1 2 Previous Next 15 Replies Latest reply: Mar 23, 2012 1:33 AM by turingtest2
MisterMojo Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

A friend wants to move the music in family members Home folders to a single folder on an external drive. Then all the user accounts should point to that folder. The destination folder is already being used by his account and it has a lot of music files already.

 

My question: what steps do I take to safely transfer the files to the external drive and connect the iTunes accounts to that folder? I've searched but I haven't found info on how to accmplish this...

  • 1. Re: How Do I Move Users iTunes Music To Single Folder?
    Limnos Level 8 Level 8 (38,470 points)

    Does each person still want their own library file with their own playlists, etc.?

     

    I can see this working. I can also see it resulting in chaos if somebody decided they didn't like a track and deleted it and then it disappeared from everybody's iTunes because everybody was sharing the same media files.

     

    You can probably effect a transfer by everybody changing their preference settings to the unifying media folder, then consolidating.  If they also want to share the same library, we can provide steps for doing that.

     

    By the way, you said they want to move their Home folders.  Everything?  I don't think OSX likes it when you move everybody Home folder (meaning not just iTunes but ALL their files) to an external.  You can do it but it requires a fair amount of Unix savvy.

  • 2. Re: How Do I Move Users iTunes Music To Single Folder?
    MisterMojo Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    They don't want to move everything in their Home folders, just the music... There's Dad (who has the most music), Mom and a pre-teen daughter. Dad's music folder has already been moved to the external drive. I assume that they want to maintain their own playlists. Obviously there would need to be a rule that no music could be deleted unless everyone agreed to it.

     

    I hadn't considered the shared library/individual library issue...

     

    I am open to suggestions as to how best to accomplish what Dad wants. There are probably several options that may include possible problems. My motto is KISS whenever possible and it definitely applies in this situation.

  • 3. Re: How Do I Move Users iTunes Music To Single Folder?
    Limnos Level 8 Level 8 (38,470 points)

    If you consolidate each library one by one as I mentioned above it will keep track of their music as iTunes moves it to the shared location. If you just drag files to another drive you would have to rebuild each library because there would be lots of broken links (except for Dad).  If somebody wants somebody else's music in their library they would have to add it, but in the end they should be sharing the same files (but each with their own library).  You'd have to make sure nobody renamed it or else it would go missing for others.  It'll need a pretty strict regimen.

     

    You're doing a variant on the below but using a different drive which means it is even more importatant you don't simply copy the files.  iTunes is not good at tracking files moved between drives.

     

    iTunes: How to share music between different accounts on a single computer - http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1203 - relocating iTunes' media folder to a shared area but leaving separate library files - extra tip at https://discussions.apple.com/message/17331189

  • 4. Re: How Do I Move Users iTunes Music To Single Folder?
    turingtest2 Level 8 Level 8 (46,570 points)

    The Apple support document How to use multiple iPods with one computer suggests a number of ways for managing the media content. I use method two (Sync with selected playlists) with a slight twist. Rather than regular playlists I set the grouping field to indicate which users should receive which tracks and create smart playlists based on the content of this field.

     

    e.g.

    "Alice's Tracks" is "Grouping contains Alice" + "Kind contains audio"

    "Bob's Videos" is "Grouping contains Bob" + "Kind does not contain audio"

    Tracks that both Alice & Bob want on their iPods have the grouping set to "Alice/Bob"

    etc.

     

    I currently manage our family's five iDevices using this system, each getting a different selection to suit their tastes and the capacity of their device. An advantage of using the grouping field is that it is stored in file tags (for non-wav audio files anyway) so that it is relatively easy to recreate the playlists should the iTunes library get trashed and need rebuilding. Also useful if you move files about manually as playlist membership is preserved when you delete & re-import the tracks.

     

    In this case you would start with Dad's library, then import the media from the other two accounts in turn. With the library in date added order it should be easy to mark the recent imports for the correct user.

     

    tt2

  • 5. Re: How Do I Move Users iTunes Music To Single Folder?
    MisterMojo Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks for the suggestions and links. I have some time Thursday afternoon to read everything and return to the thread if I have any questions.

  • 6. Re: How Do I Move Users iTunes Music To Single Folder?
    MisterMojo Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    OK, I've had a chance to read everything. I must admit that I am confused about the options and how to go about doing this. I am not an iTunes Jedi Master...

