Previous 1 2 Next 21 Replies Latest reply: Dec 13, 2015 4:44 PM by Chris CA
velorob Level 1 Level 1

I have a Mac Mini that my iTunes Library has outgrown.  I want to use my Mac Air as my primary iTunes "sync" computer using an external hard drive. How do I move my iTunes library to the external hard drive? How do I get MacBook Air to sync iDevices?

Powerbook G4, Mac OS X (10.4.7), Ipod Nano with Nike +
  • dave261 Level 1 Level 1

    Go to iTunes Preferences and select Advanced. There you will see ITunes Media folder location. Click the Change button and select the external drive and directory where you wish to keep your media files. I would suggest you also check "Keep iTunes Media folder organized" and "Copy files to iTunes folder when adding to library".

  • velorob Level 1 Level 1

    Thanks Dave I did all that.  Now I have connected my MacBook Air to the external hard drive.  I opened up iTunes on my MacBook Air and went to Preferences and selected Advanced.  I chose the external hard drive that has the media in it as the iTunes Media Folder location.  However, when I load iTunes I can not see or access any of the media from iTunes.  Nor can I sync my ipod to them.  Am I missing a step?

  • dave261 Level 1 Level 1

    Have you actually populated the iTunes database? Although you physical media resides external to your Mac there still exists several files that remain resident on your system located at ~/Music/iTunes/... The file ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music Library.xml is the iTunes database file. This XML file contains all the goodies that make iTunes work. Another file of note is ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Library.itl which is the playlist pointer file.


    If you haven't done so open iTunes. From the File menu select Add To Library. Navigate to the external drive and directory that contains your iTunes files and click Open. I have named my external iTunes drive 'iTunes Media', the top level directory 'My Media' and the music directory 'Music'. In the Music directory are all the Artist names as directories that contain one or more sub directories, one for each CD by that artist. This is how iTunes organizes your tunes. So in my case i have the iTunes Media Folder location set to /Volumes/iTunes Media/My Media then select Add To Library from the Files menu and point to 'Music' directory mentioned above and click Open.  This will import into the iTunes Database your tunes.


    When you add new CD they should be placed on your external drive if you have the check box marked in iTunes Preferences Keep iTunes Media folder Organized and Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library.


    I host a jazz radio show and depend on iTunes to organize my music. My iTunes library is over 200 GB and growing. Over the years I have had to learn how to deal with it and have to say iTunes does a pretty good job. I hope this sheds some light on the issue at hand for you and gets you going. Let me know.


    If you continue to experience problems let me know the details and i'll try to help.


    Good luck.

  • Chris CA Level 9 Level 9

    Keep everything in the iTunes folder.

    Don't point the iTunes media folder to a different location. Too easy to mess stuff up.


    Do this...


    1. On the Mac mini, quit iTunes.
    2. Connect the external drive to the Mac mini.
    3. Copy the entire /Music/iTunes/ folder from the Mac mini to the external drive.
    4. Dsiconnect teh drive adn connect it to the MacBook Air.
    5. Hold Option, launch iTunes.
    6. Select Choose library... and select the iTunes folder on the external.


    This is all you need to do.Everything you sync'd to the iTunes library on the Mac mini will now sync to the same library on the MacBook Air.

  • Ravindra Holalkere Level 1 Level 1

    apart from what the other posters have said, you can read thru the following articles... I had followed the steps mentioned and had successfully moved iTunes library to an external drive and was also able to get iTunes to play from the drive (first from an external portable USB drive and second time from a Time Capsule).


    Now, the internal HD on my MBP is large enough to hold all my media content (128 GB and growing)...




  • Chris CA Level 9 Level 9

    "I had followed the steps mentioned and had successfully moved iTunes library"


    The articles you link to only move the media files not the iTunes library.

  • Ravindra Holalkere Level 1 Level 1
  • dave261 Level 1 Level 1

    I like this solution. One question. When using an alternate iTunes library and media will new additions go the that library and media or to the original iTunes library and media?

  • Chris CA Level 9 Level 9

    dave261 wrote:


    One question. When using an alternate iTunes library and media will new additions go the that library and media or to the original iTunes library and media?

    Everything happens only to the library you have open.

  • turingtest2 Level 9 Level 9

    velorob wrote:


    Am I missing a step?




    See Make a split library portable



  • Fanagut Level 1 Level 1
    Mac OS X

    @ Chris CA: Awesome! This was exactly what I needed to do. No messing around with edting and moving xml files, just hold down option when starting iTunes and it is all there, ratings, date added. I can now keep my enormous iTunes library because the SSD drive is not nearly enough.


    It ***** Apple hasnt made a bigger deal of this because it is super important to anyone transferring files from an old to a new computer.

    It should be an option you just click on when you open iTunes on a new computer.

  • Ho_agapetos Level 1 Level 1

    Dear Dave,


    I am a starter in the iTunes world having had an mp3 player. Due to lack of space on my laptop there is no point in starting any other way than having all the media files located on an external drive.


    From what I've read you know how to do this. Can you spare the time to explain? One person told me to use preferences, but all that happened was that I ended up with two locations for the actual media files: one in Music on the laptop and one on the external.


    Someone else said 'shift and open iTunes' to change library location. This failed because although the library ended up on the external, the media files, when I looked for them, were in Music on my laptop!


    I am going mad because I just want to set it up the way I mean to go on. Can you give any help?

  • Dorso Level 1 Level 1

    Hi Dave


    Could you please have a look at my recent posting when you get a chance?..You seem like an itunes Yoda and I could with some help to rectify my sitaution...I thought I was a confident and competent itunes user until today when I seem to have got myself completely muddled up after running a tidy library for years!

  • turingtest2 Level 9 Level 9

    Easy method 1:

    Move or Copy entire working library from current location to the root of your external drive. Press & hold down shift (option on a Mac) as you click the icon to start iTunes. Click Choose when prompted, then browse to ..\iTunes\iTunes Library.itl on the external. If you copied the library across then test your new library works properly after renaming the original folder, before deleting the original folder to recover space.


    Easy method 2:

    If you haven't really started to build your library. Press & hold down shift as you click the icon to start iTunes. Click Create. Browse to the root of the external drive. Drag your media into ..\iTunes\iTunes Media\Automatically Add to iTunes.


    Complex method:

    Required if you've already tried other things and now have media & library scattered around. See the post make a split library portable.



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