Transferring iTunes library database

Q: About two years ago, I transferred my iTunes account to a secondary internal hard drive and lost all my playlists. As a result, I simply created new playlists. More recently I bought a laptop and now I want to transfer my iTunes library to it. After doing this, when I started iTunes on the laptop all of my old playlists popped up from two years ago. None of my new lists, songs or movies are available. Even though my “stuff” is on a secondary drive, I noticed that I have iTunes files on my C drive also, although none look like music, even though I’ve specified new location.

– Leo

A: It sounds like iTunes is still picking up your old library database from your previous attempt to transfer your data over to the secondary hard drive. By default, iTunes keeps its database files in a folder named “iTunes” under your home profile’s “My Music” folder. It is possible to tell iTunes to use another location to create its database files, or read them from that location, but this is a separate process from simply moving the media files to another drive or folder.

Basically, you will need to find another file named iTunes Library.ITL somewhere on one of your hard drives and then point iTunes over at this folder. The creation or modification date may give you a clue as to which one is more current, although keep in mind that now that you’ve opened iTunes with the older one, it’s likely to have a more current modification date on it.

To direct iTunes to use a different library database, simply hold down the SHIFT key on your keyboard when starting the application, and you should receive a dialog box that will provide you with the opportunity to either create a new iTunes library or choose a different one. Simply select the “Choose Library” option and then browse to and select the folder containing the other ITL file. Note that if you don’t select the library folder you were looking for, you can simply shut down iTunes and repeat the process to try again with a different folder.

Transferring iTunes library database

You can find more information about this in the latter part of our article on Transferring your iTunes Library, under the section on moving the iTunes library database.


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