How To Combine or Merge Two iTunes Libraries

Many people have music in two iTunes libraries, on two different computers, and eventually decide they want to combine or merge those libraries. Here’s how to do it.

First, some background. iTunes stores your music and other media, and maintains several files that contain information about this content. They’re found in ~/Music/iTunes/ (~ is a shortcut for your home folder, the one with the house icon and your user name):

The main library file is iTunes Library.itl. The iTunes Library.xml file is one that you can use to import a library; iTunes writes that file in easily readable format so other apps can get a list of your iTunes library content.

So, let’s assume you have Library A and Library B, and you want to add the contents of Library B to Library A. Do nothing to Library A, but find the content of Library B – presumably on another disk or computer – and copy it to the computer containing Library A.

You’ll have an iTunes Media folder, which contains all your content – music, videos, apps, etc. – and you’ll have the files you saw above. To make sure all your content is in that iTunes Media folder, choose File > Library > Organize Library, check Consolidate Files, then click OK. If you have a lot of files that are not in the iTunes Media folder, this may take a few minutes.

Next, drag the iTunes Media folder into iTunes. But first, create a new playlist; name it anything you want, such as Library B, or Temp. Switch to that playlist in iTunes, then drag the iTunes Media folder to that playlist. It will be useful to have a record of the content you’ve added to your iTunes library in case you can’t find something later.

Next, in iTunes, choose File > Library > Import Playlist and choose the iTunes Library.xml file you copied from Library B. This will add all the contents you just dragged into iTunes, but will also add the playlists from that library. Unfortunately, this won’t retain things like play counts, ratings, etc.

Now you’ll have an iTunes library with playlists and content from two different iTunes libraries. However, there’s a chance you’ll have duplicates of some of your media files. For things like Movies and TV shows, it’s easy to find these manually; just delete one copy. But for music, if you have a large library, it can be difficult.

iTunes can show you duplicates. When you’re in your Music library, press the Option (ALT) key, then choose View > Show Exact Duplicate Items. If there aren’t too many, you can go through the list and delete the duplicates manually. If there are a lot, I recommend using Doug Adams’ Dupin, which offers powerful options for finding and deleting duplicates.

You’ll also want to check for duplicate playlists. If you still have the default smart playlists that iTunes creates – Recently Played, Recently Added, etc. – they may show up twice. Since they’re smart playlists with the same conditions (if you haven’t changed them), each of the duplicates will contain the same content. You can delete one of each.

Once you’ve completed this process, you’ll have merged your two iTunes libraries. You can delete the temporary playlist you created.

79 thoughts on “How To Combine or Merge Two iTunes Libraries

  1. Kirk, I have added artwork to many of the albums in my iTunes Library. Will my artwork be preserved in the procedure you describe? I understand that artwork is supposed to be embedded by iTunes in the .m4a (or whatever) file, but then there’s that pesky Album Artwork folder…
    BTW, I think it would be useful if your next version of the iTunes FAQ includes a section on the iTunes file structure.

    • The Album Artwork folder is a cache folder. It does contain artwork for purchased items, but if you’ve embedded artwork in your files, you can delete that folder at any time. (It rebuilds as needed.)

  2. Kirk, I have added artwork to many of the albums in my iTunes Library. Will my artwork be preserved in the procedure you describe? I understand that artwork is supposed to be embedded by iTunes in the .m4a (or whatever) file, but then there’s that pesky Album Artwork folder…
    BTW, I think it would be useful if your next version of the iTunes FAQ includes a section on the iTunes file structure.

    • The Album Artwork folder is a cache folder. It does contain artwork for purchased items, but if you’ve embedded artwork in your files, you can delete that folder at any time. (It rebuilds as needed.)

  3. So, let’s say I want to transfer just the music files from computer A to computer B (no playlists, podcasts, iTunes U, or Videos). Computer B has no music files or playlists, but has podcasts that I want to preserve. Can I just copy the Music folder from computer A to computer B (via local network) and (somehow) rebuild the iTunes Music Library on computer B?

    • You can simply add the files from the A library to the B library. If there are no playlists or other metadata (ratings, last played) that you want to preserve, then it’s easy.

  4. So, let’s say I want to transfer just the music files from computer A to computer B (no playlists, podcasts, iTunes U, or Videos). Computer B has no music files or playlists, but has podcasts that I want to preserve. Can I just copy the Music folder from computer A to computer B (via local network) and (somehow) rebuild the iTunes Music Library on computer B?

