8 Replies Latest reply: Feb 4, 2013 2:36 PM by BüliMike
Eddie Strauss Level 3 Level 3 (990 points)

My main library files are on the Computer HD. My music files are on an external drive. I just bought a larger external drive.


I know in the advanced tab I can tell iTunes about the change of location. As far as I know any future imports will go to the new location. But I have already copied over all the music files. How do I tell iTunes to just use those instead of the previous location?



I keep the main library files on the Computer HD because iTunes is getting really sluggish with almost 3TB of lossless music. I thought I'd gain a little speed if iTunes didn't have to access an external drive for database info. Is this sound thinking?

Unibody 17 matte, Mac Pro Quad core, Mac OS X (10.7)
  • Limnos Level 8 Level 8 (44,675 points)

    I have already copied over all the music files. How do I tell iTunes to just use those instead of the previous location?



    I keep the main library files on the Computer HD because iTunes is getting really sluggish with almost 3TB of lossless music. I thought I'd gain a little speed if iTunes didn't have to access an external drive for database info. Is this sound thinking?

    You're now discovering the problem with having the database on one drive and the media on another.  iTunes cannot track simply dragging media folders around very well, and that definitely applies when dragging them to other drives.  If the whole collection is self-contained as it is in the iTunes folder with default settings ("portable" as turingtest2 likes to put it) you can move it around by dragging the whole iTunes folder from place to place and just telling iTunes when it starts up (hold down option key) where the desired library is located.


    The only way I can think of to fix the links where they sit now is one you might not like. It would involve doing a global replace of the path string in the .xml version of the library file, then rebuilding the library using that.  the problem is, I don't think the .xml version contain all of the information the .itl file contains. I am not sure exactly where it differs though (just going by what is often reported here).


    You might just end up having to let iTunes do the moving by re-assigning the media folder location in iTunes preferences, then when it asks you if you want to move your current media to the new location do so.  Either that or consolidate your media to the new location as a stand-alone step.

  • Eddie Strauss Level 3 Level 3 (990 points)

    Good call. I think now I'll move the Library files to the external drive with the Media. Anything I should know about doing this?

  • Limnos Level 8 Level 8 (44,675 points)

    Okay, I am going to start experimenting here and am not sure these will 100% work.  Again, I am going on the basis of what others have mentioned and as I remember it.  You might want to make sure you back up first.


    This one is going back to your first situation and just leaving media and library separate. Start with just the new drive connected.  When you try to play a file iTunes will complain about a broken link and ask if you want to locate it.  Say 'yes' and then track down the file on the new drive.  I think iTunes will then ask if you want to find others based on these information for that file.  If you have let iTunes organize your media it might, just might, find the others on that particular drive based upon them being structured as it likes but just the drive name is wrong.


    If the above does not work, I think you're going to end up having to copy all the media files again.  You can do this as I mentioned in my earlier post and just leave the library (database) where it is, or you can try unifying your iTunes files and media.  To do the latter it might work to copy the iTunes folder from your internal to the new drive.  Hold down the option key while starting iTunes and tell it to use the library on the new drive.  While there, have iTunes reset its media folder preferences to default.  It should make this a media folder on the same drive (the new one) as the library file, then let it copy items.


    Here are links on how folders are structured when iTunes is doing what it wants to, and a bit about how it works:


    Image of folder structure and explanation of different iTunes versions (turingtest2 post) - https://discussions.apple.com/message/13025536 and https://discussions.apple.com/message/17457605


    What are the iTunes library files? - http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1660


    More on iTunes library files and what they do - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITunes#Media_management


    What are all those iTunes files? - http://www.macworld.com/article/139974/2009/04/itunes_files.html

  • Eddie Strauss Level 3 Level 3 (990 points)

    I moved the iTues library to the new drive with all the music files. When I chose that library and selected a song to play there was an "!". I chose to find that file - which I could because it is there - and then selected having iTunes reconnect all the files. It's doing that now. Taking forever of course because i have so many.


