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Move iTunes library to external hard drive?

119646 Views 75 Replies Latest reply: Apr 17, 2014 11:21 PM by Aprilstern RSS
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mac4mark Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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Dec 11, 2012 8:57 AM

I want to free space on my hard drive by moving my iTunes library to an external harddrive any suggestions? Warnings?  I have bought a Lacie 1TB  portable for this.

MacBook Pro, OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.2)
  • Malignance Level 4 Level 4 (3,375 points)
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    Dec 11, 2012 9:03 AM (in response to mac4mark)

    You can safely move the iTunes Media Folder to an external drive to free up space.


    Instructions >


    Follow them to the letter is my only suggestion.


    Hope that helps

  • Limnos Level 8 Level 8 (36,650 points)
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    Dec 11, 2012 9:44 AM (in response to mac4mark)

    There's a difference between moving your iTunes media to a different drive (reference in another post) and moving your whole iTunes library.  It's up to you but some prefer to keep it all intact versus media on one drive and library files on another.


    iTunes: How to move [or copy] your music [library] to a new computer [or another drive] - - a somewhat bewildering and not always easily understandable set of options.


    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 iTunes Library.itl file in the moved iTunes folder.
    For the record there's this reference for iTunes 11 but it really doesn't strike me as having the specifics you need. iTunes 11 for Mac: Move your library to another computer -

  • JF Level 2 Level 2 (155 points)
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    Dec 19, 2012 3:38 PM (in response to Limnos)

    Ding ding ding! We have a winner. Sheesh, wish I woulda read @Limnos answer 30 minutes ago. It's complicated so I won't explain how I ended up as I did, but basically I had my home dir on one drive (iMac), and my 250GB iTunes library on an external drive. None of this business about re-organizing libraries and the like did anything.


    All it takes is as Limnos said - hold the Option key down, start iTunes, and point it to the existing "iTunes Media" folder. Voila! Thanks for sharing.

  • Clatty Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Jan 28, 2013 5:14 AM (in response to Limnos)

    I guess by moving it off your apple procDuct to a separate drive you lose the ability to access it on Apple TV via ICloud? 

    Or once it's purchased it stays in the cloud.

    Just looking I to my options as my HD is full because if media content

  • Bazdaz Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Mar 28, 2013 9:27 AM (in response to Limnos)

    Many thanks - this worked brilliantly on my PC.

  • ihscorey Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Mar 31, 2013 4:12 PM (in response to Limnos)

    This worked wonderfully.



  • Nick Sanchez Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Apr 30, 2013 1:21 PM (in response to Limnos)

    Thanks Limnos! Worked perfectly (Quick answer...)

  • esteban_morientes Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    May 25, 2013 6:41 AM (in response to Limnos)

    Hi Limnos, works like a charm within 2 seconds. You're the man! Thanks!

  • irishgrad1998 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Jun 16, 2013 8:55 AM (in response to Limnos)

    To be clear, on a PC you press the SHIFT key while starting iTunes. Not sure what the reference to alt is all about.

  • MatthewUK Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Jun 22, 2013 7:00 AM (in response to irishgrad1998)

    The reference to "Alt" was for Mac OS X. The quote was:


       "Open iTunes and immediately hold down the Option (alt) key (shift on Windows)"


    On many current Apple keyboards, the Option key only has an Option symbol, but no "Option" word printed. Instead, the word "Alt" appears.


    On Windows, use the Shift key, as the quote suggested.

  • msgufo Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Jun 23, 2013 9:28 AM (in response to mac4mark)

    similar dilema:  got Mac Mini 500GB to load CD collection in AIFF for best qual.  Probably gonna go over 500GB I'm about 1/4 way thru and at 90GB.  I wanna keep my collection intact on this mini for convienence sake.  I do have a 1TB and a 2TB external. 


    Question:  Should I fill up the mini then switch over to external?  Or should I change my iTunes destination to an external now, move whats on the mini and keep filling up the mini then when its full go over to one of the externals, have part of library on the mini then the rest on an external?


    Do I risk scattering/fragmenting my library by moving it?  Should I just do it now since it's early in the process?  Thanks for any input

  • cehtmsatis Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Sep 25, 2013 2:00 AM (in response to mac4mark)

    You can follow these steps to move iTunes Library to external hard drive.

    1. To move your collections to another location, open iTunes “Preferences”.

    2. Go to the “Advanced” tab and click the “Change” button for “iTunes Media folder location“.

    3. Browse to the new location where you want to put your collection. Create a new folder if you have to.

    4. After you click “Create“, iTunes will update the library.

    5. Now you have assigned a new location to store your collection, but the multimedia files are still in the old location. To move them to the new location, you have to consolidate them. Go to “File – Library – Organize Library” menu (similar under both Windows and Mac).

    6. Check the “Consolidate files” box and click “OK“. If you’ve organized your files in the iTunes Music folder before, the second box will be greyed out.

    7. Then the waiting game will begin – iTunes will copy all the files inside the iTunes Music folder to the new location. The process could take a while depending on how large your collection is.

    8. Now that your collection is safely stored in the external hard drive (or another location that you chose), you can delete (some of) the files at the old location to free up some space in your hard drive. You can keep your favorite songs/movies so you still can play them even without the external drive.

    If you want to free space from iTunes Library, you can read this tutorial about freeing space in iTunes Library if disk get full.

  • JasonWright92 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Oct 22, 2013 2:10 PM (in response to Limnos)

    this might sound stupid but that is only copying files to external drive right ? do i then delete the files from my computer to free up the space ?

  • emihill Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Oct 30, 2013 10:24 AM (in response to mac4mark)

    Just tried @Limnos' suggestion and it worked beautifully on my Windows machine. Thank you!!!

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