    • You can simply add the files from the A library to the B library. If there are no playlists or other metadata (ratings, last played) that you want to preserve, then it’s easy.

  5. Kirk: Thanks for the great guidance. Assuming the Computer A and B are connected via Ethernet, could you clarify which computer the following instructions apply to? Thanks!
    “Next, drag the iTunes Media folder into iTunes. But first, create a new playlist; name it anything you want, such as Library B, or Temp. Switch to that playlist in iTunes, then drag the iTunes Media folder to that playlist. It will be useful to have a record of the content you’ve added to your iTunes library in case you can’t find something later.”

  6. Kirk: Thanks for the great guidance. Assuming the Computer A and B are connected via Ethernet, could you clarify which computer the following instructions apply to? Thanks!
    “Next, drag the iTunes Media folder into iTunes. But first, create a new playlist; name it anything you want, such as Library B, or Temp. Switch to that playlist in iTunes, then drag the iTunes Media folder to that playlist. It will be useful to have a record of the content you’ve added to your iTunes library in case you can’t find something later.”

  7. The .itl file of the previous iTunes library I want to merge won’t allow itself to be dropped into iTunes. Any ideas why this might be?

  8. The .itl file of the previous iTunes library I want to merge won’t allow itself to be dropped into iTunes. Any ideas why this might be?

  9. Thanks for your detailed and informative posting. I’m transferring from an old aluminum G4, and there’s no iTunes Media file or folder, though it shows the other ones you list. So I couldn’t Consolidate. Tried just dragging and renaming the XML file but all it did was import the folder names with no songs.

  10. Thanks for your detailed and informative posting. I’m transferring from an old aluminum G4, and there’s no iTunes Media file or folder, though it shows the other ones you list. So I couldn’t Consolidate. Tried just dragging and renaming the XML file but all it did was import the folder names with no songs.

  11. It seems you skipped a step at the beginning and then referred to it again later:

    “Next, in iTunes, choose File > Library > Import Playlist and choose the iTunes Library.xml file you copied from Library B.”

    When did you say to copy a .xml file from Library B?

    • “find the content of Library B – presumably on another disk or computer – and copy it to the computer containing Library A.”

  12. It seems you skipped a step at the beginning and then referred to it again later:

    “Next, in iTunes, choose File > Library > Import Playlist and choose the iTunes Library.xml file you copied from Library B.”

    When did you say to copy a .xml file from Library B?

    • “find the content of Library B – presumably on another disk or computer – and copy it to the computer containing Library A.”

  13. Combining iTunes Libraries. I have been running two iTunes libraries on the same iMac for several years. One library is for what I call “Hi-Def” music files that are mp4 (Apple Lossless) larger files and the other library contains more reasonably sized mp3 files. I did this (perhaps in ignorance) so the higher quality files could be played over my Sonos system and the smaller files could be used for playlists on iPhones, iPods, etc. because the mp4 files are too big to download to the devices. I have grown tired of trying to coordinate multiple family devices and playlists and backups to iTunes by juggling two libraries. I would like to combine the two libraries if I can. Your very helpful article looks to be a guidepost to accomplish the combination. A few questions:
    -one of my libraries has only an “iTunes Music” folder in it and not an iTunes Media” folder with the other media in it. Will that matter once I combine?
    -many but not all the music files will be duplicates in name but not in size (mp3 versus mp4). If I combine the libraries will I able to see them side by side and identify and pull the smaller versions into playlists for use in portable devices and leave the larger files for use by Sonos or other playback devices?

    Thanks much!

    • Why don’t you just use the built-in iTunes ability to downsample music when you sync? Select your iOS device, then, on the Summary tab, tell iTunes to convert higher bit rate tracks to the bit rate you choose (128, 192, or 256).

      And iTunes Music is the older name for the folder; it was changed to iTunes Media, around iTunes 9 or 10.

  14. Combining iTunes Libraries. I have been running two iTunes libraries on the same iMac for several years. One library is for what I call “Hi-Def” music files that are mp4 (Apple Lossless) larger files and the other library contains more reasonably sized mp3 files. I did this (perhaps in ignorance) so the higher quality files could be played over my Sonos system and the smaller files could be used for playlists on iPhones, iPods, etc. because the mp4 files are too big to download to the devices. I have grown tired of trying to coordinate multiple family devices and playlists and backups to iTunes by juggling two libraries. I would like to combine the two libraries if I can. Your very helpful article looks to be a guidepost to accomplish the combination. A few questions:
    -one of my libraries has only an “iTunes Music” folder in it and not an iTunes Media” folder with the other media in it. Will that matter once I combine?
    -many but not all the music files will be duplicates in name but not in size (mp3 versus mp4). If I combine the libraries will I able to see them side by side and identify and pull the smaller versions into playlists for use in portable devices and leave the larger files for use by Sonos or other playback devices?

