How To Split Your iTunes Library Across Multiple Locations



+ Add a Comment


Good Tutorial. I am facing just the problem, that I cannot add new files to the library, so that it automatically copies them to external drive: ""Attempting to copy to the disk...". Is the reason, that it is an (mounted/unlocked) encrypted HFS+drive or do you have the same problems?



I separated my videos to an external hard drive. Now when I add new videos, it creates a new TV Shows folder on the internal drive, thereby creating two spots for my iTunes videos. I suppose I need to manually manage this and move new videos to the external hard drive if I want to keep it all together, correct?



I believe there is one more gotcha to this tip regarding TV shows. I have found when I import TV shows I have ripped, they always are logged as Movies. I have had to reimport a few shows and even if they were tagged correctly in iTunes, they lose the designation between TV shows and Movies when this happens. Changing them to TV shows is easy in the Get Info->Options windows (Media Kind).

I recommend to reimport the TV shows first. Then select all of them in mass and make set their media to TV shows. iTunes will let you make this bulk change without impacting anything else. Then reimport the Movies.

(If you import the movies first, you have to pick out the TV shows from the movies. Not impossible to do, but a pain if you have a lot of them.)

Hopefully Apple will add this sort of functionality eventually to iTunes. I finally moved my 1.4 TB library to a Drobo after my 3rd drive replacement for more space.



Fantastic little trick this. Just wondering if I would still be able to have iTunes organise my files for me? I know I'd have to put them on the right drive but after that could they be moved etc.

Also, do I need to untick the boxes in preferences (copy to/keep organised) before trying this?

Thanks very much :)



When I tried holding option key down while dragging my movies from new location - they just copied again, taking up all of my newly freed up space. What did I do wrong?



Another way to resolve this problem is:
- quit iTunes if it's running
- within the ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music folder
- copy the Movies and TV Shows folders to the external drive
- from a Finder window, delete the original Movies and TV Shows folders
- launch Terminal and run the following two commands, substituting your user/account (short) name for "username" below... and substituting the name of your external hard drive for "itunes_hd".

ln -s "/Volumes/itunes_hd/Movies" "/Users/username/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music/Movies"
ln -s "/Volumes/itunes_hd/TV Shows" "/Users/username/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music/TV Shows"

This will create symbolic links to the Movies and TV Shows folders on your external drive. NOW, WITH ALL THAT SAID, I'm not comfortable doing that with an external hard drive because I don't know what iTunes will think if the external drive isn't connected. I think splitting the iTunes library in this or any manner should be considered a "band-aid" approach only until you can purchase and install a larger hard drive.



Hmmm, I'm not sure I'd recommend this. What happens the next time you rip something? You can only specify one location for your iTunes media folder in the settings. Doesn't splitting it in two manually more or less guarantee confusion further down the line?



Not necessarily. If you regularly consolidate your library(s) and their location(s) the confusion is minimal to nonexistent. After a while you will be managing your computer's itunes media folder as though it were like a mobile device, and your external consolidated library like depository. While there are no applications that can do all of this for you at the moment, nor is this function built into itunes. In the end you'll have to rely on your own file management acrobatics to keep things copacetic.



Instead of separating out videos, I want to move part of my music library to an external drive and keep albums/playlists intact. Is there any way to do this?



You might try copying the tracks in your playlist to a new folder on your desktop. Then import those tracks as a new album. iTunes will create a new folder the music section of your iTunes media folder, provided that you edit the track info on the newly imported tracks. iTunes will usually group tracks if they share some of the same info. As a rule of thumb I leave the album artist field blank and then add a clever album title to all those tracks in said playlist. Next is specifying that this new album is a compilation, by checking compilation checkbox. This keeps the artist info per track intact and does not force a static name to the rest of the tracks. This playlist will now reside in itunes media/music/compilations folder, and leave the original files in their respective album folders too. After that you can add custom artwork to your new playlist album. Essentially you are pretending that your playlist came from a ripped cd. If you follow my previous post you can remove any combination of folders from the itunes media folder from your computer, and then turn to your external drive to fill the rest of your media needs. If ever you try to play something you removed the media folder on your computer without your external connected, itunes will prompt you to relocate that media. Do not relocate media. Instead quit iTunes and relaunch with the external connected to avoid relocation frustration.



Perhaps the only bummer about splitting your library this way, is having your play counts reset. iTunes views the new, referenced imports as if they were brand new items in your library. Other than that, it sure works peachy-keen!



What I've done is I performed a migration from the itunes preferences menu. After that i deleted the movies from the iTunes media folder on my computer. Now, when I launch iTunes the remaing media on my computer will still function as normal, even without the external connected. When i want to play movies all I have to do is relaunch iTunes with the external connected. An added benefit is when I add new media without the external connected, all i have to do is run consolidate library from the file menu with the external connected to keep everything in sync.


Seamus Bellamy

Nice one!

Log in to Mac|Life directly or log in using Facebook

Forgot your username or password?
Click here for help.

Login with Facebook
Log in using Facebook to share comments and articles easily with your Facebook feed.