     

    Right now there is one iMac, three accounts and one iPod touch being used by the oldest daughter.

     

    If I am understanding http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1203 correctly it is a two-step process:

     

    1. To share your music with multiple user accounts on one computer

     

    2.  To listen to another account's music files

     

    I am right about this? Or are these two separate operations?

     

    I am not able to find an iTunes menu option for consolidating libraries.  The terminology is confusing me: aren't the libraries different than the music files?

     

    As I understand it however this is set up these conditions must be met:

     

    1.  All music files reside in a single Music folder on the external drive.

    2.  All users must be able to add music to the external drive Music folder.

    3.  Each user must be able to create playlists.

     

    At this point I am stymied about how to accomplish this. I am reluctant to proceed because I am still not understanding the process.

  • 7. Re: How Do I Move Users iTunes Music To Single Folder?
    Limnos Level 8 Level 8 (38,470 points)

    Whooo boy, this is a complicated subject.  It would be simplified if I knew exactly what you wanted set up because then I wouldn't have to cover each permutation.

     

    First, you are right about library files.  iTunes works through library files. It keeps tracks of what you have in your  collection, what is in which playlist, where the files are, etc.  Then there are the media files which are the actual music files.  Under default condition iTunes keeps these all carefully organized in an iTunes folder in each computer account holder's directory.

     

    HT1203 has each person put just their media files in an area accessible to all, but keeps them separate from everybody else's.  Each person retains their own library file so they can do their individual playlists for example.  If they want somebody else's music they can add the other person's media to their library by dragging the other person's media file to their iTunes. It will the tracks to their library.  So yes, the first step is setting putting a media foleder in a shareable location. Each person does that. The second step is each person going out and adding other people's media to their library file.

     

    There are several questions I have for HT1203 that I could answer by experimentation on my computer but I don't feel like investing the time (to be honest).  For example, normally when you add a track to iTunes that is not in your media folder, iTunes will copy it to your media folder. Does that mean each person ends up duplicating the other's collection because it copies it to it?  The article does not tell you to disable "copy files to media folder when adding to library" in iTunes' preferences.  You wouldn't want to do this because what would happened then if you added something to your own library.  I guess the way to get around this issue would be to hold the option key and drag the other person's media to your library which would cause it to add it but not copy it.  There's more advantages and disadvantages but I am getting tired of typing.

     

    A variant of the above is to merge all the different media folders by consolidating them.  That's mentioned as a part of http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4527  Consolidating copies the selected files to the location set in iTunes media folder preferences and iTunes keeps track of where they have moved.  iTunes is good at keeping track of moved tracks if they are on the same drive but it it cannot follow them if they are copied between drives.  Because you want to also move their collections to an external drive and iTunes cannot keep track of them if you do that, you cannot simply drag the media folders to a shared location as in HT1203, otherwise all their libraries would end up saying they cannot find the files.  You must consolidate them to that drive for their libraries to keep track of where the files are going. They can then add the other people's media from their new homes on the external.

     

    Frankly, you can do just about anything with iTunes once you understand how it works. I have in the past kept media on two different drives and would move it around all the time without problem because I told iTunes to not bother organizing or my media, I would do it myself.

     

    I'll give myself a typing break now.

  • 8. Re: How Do I Move Users iTunes Music To Single Folder?
    MisterMojo Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Limnos, you have been very generous with your time and expertise. I don't expect you to remake the wheel on my account; perhaps we can figure out if what my friend wants is possible without expending a lot of time.

     

    Let me ask him again exactly what he wants to do. That way you don't have to cover every possibility in a reply. If it turns out that what he wants isn't possible then perhaps there will be an obvious alternative.

     

    Since sharing a single large media folder doesn't appear to be possible, perhaps the next best thing would be separate media folders so that users can add files from the each other's folders. There would be duplicate music files but at least the files would not be filling-up the iMac's internal drive. Then all I would need to know is how to consolidate each user media folder to the external drive and move music files between the separate folders. Am I starting to make sense?

