Automatically adding music to iTunes


Q: I have a large music library and everytime I get new music it doesn’t show up in my iTunes library. I manage my music manually and don’t have a separate iTunes folder for my music. Sometimes I get a bunch of music at once and it’s ridiculous to have to put each song/album in my library separately just so I can add them one at a time in iTunes and have them show up correctly. Is there any way to designate a folder for my music, like I do right now, and have the songs/folders I drop in my music folder just show up in iTunes when it loads? Seems other programs work like that, I have to be doing something wrong.

– Anonymous

A: No, you’re not specifically doing anything wrong. Rather, this is just how iTunes works. There has never been a specific “watched folder” concept in iTunes, as the normal design philosophy of the application expects that you will add the music through iTunes itself, and then allow it to copy your music for you if you so desire.

If you’re letting iTunes manage your music library in its own folder, adding music is generally as simple as dragging the new tracks onto the iTunes window, and allowing iTunes to copy and organize your tracks for you. On the other hand, if you keep your music in a separate folder and use your own organization system, you can add the tracks to iTunes in the same way – drag and drop them into the iTunes window, but you’ll need to ensure that the option to Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library is turned OFF in your iTunes preferences (this setting can be found under the “Advanced” tab). Further, you’ll need to ensure you’ve placed your music in its final location before doing this, since if you later rename these tracks or move them to a different folder iTunes will lose track of them.

Fortunately, for those who do want to implement a “watched folder” solution, there are a couple of third-party tools that can assist with this process:  iTunes Folder Watch will watch a specified folder and automatically add any new music found there to your iTunes library, and iTunes Library Updater takes this a step further by keeping your iTunes library synchronized with an external directory structure of music files. We should note that these are third-party solutions, and therefore not supported by Apple in any way, although you can find more information at the developers’ sites above, as well as discussion of these and other similar solutions in our Third-Party Software forum in the iLounge Discussion Forums.

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Jesse Hollington

Jesse Hollington was a Senior Editor at iLounge. He's written about Apple technology for nearly a decade and had been covering the industry since the early days of iLounge. In his role at iLounge, he provided daily news coverage, wrote and edited features and reviews, and was responsible for the overall quality of the site's content.