Our music collections outlast both our Macs and our iPods. As we upgrade or they break, at some point we’ll have to migrate our iTunes library from one Mac to another.
You may think that moving your iTunes Library from one Mac to another (or from a PC to a Mac) is tricky but actually it’s an easy process. To ensure everything goes well, you’ll want to follow each step carefully.
There’s a few ways we can go about doing this move. You can use the Migration Assistant for an easy automated transfer (Mac to Mac only). You can use an external hard drive or you can put your old Mac into Target Disk Mode. If your old Mac is shot, pulling out the hard drive and putting it into an enclosure is also an option. You can also use an iPod in Disk Mode, Flash Drive / Memory Card (Over 2 GB) or other high capacity device as well.
If your Original Mac is broken / unbootable and you are pulling from Target Mode or using an Enclosure, skip to step 10.
Moving your iTunes from one Mac / PC to another Mac (or PC):
1. Open iTunes on the old Mac / PC.
2. Click File from the iTunes Menu Bar, choose Library and then “Organize Library”.
3. Check the “Consolidate Files” box and hit OK.
4. Decide on your method of transfer.
If you choose Migration Assistant – Recommended for those with Technical Issues, follow the prompts. The Migration Assistant is located in the Utilities folder (inside the Applications folder) – Mac to Mac only.
If you choose Target mode, external hard disk, iPod, Memory Card, Flash Drive or the enclosure method, read on.
5. Locate your iTunes folder on your old Mac / PC.
– On the Mac, it is usually in your Home Folder, inside the Music folder, and appropriately called “iTunes”.
– On the PC, it’s usually in your “My Documents” folder inside the “My Music” folder.
Note: If you’ve manually changed it’s location, locate it by choosing Preferences and looking under Advanced.
6. Select your iTunes folder on your old Mac / PC.
7. Click File on the Menu Bar and choose “Get Info” to see how large your library is. If you’re on a PC, right click and choose Properties.
8. Copy this folder to:
– Your iPod in Disk Mode.
– Your Flash Drive / Memory Card, or external Hard Drive.
Note: iTunes libraries can get pretty large. Especially if you have purchased Movies and TV Shows. If your library is larger than the Memory Card / Flash Drive, you’ll have to transfer in parts. For large libraries (over 10GB), I recommend using an external drive or Target Mode (Mac only).
9. Be patient, a large iTunes library can take a long time to copy.
Those using Target Mode or with unbootable Macs / PCs using an enclosure can start here:
10. Locate the iTunes folder on the New Mac / PC if it exists.
11. Delete the iTunes folder on the New Mac / PC.
Note: Make sure there’s nothing inside it before you delete.
12. Attach the external drive, flash media, Target mode Mac, enclosure drive to the new Mac.
13. Copy / Transfer the old iTunes folder onto the new Mac / PC.
Note: Be sure to put it in the proper location. Mac is inside the “Music” folder that’s in your Home folder. PC is in the “My Music” folder inside your “My Documents” folder.
14. Once you’re done transferring, open iTunes on the new Mac / PC.
15. Click on “Store” from the iTunes Menu Bar.
16. Choose “Authorize Computer”.
17. Enter your Password and choose Authorize.
18. Go back to iTunes on the old Mac / PC.
19. Click on “Store” from the iTunes Menu Bar.
20. Choose “Deauthorize Computer”.
21. Enter your Password and choose Deauthorize.
Note: The iTunes store only lets you authorize 5 machines per account. If you skip this, the old computer won’t go away in Apple’s records and this can come back to haunt you.
Using CDs / DVDs:
Apple also allows iTunes to create backups of it’s library using CDs or DVDs. Now, this probably was a good idea about 5 years ago but now, with iTunes libraries in the 10-60 GB range, using this method is tedious, time consuming and is not recommended. (Unless your entire iTunes library will fit on one DVD – a little over 4 GB).