Save Disk Space by Running iTunes Across Multiple Drives

October 6, 2011, By Christian Cawley

Music lovers will no doubt have a hard disk drive jam-packed with great tunes. As a result, easing the load on your hard disk drive might prove tricky. After all, there’s no way to make iTunes work with music files stored elsewhere, is there?

Well, yes there is.

Thanks to the excellent TuneSpan app (currently in beta and available from you can manage your iTunes library so that it will work in a whole new way, by playing back tracks that have been copied to an external HDD.

The idea of this app is that you install it, choose the files you want to move and then use iTunes as normal whether your external disk drive is connected or not!


How to Use TuneSpan

Once you have downloaded TuneSpan, you will need to install it to your Mac. With this step completed, launch the app and with your external drive connected, select this within TuneSpan as the location you wish to span your content to.

All you need to do then is select, drag and drop the tracks, albums or complete works of a particular artist down to the bottom of the screen, where you should find a grey bar which shows how much space is being freed up.

Beginning the Spanning Process

You can span as many tracks as you like to your external disk drive, and at any time you can stop to review the items you’re preparing to move by pressing COMMAND+B. Press this again to return to the library and begin preparing more files if necessary.

When you’re ready, click the Span button; a warning will appear, explaining what will happen and what you shouldn’t do when the process is in operation. For instance, you shouldn’t be listening to iTunes as this will slow things down considerably.

Click Span again to continue, and this will begin the process.

Using TuneSpan

The benefit of TuneSpan is that you can use iTunes regardless of whether the external drive that stores some of your tunes is connected to your computer. The advantage here is obvious, so it makes sense to consider this solution if you recognize that migrating your library (or less-regularly used parts of it) is a step needs to be taken.

Using TuneSpan means updating your iTunes library to re-detect the moved data, and when the external drive isn’t present you configure TuneSpan to advise which tunes you won’t be able to enjoy. This is done via TuneSpan > Preferences > TuneSpan Helper – look for the Show “Tracks Unavailable” alert when: box, and select iTunes Launches.

You can also use the TuneSpan Helper to configure some useful options: set Allow to always run and Auto launch at login to Yes, then restart the application, selecting Allow in the popup.

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