• How To Move iTunes Library & Music From One Computer To Another - Part I

    The Computer Audiophile Academy is back in session with a little series about moving iTunes libraries and music from an old computer to a new computer. In addition to moving the library and music is a little primer on what the iTunes LIbrary is and how it's different from the iTunes music files / folder.
    Re-ripping music on a new computer is not the end of the world although it's highly undesirable. Worse than re-ripping is playing the role of music librarian if forced to add album art and tags to those re-ripped albums. That can literally take five times longer than ripping if a collection doesn't contain "popular" music.
    To simplify life for all the readers who've recently discussed this type of iTunes move I will publish videos demonstrating how to accomplish this without losing a single bit of information. There are a few reasonable combinations to cover in this series. For example, local library and local music files, local library with externally stored music files, and externally stored library with externally stored music files. This first video covers the local/local configuration. This is the most popular and default iTunes configuration.



    One thing for beginners to keep in mind throughout the series is the difference between the iTunes Library and the iTunes Music Folder. The iTunes Library is a file(s) that contains a list of your music, its location, and additional data about the music. The iTunes Music Folder is the location of all your music. This Music Folder is set in the iTunes Preferences Advanced Tab.


    iTunes Music Folder Location

    Default location for Mac OS X: /Users/username/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music

    Default location for Windows Vista: usernameMusiciTunesiTunes Music

    Default location for Windows XP and Windows 2000: Documents and SettingsusernameMy DocumentsMy MusiciTunesiTunes Music


    iTunes Music Folder Preferences
    iTunes Music Folder Preferences
    click to enlarge



    iTunes Library File Location and Explanation


    Default Locations

    Default location for Mac OS X:?/Users/username/Music/iTunes/iTunes Library ?/Users/username/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music Library.xml??

    Default location for Windows Vista: usernameMusiciTunesiTunes Library.itl usernameMusiciTunesiTunes Music Library.xml

    Default location for Windows XP and Windows 2000:?Documents and SettingsusernameMy DocumentsMy MusiciTunesiTunes Library.itl ?Documents and SettingsusernameMy DocumentsMy MusiciTunesiTunes Music Library.xml




    According to Apple the purposes of these Library files include:
    iTunes Library (iTunes Library.itl in Windows)
    This file is a database of the songs in your library and the playlists you've created. Some song-specific data is saved in this file. If you delete the file, iTunes creates a new, empty copy when you open the application, but any playlists, song ratings, comments, or other information you created is lost. The iTunes Library file is only used by iTunes.

    Note: The library file name for versions of iTunes prior to 4.9 was "iTunes 4 Music Library" for Mac OS X and "iTunes 4 Music Library.itl" for Windows. After upgrading to iTunes 4.9 or later, the older library files are moved to a "Previous iTunes Libraries" folder.

    Tip: New versions of iTunes sometimes include enhancements to the iTunes library. When you open the new version of iTunes, iTunes upgrades your existing library to the new format and places a copy of the old library in the Previous Libraries folder. If everything goes fine during your upgrade to the latest version of iTunes, you can delete the older iTunes Library files.


    iTunes Music Library.xml
    This file contains some (but not all) of the same information stored in the iTunes Library file. The purpose of the iTunes Music Library.xml file is to make your music and playlists available to other applications on your computer. In Mac OS X other iLife applications (like iPhoto, iDVD, and iMovie) use this file to make it easier for you to add music from your iTunes library to your projects.





