be a concern unless you’re storing non-iTunes media content in your iTunes Media folder.

Remember that this process only moves the iTunes content however. Your iTunes library database will still be located in its original location, likely on your primary hard drive in your Music folder, as described earlier. So while you can clean out the “iTunes Media” sub-folder from here once you’ve consolidated your library to another location, you should not touch any of the other files or folders in your main iTunes folder.

Moving the Library Database

If you’re simply interested in moving your files to a larger disk, there’s seldom any reason to worry about moving the library database, as it doesn’t normally take up a lot of storage space, and there are advantages to leaving this file on your local hard drive and simply storing the content on an external drive.

That having been said, if you do want to move the library database to another location, this is certainly possible as well as long as you’re using iTunes 7 or later. This must be done separately from the process of moving the content described above, and you’re best to move the content first and then relocate the library database once you’ve confirmed that everything is still working properly.

To do this, shut down iTunes, and copy your “iTunes” folder (under your “Music” or “My Music” folder) to the new location. Keep in mind that you may still have media content located in an “iTunes Media” sub-folder and you probably don’t want to waste time copying this content over if you’ve already consolidated it to another location, so you may want to exclude that one sub-folder.

Once you have copied the “iTunes” folder, including the “iTunes Library.itl” and all related support files and folders, simply restart iTunes while holding down the SHIFT key (Windows) or OPT key (Mac) and you will be prompted to either create a new library or choose a location for an existing library:


Simply click “Choose Library” and browse for the location where you copied the iTunes folder. iTunes will startup using that particular library database instead of the one from the original location. Once you have set this location iTunes will continue to use it unless you change it again using the same method.

Moving the iTunes library database onto an external hard drive can be useful if you plan to move the external hard drive between multiple computers. It can also be useful to store it in a common area on a local computer for access by multiple user profiles, or even on a network share.

One word of caution, however: The iTunes database is not designed for multi-user access. If you decide to place it on a network share or in a common directory on a standalone workstation, always make sure that you do not have more than one copy of iTunes running against it at a time, otherwise you will risk corrupting your iTunes database.

Moving Between Operating Systems

Although the iTunes database format is the same for both the Windows and Mac OS X versions of iTunes, moving your iTunes library from Windows to Mac OS X or vice-versa is complicated by one other issue: The file systems between these two operating systems are completely different; even though iTunes will be able to read the library database from the other operating system, it will not be able to make much sense of the paths stored there. For example, where Windows uses drive letters, Mac OS X uses drive names, so there’s no way for Mac OS X to figure out what to do with a path like “D:\Music.”

However, the good news is that since iTunes will default to looking for any missing files in its normal iTunes Media folder, you can leverage this behaviour when migrating your library to a different operating system.

To make this work, you must first ensure that iTunes has organized all of the files according to its default naming standard. This way when you move the files onto the new operating system iTunes will be able to find them in their default locations.

To do this, first visit your iTunes Advanced preferences.


If the Keep iTunes Media folder organized option is enabled, deselect it and click OK. Then, go back into your Advanced preferences and RE-select this option and again click OK.

This will tell iTunes to go through your iTunes Media folder and ensure that all music files are named according to its defaults. You will be shown a progress indicator while this is happening.


Once this has completed, perform a “Consolidate files” operation, as described earlier to bring in any referenced tracks that may exist outside of your iTunes Media folder.

Following these steps, your iTunes Media folder should be properly organized with all of your files in the default locations that iTunes expects to find them. You can then simply copy your entire iTunes folder and iTunes Media folder over to the new computer and operating system in the same way that you would transfer any other set of files. When iTunes starts, it won’t be able to find the music files by their specific location, but it will automatically and transparently “fall back” to looking in the default location where it would expect those files to be—in the iTunes Media folder. iTunes does this in the background transparently so you won’t even notice it happening—things should just work.

Note: In many cases, automatically downloaded artwork may not appear properly when moving your iTunes library from Windows to Mac OS X or vice-versa. This issue should only affect automatically downloaded artwork, and can be easily resolved simply by asking iTunes to get the artwork again.

Dealing with a Referenced Library

Another option of course is to simply start a new iTunes library from your existing media content. In this case, you would start up iTunes with a new database and re-import everything. Of course, this will not retain any playlists, ratings, play counts or other library metadata—you will in essence be starting over from scratch. You will also need to reload the content onto any iPod, iPhone or Apple TV devices you may be syncing, since these will also see the new library and require you to perform an “Erase and Sync” operation.

Starting a whole new library will likely be your best option if you have a primarily referenced media collection scattered through folders outside of iTunes’ own music folder and you want to preserve this file system organization. In this case you can simply move your media content to the new location, and then start a new library and import it with the Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library option turned OFF, in much the same way you would have when you first imported your content to your original iTunes library.

More advanced users may be able to work around this as well by using symbolic links (OS X) or NTFS Junctions (Windows) to effectively relocate parts of the file system. This process basically involves copying the media files to a larger hard drive and then creating links in the file system to point to those new locations. iTunes continues to see the files as if they were in the same place as they have always been, while the operating system actually accesses them from the new location. Symbolic links and NTFS junctions are advanced operating system features that are beyond the scope of this article and setting this up should only be attempted by those users comfortable working in the file system with command-line tools.

Using an External Hard Drive and a Portable Computer

Once you have consolidated your library content onto an external hard drive, iTunes will continue to use that location for any newly imported or downloaded content, subject to your iTunes preference settings.

However, this creates an additional consideration for users of portable computers, since the external hard drive may not always be available. Fortunately, iTunes actually works around this quite well, so there’s no need to pack up the external hard drive when going out with your laptop.

Basically, when you start iTunes with your external drive disconnected, the iTunes Media folder path will temporarily revert to its default location on your local hard drive. This allows iTunes to run properly, although obviously you will not have access to any of the content that’s not already in that location. You will see broken links to any files that you try to access since the external hard drive is not present. No need to worry though as this will correct itself once the drive is available again.

However, this does allow you to download new content (e.g. import CDs, add files to your library, download podcast episodes, purchase content from the iTunes Store, etc). This new content will be saved in your local iTunes Media folder, and will be usable from there.

You can even sync your iPod or iOS device to your library in this state. Unavailable tracks (those with the exclamation marks beside them) will remain on the device since they are still listed in the library. You obviously won’t be able to add content to your device that isn’t already there, but you could certainly sync any new content you’ve added while disconnected since those files exist on your laptop computer. Further, even ratings and playcounts will be updated in the iTunes library during an automatic sync.

This can be a useful way to import a few tracks off a new CD when you’re away from home and get them loaded onto your iPod without having to wait until you get home or having to resort to switching your iPod to manual mode.

Once you do return back home and plug the external hard drive back in, you simply need to restart iTunes and it will detect that its proper iTunes Media folder has returned, and go back to using that. Any content you’ve downloaded or imported while you were away from your main library storage can be transferred over simply by running the Consolidate files option to copy those files over.

The way that iTunes handles this provides a very effective way to maintain a large iTunes library that is somewhat usable on the go without having to keep it all on your laptop’s internal hard drive. You can even keep a copy of your favorite tracks in your local iTunes Media folder for use while you’re away from your external hard drive; iTunes will seamlessly switch between using whichever set of media files are available.


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I moved my 500GB library to a new hard drive recently using the “Consolidate library” option, and it worked flawlessly.  It only took five hours.

