Managing multiple iTunes Libraries with different preferences


Q: I’ve created a new library in iTunes for an older selection of music that I want separate from the rest of the music I listen to. Both libraries are on an external hard drive. The problem I’m having is that when I go into the new library’s preferences to set where it stores its media, my existing library’s preferences also get changed and vice versa. How do I set up these two libraries so their media remains separate of one another? I’m using a Mac running Leopard.

– Megan

A: Unfortunately your iTunes Preferences are stored in a separate file that is common to the user account and not specific to an individual library. One way to get around this is to create another user account on the Mac for your alternate iTunes library—separate user accounts will have their own preferences for just about everything, including iTunes. You could even use Fast User Switching to move back and forth between both accounts and thereby access both iTunes libraries.

The other option is to use a third-party software utility to manage multiple iTunes libraries and take care of juggling your preferences file for you in the process. A good option for this is the iTunes Library Manager from Doug’s AppleScripts for iTunes, which will allow you to manage up to two iTunes libraries in the free version, including maintaining separate preference files; a $10 upgrade is available to allow users to manage an unlimited number of iTunes libraries.


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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.