    Moving Local Library & Local Music From One Computer to Another



    High Resolution 1280 x 800 version 12.04 MB


    Comments 33 Comments
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi rydenfan - Believe e I had you in mind when creating this series of articles :~)<br />
      <br />
      I believe I will cover your situation when discussing the local library with external music files. Correct?
    1. rydenfan's Avatar
      rydenfan -
      Yes, Chris. That is absolutely correct I will be most interested when you cover that!
    1. wacksman's Avatar
      wacksman -
      Chris, I'm sure you've answered this a million times, but does the above procedure work for moving the library to a different location on the same computer? For instance, if I want to move a current iTunes library from the internal hard drive (which is running out of space) to an external hard drive? I'm concerned about losing dozens of hours worth of album art fixes more than anything else. Seems like the Apple database technology to support user tags and album art is confusing and makes it hard for users to do this work once and then be ensured that it can easily be moved to other computers, hard drives, etc. in the future.
    1. One and a half's Avatar
      One and a half -
      By the ominous Part 1, I gather there will be ventures to:<br />
      <br />
      - Move itunes from PC to Mac (or vice versa?)<br />
      - Moving Shared libraries<br />
      <br />
    1. MrRalph's Avatar
      MrRalph -
      Hi Chris, thanks for this. <br />
      <br />
      What might be a good addition is to explore "The iTunes Library is a file(s) that ... and additional data about the music". If I use Itunes to tag my music (Apple Lossless), it's my assumption that all meta data is writen in the music files themselfs. Or do some tags only get updated in the library file? So that using the music files with another player requires partialy re-tagging?<br />
      <br />
      Thanks, Ralph
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi MrRalph - I believe you are correct. Some files get embedded meta data and others do not. For example Apple Lossless will keep all the meta data in the file. WAV will keep nothing in the file. Partial re-tagging is necessary sometimes.
    1. mdunjic's Avatar
      mdunjic -
      Hi<br />
      I have around 7600 Wav / Aiff files rich iTunes library on Mac Mini hooked up to my main hi-fi system. All Wav and Aiff music files are physically located on the external USB hard disk drive folder and Mac Mini iTunes Music Folder points to that location on external hard drive. I have set iTunes to point to that location from the very beginning and I have ripped all of my 700 CDs without compression. It works great.<br />
      <br />
      Now I would like to 'clone' that setup on a portable 500 GB USB hard disc and carry it with me and play on my MacBook laptop iTunes in the office. How to do that properly and preserve original info on my Mac Book iTunes that I have on Mac Mini iTunes? <br />
    1. audiozorro's Avatar
      audiozorro -
      I often commented on how iTunes and Mac computers are so easy to setup and use. That premise quickly falls apart if you need to import an existing music library from another player/database program with all the metadata and album art into iTunes. This is extremely frustrating since any database should be able to exchange data with another database by either importing or exporting the data.<br />
      <br />
      I know someone mentioned a program called TuneUp that helps, but still requires several hoops and partial metadata editing. Regardless, I have accepted re-ripping any CDs as the guaranteed method to get things right.<br />
      <br />
      Yesterday, I thought I would try converting my iTunes music library that consists of lossless AIFF files on a 500 GB hard drive to a lossy format, MP3 or AAC, so I could fit most if not all of my music on the portable iPod. I used the Max software for the conversion thinking it was the best tool to use. All my tracks were converted but unfortunately none of the metadata or album art carried over. So now I have no association between music tracks and albums and thus for example all the track 01 files will play before any of the track 02 files, even though the directory file structure of artists, albums, and tracks is still intact.<br />
      <br />
      The only reason this is is not a disaster is that my AIFF music library is backed up in several places. But my question is what software and method should I be using to convert my iTunes library, that preserves the metadata and album art? I hate to think I would have to re-rip to get everything for the lowly lossy formats.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      I've marked this a priority. I'll get the second installment published shortly :~)
    1. audiozorro's Avatar
      audiozorro -