Posted by Galley in Greenville, SC on December 4, 2008 at 8:02 PM (CST)


“Note: In some cases, automatically downloaded artwork may not appear properly when moving your iTunes library from Windows to Mac OS X or vice-versa. This issue should only affect automatically downloaded artwork, and can be easily resolved simply by asking iTunes to get the artwork again.”

Your note gives false hope; this actually applies in *all* cases when you move the library database even between to OS X computers, and also if an iTunes library is restored from a backup (which seems to defeat some of the purpose of making a backup in the first place). All artwork downloaded from the iTunes store will be lost for the music files, even though the .itc files are still present in the proper Album Artwork folder location.

It is really not all that “easy” to just download again the artwork when your personal song files are tagged correctly and the iTunes Store files are not, and you multiply it times 1000+ music files.

Posted by consumer on December 5, 2008 at 1:09 PM (CST)


I followed all these steps, let it go overnight and when I got home from work the next day I got this message: “Copying music failed. Disc could not be read from or written to.”

What gives? Somebody please help me.

Posted by Angry on December 6, 2008 at 12:28 AM (CST)


I moved my library without any problem and it seems to work great.  Except when I try to download any new podcasts or Videos I get a message saying there is a network error and the data is lost.  Music seems to work fine.  Any help would be appreciated

Posted by Bob on December 6, 2008 at 8:05 AM (CST)


#2: While I agree that the behaviour is inconsistent, from my own personal testing I cannot say that this is always the case, at least not since about iTunes 7.4 (previous versions had some serious artwork-related issues in general). I have successfully moved my iTunes library between computers for testing on various versions of iTunes, and have only had problems with the artwork not being recognized about 50% of the time. Note as well that I have *never* had a problem with the artwork not showing up when moving between two computers running the same OS and version (ie, Leopard to Leopard, or Windows XP to Windows XP).

If you are experiencing this problem, there may be some underlying issue with your iTunes library database itself.

On the other hand, you are correct that restoring from a backup made via iTunes’ “Back up to Disc” function will break the links to the artwork, since in this case iTunes is essentially creating a whole new database with new track IDs that do not correspond to the album artwork index.

Note that for Mac users, there are Applescripts available that will embed your artwork within the MP3/AAC files themselves. As you’ve noted, retagging your iTunes Store purchases will make it difficult for iTunes to find your album artwork, so using a script to embed the artwork is probably the best solution in this case.

#3: Unfortunately, this is most likely a problem with the files on your computer itself, or your disk. I’d suggest running Scandisk or a similar disk repair utility to make sure you’re not having any other underlying problems.  If you’re copying to a network location or an external hard disk, it’s also possible that your computer simply lost its connection to the network or external drive.

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on December 6, 2008 at 2:52 PM (CST)


My computer has problems, I will have to restore the it back to its original settings which I assume will delete my iTunes library .
Is there a way to take the music from my Ipod and reload it into the same computer?

Posted by michelle on December 6, 2008 at 6:03 PM (CST)


Hi I was wondering if someone could help me. My old computer is completely busted and I got a new laptop, I’ve been trying to put my itunes library onto this but it wont let me. it says I need to get my old computer and set the options to manually manage music and files. my old computer was a window xp and this one is a vista. please someone help me

Posted by Beloved on December 6, 2008 at 10:15 PM (CST)


Hi I have had to wipe my comp due to a virus and therefore my itunes library doesnt exist now. But i have the songs on my ipod but now ive downloaded itunes again. it says i cant sync my ipod or all the contents of it will be erased. How can I sync my ipod to my new library without wiping the songs off my ipod. Any help would be appreciated .

Posted by James Bulkeley on December 7, 2008 at 3:11 PM (CST)


Thanks so much for this wealth of knowledge.

I have a slightly different scenario: my PC died a few weeks back but my repair guy was able to retrieve my entire “My Documents” folder from my ailing HD, which includes most- if not all- my 4000+ songs, iTunes Library DB & iTunes Music Folder.

All of these files now exist intact on an external drive.

I understand XML on a professional level, as well absolute pathing.

I also still have everything on my 80GB iPod Classic.

My questions are:

1. When the new PC arrives, can I copy over the iTunes Music from the External Drive, including the iTunes Library DB & iTunes Music Folder, so long as I make sure everything points to the correct location? I understand the time involved.

2. When I download the latest version of iTunes for my new PC, will authorizing the new pC cause issues with my previous purchases during this switch?


Posted by Chad Austin on December 7, 2008 at 9:42 PM (CST)


I’m having a strange issue. I just bought an external drive, and followed the instructions on moving the library to the new drive. After 2 1/2 hours, iTunes completed copying. Yet, in comparing the old and new folders, there seems to be over 4,000 items that didn’t transfer! I have almost 24,000 files in the original folder, yet the new one only has 19,000! Any ideas on how to fix this? Any help would be appreciated:)

Posted by Kwasi on December 10, 2008 at 3:59 PM (CST)


I want to download my library to my first generation ipod because I have added new music.  I have done this in the past several times with no problem.  However, when I connect my ipod to my computer my ipod screen shows the do not disconn ect Icon and my computer brings up the itunes screen with"Set up your I Pod” and “Name Rod Kaisler’s I Pod”  followed with a checked box that says “Automatically sync songs to my I pod”  Then nothing more happens.  I have   reset my ipod and have uninstalled itunes and re installed it but still cannot download my library.  Can you help

Posted by Rod Kaiser on December 11, 2008 at 2:45 PM (CST)


OK, so I have a slightly different issue that I’ve been trying to resolve lately.

My library (and music files) are stored on my Time Capsule.  Up until recently this was working just fine (not sure if problems started with 8.0.x or what).  I could open the library on my laptop or on my G5 tower and import tracks into it just fine.

Where problems came up was when switching back to a local library.  Then the iTunes preference got saved locally for the Music Folder.  When opening the networked library, new tracks would then be added locally.

To set it back, I would change the Music folder under “Preferences” back to where it was before.  It would spend a few minutes updating the DB, and asked if I wanted to consolidate my files to the new location.  I would click “no”, as the files were already there (the local library on the G5 was a backup copy of the networked one).

However, lately, for some reason, it has hardcoded into itself the paths for the files on the G5’s local library, and despite changing the Music directory in the preferences, it refuses to change the paths in the library file (as observed by scanning the XML copy).

I tried the “re-import damaged library” option after fixing the paths in the XML, but it took forever and didn’t quite yield a fully good copy.  I also tried setting the directory somewhere else, and then back to the networked drive again, but it’s still stuck on the local files…

Has anybody ever successfully wiggled their way out of this situation before?


Posted by Peter Norby on December 13, 2008 at 2:55 AM (CST)



I just wanted to say “thank you”!!

I had moved my library on my own (stupid) and was in big trouble… till I read your article here and it solved all my iTunes nightmares. I’m not running on my external harddrive with no problems. Thanks again.

Posted by Jason Drumm on December 15, 2008 at 6:45 AM (CST)


I also have a particular variation on the described scenarios. My iTunes dbase is on the C-drive of my Windows desktop machine, while the content is on a NAS, mapped as Z-drive.

Now I have a brand new MacBook, that I would like to use to manage my music.

What I want to do is move the iTunes dbase from my windows box to my MacBook, while keeping all of the music content on the NAS. I am sure that the required steps are all in this article, but I am just not sure in which order to execute them.

