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Point iTunes to External Drive

2547 Views 7 Replies Latest reply: Aug 25, 2012 4:20 PM by Limnos RSS
MJMP1 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
Currently Being Moderated
Aug 25, 2012 2:57 PM

I have my iTunes media on an external USB drive.  How do I make sure iTunes points to it (opens, saves, etc.)?



MacBook Pro, OS X Mountain Lion, 15inch, late-2011 model
  • Limnos Level 8 Level 8 (36,685 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 25, 2012 3:08 PM (in response to MJMP1)

    I was going to type a quick answer but now I think there is more of a situation here than at first appears.


    Do not copy just your media to an external hard drive with Finder.  iTunes will lose track of it.  If you have done this and it is not too late, put it back where you got it from.  Then move your whole library (which is a collection of files and folders that need to be kept together) as in:


    iTunes: How to move [or copy] your music to a new computer [or another drive] -


    Quick answer if you use iTunes' default preferences settings:  Copy the entire iTunes folder (and in doing so all its subfolders and files) intact to the other drive.  Open iTunes and immediately hold down the Option (alt) key (shift on Windows), then guide it to the new location of the library.

    Do not confuse moving your whole folder and library with moving just media files as in


    iTunes for Mac: Moving your iTunes Media folder -

  • Limnos Level 8 Level 8 (36,685 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 25, 2012 3:27 PM (in response to MJMP1)

    Did you move your media using the process as described in the link you show, or did you just drag it there in Finder?


    If you used the correct process then all future media should go to that location.


    If you did it in Finder, copy the rest of your iTunes library folder to the external and put that folder back inside of it in the location it belongs (see below).  Then start iTunes with the option key method described earlier.



    iTunes 9 [and later]: Understanding iTunes Media Organization -


    Image of iTunes folder structure Dec. 2011 -
    see also:
    Image of folder structure and explanation of different iTunes versions (turingtest2 post) - and


    Well worth reading if you are going to start experimenting with iTunes:

    What are all those iTunes files? -

  • Limnos Level 8 Level 8 (36,685 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 25, 2012 3:53 PM (in response to MJMP1)

    Using the process in that link all you did was move your media to the external drive.  The rest of your library (including the all imortant and everything-controlling library.itl file) was left behind on your internal drive.  If you no longer have that then all you have now is a bunch of media files, but not a "library" as such.  You will have to add the media fiiles back to a blank library to start afresh.  If this is the situation then post back before you do it and we can provide suggestions on how to do this so it ends up on the external drive (all of it this time).


    If you happen to have a backup of your old internal drive it may be possible to reconstruct the library using the backup.


    Read the links I provided earlier on how iTunes is really a group of files and folders working together.

  • Limnos Level 8 Level 8 (36,685 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 25, 2012 4:20 PM (in response to MJMP1)


    Please provide the steps and/or links to accomplish these steps.  Thanks!

    See paragraphs 3 & 4 of my first post (which include a link).


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