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.

35 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.

  6. I think Apple is trying to sell bigger hard drives. On Catalina, podcasts downloaded 25 GB of podcasts dating back a year and a half. They have to be deleted one at a time.

    On IOS 13, I can no longer delete attachments from messages. My cloud storage is full and its mostly messages attachments. Ugh

  7. Can you still drag and drop individual podcasts to the phone in finder if you want to continue to manually manage these like one can in iTunes. Also any idea why they have chosen to move podcasts to such an obscure place ?? I have a large library in iTunes that I like to dip in and out of and copy a few to the phone each time. Putting them in some sort of cache folder seems to suggest they consider them to be a much more transient thing that regularly gets deleted ?

  8. Any idea how to edit metadata on audiobooks with the move to the Books app? You can’t right click and “Get Info” and then edit metadata the way that you could in iTunes. There has to be a way to edit audiobooks not purchased through Apple or this is a huge miss.

  9. Seems that Catalina public beta is trying to move/migrate my audiobooks from iTunes directory on an external HD to the Home folder and I don’t have room for that. I can’t figure out why it doesn’t just leave the files/audiobooks where they are (like it did with music) and not seem to need it to be on the home internal drive. Any suggestions/help? Thanks!

    • Yes, just decided to try the beta and its a disaster – filled up my HD with Audiobooks I had originally on an external iTunes Audiobooks folder and now there is no way to edit the metadata associated with Audiobooks. Did you find a workaround yet?

      • No, there is none. I think the best solution is to remove all your audiobooks from iTunes before upgrading. You can add audiobooks without DRM to the Music app, or you will need to alias the folder that stores the audiobooks to your external drive. Its path is /Library/Containers/com.apple.BKAgentService/Data/Documents/iBooks/Books

  10. I think this is now because Podcasts and Books are actually iOS apps running in the Catalyst runtime engine on Mac (or whatever in Apple speak) and therefore has to have it’s own local data store as an app store app is not allowed access to the mac HD (other than it’s own special folder)

    • No, they are not “actually iOS apps,” and there is no “Catalyst runtime engine,” but they are different apps, and have their own libraries.

      • Thanks for correcting me. Do you know why the podcasts/books cannot remain in the original place with original names ?

        • They are different libraries, and these apps each have their own library files. Technically, they probably could remain in the same locations, but Apple has decided that they don’t want them to. I think part of the reason is that most people don’t need to access the files, unlike with music files, where you may want to copy them at times. They’ve been doing this with ebooks since the Books app was released. However, it does mean that if you have a large library of audiobooks, then you can’t easily offload them to an external drive.

          I don’t have Catalina running right now, and it’s still an early beta, but it’s possible that you could alias the folder that stores the books and put them on an external drive. I would wait until Catalina is officially released, however, in case anything changes.

          • Thanks for the information. Yes I am in no rush to update. I have a large podcast library and the thought of that ending up in a ‘cache’ folder worries me a bit as that to me makes me think apple considers them temporary files

            • It’s not a cache folder, but it is in ~/Application Support, and it’s not easy to find if you don’t know the path. (Same for books and audiobooks.) I think Apple assumes that most people don’t save podcast episodes, and, to be honest, if I did have a podcast archive, I’d store them elsewhere, or in a different app so I could have more control over them and not accidentally click something that deletes them all.

            • I’ve had a two second look and there only appears to be one Mac app and that is downcast which does not get great reviews

            • I used Downcast back in the day and it was fine, but I see there are lots of bad reviews on the Mac App Store.

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