Is anybody able to help?

(I could of course start a new library on my MacBook, but I would like to keep all of the existing meta-data)

Posted by Alberto on December 15, 2008 at 7:01 AM (CST)


I would like to move selected playlists from one MAC to another. I don’t want to move my entire library and the playlists that I do wish to move are too large for burning to a CD. What is the best way to do this?

Posted by Jeff on December 16, 2008 at 2:24 PM (CST)


I had to part with a computer that my girl and I shared due to circumstances beyond our control.  I should probably note that we were running iTunes for Windows XP.  Problem is that I had a 2500 song high bit rate itunes library on that computer.  So I simply copied the entire music folder to an external hard drive for future use on a new Sony AW110J Laptop. I thought for sure I would be able to figure out how to get the Library back with all the ratings and playlists intact.  My first attempt was a success. When I got the new computer I downloaded Itunes 8 and then I copied the entire folder from my external back to the ‘Music’ folder and it worked. For a couple of days.  Then one day I open iTunes and everything is gone.  I have no idea why.  I repeat the process. iTunes works again and everthing seems fine.  Sony’s content analyzer turns on and the next time I use iTunes the library is blank again!!! What the heck?? So I deleted the Itunes folder and re copied everything back into it.  It works agian for awhile.  I stop the Vaio Content Analyzer, changed settings so it wouldn’t mess with itunes, and everything seemed good. Until I tried to install the digital copy of ‘The Dark Knight’ as soon as I finished and opened my iTunes. Presto change-o rearrange-o my iTunes library was gone again.  Can anyone help me??? I’m so frustrated at this point I’m not sure what to do.  This is absolutely driving me bonkers…... Any suggestions would be much appreciated.


Posted by Jerry on December 16, 2008 at 3:10 PM (CST)


I’m having the same issue as Kwasi (#10). 37 items (folders?) are missing on the new drive after the “consolidation”. This amounts to nearly a GB of missing files. I’ve managed to find a song or two, through iTunes, that wasn’t brought over to the new drive. Though, low and behold, they are in the file I’ve attempted to move.

I’ve done the entire thing twice now and no luck. Same thing each time. What could be going on? This music folder is 100GB. How am I going be sure what files are actually consolidating before I delete them from the old drive? I’ve wasted hours this evening trying to handle this. When I don’t consolidate, I run into the occasional missing file and when I do consolidate I get the same.

BTW… my iTunes music folder is very well managed. Everything is where it’s supposed to be.

Posted by El Jefe on December 17, 2008 at 6:36 AM (CST)


Hi! I consolidated my library but it didnt consolidate the cd that I ripped. I woudnt want to rip it agian when I switch to another computer. What did I do wrong?

Posted by NK47 on December 18, 2008 at 5:00 AM (CST)


OK I have been reading all sorts of material in the internet for over an hour and I cannot find anything to tell me how to use a simple series of steps to get the second copy of every song on my play list to go away. Cilcing and erasing every other listed song/duplicates would take me days! I’m not techie and hops someone out ther wos is can solve this dilemma. 
The most annoying thing is that each song plays twice as I listen to my music…

Posted by Gary on December 18, 2008 at 9:23 AM (CST)


What a great, super thorough article!!  Thanks!

My question is quick and simple—

I like organizing my ITunes library using Date Added (because I like listening to my recently downloaded music most).... Will this method (consolidation + moving music and library database) be able to retain the original date added to my I-tunes? 

What information does the library database
hold anyway?

-If this matters, I’m switching from PC to Mac.


Posted by Vix on December 18, 2008 at 11:59 PM (CST)


I’d like to move a playlist from an external drive attached to my iMac to my XP netbook. I can’t move my iTunes library because it is WAY too big.  How do I do that?

Great article! Thanks!

Posted by Anna on December 19, 2008 at 9:13 PM (CST)


I followed the instructions, When i open the library on iTunes NOTHING HAPPENS!! Help.

Posted by Levi on December 20, 2008 at 4:36 PM (CST)


I moved my library onto an external hard-drive (not including the database cause I didn’t want to have to bring my ext. H.D. with me) and everything worked like you said, however….

I burnt a CD into iTunes and when I plugged my ipod in for the first time after the move I got this message:

” This iPOD is associated with a different library would you like to delete this ipod and sync to this library?”

I said no. I tried to sync. It said “syncing ipod” but the new CD I burnt did not get into my ipod.

Can you help? Please?!

Posted by Scott on December 20, 2008 at 5:11 PM (CST)


Thank you for writing this very thorough article.  I read it in it’s entirety, but still can’t see a clear answer to my problem.  You’re obviously an authority on iTunes.  Can you help? 

I recently decided to convert all of my 700+ CDs into MP3 files.  My 250 GB drive that I had all my music on was getting full, so I bought 2 new 750 GB drives (the 2nd for a back up).  I moved my existing library to the new drive.  I then chose that library as the location for the CDs I was about to download.  After downloading all the CDs all my songs (old and new) were playing fine. 

Then I decided to back up my files to the second drive.  I tried copying the “iTunes Music” folder to the new drive - which I now know is a mistake after reading your article.  It seemed to work at first.  But then I noticed that there were duplicates of many of the songs - which I think were only the older ones that were in my older drive. [FIRST QUESTION: Why did it duplicate them?] 

Then, I ejected my other two drives and chose this new library in “Advanced Preferences” to test it out - make sure everything worked.  It didn’t.  Only the older songs, and none of the songs from the 700+ CDs.  But when I viewed the iTunes folder on the drive in my Finder, all my music WAS there - and I was able to play it on the preview pane.  They couldn’t be only “referenced” files because I had disconnected my other drives. 

Now iTunes can’t even find my music when I choose the library in my other hard drive, where my 700 CDs are (although the music is still there in the Finder).

What should I do?  How can I get all my music together and move it from drive to drive?

I have read your article a couple times looking for an answer but can’t see one.  Anything you could tell me would be much appreciated.  Thanks.

Posted by Jay on December 20, 2008 at 6:41 PM (CST)


This is a really great article because it (finally) actually explains the logic & mechanics of how itunes works.  Thanks!  However, this is a PERFECT example of why itunes is a lousy program:
“The other important note is that this will reorganize your entire library file system into iTunes’ default way of laying it out (ARTIST\ALBUM\TRACK.MP3). This may not be a desirable option for those who have their media file system laid out in their own organizational structure, or who use other third-party applications that expect media files to be organized a certain way. Unfortunately, if you’re in this situation, there really is no easy way to move your iTunes media content without creating a whole new iTunes library and reimporting all of your tracks into the new library from their new locations.”

How could there be no workaround for this obvious shortcoming??  Please advise - or is my best bet to just switch over to Media Monkey, which does a far better job of handling such issues?

Posted by Jason NYC on December 21, 2008 at 10:52 AM (CST)


I consolidated my library and have a PC and a external hard drive to store my 250 gigs of music and now none of the files can be located and I’m afraid to synch my iPod again in case it will not store or find my music.  Is there anyway I can undo this any help would be great.

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Posted by Jason K on December 21, 2008 at 10:56 PM (CST)


Hey Mate

Can you answer post #17, #24, #10 and others including myself with that similar problem please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Posted by Esther on December 22, 2008 at 4:03 AM (CST)


i consolidated my library and got all of the files over to my external HD, but it still shows that the space that the files took up are still occupied. i have almost no space left on my computer, and moving itunes is going to free up alot, so how do i fully switch the files over?

