By Christopher Breen, MacworldJAN 18, 2011 9:00 pm PST
If you love music, movies, TV shows, and podcasts there’s a good chance that your iTunes Media folder (formerly called the iTunes Music folder, and yours might be called that if you’ve been using iTunes for a long time) has swollen to the point where it’s pushing up against the bounds of your hard drive’s capacity. In such cases you need to move your media to a more expansive drive. Here are the steps for doing just that.
Step One: Add a hard drive to your Mac
The whole point of this exercise is to make more room for your iTunes media. When choosing the capacity of that hard drive, consider both the current size of your iTunes Media folder as well as how much media you’re likely to add in the next few years. If you purchase music from the iTunes Store bear in mind that Apple’s has increased the bit rate of music sold at the store—from 128-kbps AAC to 256-kbps AAC. When the bit rate doubles so too does the size of the files. And if you rip your own CDs, and want the best quality, Apple Lossless files are even larger. Also, the TV shows and movies from the iTunes Store can be huge—especially if you purchase the HD versions.
Step Two: Configure iTunes’ preferences
Launch iTunes and choose Preferences (Command-,). Click the Advanced button and in the resulting window enable the Keep iTunes Media Folder Organized option.
In that same Advanced window, click the Change button next to the iTunes Media Folder Location entry. In the window that appears, navigate to the hard drive you’ve added for your media. Click the New Folder button. In the New Folder window that appears, enter a name for your new media folder (My Media, for example) and click Create. Then click the Choose button in the Change iTunes Media Folder Location window. Click OK to dismiss the Advanced window.
Step Three: Consolidate your content
Choose File -> Library -> Organize Library. In the resulting Organize Library window, enable the Consolidate Files option and click OK.
iTunes will now set about copying the content from your original iTunes Media folder to the folder you’ve created on the new drive, as well as start using it for all new content.
Step Four: Test it
Quit iTunes. In the Finder navigate to the location of your original iTunes Media folder—typically found at youruserfolder/Music/iTunes—and move the iTunes Media folder to the Desktop.
Note: Do not move anything else from the iTunes folder. iTunes keeps its database files in this folder—the files that, among other things, keep track of your playlists, play counts, and ratings.
Launch iTunes, select a track or video, and click the Play button. If the track plays as it should, your library has been moved successfully. (To double check you can select a track or video, press Command-I to produce the Info window, and, in the Summary tab, find the location of the file listed next to the Where entry. The path should point to the new drive.)
If everything is working as it should, you can now trash your old iTunes Media folder (the one you moved to the Desktop, not the one on the new hard drive).