How to free up your Mac's internal storage by moving your iTunes Library to an external dr...

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  • Reply 21 of 30
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,634administrator
    potzer said:
    Hey, Malcolm, in your article you stated, "you will need to reconnect the drive to the Mac before opening iTunes again, else it will offer a "Library cannot be found" error." In my experience that's never what occurs. If I ever launch iTunes without my external drive mounted iTunes will default back to the original media storage location in ~/Music/iTunes, recreating a fresh iTunes Media folder. This has happened to me multiple times when my drive was acting funky but since it happens silently I never notice until months down the road. My solution was to set the empty ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media directory to read-only. This way I get an error if iTunes ever tries to use it again.
    The behavior as documented by Malcolm is the standard missing library behavior. On my home server, I see it after a power failure when the drive array doesn't come online with the host machine.

    I don't doubt that what you've described is happening to  you, but I'm not sure precisely why.
  • Reply 22 of 30
    Currently I have my iTunes on an external HD, but as mentioned in the article, it suffers from the problem that if I open iTunes accidentally without the external HD mounted, it'll default to creating a new iTunes Library in my internal drive. However, that problem may not be an issue anymore ever since SanDisk came out with the 128 GB (and recently announced 256 GB) Ultrafit USB 3.x flash drives. It's small enough to leave plugged in and always mounted, and large enough for my modest collection of iTunes media files. YMMV.
    DavidAlGregorywatto_cobra
  • Reply 23 of 30
    abolishabolish Posts: 14member
    abolish said:
    abolish said:
    This article should have mentioned iTunes Match. That has more or less obsoleted this method. Combined with iCloud Music Library it totally frees you from the burden of managing an external drive -- plus it's stored in the cloud so you get an offsite backup of your precious music collection as well. It is Apple's primary solution for this exact problem. I get that there were some rare problems reported with it years ago but it's worth at least discussing here, in an article about "how to free up your Mac's internal storage by moving your iTunes Library..."
    iTunes Match and the similar but not identical feature in Apple Music will be discussed in a future tip. 

    This solution requires no paid service.
    Purchasing an external hard drive costs money too -- X2 if you want a backup.

    All I'm saying is this article should have mentioned iTunes Match / iCloud Music Library. While there are some small differences, the bigger picture is this is the Apple's primary solution for this local storage problem. High quality cloud storage easily accessible from all your devices. In that context this external drive method is much more niche, so it would be informative to explain the (rare) niche conditions under which you might want to explore it.
    To say that the number of users without an external drive and with Apple Music/iTunes Match outnumbers the number of users without Apple music and with a hard drive making the latter "niche" doesn't make a lot of sense.

    That all said, this tip is concise, to the point, and complete. Making tips too long with too many branching points defeats the purpose. Like I said, we're discussing Apple Music/iTunes Match later, and like Duervo said your solution does nothing about stored video.

    I didn't say that. Now you're just sounding argumentative.

    As to your claim, you offer zero support for the implication that external drives are plentiful among Mac users, yet alone the redundant external drives it would require to properly back up a "precious" music archive. You further assume that "outnumbering" or drive availability is the only factor that would make this a niche solution, when there is also the inconvenience of managing external drives and maintaining a proper backup.

    It seems like a fair point that the article could have used a little more context, like an introductory sentence mentioning the primary solution for solving the problem stated in the title of the "tip", but here's an older, more manual approach for those that import videos into iTunes or don't want to use cloud services. That's not overlong -- it's directly relevant context for this solution.
    edited March 2018
  • Reply 24 of 30
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,634administrator
    abolish said:
    abolish said:
    abolish said:
    This article should have mentioned iTunes Match. That has more or less obsoleted this method. Combined with iCloud Music Library it totally frees you from the burden of managing an external drive -- plus it's stored in the cloud so you get an offsite backup of your precious music collection as well. It is Apple's primary solution for this exact problem. I get that there were some rare problems reported with it years ago but it's worth at least discussing here, in an article about "how to free up your Mac's internal storage by moving your iTunes Library..."
    iTunes Match and the similar but not identical feature in Apple Music will be discussed in a future tip. 