    Thanks much!

    • Why don’t you just use the built-in iTunes ability to downsample music when you sync? Select your iOS device, then, on the Summary tab, tell iTunes to convert higher bit rate tracks to the bit rate you choose (128, 192, or 256).

      And iTunes Music is the older name for the folder; it was changed to iTunes Media, around iTunes 9 or 10.

  15. Cant thank you enough for this. I’m a Biodanza teacher and music is my most precious resource. I had playlists from 2010 for each class I taught and after a an OSX rebuild I ended up with 2 libraries. I now have both libraries merged.

  16. Cant thank you enough for this. I’m a Biodanza teacher and music is my most precious resource. I had playlists from 2010 for each class I taught and after a an OSX rebuild I ended up with 2 libraries. I now have both libraries merged.

  17. So, I believe I’ve just successfully pulled this off (i.e., the merging of my original library from an XHD from my mac and music I’ve downloaded on my new PC for a few months now). But now I’m afraid to plug my iPod in. Any suggestions on what to do (i.e., what directions to follow from iTunes on how to handle the iPod)? Will it try to erase the iPod data? Now that I have the library intact, should I restore to factory settings on the iPod? Any help is greatly appreciated!

    • You should restore the iPod if the device hasn’t been synced with this computer. If it has, iTunes will be fine with it, and you can choose new music to sync.

  18. So, I believe I’ve just successfully pulled this off (i.e., the merging of my original library from an XHD from my mac and music I’ve downloaded on my new PC for a few months now). But now I’m afraid to plug my iPod in. Any suggestions on what to do (i.e., what directions to follow from iTunes on how to handle the iPod)? Will it try to erase the iPod data? Now that I have the library intact, should I restore to factory settings on the iPod? Any help is greatly appreciated!

    • You should restore the iPod if the device hasn’t been synced with this computer. If it has, iTunes will be fine with it, and you can choose new music to sync.

  19. Thank you.

    Just checked before syncing to make sure everything looked alright. Unfortunately noticed that my podcasts are littered among all of my playlists and there are normal mp3s listed as podcasts. Any ideas?

  20. Thank you.

    Just checked before syncing to make sure everything looked alright. Unfortunately noticed that my podcasts are littered among all of my playlists and there are normal mp3s listed as podcasts. Any ideas?

  21. I should add that I’ve already tried right clicking > get info > and rename/Re-list genre. None of the tracks are incorrectly classified. So that doesn’t appear to be the problem.

  22. I should add that I’ve already tried right clicking > get info > and rename/Re-list genre. None of the tracks are incorrectly classified. So that doesn’t appear to be the problem.

  23. I am usually pretty computer savvy but I can not figure out how to “then drag the iTunes Media folder to the playlist”. Could you give me further instruction on this step please? I am using a PC if that matters.

  24. I am usually pretty computer savvy but I can not figure out how to “then drag the iTunes Media folder to the playlist”. Could you give me further instruction on this step please? I am using a PC if that matters.

  25. I’m completely;y confused! I’m not that computer illiterate but my situation is that my main iTunes info is on my C drive under Libraries/Music/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Music. I have found a few other places that have iTunes Music or Media but there is nothing in them. My other iTunes folder is on an external drive that I originally wanted ALL of my iTunes to be on. In my preferences all music I add is put in F/Music/iTunes Music/iTunes Music. What gets me confused is that in Libraries 1/2 of an album will be there and the other 1/2 in F drive. When I play one of those albums iTunes knows where both halves are located! What I’d like to do is run my whole library out of the external F Drive. Would it be better for me to run it all on the C drive? I’ve got plenty of room. I’ve copied the F drive iTunes Music folder to my desktop but I don’t know what kind of file it is. I copied it by just highlighting it in explorer and copy and pasted onto my desktop. I haven’t gone any father than this. I would like the F drive to have nothing but music on it. My whole music library is 1300 albums. The drive is 500GB. I’m almost considering wiping out iTunes and recopying all my albums where I want them. Thanks for your help. 🙂

