How To: Move Your iTunes Library to an External Hard Drive

If your iTunes library is getting big, and filling up your computer’s hard drive, it’s a good idea to move it to an external drive. However, you need to be aware that you don’t move all of your iTunes library files; this can make iTunes confused. Here’s how you move your iTunes media files to an external drive.

Have a look inside your iTunes folder; it’s in the Music folder in your home folder (the one with the house icon and your user name). You’ll see the following files:

ITunes folder

You’ll also have an iTunes Media folder; you don’t see one in the screenshot above, taken from my iMac, because mine is on an external drive. Don’t move this iTunes folder; the library files should remain in your home folder, or iTunes can have problems.

So, to start the process, back up your iTunes folder, just in case anything goes wrong. When you’ve done that, in iTunes, choose iTunes > Preferences, and then click Advanced. Check Keep iTunes Media folder organized; this copies all of your media files to the iTunes Media folder. They may all be there, but it’s possible that some are in other locations. This ensures that none of your files get lost.

Itunes prefs

Next, in those same Advanced preferences, click the Change button next to iTunes Media Folder location. Choose the location for the new folder. Click New Folder, and name this folder iTunes Media. Click OK to close the preferences window.

Choose File > Library > Organize Library, and, in the window that displays, check Consolidate Files, and then click OK. iTunes will now copy all you files. Get a cup of tea or coffee; if you’re doing this because you’re running out of space, you’ll have a lot to copy, and it will take a while.

When this is finished, quit and relaunch iTunes, and check the Advanced preferences to ensure that iTunes is looking in the correct location. You can now delete the iTunes Media folder on your startup volume. I’d recommend holding on to the backup for a while, just in case some of your files didn’t get copied correctly during the process of organizing and consolidating your library; I’ve seen this happen.

You’ll now have lots more free space on your start volume.