How to Move Your iTunes Library to a New Location

Give your music collection a new home without hogging disk space

Woman listening to music lying on grass
LifesizeImages/Getty Images

The iTunes library doesn't have a practical size limit. As long as you have space on your drive, you can keep adding media files.

That's not entirely a good thing. If you're not paying attention, your iTunes library can quickly take up more than its fair share of drive space. Moving your iTunes library from its original location to another internal or external drive can free up some room. It can also give you more space to grow your collection.

These instructions apply to iTunes 9 and later.

How to Move Your iTunes Library to a New Location

This process will retain all of your iTunes settings, including playlists and ratings, and all media files. However, in order for iTunes to retain everything, you must let it organize the Music or Media folder.

If you don't want iTunes to be in charge, the process of moving your media folder will still work, but metadata items, such as playlists and ratings, won't carry over.

  1. Before you begin, you must have a current backup of your Mac, or at the very least, a current backup of iTunes. The process of moving your iTunes library includes deleting the original source library. If something should go wrong and you don't have a backup, you could lose all of your music files.

  2. Launch iTunes.

  3. From the iTunes menu, select Preferences.

    Preferences in iTunes on a Mac
  4. Click the Advanced tab.

    iTunes preferences with the Advanced tab highlighted
  5. Click the box next to Keep iTunes Media folder organized to add a checkmark to it.

    Early versions of iTunes may call this item "Keep iTunes Music folder organized."

    iTunes Advanced Preferences with the
  6. Click OK.

    iTunes Advanced preferences with the OK button highlighted
  7. If you're moving your library to an external drive, make sure it's plugged into your Mac and turned on.

  8. Return to the Advanced preferences in iTunes and click the Change button next to iTunes Media folder location.

    iTunes Advanced preferences with the Change button highlighted
  9. In the Finder window that opens, navigate to the location where you would like to create the new iTunes Media folder.

    iTunes with an external drive location highlighted
  10. Click the New Folder button.

    iTunes Finder locaion with the New Folder highlighted
  11. Enter a name for the new folder and click the Create button.

    New Folder dialogue box in iTunes with the Create button highlighted
  12. Click Open to choose the folder you just created.

    iTunes Finder window with the Open button highlighted
  13. In the Advanced preferences window, your new folder will appear under the iTunes Media folder location heading. Click OK to save your changes.

    iTunes Advanced preferences with the
  14. iTunes will ask you if you want to move and rename the files in your new iTunes Media folder to match the Keep iTunes Media folder organized preference. Click Yes.

    Confirmation window in iTunes with the Yes button highlighted
  15. iTunes can move the original library media files for you. Letting iTunes perform this task will keep all of the playlists and ratings intact. To begin select File > Library > Organize Library in iTunes.

    Older versions of iTunes will call this setting "Consolidate Library."

    iTunes on a Mac with the Organize Library option highlighted
  16. In the Organize Library window that opens, place a checkmark next to Consolidate Files and click OK.

    Organize Library window in iTunes with the
  17. iTunes will copy all of your media files from the old library location to the new one you created earlier.

After iTunes finishes copying your library to its new location, you can delete the original folder by going to Users > [your account] > Music > iTunes and moving the iTunes Media folder to the trash.

Don't delete the original iTunes folder or any files or folders it contains, other than the iTunes Media or iTunes Music folder. If you delete anything else in the iTunes folder, you may lose your history, ratings, or playlists.

Finder on a Mac with the path to the iTunes folder highlighted