  26. I’m completely;y confused! I’m not that computer illiterate but my situation is that my main iTunes info is on my C drive under Libraries/Music/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Music. I have found a few other places that have iTunes Music or Media but there is nothing in them. My other iTunes folder is on an external drive that I originally wanted ALL of my iTunes to be on. In my preferences all music I add is put in F/Music/iTunes Music/iTunes Music. What gets me confused is that in Libraries 1/2 of an album will be there and the other 1/2 in F drive. When I play one of those albums iTunes knows where both halves are located! What I’d like to do is run my whole library out of the external F Drive. Would it be better for me to run it all on the C drive? I’ve got plenty of room. I’ve copied the F drive iTunes Music folder to my desktop but I don’t know what kind of file it is. I copied it by just highlighting it in explorer and copy and pasted onto my desktop. I haven’t gone any father than this. I would like the F drive to have nothing but music on it. My whole music library is 1300 albums. The drive is 500GB. I’m almost considering wiping out iTunes and recopying all my albums where I want them. Thanks for your help. 🙂

  27. Before doing this, I’d like to know if this way of merging of iTunes accounts works only for music purchased on iTunes, or also for things I have loaded onto iTunes from CDs and other sources? And does it work for songs that are “Protected” AACs (bought before 2009)? Thanks

  28. Before doing this, I’d like to know if this way of merging of iTunes accounts works only for music purchased on iTunes, or also for things I have loaded onto iTunes from CDs and other sources? And does it work for songs that are “Protected” AACs (bought before 2009)? Thanks

  29. So there is no way to merge two libraries that have been built up under two different Apple ID accounts–even though both of them were created by the same person (me)?

  30. So there is no way to merge two libraries that have been built up under two different Apple ID accounts–even though both of them were created by the same person (me)?

  31. It doesn’t matter what the Apple ID is. You can have content from multiple Apple IDs in the same library.

  32. It doesn’t matter what the Apple ID is. You can have content from multiple Apple IDs in the same library.

  33. When you make this statement in the article above: “You’ll have an iTunes Media folder, which contains all your content – music, videos, apps, etc. – and you’ll have the files you saw above. To make sure all your content is in THAT iTunes Media folder, choose File > Library > Organize Library, check Consolidate Files, then click OK.” – what iTunes Media folder are you referring to? If iTunes is opened under Library A are you then consolidating all the files from the Library B into the Library A media folder?

    Thanks

  34. When you make this statement in the article above: “You’ll have an iTunes Media folder, which contains all your content – music, videos, apps, etc. – and you’ll have the files you saw above. To make sure all your content is in THAT iTunes Media folder, choose File > Library > Organize Library, check Consolidate Files, then click OK.” – what iTunes Media folder are you referring to? If iTunes is opened under Library A are you then consolidating all the files from the Library B into the Library A media folder?

    Thanks

  35. Hi Kirk,
    Thanks for this post. I’m a little (ok, a lot) dense when it comes to anything remotely tech related.
    I’m trying to “merge” two iTunes accounts, like everyone here obviously. But I want to move one account from my PC to my iphone.
    I can’t figure out how to make it happen. Can you help?

    I appreciate your time.

      • Apologies.
        See, I don’t even speak the language.

        I guess what I’m trying to say is I want all of my iTunes on one account.
        My old iTunes account, iTunes A, has nothing but music. I set it up long before I had an iPhone and it’s not “tied” to the icloud
        or pictures etc. But my “new” iTunes account, iTunes B, IS associated with the cloud, pics, Apple Pay, etc etc.

        I want to get the music from iTunes A to iTunes B without losing my pictures and whatnot.

        Does that make more sense?

  36. Hi Kirk,
    Thanks for this post. I’m a little (ok, a lot) dense when it comes to anything remotely tech related.
    I’m trying to “merge” two iTunes accounts, like everyone here obviously. But I want to move one account from my PC to my iphone.
    I can’t figure out how to make it happen. Can you help?

    I appreciate your time.

      • Apologies.
        See, I don’t even speak the language.

        I guess what I’m trying to say is I want all of my iTunes on one account.
        My old iTunes account, iTunes A, has nothing but music. I set it up long before I had an iPhone and it’s not “tied” to the icloud
        or pictures etc. But my “new” iTunes account, iTunes B, IS associated with the cloud, pics, Apple Pay, etc etc.

        I want to get the music from iTunes A to iTunes B without losing my pictures and whatnot.

        Does that make more sense?

  37. can u continue this process with multiple libraries? I have a crashed computer that used to have my ITunes, plus backups from other computers.
    so it seems that using this technique, I can load up all my backup libraries into a new computer.

  38. can u continue this process with multiple libraries? I have a crashed computer that used to have my ITunes, plus backups from other computers.
    so it seems that using this technique, I can load up all my backup libraries into a new computer.