  • 9. Re: How Do I Move Users iTunes Music To Single Folder?
    turingtest2 Level 8 Level 8 (46,570 points)

    Using a single media folder for multiple libraries is perfectly possible, however there are potential pitfalls with having multiple libraries control the same set of media. One user decides they no longer want some content and deletes it removing it from others who still wanted it. If someone makes an update which causes a file to be moved then the other libraries can't find the track any more, and if the file doesn't move the update still won't be automatically detected by the other libraries. Without knowing what is already in the other libraries there is also the potential to make duplicate purchases.

     

    I'm assuming from what has been said so far that Dad's library is already pointed at a media folder on the external drive, but his library files are on the internal. If so then the first thing I would do would be to normalize his library on the external drive as described here. If, in fact, the library is still in the normal layout on the internal drive then it can copied to the external and opened using the option-start-iTunes method.

     

    Once Dad's library is working you can then switch profiles, use the option-start-iTunes method to open the common library, import any extra media from the new profile, tag it (e.g. using the Grouping field) or just drag it into a playlist, and then repeat with the other profile.

     

    When each profile is connected to the common library on the external drive, and no longer referencing media on the internal, you can delete the old copies of the files to free up space.

     

    tt2

  • 10. Re: How Do I Move Users iTunes Music To Single Folder?
    MisterMojo Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Dad's library is already pointed to the external media folder and iTunes is working properly, so I think that I can skip the process described at the link you provided (unless I am missing something, of course).

     

    I am beginning to think that the easiest way to do this is to have separate media folders for each account on the separate drive. User libraries would remain on the internal drive. All I would need to confirm is:

     

    1. The best way to move the current media folders to the external drive.

     

    2. The easiest method for transferring music files between the media folders on the external drive.

  • 11. Re: How Do I Move Users iTunes Music To Single Folder?
    turingtest2 Level 8 Level 8 (46,570 points)

    An iTunes library has two main components. A database recording what is in the library, which tracks are in which playlists, ratings etc. plus media which is usually, though not always held with a single parent media folder. When you "point" iTunes at a new media folder the library files stay put (even if you consolidate the media) which usually leaves them inaccessible to other profiles on the same computer. The link shows how to move the library files back to their "normal" relationship with the media folder (which makes the library portable) which in turn makes it easier to connect to the same set of library files from any profile. With a library in a portable form it is easy to clone the one folder to take a backup and know that you can restore that backup to any convenient location as it will Just Worktm.

     

    You could simply move Dad's library files to any location visible from all profiles, e.g. the root of the system drive, but having them on the same external drives ensures you can accidentally open the library without the drive connected which resets the media folder and can cause another layer of confusion. If you are going to move the library files to the external you might as well get the added benefit of putting it all back in the right shape.

     

    tt2

  • 12. Re: How Do I Move Users iTunes Music To Single Folder?
    MisterMojo Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    After talking this over with "Dad" we decided to keep things simple. His music files will remain on the external drive; the other accounts will keep their media files on the internal drive. Dad's iTunes library will remain on the internal drive.  

     

    Dad has many GB of music files while the other accounts have minimal data. The original problem was that Dad's files were taking up too much space on the internal drive. That has been fixed. Attempting to consolidate and maintain a central media folder accessible by all accounts seems too complex and with potential problems.

  • 13. Re: How Do I Move Users iTunes Music To Single Folder?
    turingtest2 Level 8 Level 8 (46,570 points)

    MisterMojo wrote:

     

    .... Attempting to consolidate and maintain a central media folder accessible by all accounts seems too complex and with potential problems.

    Fair enough... As long as you turn off the Copy to iTunes Media folder when adding to library option the other accounts could still import any content they want from Dad's larger collection without cluttering up the internal.

     

    tt2

  • 14. Re: How Do I Move Users iTunes Music To Single Folder?
    MisterMojo Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    turingtest2 wrote:

     

    MisterMojo wrote:

     

    .... Attempting to consolidate and maintain a central media folder accessible by all accounts seems too complex and with potential problems.

    Fair enough... As long as you turn off the Copy to iTunes Media folder when adding to library option the other accounts could still import any content they want from Dad's larger collection without cluttering up the internal.

     

    tt2

     

    So the links to the music files would be added to their library without actually copying files? I assume that you use the "Add to library..." menu command.

     

    I must admit that I find iTunes something of a mystery. That link you posted was quite detailed but I couldn't wrap my brain around it. I am an intelligent guy but when it comes to this stuff I feel a bit thick!

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