Posted by Justin B on December 22, 2008 at 12:41 PM (CST)


I just installed a new hard drive in my v30 ipod as my old one died- itunes is not recognizing it at all -nothing comes on screen when plugged into itunes.
How do i get my new library on new drive

Posted by JG on December 22, 2008 at 5:10 PM (CST)


Heeeeeeeeeey. So, I used another process to change the location of my iTunes, but my main problem is that there is still a folder on my main drive of my album artwork. I changed the location so all the music is on an external hard drive of course, but the artwork stays. I want to get that backed up on the external drive, too, but have no idea how.
Your readthrough was great, but confused me. Can someone please just answer my singular question on this or should I read through this a couple more times to get the answer? Thanks.

Posted by Core on December 25, 2008 at 9:51 AM (CST)


My old computer is completely busted and I got a new laptop, I’ve been trying to put my itunes library from my Ipod onto my laptop, this but it wont let me. it says I need to get my old computer and set the options to manually manage music and files. my old computer was a window xp and this one is a vista. please shelp me

Posted by Stefan on December 25, 2008 at 5:14 PM (CST)


I’m inheriting my sons 4g 3rd gen nano, which i want to use for video (movies)only.
My existing identical nano has my music library. How can i do this?
Also, What is going to happen to his library when he plugs in his new I touch?
I don’t want him to lose his library either.
Thanks for any help

Posted by Chris on December 25, 2008 at 10:21 PM (CST)


I recently transferred my itunes library from my old computer to my new computer.  Everything went fine up until yesterday i got a new ipod and i am trying to sync it up and not all the songs will go on the ipod it keeps saying i am not authorized but i have authorized my computer   i am confused please help me

Posted by gene simmons on December 26, 2008 at 6:44 PM (CST)


Great walkthrough!
I have a unique issue.  I believe I basically followed your how NOT to move your library technique, however, every time I restart iTunes some songs have the error but not always the same songs.  My iTunes Music folder is on an external drive and I doubt I have the space to put it back on the laptop to do it the right way.  Is there any other way to make iTunes figure out the paths?  I really don’t want to have to show it where hundreds of tracks are individually.  Thanks!

Posted by KLN on December 27, 2008 at 1:10 AM (CST)



Posted by Laura on December 27, 2008 at 8:12 PM (CST)


I am having a problem, my Ipod has everything on it complete. I have an external herd drive with 90% of the info, so does a laptop has about 90% info. So you see the problem I need both the computer and external to recognize the Ipod as the main link, then back the Ipod info down to the external drive and the laptop. I have too much on my Ipod to download to a disc. I also have a lot that I am looking to add to the Ipod. Does anyone have any advice. I see a lot out there on transferring computer to computer and external hard drive to computer but nothing like what I am trying to do. Any software that can help or just the steps I need to do to accomplish my goal. Any assistance would be appreciated.

Posted by Kim on December 28, 2008 at 2:21 PM (CST)


Jesse!  My first comment was #24.  Please answer our questions!  We’re all helpless without your expertise!  The main question from me: What’s the easiest way to get all one’s music into one place?  (“consolidate library” isn’t appropriate here)  And my unusual problem is that the library I have chosen has music that appears in my finder window but not in iTunes.  Thanks and I hope to read a response at some point!

Posted by Jay on December 28, 2008 at 11:10 PM (CST)


I should begin by noting that the comment threads on these articles are not really set up to provide a simple back-and-forth discussion and are not as frequently monitored for support purposes as discussions in our iLounge Discussion Forums, so you’re always better to take your questions there. Specifically, the iTunes discussion forum contains a long sticky thread on How to Relocate your iTunes Library that might be of some use in getting more specific questions answered.

Those of you looking to recover content from your iPod back to your computer should read our separate tutorial on Copying Content from your iPod to your Computer

Now, on to some of the specific questions in these comments…

#9: If you put all of the music back in the same relative location on the new computer (ie, under your “My Music” folder, or whatever other folder you had relocated it to), then you’ll be fine. You’ll need to authorize the new computer for your purchases, but as long as you haven’t reached your five-computer limit this won’t be a problem and your purchased content should play just fine once you’ve authorized your machine.

#10 & #17: Check to see if the number of files consolidated matches the track count in iTunes itself by checking the totals at the bottom of the iTunes window (you may need to create a Smart Playlist to get ALL of your content, or simply add up the numbers from the Music, Movies, TV Shows, Audiobooks and Podcast categories).  It’s not uncommon to have files lying around in your iTunes Music folder that are no longer used by iTunes itself. These could be tracks you deleted from iTunes without actually removing from your library, or duplicates created during an import process in an older version of iTunes.

The bottom line is that the “Consolidate” option should get everything that’s listed in your iTunes library that can actually be found by iTunes. However, it can’t copy files that it can’t find and it will not touch any files that just happen to be lying around in the same directory. If you’ve renamed or moved files yourself and iTunes cannot locate them (as evidenced by an exclamation mark icon beside the track in iTunes), then it can’t copy them either.

I have successfully consolidated very large iTunes libraries as far back as iTunes 4.7 and have never seen it miss even a single file on Mac or Windows.

The only possible issue I can think of that might be causing iTunes to not copy certain files that it otherwise should be copying would be if you were on Windows consolidating from an NTFS volume to a FAT32 volume—differences in file-naming standards might cause certain files to not copy, particularly if extended characters are involved, but I’ve never personally observed this, so it’s only a theoretical problem.

#12: This could be a bug in the current version of iTunes. The time it takes updating the DB is basically updating these paths. Note, however, that the XML file is not used by iTunes itself, so it’s also possible that it’s simply not writing the changes to this file. The real point, however, is whether iTunes can still find the files. As long as iTunes can open the individual files, then it really doesn’t matter what’s in the XML file unless you’re concerned about having something else read it.

#14: Read over the section on the article about moving between different operating systems. Basically you need to consolidate your library onto the external hard drive and ensure that the “Keep iTunes Music folder organized” setting is enabled in your iTunes preferences. Make sure that you’re using the same version of iTunes on your PC as on the new MacBook, and then just copy the iTunes database over to your Mac’s “Music/iTunes” folder and change the “iTunes Music Folder” path to the external hard drive and iTunes should pick up all of your media content based on your files being in their default locations.

#15: You can drag-and-drop files from a playlist directly into a folder in Windows Explorer or Mac Finder, which will take care of copying the files. You could then either reimport them into iTunes and manually rebuild the playlist, or export it to an XML file and re-import it on the new computer using the appropriate options under the File, Library menu in iTunes.

#16: This is not likely an iTunes problem but rather something else running on your computer that’s messing with iTunes’ settings or wiping out critical iTunes files. Unfortunately, due to the wide variety of third-party software out there, it’s difficult to say what could be causing it, but I’d look for disk management tools, anti-virus/anti-spyware tools, or system backup/restore tools.

#19: iTunes is notoriously bad at dealing with duplicate tracks. However there are third-party tools that can do this for you. If you’re a Mac user, check out an Applescript named DupIn from Doug’s Scripts ( There are numerous third-party options that can do this for Windows users. One good option is TuneUp ( which not only removes duplicates, but handles numerous other library cleanup functions.

