Is your iTunes library getting a little too big for your internal hard drive? Do you wish you had those gigs of space back without deleting that music library you’ve curated over the years? Well, it’s actually fairly easy to get your entire iTunes library off of your Mac and onto an external drive or USB flash drive without causing any disruptions to phone syncing or purchased items. Interested? Read more to find out how.
1. Find Your iTunes Library
With iTunes open, click the iTunes menu > Preferences. In the preferences window select the Advanced tab and take note of where your iTunes library currently resides. If you never changed where this is, the default is:
The ~ symbol is shorthand for /Users/YourName. As long as you used the default location this will work. If you changed locations it will show in the Preferences window.
Copy the location listed above, or the one in iTunes if yours is different, and open up Finder. In the menu bar, click Go > Go to Folder and paste the copied location in, making sure it ends with /iTunes/, and click Go.
Now you’re in the folder where your iTunes library lives. The folder we’re going to work with is the iTunes Media folder. Now that you see it, it’s time to move it.
2. Move the iTunes Library
With your external drive connected, open up a new Finder window and navigate to the drive. Drag and drop the iTunes Media folder from your computer to the drive. Depending on the size of your library this can take a while.
Don’t do anything else until this transfer is complete. Once the transfer finishes, head back over to the Advanced tab of the iTunes Preferences window. Click the Change… button that’s directly to the right of the location you looked at earlier.
In the window that appears, navigate to the iTunes Media folder you just copied to your external drive and click Open.
Note: Don’t double-click the iTunes Media folder, just select it then click Open. You want to tell iTunes the folder to find everything inside of, so if you go into that folder, things will get a little hairy.
The Advanced Preferences window should now show your new location for the iTunes Media folder.
Click OK to close the window and you should be all done. With the move complete and iTunes updated, it’s time to check your work and delete the old library.
3. Verify and Clean Up
Head back to the location of your old library and navigate to a specific artist and delete that folder. With the folder in the trash head back to iTunes and try to play the song or songs you just deleted. If they play without issue you are good to go. If they seem to be missing, then something went wrong. Un-delete those files and start again.
If the song played fine, you can delete the entire library from your local hard drive. It will take some time to delete, but when it’s complete you should have a good bit of extra hard drive space cleared up.
Just remember that your library will only be accessible when that drive is attached to your Mac. If the drive is disconnected and you open iTunes to try to play anything or sync your iOS device, you’ll get an error.
4. Changing It Back
If you ever need to go back to the original folder, just copy the iTunes Media folder back to its original home:
Then in the Advanced Preferences window, click the Reset button that’s directly under the Change… option we used above.
That’s it! There’s not a lot to getting your iTunes library moved to an external drive, but the few steps there are need to be followed exactly or else you’re going to have a bad day.
With all that extra hard drive space you have now, you can go find some apps to install to make your life a little bit easier.