Multiple iTunes libraries

Q: On Apple’s iTunes “Jukebox” page, it claims the user can have “multiple libraries – even store[d] across more than one hard drive.” At first I thought this must just be referring to the segregation of Music, Movies, Audiobooks, etc., but the hard drive comment doesn’t make sense in this case. What are they talking about here?

– Tom

A: Indeed you can now have multiple libraries, just as iTunes’ product page mentions. However, they really don’t make it clear how. Luckily, it’s extremely simple: to activate and use the switching feature, simply hold down Option (Mac) or Shift (Windows) as you launch iTunes, and you’ll see this intuitive menu appear:

Multiple iTunes libraries 2

Upon switching libraries, the entirety of your content – including tracks, videos, playlists, ratings, and more – is exchanged for whatever’s in that library. Virtually nothing stays behind… it’s as if you’ve sat down at another computer.

In fact, to acheive this prior to iTunes 7, we’ve recommended either setting up a second account in your operating system, or use a third-party library switching utility like Libra. Now, neither of these solutions are necessary to get multiple libraries on one computer.

What’s the advantage here? As only one example, it’s great for laptop users who want to maintain a massive library of TV Shows, Videos, and a complete collection of their music, but need to do so on an external hard drive due to their laptop’s small hard drive. With this feature, they can still also maintain a smaller collection of music on their local machine for listening on the go.

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