#20: Yes, the date added will be retained, since it’s in the library database. Essentially, the iTunes library database holds ALL of the information about your tracks, including information that’s also stored in your MP3/AAC tags, such as artist, album, track name, and so forth. iTunes will automatically re-read MP3/AAC file tags and update its own database with that information, but other metadata, such as date added, date last played, play counts, ratings, and so on are stored only in the iTunes library database. iTunes does not read any file-system dates or information about your files.

#23: The iPod will still appear to sync in this case, but nothing actually gets transferred as it’s still associated with the old iTunes library. You must either erase the iPod entirely and sync the content from your new iTunes library, or set your iPod to manage the content on it manually and then drag-and-drop the new CD onto it.

#24: iTunes always errs on the side of caution, and for the most part will never move, overwrite or delete anything without your express permission, so when you reimport files that are already in your library, iTunes creates duplicates. The same occurs when you convert files from within iTunes itself—the original is retained and a new converted track is created. Further, if you attempt to consolidate your iTunes library into a location where music files already exist, iTunes will not overwrite those existing files, even if they have the same name—instead it will append a number to the end of the new file.

Your comments imply that you are using two different library databases somehow, since even if the files aren’t there, they should show up in your iTunes library database—they’ll just have exclamation marks next to them indicating that the files cannot be found.

The best solution to recover from your specific problem if the music files are still there is to simply re-import them into your iTunes library using the File, Add to Library menu option. You may want to consider using a new iTunes library database for this unless you have a lot of older music and metadata you want to preserve, as this will allow you to start with a clean slate. Reimporting all of your files may create duplicates if you already have duplicates in your music folders, but see my comments to #19 above for ways to deal with this.

Remember also that using the Consolidate library option will only bring across music that is listed in iTunes, so if you’re confident that your iTunes library database contains all of your tracks, you can consolidate your library to a new location, which will give you a clean file-set of only those tracks that are actually in your iTunes database, leaving all of the “orphaned” tracks behind.

#25: There are some workarounds for this, but they’re not particularly easy or painless. Basically, you have to “trick” iTunes into thinking that your files are still located in the same place, even though they’re not. If you’re a Windows user, look up information on “NTFS junctions” or if you’re a Mac user look up info on “symbolic links.” Both of these methods can allow you to put your library elsewhere and create a link at the operating system level so that iTunes still sees it in the same place. Further, if you’ve started out with your iTunes library on a secondary or external drive, you can easily move it to a new secondary or external drive as long as the drive letter (Windows) or name (Mac) remains the same.

Note, however, that I find that many people want to use their own file and folder layout but have no actual need to do this—it’s more of a “security blanket” for them then anything else. My recommendation for the majority of iTunes users is to let go of this irrational fear and just consolidate your library and let iTunes organize it for you… Things will work much better in the long-run, and there’s very little you can do in Windows Explorer or Finder that you can’t do through iTunes itself. If you’re actually using a third-party program that needs to see your files and folders laid out in a certain manner, then you truly might be better off with another iPod management application such as Media Monkey.

#28: As noted in the article, iTunes copies your files when you consolidate, it doesn’t move them, so you’ll need to go back and clean these up yourself once you’re confident that everything has been copied properly to the new location and is working the way you would expect.

#30: The album artwork folder stays with the iTunes library database. You can either back it up manually using a third-party backup software (you should always back up your iTunes library database folders anyway), or you can relocate your iTunes library database onto the external hard drive, as described in the article.

#32: Each iPod you connect to your iTunes library is handled separately with its own configuration settings. When you plug in the second iPod, you will get a screen allowing you to configure the sync settings for that specific iPod, which will be independent of any other iPods you have connected.

#33: You can manually re-authorize your computer using the Store, Authorize Computer menu option. Also ensure that you have authorized your computer for every iTunes Store account that you may have used to purchase content that happens to be in your library.

#34: This is a tricky situation if you do not have space to move your library back. What has probably happened here is that iTunes can find some of your tracks in their default locations in your new iTunes Music folder but not others, possibly due to different naming conventions, or their having been imported from elsewhere. Sadly, there isn’t really an easy answer here without moving the library content back, although you could try moving back only those files that iTunes cannot find, but I’m not sure this is any easier than simply repairing the links manually. Doing a “reimport” of your entire music folder may work as well, but you will likely end up with duplicate tracks as a result of this, and could end up with a bigger mess than you started with. That having been said, you could simply create a backup copy of your iTunes library database file and try a reimport. If things end up really broken in terms of duplicates, you can always restore the database to at least get back to where you started.

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on December 29, 2008 at 11:25 AM (CST)


I just freed up 10 GB on my laptop! By following these instructions I was able to move my iTunes to an external hardrive without any problems. Thanks to the author of this article!

Posted by TAF on December 29, 2008 at 10:03 PM (CST)


Hi Jesse.  I started from scrath using an external hard drive containing all my music files since I have a laptop. I understand that if the external HD is disconnected, there is not access to the music contents. Here is my problem, I want sometimes listen to my music using my laptop without carrying around the external HD plugged in. Is there any third party program that can sync both contents (external hard drive and laptop harddrive) or libraries? Thanks for your time

Posted by Jorge on December 31, 2008 at 1:11 AM (CST)


Great info!  But i did not see an answer to my problem:  I cleaned up my music files (deleting doubles, re-organizing folders, etc).

Since I had broken a lot of paths, I thought the best way was to delete my library (not the files, mind you) and then do File/Add Folder to Library, selecting my iTunes Music folder, where all my music resided.

For some reason, it imported only about 40% of the music.  There seems to be no rhyme or reason to what it took and what it did not take. 

How do I fix this, apart from doing a [tedious] comparison between iTunes music library in iTunes and the iTunes Music fodler in Windows Explorer?  I have >16,000 files…

Posted by Jay FInn on January 1, 2009 at 11:26 AM (CST)


I have published my iTunes database/library from my Windows (Vista32) PC to a shared NAS storage device (Buffalo Terastation Ethernet RAID NAS system).
I have my Windows PCs (3 of them) all running the latest iTunes 8.x and my Macs running the latest Leopard and iTunes all pointing to this NAS as their library for iTunes.
This did not work in prior versions of iTunes (prior to version 8.x) but it seems to work now where either the Mac or the PCs can see the iTunes library (one at a time is all I have tried so far).
The concern (cosmetic performance issue) is that when I close the library on one OS platform (windows or Mac) and open it on the other, iTunes goes through a startup process where it says “Updating iTunes Library” which usually takes about 3-4 minutes and then iTunes runs on the target machine just fine against the NAS (either Windows or Mac machine).
So my questions are:
  1. Is there a way to avoid this ~4 minute process anytime I fire up iTunes on a different machine (Mac or PC)?
  2. Is there a way to avoid trashing the iTunes database if someone accidentally tries to access the library on two different machines at the same time?

Posted by Jordan Becker on January 1, 2009 at 9:47 PM (CST)


Totally kick ass article. Worked like a charm. Thanks a lot for taking the time to write it.

Posted by Brian W on January 2, 2009 at 2:34 PM (CST)


I consider myself a power iTunes user, if there is such a thing, so I rarely find anything useful in these kind of “Instruction Book” articles on iLounge.  However I’ve been using a Macbook/external hard drive combination for years and the section here was absolutely awesome and provided a whole bunch of new information.

Great stuff.

