How to move an iTunes library in 2011

It’s amazing, considering how invested Apple wants us to get in iTunes playlists, play counts, ratings, etc., how hard it is to move all that stuff when you need to move your media files. These instructions may work for some people in some situations, but they never worked for me. After having screwed this up a couple of times, I’ve got a system that seems to work whether you’re moving your files to a new drive, a new computer, or even from Windows to Mac. Based on this, this, and this.

   <key>Track ID</key><integer>20376</integer>
   <key>Name</key><string>Don't Let Me Lose This Dream</string>
   <key>Artist</key><string>Aretha Franklin</string>
   <key>Album Artist</key><string>Aretha Franklin</string>
   <key>Composer</key><string>Aretha Franklin/Teddy White</string>
   <key>Album</key><string>I Never Loved A Man The Way I Loved You</string>
   <key>Kind</key><string>MPEG audio file</string>
   <key>Total Time</key><integer>139728</integer>
   <key>Track Number</key><integer>5</integer>
   <key>Date Modified</key><date>2009-05-20T14:06:57Z</date>
   <key>Date Added</key><date>2010-10-19T02:02:06Z</date>
   <key>Bit Rate</key><integer>192</integer>
   <key>Sample Rate</key><integer>44100</integer>
   <key>Play Count</key><integer>3</integer>
   <key>Play Date</key><integer>3388003973</integer>
   <key>Play Date UTC</key><date>2011-05-12T04:12:53Z</date>
   <key>Persistent ID</key><string>151E35E000A507A9</string>
   <key>Track Type</key><string>File</string>
   <key>Location</key><string>file://localhost/C:/Users/alesh/Music/MUSIC A/Aretha Franklin - I Never Loved A Man The Way I Loved You/05 - Don't Let Me Lose This Dream - Aretha Franklin.mp3.mp3</string></string>
    <key>File Folder Count</key><integer>-1</integer>
   <key>Library Folder Count</key><integer>-1</integer>

Let’s pause here a second and consider that “Import Playlist” command. Apple chose to call it that instead of “Import Library,” making it completely non-transparent to a casual observer that there’s even a way to move a library from one place to another. Shame on you, Apple, for (a) not making this whole process automatic and/or easier, (b) playing coy about the fact that it can be done at all, and © changing how it works from one version of iTunes to another. Rant over.

Please let me know if I’ve missed anything, or if this information is incomplete — I’ll be updating this file as necessary.

Posted: Wednesday August 10, 2011 by Alesh Houdek · · Comment feed for this post: RSS, atom



  1. Alex    Aug 22, 11:08 AM #  

    Just saw this now and not sure if it still works, but every time I’ve had to move music from one computer to another, I simply copy my iTunes library backup (which I have on an external drive) to the new computer, replacing the default one. As long as my user name is the same, it works. (It’s always been Mac to Mac, should be noted.)

  2. alesh    Aug 22, 07:29 PM #  

    That’ll work if (a) you’re on the same platform and (b) the location of the files is always the same. I’m on a (brand new!) Mac mini, and I’ve moved my home directory to a 3TB external drive (time will tell if this was a wise approach), so it’s been rough. But I think that as apple becomes more air-centric and music libraries grow (which, maybe they’ll just move to the cloud?), this’ll only become more of an issue.

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