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.

  • 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. – Josh Hunt Dec 28 '09 at 1:49
  • 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

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.

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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.

  • 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 – Josh Hunt Aug 2 '09 at 3:39

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.

  • This method loses iTunes metadata like play count and rating. – Daniel Beck May 18 '11 at 15:55

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.

  • 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. – bwDraco Jul 8 '12 at 2:05

I used to use "Re-locate Selected" iTunes Script from Dougs Scripts, it worked perfectly, but it stopped after the iTunes 12 update.


If anyone knows how to edit the script to make it work that would be great.


I just want to update the solution I'm using now, how I got there.

Ok so after I posted originally I noticed the Tunespan answer, and decided to give it a try as another solution was messy and time consuming at the time I was on OS X 10.7.5, So when i went to the App store I found it was not compatible with 10.7.5.

However on there website the have an older version Tunespan beta, This version is compatible back to OSX 10.5 and it's free, After installing it and using it for a few months, I have no reservations in recommending it, it's pretty much exactly what I was looking for, The app opens into an iTunes like interface all your playlists are there it's easy to search for and sort, you can restrict what you see by location.

You can select multiple destinations, there remembered in a simple drop down menu for future reference. Choosing what to move is dragging and dropping into a temporary sort of playlist once you have what you want selected, and you pick your destination its a button press to have it all happen.

I upgraded my system to Yosemite about a week ago, it took a lot of time and tinckering to get it working as im on a Mac Pro 1,1 which doesn't technically support Yosemite.

Even after all the upgrading etc.. my iTunes library is still working perfectly even though atm it's spanned over 4 drives. Now I can upgrade to the current maintained version which I'm looking forward to.

P.S. I have no affiliation with this or any other software company this just was the only solution that I found workable.


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.

  • 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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