Tech Tip: Relocating an iTunes Library



Q. My computer’s hard drive is overloaded, largely because of my huge iTunes library, which is scattered all over. Instead of paying for cloud storage, I would like to move all the multimedia files to an external drive so I can delete them from my PC. What’s the best way to proceed?

A. Before you move your media collection, start by backing up your computer in its current state to your regular backup drive as a safety precaution. After you complete the backup, make sure everything listed in iTunes is actually in your iTunes media library. To do that, open the iTunes program on your PC, and display the menu bar if it isn’t already displayed. Press the Alt key (or the Control and B keys) to reveal it.

Go in the File menu to Library and on the submenu, choose Organize Library. A box appears on screen with a “Consolidate files” option. When you select “Consolidate files” and click the O.K. button, the program scans your hard drive for any songs or videos in your collection that are not stored within the iTunes folder. It then makes a copy for the iTunes Media folder and leaves the original file where it was.


On a Windows PC, hold down the Shift key as iTunes starts up to get the box for choosing an existing media library or creating a new one. Mac users should hold down the Option key as iTunes starts to see the same box.

The New York Times

Once you have consolidated your collection into one place (and have backed it up), you can move it to the new drive. Quit the iTunes program and go to the place on your hard drive where your iTunes folder lives. Drag the folder called iTunes to your external drive to copy it over. This may take some time, especially if you have a large library. You may have to enter an administrator password.

Once the iTunes folder has fully copied over to the external drive, point the iTunes program on the PC to the library’s new location. Hold down the Shift key (or the Option key on a Mac) as you click the icon to start the iTunes program. The “Choose iTunes Library” box opens.

Click the Choose Library button, go through the navigation windows to the external drive and open the iTunes folder you just copied. Within the iTunes folder, select the iTunes.itl file. The program should open with your newly transferred collection. Check over your library to make sure everything seems to be in order and play a few selections.

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