Locations of Media Files in macOS Catalina

With macOS 10.15 Catalina, and the splitting of iTunes into three apps (Music, Podcasts, and Apple TV), media files will be handled a bit differently. Here’s where the various files will be located.

  • Music: By default, these files will be stored in ~/Music . (~ is a shortcut for your home folder, the one with the house icon and your user name.)
  • Apple TV: For TV shows and movies, the default location is ~/Movies . Music Videos, however, will stay in the Music app.
  • Podcasts: Podcasts are stored in a cache folder in ~/Library/Group Containers/243LU875E5.groups.com.apple.podcasts . This is not designed to be user accessible, and the podcast files do not display the original file names. You can, however, drag podcast files from the Podcasts app to the Desktop or to a folder.
  • Books: Since Apple spun off the Books app, ebooks have been stored in a folder in your Library folder: com.apple.BKAgentService. This folder will contain both ebooks and audiobooks. As with podcasts, you’re not intended to visit this folder, and ebook files do not have their original names, though audiobooks do display their names. However, if you select a file and press the space bar to view it in Quick Look, you will see its cover. (This is not currently the case with podcasts; using Quick Look on a podcast file lets you listen to it, but there is no album artwork attached.)

When you upgrade from macOS Mojave, both the Music and Apple TV apps will remember the location of your existing media, if you are using a different folder than the default. And each of these apps has an Advanced preference allowing you to choose a location for its media folder. This means that you can store your music on one volume and your movies and TV shows on another volume, which can be practical for many people with large libraries.

Note that macOS Catalina is just a beta, and this information is subject to change.

18 thoughts on “Locations of Media Files in macOS Catalina

  1. I hope it still allows files to be in your library where the files themselves are stored externally to the library. My entire home setup is based on that and if that is not allowed then this will be a huge issue for me 🙁 Fingers crossed…

  2. I appreciate your heads up articles on what’s ahead in Mac OS Catalina, but I was wondering what you could dig up on older iMacs whose processor speed might be handcuffed by the newer system. Mine is a late-2013 27-inch model, and I noticed after installing Mojave that some apps (Adobe especially) launched slower than they did in Sierra. That and that slower-than-slow Adobe Acrobat DC.

    • Apple says it’s compatible, but is it the processor, or could it be that you have a hard drive, and somehow reading data is slower? Since I’ve had SSDs in all my Macs, I never notice launch speeds.

  3. I do indeed have a hard drive—in fact it’s a Fusion Drive, and wonder if that may be a factor. If I remember correctly, I bought the iMac in early 2014 when Snow Leopard was the operating system. I first noticed a slowdown in opening graphic apps (such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop) after I had installed Mojave.

  4. Thanks for the info. I’m hoping I’ll still be able to rip my own discs into my libraries, but if I can’t, knowing where all the files are stored is a good first step toward a workaround.

    • iTunes hasn’t managed ringtones in a long time. Whatever you have there is legacy tones that weren’t moved when the app stopped managing them. If you upgrade to Catalina, I presume it won’t delete that folder, but it won’t manage the files just as it doesn’t now under Mojave.

      • You can still manually manage ringtones with Mojave. Just connect your device and drag ringtones onto it from the desktop. I’m hoping we can still do this with Catalina/Music app.

      • When I plug my iPhone in, iTunes has a Tones item in iPhone’s sidebar, which displays a “Sync Tones” panel, where you can select between “All tones” or “Selected tones”. So I presume that it is still syncing from the iTunes Media Tones folder.

        • I don’t see that in Catalina. In Mojave, iTunes doesn’t sync tones, but you can drag them to the device, as Marc said above.

  5. Has the new Music app dumbed down Smart Playlists, or does it still have the full list of options? Honestly, this is the deciding factor on whether I upgrade to Catalina.

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