    I'll let you know. That's your first suggestion but the library file is already there. I think this will work.

  • Limnos Level 8 Level 8 (44,675 points)

    Okay, but to make the library portable the library file and everrything need to be inside the iTunes folder.  Right now I suspect you have it alongside the Media folder which mean if you needed to move this again at some stage you will have to do all the re-linking again.  However, if you simply move the media folder to inside the iTunes folder I am worried it might just break all the links again.


    I have it set up on my computer so I manually manage music and when you do that a lot of the things you cannot do with iTunes (like manually moving media around on a drive) disappear, but then some of the things itunes would do automatically don't work either.  It just means I have the work from theory when solving some issues for others.

  • Eddie Strauss Level 3 Level 3 (990 points)

    Working great! I kept the structure exactly the same as it looks in the main HD iTunes folder. The difference is that inside that Media folder the Music folder was empty. I did that on purpose so that all the music files could reside on an external drive - and I pointed iTunes to that.


    I copied the iTunes folder I was using over to the external drive. Then I moved all the music files inside that Media -> Music folder. Then your advice kicked in, which I already knew how to do..


    I selected the first "!". I found that exact track inside the music folder and agreed to let iTunes find and fix all the rest. It worked. In fact I did this with two separate libraries. I have a lot of music.



    Thanks so much for working with me. You were indeed helpful and I hope they have credited you for that.

  • Limnos Level 8 Level 8 (44,675 points)

    Eddie Strauss wrote:


    Working great!

    Wonderful! It's nice when you get it to the stage where iTunes can fix the broken links on its own.


    Thanks so much for working with me. You were indeed helpful and I hope they have credited you for that.

    Well, not "they". Apple Support Communities Reputation Overview - https://discussions.apple.com/static/apple/tutorial/reputation.html

  • BüliMike Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    After browsing the discussion base for some hours.... it seems that I have found at least someone with a similar issue than I have.... As Eddie explained, he had (and wanted to keep) the library on the internal HD and wanted to move all his sound files to a new Ext.HD, without loosing all the information of his old library. He managed to do that with the tipps and tricks of Limnos.

    Now, my issue is similar: my iTunes library is on my old powerbook and I want to move it to my account on our new iMac (one iMac 27 late 2012, two users). My sound files are partially on the old powerbook and mainly on the external HD (the one which I want to continue to use with the iMac). Although I have read the article on Apple's support page on how to move an iTunes library.... I doubt that I want to have my library managed automatically by iTunes, because I want to keep track myself on the relevant sound files I added to the library.

    So... I guess I want to first move the sound files from my old powerbook to the external HD (so that all sound files are on the ext.HD => now the same set-up as Eddie uses, I understand), however, iTunes should continue to recognise the place were they are stored (new place!) and also the relevant sound information (ratings, etc.). I think that this is the complicated part. As I understood Limnos tipp correctly, I should - after I moved the sound files (by dragging and dropping) to the external HD - open iTunes and go to the first sound entry with an "!" and then show iTunes where the original file (now) is, i.e. on the external HD. iTunes then will apply this logic to all other files with "!" and should fix this issue by itself..... if I understood correctly, this is it, right?

    Secondly, I then want to move the existing iTunes library file from the powerbook to the new iMac. Of course also with this step, iTunes should of course not lose track of the places and the relevant information. Is the assumption right that I then should only repeat the steps as described above and when opening iTunes on the new iMac (perhaps pointing the new iTunes app to the relevant iTunes library which I now copied to the new iMac), just open the first file with an "!" and then browse to the relevant original file (on the external HD), and then..... miracle..... iTunes should fix all the broken links by itself again.


    Do you think this assumption would be right and could be a solution to my issue?


    Although the above discussion is already 6 months old..... I would be gratefull for an answer


    Thanks Mike