Posted by Jeffery Simpson on January 5, 2009 at 6:24 PM (CST)


I want to copy iTunes from my XP desktop to an XP laptop retaining all the playlists and ratings, like you described, but in XP my iTunes is not at the root level but in C/Documents and Settings/UserA under MyMusic but under a different Username on the laptop.  If i just copy the iTunes directory to the laptop (after first removing the laptops existing .xml and .itl files), the path downstream from there is the same but upstream it is different because the usernames are different. Will iTunes be able to deal with the different upstream paths and find the music in iTunes Music directory downstream by default?  Your description said that the complete path up and down must be identical. Or do i need to move my Desktop’s iTunes to the root C level first, and then copy to the laptop at the root level. Please advise.

Posted by dick99 on January 5, 2009 at 10:01 PM (CST)


I have completely screwed up. I followed the advice of someone who didn’t know what they were talking about when I purchased an external hard drive and wanted to move my library over to free up space. My Music is now on the external hardrive but when I open iTunes everything is gone. My playlists, library, etc. It looks just as it did when I first loaded it on my system. Is there any way to recover?

Posted by sturner on January 6, 2009 at 8:50 AM (CST)


Perfect article, thank you for posting…Caress of Steel is one of the albums I will be moving…

Posted by DaveKan on January 6, 2009 at 11:35 PM (CST)


I’m sure the answer is here but I cannot seem to find it - I have just got a new desktop PC and want to move Itunes from my old PC to the new one.
My libary is on an external drive so I just want to move my playlists and the like across - so I can switch my cranky old pc off for the last time.
Can anyone point me in the right direction.



Posted by Craig on January 7, 2009 at 11:40 AM (CST)


Thank you for taking the time to put together this resource.  I have 2 laptops and an external hard drive with over 150GB of music, and with your advice I’ve finally been able to get it all in one place without losing anything!  I have added the article to my bookmarks.

Posted by Jenn on January 7, 2009 at 10:10 PM (CST)


I have sort of a different question. Is it possible to put iTunes on a external hard drive and run it off of it? My uncle has a very large CD collection and he wants it all to be put on a external hard drive. Thing is…he has an iPod and so does his son. I don’t…I have a Zune (sorry everyone). I just want to know if I can run iTunes through the external hard drive and save all the music for them using iTunes without having to put it on my laptop (not much hard drive space left). I know the Zune software will automatically locate and add the music for me without having to do much, so I’m not worried about that as much. If this sounds stupid let me know, because it most likely is.

If there is a easier solution please tell me.


Posted by Alex_R on January 9, 2009 at 1:53 AM (CST)


I managed to copy my itunes library onto a flash drive before I had to restore my lousy dell back to the factory settings.  Thanks to your article I somehow managed to get it back (although there were 2 copies of each song but I can live with that).  Everything seemed great - I can copy songs to my ipod no problem.  I cannot for some reason copy any song to a playlist.  Anytime I drag a song from the library to a playlist I get the lovely ‘not allowed’ symbol.  Any thoughts?

Posted by Christine on January 11, 2009 at 1:17 AM (CST)


Help pls.  I have my husband’s ipod (3rd generation) and no longer have the computer that it was originally set up on.  I have another computer and it already has another ipod & itunes acct set up on it.  How do I create another account and then move the songs from my husband’s pod to it?  He has over 800 songs, many of them purchased from itune.  Will all the songs move including the purchased ones?

Posted by Sharon on January 11, 2009 at 8:43 AM (CST)


Hey peoples. I have a serious problem and help would be appreciated

My external harddrive had a cord come loose the other day. I fixed it, plugged it back in, and the like. Now, whenever I open iTunes it tells me that my file is incorrect, it’s name has been changed to iTunes_Library_(Damaged), and then it opens a song database that only contains about 15% of my songs in it. I think the 15% is actually all the songs I had in iTunes before getting an iPod and transferring everything to the external harddrive.

Anyone know how to get my old library back and in tact?

Posted by Core on January 12, 2009 at 9:17 AM (CST)



Posted by Zamn! on January 13, 2009 at 10:34 AM (CST)


This worked great, move 550GB to a new 1.5TB internal “media” drive and the music grows! Thanks

Quick Question - what are the advantages to leaving the Itunes Database in its original location versus moving it to the new drive?

Posted by Longwould on January 17, 2009 at 8:42 AM (CST)


a (modest at only 20GB but) huge success; I had to reset the i-pod for it to see 100 tracks, and images, after which only 2 were missing; I’ve got some space on my sweet little mac mini now; cheers

Posted by tony UK on January 17, 2009 at 2:40 PM (CST)



I followed the steps for moving my iTunes content to a new external drive with no problem.  I moved it to Drive F: without creating a My Music folder. I realize that was a mistake if I want to also use the external disk for photos (or other file types).

Can I simply create a MY MUSIC folder…drag all the music into this folder then go back and edit my iTunes Music Folder Location from F:
to F: My Music?

Also if I want to bring this external drive with me on the road moving it from my PC to laptop, will I need to copy the Library database over as well?


Posted by Denco on January 19, 2009 at 1:52 AM (CST)


Man,oh man, thank you, dude!  I was so nervous .  I needed to get my library off an itty bitty external drive and onto my new iMac.  I used the “Reset” tab in “iTunes music folder location” and it created the path to my internal hard drive for me.  Woo-hoo!

Posted by Nathan Hey on January 20, 2009 at 6:29 PM (CST)


I have written about my own experience about a three-machine move on

Posted by Øyvind Teig on January 22, 2009 at 2:37 PM (CST)


Need anyone’s’ help!
I have a vast CD collection that I have been loading onto ITunes on my PC for IPod use. I have 25 GB and plan on another 25 GB. 1. How can I transfer these songs and libraries easily onto my external drive for easy use 2. Is there an easy method to transfer them back if needed.? 3. Once on the external drive, how easy will it be to access these songs through iTunes? I would really appreciate anyone’s help.
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Posted by Sal Tofano on January 22, 2009 at 4:36 PM (CST)


I moved my itunes music folder to an external hard drive. My itunes library is still on my computer. I need to restore my computer back to the way it was when I first bought it because I accidentally deleted some needed files in my registry. If I restore I will delete my itunes library, and I won’t be able to access my music. What do I need to do in order to be able to have the same library on my computer once I restore it?

Posted by Siobhan Smith on January 22, 2009 at 9:57 PM (CST)


Hi. When I now go into the iTunes store, I keep getting a prompt to upgrade to iTunes 8. I have since found out that this is because iTunes have done away with DRM so all their items in the store have changed their format. I have a 2nd Generation Nano and am very happy with it and the (very old) iTunes (1.1.3). If I upgrade to iTunes 8, will that affect the my existing library or will it start again as a blank library? I’m not very good with PCs so a very simple explanation would be great. Thank you.

Posted by Maggi Sanie on January 23, 2009 at 1:01 PM (CST)


your article helped a bunch.  After moving my itunes files I lost the path.  Holding the shift key down when opening itunes was all I needed to do to redirect .

Thanks much for the detailed article

Posted by r schukar on January 30, 2009 at 2:52 PM (CST)


Ok, so I’ve been having a TON of trouble transfering my huge iTunes library, but I just found a solution.