  39. Getting to this way late but trying to help a friend. Were these instructions –

    ” Do nothing to Library A, but find the content of Library B – presumably on another disk or computer – and copy it to the computer containing Library A.
    You’ll have an iTunes Media folder,”

    Mac-specific? I need to merge from an friend’s ancient PC to their newer one that already has iTunes. If it’s just music files, I can copy just the files as you stated above, but if I need to merge all of it, do you have instructions for Windows users? I don’t think copying that library from one directory to another will create an iTunes Media folder unless I name it that myself.

    Thanks for writing this up – which was pretty clear, I just don’t quite get it for Windows.

    • The process is the same on Windows. The locations of the folders are slightly different, but otherwise their contents are exactly the same.

      • OK I think I’m missing something. When I copy the contents of Library B, is one part of that content a folder named iTunes Media? Originally it sounded to me as though the system software recognized what I was doing from what the content was, and created the folder named iTunes Media. Today, it sounds to me like Library B’s contents include that folder. If Library A already has those folders and files – am I to copy the contents of Library B to a different folder? Can I then discard it after I consolidate files?

        • You only copy the iTunes media folder from library B to library A. After you are certain that everything has imported, then you can delete all of library B, not just the media folder.

  40. Getting to this way late but trying to help a friend. Were these instructions –

    ” Do nothing to Library A, but find the content of Library B – presumably on another disk or computer – and copy it to the computer containing Library A.
    You’ll have an iTunes Media folder,”

    Mac-specific? I need to merge from an friend’s ancient PC to their newer one that already has iTunes. If it’s just music files, I can copy just the files as you stated above, but if I need to merge all of it, do you have instructions for Windows users? I don’t think copying that library from one directory to another will create an iTunes Media folder unless I name it that myself.

    Thanks for writing this up – which was pretty clear, I just don’t quite get it for Windows.

    • The process is the same on Windows. The locations of the folders are slightly different, but otherwise their contents are exactly the same.

      • OK I think I’m missing something. When I copy the contents of Library B, is one part of that content a folder named iTunes Media? Originally it sounded to me as though the system software recognized what I was doing from what the content was, and created the folder named iTunes Media. Today, it sounds to me like Library B’s contents include that folder. If Library A already has those folders and files – am I to copy the contents of Library B to a different folder? Can I then discard it after I consolidate files?

        • You only copy the iTunes media folder from library B to library A. After you are certain that everything has imported, then you can delete all of library B, not just the media folder.

  41. Once you merge the two libraries, is there a way to have iTunes update the merged libraries so that if still you purchase music from the iTunes Store from each of the Apple accounts that make up the shared library (say from the iPhone thst used LibraryA and the iPhone that used LibraryB), you can have iTunes ownload it to the merged library?

    • If you’re merging two accounts from the iTunes Store, then you won’t see all the purchased items in the Music app; you’ll only see those that are from the signed-in Apple ID. However, you can download all those files and add them to iTunes; music files don’t have DRM.

  42. Once you merge the two libraries, is there a way to have iTunes update the merged libraries so that if still you purchase music from the iTunes Store from each of the Apple accounts that make up the shared library (say from the iPhone thst used LibraryA and the iPhone that used LibraryB), you can have iTunes ownload it to the merged library?

    • If you’re merging two accounts from the iTunes Store, then you won’t see all the purchased items in the Music app; you’ll only see those that are from the signed-in Apple ID. However, you can download all those files and add them to iTunes; music files don’t have DRM.

  43. On my Windows 10 PC external drive, I have an iTunes Media folder that has a Music folder (Library A, about 500 GB), an iTunes folder (Library B, about 300 GB) that has an iTunes Music folder (and iTunes Artwork folder), the iTunes Library (itl and xml) files, and some other folders (movies, etc). In Library A, the album folders dated 7/22/17 have no files but matchup with folders in Library B dated 5/27/11 that do have song files in them. In my case, Library B has no separate xml library file. Is there a method that will combine Library A and B into the Music folder?

  44. On my Windows 10 PC external drive, I have an iTunes Media folder that has a Music folder (Library A, about 500 GB), an iTunes folder (Library B, about 300 GB) that has an iTunes Music folder (and iTunes Artwork folder), the iTunes Library (itl and xml) files, and some other folders (movies, etc). In Library A, the album folders dated 7/22/17 have no files but matchup with folders in Library B dated 5/27/11 that do have song files in them. In my case, Library B has no separate xml library file. Is there a method that will combine Library A and B into the Music folder?

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