How to Copy Your iTunes Library to Another Mac

| MGG Answers


Ben writes: I just purchased a new Mac with Lion and I’d like to migrate my iTunes library from my old Mac to the new one without upsetting my iOS syncing and having to “sync with a new library.” How might I make the transition so that my iOS devices don’t notice that anything has changed?

Migrating iTunes Library



Apple has made migrating both iTunes content and libraries fairly simple. First, on your old Mac, find your iTunes folder which is normally located in /Users/[username]/Music. Here you will find a folder called “iTunes” which contains your library data as well as your actual iTunes content by default. 

On your new Mac, close iTunes and then copy the old Mac’s iTunes folder to the same location on your new Mac (/Users/[username]/Music), overwriting any files on the new Mac if necessary. Please note that this will overwrite any library information that exists on the new Mac so it’s best to do this before building a library on the new machine.

If you have an existing library on the new Mac that you want to replace, delete the iTunes folder on the new Mac before copying the old Mac’s iTunes folder. This will help eliminate any issues when the new version of iTunes converts the library.

Finally, once the copy is complete, open iTunes. Depending on the size of your library, it may take a few minutes for iTunes to open as it assimilates the new library and upgrades it as necessary. Once open, you’ll be presented with your old library just as you left it: same playlists, same view settings, and, most importantly, the same iOS syncing abilities. Your iOS devices will not know the difference between your new Mac’s iTunes library and your old Mac’s library and will sync where you left off.

This question was originally answered on MGG 358: iTunes Fights My Firewall

About MGG Answers:

Each week Dave Hamilton and John F. Braun provide some great troubleshooting advice to listeners of the Mac Geek Gab podcast. Here with MGG Answers we share some of those tips with the rest of the world!

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Ross Edwards

Great article!

For those who have to brute-force an old library into an EXISTING new library that you don’t want to lose, as far as I know the “ol’ reliable” method is to copy the music files to the new Mac, say to the Downloads folder, load iTunes, Add To Library the root folder of the old music collection, and let iTunes ingest the files and find cover art and so on.  You’ll lose play counts, though, and if you don’t let iTunes manage your files, you’re in for a brutal time of lining stuff up in Finder.  On the plus side, the rest of your metadata in the music files should survive the process intact.


I love these MGG Answers AND if you don’t mind, I’d like to post a small request - can you give us an answer to do to IPHOTO what you just told us how to do with itunes?

My goal: a) take “some” of my iphotos that I have already edited on one mac and load them up in another iphoto app on a different mac (OS X Snowy not Lion for the time being). or b) take the WHOLE iphoto collection from one mac and load it up on a different mac.


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