Q: I have an external hard drive with an iTunes library full of songs I want to burn to CDs. Am I able to burn these on a computer that already has another person’s iTunes library data on it?
A: This is definitely possible, however, iTunes can only burn music to CD that is already in an iTunes library, so in order to use iTunes for this you will either need to import the music from your external hard drive to the other person’s library or create a new, separate library on that computer to temporarily store your music.
Keep in mind that iTunes is not the only software application that can be used to burn audio CDs, so it may be worth checking to see if the computer in question has another CD burning software package installed. Some applications will allow you to burn tracks directly from an external hard drive without needing to create or import them into a library first.
To use iTunes, your best option is to simply create an alternate iTunes library on the other computer. You can do this by starting iTunes while holding the SHIFT key (Windows) or OPT key (Mac), which will display a dialog box providing you with an option to create a new library or choose an alternate existing library.
Choose the Create Library option and then select a folder to store the new library in when iTunes prompts you for this information. It doesn’t really matter where you put this, as it’s only going to be a temporary library, and we won’t actually be copying the music files from your external hard drive, merely adding them to an iTunes library database.
Once you’ve done this, iTunes should start up with a new, empty library that you can use to import the music from your external hard drive. Before you do this, however, you should take a trip into the iTunes preferences and ensure that the option to Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library is UN-checked.
This will ensure that when you import your files from your external hard drive into the new iTunes library, they are not actually copied to the computer’s local hard drive, but instead simply referenced from that existing location. This will save both time and disk space on the other person’s computer.
Once you have this setup, simply use the Add to Library option found on the File menu in iTunes to import your music on the external hard drive into this new iTunes library. You can then proceed to burn CDs in iTunes from that library normally. Once you’re done, you can use the same SHIFT/OPT key startup option above to switch back to the original iTunes library and then just delete the folder where you created the new iTunes library. If you changed it, you should also ensure that the Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library is set back to its original setting, as some iTunes preferences are shared between multiple libraries.