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My internal hard drive is somewhat small, and I only regularly listen to a fraction of my iTunes library anyway, so I'd like to keep large portions on it on an external drive for archival purposes. Since dealing with multiple iTunes libraries is somewhat painful, the solution I'm looking for is to move individual items of the library to a different location, without compromising the "Keep organized" and "Copy files" settings.

I found an AppleScript that I assume is supposed to do this, Move Files To Folder…, but it instead copies them, and doesn't update the library accordingly.

I can do this manually by moving the file, then accessing it in iTunes — it'll prompt me for the new location. I just don't intend to do this one by one for thousands of files.

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Since you mention AppleScript, consider tagging this question macosx? –  therefromhere Aug 1 '09 at 13:34
    
Good point. Used the more widely used osx tag, though. –  Sören Kuklau Aug 1 '09 at 14:23
    
I updated my response with another method that may work even better. –  David Pearce Dec 28 '09 at 1:49
    
Thanks, I'll try that. –  Sören Kuklau Dec 30 '09 at 11:08
    
I just verified the linked script moves the files as long as they are on the same physical drive. –  George Tsiokos Jan 26 '10 at 2:53
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4 Answers 4

I am the developer of an application to does exactly this... To help make it easy for you to move any of your iTunes media wherever you choose.

The app is called TuneSpan and it is available on the Mac App Store.

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While we allow these kinds of posts as long as you disclose affiliation, please be careful not to make too many promotional posts. See the FAQ for details. –  DragonLord Jul 8 '12 at 2:05
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This really depends, but I don't think it can be done the way you want it.

The 'supported' way

You can disable iTunes from copying music to the iTunes folder for future imports by going iTunes > Preferences > Advanced > Uncheck "Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library". This will add all future files to the library, but it will not copy them into the iTunes folder, so make sure you do no.

The downside to this is that iTunes will not be able to keep those folders organized, so you would have to put them into the folder structure you want BEFORE importing them.

enter image description here

The hacky way

After importing the items into your library, move them to your alternate location, then create a symbolic link to the new location of the file. You have to use terminal for this:

ln -s /new/file/location/Britney\ Spears ~/Music/iTunes/Britney\ Spears

Assuming you moved the Britney Spears to /new/file/location/. The \ is used to escape the space in Britney Spears. This is important.

I have not tested this myself, so I do not actually know if it will work. I will try it out later and update this post


After further pondering, I have hypothesised a modification of the first method that should let you keep your ratings. After unchecking "Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library", move the songs with the lower ratings to the external drive. Now, when you try to play the moved tracks iTunes should complain about the missing tracks. When it does, point it to the files that you moved on to the external drive.

If this works, it would be a tedious, song-by-song process which may be impracticable for a large amount of songs. You could also try going one step further by rechecking "Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library" and hope that does not copy the files you just moved back into the iTunes Music folder.

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As I said, I don't want to disable the "Copy files" setting. As for moving and symlinking, that would only be marginally less of a hassle than moving and relocating, and only when an entire folder could be moved — but most of the time, it's an album where I listen to some, but not all songs. Thus, I'd have to symlink individual files, and that's too much work. Thanks, though. –  Sören Kuklau Aug 1 '09 at 23:57
    
Sören Kuklau: That really is the closest way to get what you want. If you have lots of videos taking up space, you can always symlink the videos, movies and tv shows folder –  David Pearce Aug 2 '09 at 3:39
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I've been searching for an answer for this as well. After I watch a movie on iTunes, I move the files to an external drive and then re-add them to iTunes. Here is what I currently do:

  • "Keep iTunes Music Organized" is checked (turned on)
  • Select the movies (or music) that I want to move to an external drive and drag and drop them (copy) to the external drive via the Finder.
  • delete the selected movies from iTunes
  • select the newly copied files in the Finder (on the external drive) hold down the option key and drag these new files back into iTunes

Obviously not ideal, but at least you can do this in bulk.

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This method loses iTunes metadata like play count and rating. –  Daniel Beck May 18 '11 at 15:55
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You can copy the entire iTunes directory from your primary hard drive to another. When launching iTunes, hold down the option key and choose the location of the library as the new drive.

This trick should also work with most iLife products. I have tested this only with iPhoto to store old photos on an external USB drive.

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I know I can do that, but then I'd end up with either two libraries (that I'd have to keep in sync) or none on my internal drive. I do want the majority of my library to remain on my internal drive. –  Sören Kuklau Aug 2 '09 at 9:39
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