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Move Your iTunes Library

TMO Quick Tip - Move Your iTunes Library

by , 7:30 AM EST, November 27th, 2006

If your iTunes library has grown to the point that it's time to move it to a different hard drive instead of keeping it in your Home directory, you don't need to worry about tracking down hidden linking files or typing cryptic Unix commands. iTunes 7 takes care of the dirty work for you, and there are only a couple of steps you need to follow.

  • If iTunes is running, be sure to quit it.
  • Now start by copying your iTunes music library to the hard drive you want it to live on. You only need to move the iTunes Music folder that's in Users/your home directory/Music/iTunes.

  • Only move the iTunes Music directory.
  • After your music library finishes copying to its new location, launch iTunes and choose iTunes > Preferences.
  • Click Advanced, and then select the General tab.
  • Click the Change button next to iTunes Music folder location, and navigate to the new location of your music library. After you finish selecting your music library folder, click the OK button to close the Preferences window.

Select the new location for your music folder in the iTunes Advanced preferences.

Once iTunes knows where your new music library location is, it's okay to delete the original iTunes Music folder from your hard drive - just be sure you are deleting the original folder, and not the one you just selected in the iTunes preferences.

I moved my iTunes library off of my PowerBook's hard drive and to an external drive to free up space for projects and applications - it clocks in at about 21GB. That's paltry compared to some music libraries that take up far more storage space than a laptop's built-in hard drive can handle, and that's another good reason to move your tunes to a different drive.

The downside is that you can't listen to your ripped or downloaded music in iTunes if the drive with your iTunes Music directory isn't available. For example, when I travel, my music hard drive stays behind at the office, so I can't listen to music in iTunes. When I get back, I plug the drive in and my music is available again. Since I travel with an iPod, that's not a big deal for me.

If you happen to add music to iTunes when your music library isn't available, you'll probably want to consolidate everything once your music drive is connected again. Check out this Quick Tip to see how.


Jeff Gamet is TMO's Morning Editor and Reviews Editor. He lectures, teaches and speaks on Mac OS X and design-related topics, and is the author of The Designer's Guide to Mac OS X from Peachpit Press.

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