      Thanks Chris. I found an article that explained how to do the conversion within iTunes. I'm not sure why the conversions using Max do not carry the associated metadata and album art from the original audio file to the converted file.<br />
      <br />
      The larger import issue into iTunes is still a concern. Say I have been using MediaMonkey for years, my CDs have been ripped with dBPoweramp and my music library has all the associated metadata and album art. Now I find out that Amarra on my Mac sounds much better than MediaMonkey on my Windows computer. I want to switch but re-ripping 1000+ CDs is too much work and manual tagging and library editing is worse. <br />
      <br />
      I look forward to hearing your suggestions in Part II.
    1. StephanLJ's Avatar
      StephanLJ -
      Hi Chris,<br />
      <br />
      with the German keyboard you have to press ctrl and alt in order to choose your library in iTunes. I had to move my iTunes music to a different computer and your video did help a lot but when I pressed Option/Alt iTunes starts in a secured mode.<br />
      <br />
      Greetings and thank you<br />
      <br />
    1. ciamara's Avatar
      ciamara -
      Chris,<br />
      <br />
      Thank you very much for this instruction set. I just installed Snow Leopard last night (re-formatted hard Mac HD and installed clean), and this tip really helped me. Excellent!<br />
      <br />
    1. percyhu's Avatar
      percyhu -
      What i am using is Aniosoft iTunes transfer, i think it's worthwhile to use a program to transfer your iTunes library from one computer to another one since you requirement that the playlists,ratings should be retained. On the third-party program i would like to recommend Aniosoft iTunes transfer,with which you can not only backup your iTunes library but also in a proper way with the library's internal metadate,playlists,ratings and etc which you required. The backup files of iTunes library could be able to be recovered and restored later to any iTunes(authorized or not) W/out any change and risk in itunes'layout and arangement including its playlists simlpy through synchronizing it to the iTunes whenever needed.So try the Aniosoft iTunes transfer and it'll possibly work out for you.<br />
      more details at<br />
    1. mdunjic's Avatar
      mdunjic -
      Just curious if you are going to publish Part 2 and when?
    1. matossan's Avatar
      matossan -
      Thanks Chris for this additional explanations. I however have a more specific question pertaining to my playlists. I recently upgraded my system with a NAS raid 5. I use to have my music on a EAS (Raid 0) but when i made the switch Itunes could not find anymore the path of my music (despite changing the path in the preferences menu). I am now looking at re-loading my library in asking Itunes to rebuild the path by itself. Now if I do that, I am more likely going to loose my numerous playlists which is a bummer. Do you know where the playlist resides? in the XML or ITB files? How would you proceed here?<br />
      <br />
      Thanks for your help<br />
      <br />
    1. VT Skier's Avatar
      VT Skier -
      Chris, such a great article, thank you for this. <br />
      <br />
      I followed your instructions last night and my music had been moved from my old XP laptop to my WD portable drive this morning. This will make my move to a new laptop so much easier.
    1. uncle's Avatar
      uncle -
      Thanks for sharing this great info<br />
      <br />
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    1. sjohnson's Avatar
      sjohnson -
      This may have been documented elsewhere and the original question is an old post but the instructions in this site worked for me...<br />
      <br />
      http://lifehacker.com/238296/ultranewb--how-to-move-your-itunes-library-to-an-external-drive<br />
      <br />
      Key is pointing iTunes to the library file if you also want that moved from the previous location. To do so hold down shift or option (mac) while starting iTunes. A dialog will then ask you to choose the library file location.<br />
      <br />
    1. scottkt602's Avatar
      scottkt602 -
      Hello,<br />
      It seems complicated. I heard that using <a href="http://www.ipod-to-computer.net/itunes-transfer.html">iTunes Transfer</a> is an easy way to move iTunes files from one computer to another.<br />
      <br />
      If you don't believe, you can read the post - <a href="http://ipodbackup.ipod-to-computer.net/how-to-transfer-itunes-to-another-computer.html">Transfer iTunes to another computer</a>.
    1. new_media's Avatar
      new_media -
      I want to move my iTunes library to an external HD because I've pretty much filled up the drive in my Mac.<br />
      <br />
      Is it as simple as changing the library location to the new drive and then telling iTunes to "consolidate" the library in the new location?