Moving Your iTunes Library on Mac OS X

July 14, 2011, By Christian Cawley

If you feel that you’re running out of space on your hard drive for your iTunes library, you can easily move it to an external drive or a larger partition by using some useful built in tools in Mac OS X.

After all, if you’re a music lover then you collection probably just keeps on growing, and while this is a natural effect of listening to more and more new music, you can end up with a collection whose size defies all reason!

Before starting, make sure you have enough hard disk space to handle your migrated iTunes library data – after all, you wouldn’t want to go to all of this trouble only to find that the destination drive was too small! You can do this by connecting your external hard disk drive or by opening the existing alternative volume in the Finder, and clicking APPLE+I to display the capacity and current available space.

Moving iTunes library on Mac OS X

Preparing iTunes Data for Transfer

In order to ready your data for transfer, you will need to ensure that it is all in the same place. This isn’t completely necessary but it certainly makes things a lot easier.

In iTunes, open iTunes > Preferences and on the Advanced tab find and check the Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library option. Click OK to proceed, and then open File > Library; next, select Organize Library.

Here you will notice a couple of options, one labeled Consolidate files and a second labeled Reorganize files in the folder “iTunes Media”. If both of these options can be checked then do so, otherwise just select Consolidate files and click OK.

Performing these steps will tidy your iTunes library and move it all into a single location.

Finding Your Data and Copying It

Your next step is to find the consolidated data folder so that you can copy it to your new storage. Begin by closing iTunes, as moving the library while the app is open is not possible. You should also disconnect any iPods, iPhones or iPads that you have connected in case they prompt iTunes to reopen.

Next, open Finder and find Music under Places in the left-hand pane. This should be where your iTunes library is found (if not, Preferences > Advanced in iTunes lists the correct directory path) and all you need to do now is drag the data to its new location.

Again, size issues may play a part in this, as might the speed of your external device and the connecting cable. A big multi-gigabyte folder of music will take a while to copy across, and this low speed will be exacerbated by a USB external device with a slow USB cable. For the best results, Firewire or eSATA drives should be used for a fast transfer of data.

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