Can I move the contents of all my family members' iTunes Libraries to an external drive so we can all use the same Library?

Can I move the contents of all my family members' iTunes Libraries to an external drive so we can all use the same Library?

One of the fun parts of all the users in a household sharing a single iTunes library is learning about the eclectic tastes of your peeps.


Your goal is not only do-able, it's also worthy. But it will take a bit of maneuvering up front. Once you've got it set up, though, iTunes will automatically load the same Library, stored on an external drive, for each user on your family Mac when he or she launches iTunes.


First, we recommend that you upgrade to iTunes 7, if you haven't already. This will ensure that you have iTunes' latest features (and that your screen shots will look the same as ours do here, to avoid confusion). Now you need to create a new Library on an external drive. Quit iTunes if it's running. Make sure that your external drive is connected to your Mac. Now, holding the Option key, relaunch iTunes. In the dialog box that appears, click Create Library.


Resist the urge to click the glowing blue Choose Library button and instead choose Create Library.


The next dialog lets you name your new Library and tell iTunes where it will live. Use the name solely as a reference for finding it if you (or another family member) ever choose to load a different Library upon launching iTunes. (The Library's name will not appear anywhere in the iTunes Source pane on the left-hand side of the iTunes window.) Choose the Library's location from the dropdown menu below the name field.


Name your new Library and choose as its location your external drive from the dropdown menu.


Quit iTunes and relaunch it holding the Option key. To return to the iTunes Library stored on your Mac's hard drive, click Choose Library and navigate to your original Library's location (most likely /Music/iTunes), then double-click it, or highlight it and click Choose, to load it. Choose File > Export Library and, in the resulting dialog, rename the Library if you want to and select your external drive from the dropdown menu (or another location). When iTunes is finished exporting all of your iTunes file info as an XML file, quit iTunes. Holding the Option key, relaunch iTunes and choose your newly created Library on the external drive. Select File > Import, and select the XML file for the Library you just exported.


Your exported Library takes the form of an XML file.


Depending on how large your Library is, the import process may take a few minutes, so you might want to go get some fresh air or stretch your legs. Once it's finished, all of the music from the iTunes Library you just imported will appear in the new master Library.


We wish we could say you were done, but you will need to repeat the second half of this process (export and import Library) for each user account on your family iMac. Keep in mind that this may result in duplicate copies of some (or many) songs, so you'll then have to go and dump the dupes. You will also have to make sure each user has the newly created external Library set as his or her default (which just requires launching iTunes with Option held down, clicking Choose Library, and navigating to that Library, then selecting it).


Phew! Now any time a family member downloads a new file from iTunes or rips music from a personal CD collection, it will be added to your master Library, and everyone can access it.




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Can I use an external drive plugged into the usb of my time capsule?



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And anyone who clicks on Benet's links deserves the ripoff they're sure to get.



I am trying this operation with iTunes 9. Do I need to save the Library.xml file, or can I toss it after everything is done? The only import option in iTunes 9 was to import playlist, but that seems to be working once I chose Library.xml



Would this work on a Networked Drive? (before I go and buy one)



Can you recommend a couple of good external hard drives that would be good for this purpose?




The absolutely best value, in my view, is the miniStack by Newertechnology. It includes extra USB and Firewire ports, is reasonably priced, and looks and works great. Plus the hard drive size is configurable.

The only draw back is that it's not as portable as some might like.

Sometimes (rarely) my Mac "loses" the drive (during fast user switching) - but shutting the drive off and then turning it back on restores it immediately to the desktop.



I have a USB Seagate and it is working fine for my iTunes & iPhoto. Just it is somewhat slower because it is not an ATA or Firewire. It is just a USB 2.0


Jeffery Barbour

A few years ago in Mac Addict magazine, you mentioned how to move the entire iTunes to an external hard drive and removing it from the FULL hard drive internally? I lost that issue and have searched here trying to find it for a friend that has this trouble. I'm trying to help her & look smart doing it. How do I move iTunes files to an external drive and remove from the internal?

I miss Max from Mac Addict.




You'd accomplish what you want to do by following the steps above to move your Library to an external drive AND tell iTunes to launch the Library saved on your external drive every time iTunes launches. Once you've done that (and double checked your external drive to make sure all your music files have transferred over), you can delete the original Library from your hard drive by simply dragging the contents of /Music/iTunes to the trash (and emptying the trash). I know, it's a bit scary, but as long as you have tested that your external transfer works FIRST, this shouldn't cause any problems.

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