What you’ll need:

-Both computers
-A large USB flash drive (I used a 16GB one)

1.) Go to your iTunes library (on your old computer)
2.) Make a new playlist
3.) Copy all your music from the Music playlist (that iTunes already has for you) to your new playlist
4.) Click on the new playlist. Select all the songs (this should now be your whole library that you have selected—mine was thousands of songs). Right click, and copy them all.
5.) Minimize iTunes and make a new folder on your desktop. Open the folder and paste all your songs inside.
6.) Put that folder onto your flash drive. It will probably take a while.
7.) Take out your flash drive and plug it into your new computer.
8.) Open iTunes on your new computer.
9.) Authorize your new computer with your iTunes account. (Store > Authorize Computer ...)
10.) File > Add Folder to Library
11.) Find your flash drive on the menu and select that.
12.) iTunes should add all the contents of your flash drive (music, artwork…everything)

I hope this helps someone!!

Posted by Lauren on February 2, 2009 at 6:01 PM (CST)


Hello, will the third parties work if the Ipod was originally on an PC and I want to put the songs on a Mac.

Posted by Bob on February 2, 2009 at 7:55 PM (CST)


I moved my iTunes folder to an external hard drive before I read your article!  Originally I had two iTunes folders:  one on the laptop and one on an external hard drive.  I moved all the files to one external hard drive (new 500Gb), made sure all the files were in the right folders and asked iTunes to find it by dragging the file onto the iTune icon.  Interestingly some of the Music is recognized in this new place!  But most is not and nearly all the video files are not.  I really can not go backwards (place the files in the original location) since I had nearly filed the laptop hard drive (the original reason to consolidate on a large external hard drive).  So now I click on a video or music and get the “do you want to find the file” message.  I have a lot of file and would rather not do this one-at-a-time.  Any advice?

Posted by Rick on February 12, 2009 at 7:17 PM (CST)


Great Article…really.

Still looking for info on #8 and/or #31.

Can anyone help us with this?!?!

Thank you!

Posted by Dena on February 13, 2009 at 7:58 PM (CST)


I can’t believe I did it!! And I’m blonde! Thanks for the simple advice.

Posted by Lorrie on February 14, 2009 at 4:18 PM (CST)


Very useful document! Have read it, maybe missed some of the points:
How can I transfer my Itunes to a new PC, having a different path to iTunes?
Or a little bit more complicated: Have my music on external HD (as described above) and the library on my PC?

Posted by kirknel on February 15, 2009 at 5:30 AM (CST)


GREAT article and, if you follow the step, works perfectly.  And it still syncs up with my ipod and iphone.

Thanks again!

Posted by Bob on February 24, 2009 at 8:20 AM (CST)



Thanks for such a clear and helpful article.

I followed it to the letter and the transfer went as smooth as silk.

I really appreciate you sharing you knowledge so generously for our benefit.


Posted by Nigel Greaves on February 24, 2009 at 3:07 PM (CST)


Great article and helped me a lot, until…

The section of the article that applied to me was ‘Moving the Library Database’ I had taken my HD with my music & iTunes library on from an old, kaput, computer and put it in a newer one.  So just wanted to target iTunes on the new computer to the library on the newly installed HD.  I was surprised how well this worked to be honest.

Next, I wanted all my iPod touch apps I had imported into iTunes.  I simply dragged the folder containing the apps into iTunes… big mistake apparently… as the iTunes imported the apps, exclamation mark icons started popping up next to all the music tracks in the library.  After the import was complete I scrolled through my music library and double-clicked a few tracks and every single one now couldn’t be found, as if bringing in the apps has altered the path to the music for some reason.  I’ve checked the iTunes music folder location and the location paths in the XML file and they are pointing to the right place.  I don’t know what’s up. 

I went from jubilation to outright anger in less than a couple of minutes last night when this happened.

I know this isn’t the forum for asking questions, but any hints would be appreciated, though I thought this would be a nice story to add!

Posted by Richard on February 24, 2009 at 6:55 PM (CST)


The problem with most of the online tips to move your music to an external hard drive is that it forces you to use iTunes’s consolidated naming hierarchy.  For Mac’s there’s a much easier technique:

1.  Copy your Music folder to your external hard drive
2.  Drop to a Terminal (Utilities/Terminal)
3.  Type the following commands:
cd ~
mv Music Music.bak
ln -s /Volumes/<EXTERNAL DRIVE>/Music

.. you’ll want to substitute “EXTERNAL DRIVE” for the name of your external drive.  You can find that name out by typing “ls /Volumes” and seeing which directories (i.e. drives) are there.

Note that if you want to at some later point use your Mac’s local Music folder, simply delete the Music soft link to your external hard drive (drag to trash) and rename your Music.bak folder on your desktop to Music.

Ah, the joys of a Unix core!

Posted by John on February 28, 2009 at 5:54 PM (CST)


It’s really shocking how poorly iTunes works given how well Apple designs most other things. Normally things just work in the Apple world.

I think this one is someone high up in Apple refusing to admit the whole design stinks and toss it for a realistic system that allows you to use your device like you think you should: Plug in iPod at home, upload purchases and home made music.  Go to work, plug in iPod, update library at work to have same stuff as home/iPod.  Later in day upload a new song to iPod you bought/made during the day.

That’s how a normal person would use the iPod.  But none of that works given Apple’s crazy, stupid design. Basically Apple thinks people only have one iPod and only one computer and that’s just plain stupid.

Posted by Mitur Binesderity on March 2, 2009 at 1:38 PM (CST)


Thank you for taking the time to explain this so thoroughly and clearly.  Worked like a charm!

Posted by liz on March 5, 2009 at 7:00 PM (CST)


Hey all.

I googled and found this website and I could use some input from savvy people.

My old laptop is busted.  Won’t even turn on.  But I still have all my iTunes on my iPod and I use my docking station to charge it.

I’m expecting a new Dell laptop in the next week.  Is there a way to transfer the music from my iPod (all my music is on it) onto my NEW laptop…?

My old laptop, like I said, is DEAD and so I won’t be able to transfer from one to the other. 

Any help is greatly appreciated!

Posted by Pancakes on March 5, 2009 at 8:35 PM (CST)


hiya everybody

i need help please my itunes wont play my songs half of the time Any help is greatly appreciated!  thanks

Posted by mike sheehy on March 7, 2009 at 10:37 AM (CST)


So if i understand the last section correctly, i can have my full itunes library on an external drive and just my favorite songs on the local laptop.  when the external HD is plugged in, itunes works off that.  if i’m on the road w/o the HD plugged, it will revert to local and play those, where i can download and rip all i want.  then when i plug in the external and reconsolidate to the HD, all is well?

Posted by Curt on March 12, 2009 at 6:28 PM (CDT)


Thanks for taking the time to post this article. It saved me a bunch!

Posted by Omar on March 19, 2009 at 12:06 AM (CDT)


Thanks a bunch, mate!

Worked like a charm!

Posted by Mathilda on March 27, 2009 at 11:11 PM (CDT)


My PC is running out of Hd space. I have my ipod library in it. I have approximately 5000 songs (no movies or data). I’d like to transfer it all into a portable HD. What would you recommend and how can i do it? thanks

Posted by HS1 on April 3, 2009 at 8:36 PM (CDT)


OK, so i copied my entire iTunes folder and put it on the external hard drive. It got the database and all the music. I can play music on my iTunes perfectly, but when i plug in my iPod to update, my iTunes doesnt even say anything and my iPod ejects. After i unplug my iPod, it often says that it is corrupted and i need to restore it. So i went down to ye olde apple store and got my iPod restored. i then plugged it back in and the same thing happened. I discovered that when i changed my iTunes music folder location setting back to the original folder on my computer, that it would recognize my ipod perfectly. Why wont it recognize my ipod when the database is on the external Hard drive?

