Q: I have iTunes on several computers in my home and I have purchased music from the iTunes Store on two seperate computers. I would now like to consolidate all this music to one computer. Do you have any suggestions on how I can do this? Transferring the information does not seem so hard but how do I get it properly installed? Should i consider a third party software and if so what would you recommend?
A: If it is simply your goal to consolidate your purchased content in a single location, the easiest solution may be simply to use your iPod as a transfer conduit. iTunes supports reverse-sync of purchased content from your iPod back to any authorized computer, so if you simply load up all of your iTunes purchases onto your iPod in manual mode and then connect it back to your “main” computer (the once you want to consolidate your music onto), you can use the File, Transfer Purchases option to transfer this content from your iPod back onto your primary computer.
If you are looking to consolidate content other than that purchased from the iTunes Store, this may be a bit more complicated, but is certainly possible. The most straightforward method in this case is to simply copy the media files themselves onto the central computer using a network connection or an external hard drive, and then import them into the primary iTunes library as you would for any other content. This will not bring across any data such as play counts, last played times, or ratings, but any other metadata which is stored in the files themselves, such as track name, artist, album, genre, etc, will import into the new iTunes library.
Playlists can be transferred across in a similar manner: Simply export the playlist from the remote iTunes libraries using the File, Export command in iTunes, which will save the playlist to an XML file. You can then copy this XML file onto the central computer and import it into the main iTunes library using the File, Import command.
Alternatively, if all of your music is stored on your iPod, you can use any number of third-party tools to transfer this information back to your main iTunes library. Our article on Copying Content from your iPod to your Computer provides more detail and some suggested applications for this.
Another option you may want to look into is the TuneRanger application (http://www.acertant.com, $30, trial available), which is a software package designed to synchronize multiple iTunes libraries across a network. This software will be especially effective if you have a lot of duplicated music across your multiple iTunes libraries, since it also provides features for cleaning up duplicates as part of this process and otherwise optimizing your iTunes library. If you have a complicated set of iTunes libraries, this is probably the best route to take in getting a single consistent library.