Posted by Rob on April 5, 2009 at 7:34 PM (CDT)


I have iTunes folder stored on an external hard drive.

I want to move this external hard drive to a different computer and, therefore, import everything (Music & Videos) into a different iTunes.  Aside from being a clean slate, this other iTunes does contain audiobooks and games because it was the computer originally used when I first got my iPod.  I have since upgraded it and hope to move the hard drive back and have it identical to my present iTunes.   

I have read tips about transferring to an external hard drive, however, other scenarios did not contain this exact situation and I am unclear and nervous about importing because I fear that the track names might change or that things might fall out of order as they are brought into iTunes. 

What steps precisely should I take to make sure that this empty iTunes looks like the one I am about to unplug from.  Key point, I use “Date added” filter so that I can listen to music in a particular order. 

Lastly, I understand the personalize playlist will not transfer.  I have a work-around method and will use a program called iPod Access to resituate the playlist.  Anyone have experience with this feature of “cloning” a playlist. 

Thank you very much in advance for the help and instructions.

Posted by Rob on April 6, 2009 at 12:33 AM (CDT)


I just switched from a Sony PC laptop running Windows XP to a brand new Mac Pro =) 
I was using a Simpletech external hard drive to back up all of my itunes library.  It was easy to bring those actual SONGS over to my new Mac’s itunes just now.  all I did was drag over the iTunes library from the external drive, and drop it into itunes.
However, the only ARTWORK that transferred was from the songs I had downloaded from the itunes store.  NONE of the artwork remains from the CD’s I loaded into itunes. I tried to drag over the Album artwork info from a USB drive which I saved that info onto, but it didn’t work. 
Any ideas???

Posted by Joe on April 6, 2009 at 10:26 PM (CDT)


I have an external hard drive (500G) which was formatted on Windows (so that I can use it between machines) and which I used for my iTunes library on a previous Mac Mini (iTunes organizes).  I now have a new Mac Mini.  When I attach the drive and point to it, the music is not seen.

If I “consolidate”, will it COPY my music into the (same) iTunes folder?  I don’t want to get a second copy of 80G of music.

Posted by Chris on April 7, 2009 at 1:53 AM (CDT)


I tried Consolidate.  Nothing happened.  I tried Add to Library.  It pulled only some of my music.  At Apple Support’s suggestion, I reformatted the hard drive then tested an album by dragging it into iTunes.  All I got was the songs, no album / artist organization.  There is no way I would want to drag in 1000+ songs and then have to add them to albums.  Not happy with my Apple experience so far since this is why I bought the Mac Mini in the first place.  oh, well.

Posted by Chris on April 13, 2009 at 10:15 AM (CDT)


Thank you for this article.  It’s the first coherent explanation I’ve found that describes the difference between the data structure (the library) and the content (the music folder).  Much appreciated, has resolved some large frustrations I’ve had with iTunes.  Wish Apple would pay as much attention to documenting their products as you have with this article.

Posted by crossection on April 16, 2009 at 9:54 PM (CDT)


I moved my music to an external drive by following the directions above and it went great. NEW question and need help, I want to take my friends music and merge it with my music, and not create duplicates, any suggestions?

Posted by Chris on April 22, 2009 at 12:24 PM (CDT)


I used a third-party software to restore my iTunes library from my iPod to my external hard drive. 
Here is my dilemma.  I have lots of videos with lengthy, descriptive names.  Now that I am going to move my external hard drive to a different computer I am curious to know if these names will carry over when imported to a new iTunes. 

For example, in iTunes I have a video clip titled, “CBC 26 Control and Counter Backups and Adv concepts”.  When I look at the actual mp4 file on my hard drive it only has “CBC 26 Control and Counter Backups.”  It is missing 14 more characters. 

It is like this for hundreds of files on my hard drive that do not have the full name as shown in the iTunes movie library.  I understand a little bit about “metadata”.  Is there somewhere that the FULL name I have written in iTunes’ library is stored in the mp4 file?  What should I expect when I move my hard drive and import all my movie clips?

If anyone can tip me off, please do.  Much appreciation,  Rob

Posted by Rob on April 25, 2009 at 11:34 PM (CDT)



I don’t think my particular situation is covered on this guide but it’s very close.

I started out by putting my content on an external HD on one computer.

I now want to run my itunes (permanently) from another computer (a new one I’ve just bought).

So I think I just want to move my database from my old computer to my new one.

I’m not sure how to do this. Help please?

An added complication is that my external HD appears as a J: Drive on my old computer and a E: Drive on my new one?

Many thanks

Posted by Thomas Stendall on April 30, 2009 at 5:34 PM (CDT)


I had to restore my iphone cause the mail was bugged and now my iphone is not syncing with the music library that I moved to my external hard drive .  Any suggestions?

Posted by Seth Platt on May 1, 2009 at 3:42 PM (CDT)


“But YOU’RE left with the question of how to get it over’‘...not “your”

Posted by Steve Mascord on May 2, 2009 at 7:02 AM (CDT)


When I moved my Library, my playlists failed to move. I did get all of my music but anyone know how to get the playlists?

Posted by Jamie on May 2, 2009 at 1:42 PM (CDT)


My Computor crashed and didn’t get a chance to save my itunes on anything. I now have a new computor.  I’m scared I’m going to loose all my songs if I download itunes on the new computor and plug in my Ipod.  Not sure what to do?  Can anyone help me in simple tearms , how I can put my itunes on my new computor?

Posted by Linda on May 10, 2009 at 6:57 PM (CDT)


Recently we had a virius on our computer (windows). Had to dump everythihig and reload Windows XP. We have an external hard drive. We also have two Itunes user accounts, wifes and mine on a secondary user. Once we re-installed Itunes we found her music libary but can not find mine. How do you find this?

Posted by Tom on May 10, 2009 at 11:07 PM (CDT)



Thank you very much for this clear, concise and informative article. Following your guidance, my modestly sized transfer to my external drive was quick, easy and without problem. Even my iPod is happy.

Thanks again,

Posted by rachael on May 15, 2009 at 8:11 PM (CDT)


I am trying to move my itunes music to another harddrive to create more space on my original. Everytime I go to consolidate library it says “Copying Music failed. An unknown error occurred. (-69).”

What can I do?

Everytime I try the copy and paste approach my computer either freezes or I get an error and only 609 files out of near 4000 are transfered.

What’s going on?!

Posted by Becky on May 20, 2009 at 1:43 AM (CDT)


Thanks very much for your article explaining the process clearly. Today I moved my library from my laptop to my new external hard drive with no difficulty. I will get in the habit of using the external hard drive regularly and consolidating the library.

Posted by Emily on May 26, 2009 at 3:30 PM (CDT)


Thanks mate!  Your iTunes Library solution helped me fix an issues I have had for two years!

Posted by Jason on May 28, 2009 at 2:49 PM (CDT)


my buddy put his music on my external hardrive and I see all the music on my Itunes but when trying to play any music it says songs could not be used because original file could not be found.I tried following your steps for this but it still says the same thing

Posted by earl on May 28, 2009 at 5:10 PM (CDT)

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