    This solution requires no paid service.
    Purchasing an external hard drive costs money too -- X2 if you want a backup.

    All I'm saying is this article should have mentioned iTunes Match / iCloud Music Library. While there are some small differences, the bigger picture is this is the Apple's primary solution for this local storage problem. High quality cloud storage easily accessible from all your devices. In that context this external drive method is much more niche, so it would be informative to explain the (rare) niche conditions under which you might want to explore it.
    To say that the number of users without an external drive and with Apple Music/iTunes Match outnumbers the number of users without Apple music and with a hard drive making the latter "niche" doesn't make a lot of sense.

    That all said, this tip is concise, to the point, and complete. Making tips too long with too many branching points defeats the purpose. Like I said, we're discussing Apple Music/iTunes Match later, and like Duervo said your solution does nothing about stored video.

    I didn't say that. Now you're just sounding argumentative.

    As to your claim, you offer zero support for the implication that external drives are plentiful among Mac users, yet alone the redundant external drives it would require to properly back up a "precious" music archive. You further assume that "outnumbering" or drive availability is the only factor that would make this a niche solution, when there is also the inconvenience of managing external drives and maintaining a proper backup.

    It seems like a fair point that the article could have used a little more context, like an introductory sentence mentioning the primary solution for solving the problem stated in the title of the "tip", but here's an older, more manual approach for those that import videos into iTunes or don't want to use cloud services. That's not overlong -- it's directly relevant context for this solution.
    Well, here, let me clear this up for you then, in a non-argumentative fashion. 

    Believe it or not, I genuinely appreciate your feedback, and we glean tips from reader comments. I understand what you wanted to see, but we were requested to detail this procedure in particular, and as such decline to alter this tip. We feel we've executed it concisely and to the point, and delving further at this point would add confusion to the root of the tip -- backing up locally stored music without subjecting it to possible, well-documented, disruption by Apple's iTunes Match feature or the similar feature provided by Apple Music.

    Apple itself does not consider iTunes Match or Apple Music a backup. It calls it a streaming service for your music.

    However, as I've now said three times, what you are looking for will be discussed in the future.
    edited March 2018 watto_cobra
  • Reply 25 of 30
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,634administrator
    Currently I have my iTunes on an external HD, but as mentioned in the article, it suffers from the problem that if I open iTunes accidentally without the external HD mounted, it'll default to creating a new iTunes Library in my internal drive. However, that problem may not be an issue anymore ever since SanDisk came out with the 128 GB (and recently announced 256 GB) Ultrafit USB 3.x flash drives. It's small enough to leave plugged in and always mounted, and large enough for my modest collection of iTunes media files. YMMV.
    I wonder if this is related to deleting the library entirely, as in file structure and all. We'll look into it.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 26 of 30
    derekwderekw Posts: 2member
    Does anyone have success plugging external drive with iTunes library into their airport extreme or other routers' usb port?

    I tried to plug the drive into an airport extreme's usb port but there are lots of problems. The drive works most of the time but becomes unreachable and dismounts itself every few hours to few days and the files corrupt and have permission problems over months. iTunes on my macbook air would beachball for minutes when this happens. This is true even if the drive is plugged into a powered usb hub before connecting to the airport extreme. Very frustrating. Before I spend hundreds to get a NAS or mac mini, I just want to see if any router can get the job done reliably even if the speed may be slow. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 27 of 30
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 2,972member
    Currently I have my iTunes on an external HD, but as mentioned in the article, it suffers from the problem that if I open iTunes accidentally without the external HD mounted, it'll default to creating a new iTunes Library in my internal drive. However, that problem may not be an issue anymore ever since SanDisk came out with the 128 GB (and recently announced 256 GB) Ultrafit USB 3.x flash drives. It's small enough to leave plugged in and always mounted, and large enough for my modest collection of iTunes media files. YMMV.
    Mentioned this earlier, but not with instructions. This is how I did it, and works great — iTunes Library is stored on the main disk, the iTunes Media contents are stored wherever else (in my case, the secondary HD in my MBP where the optical drive used to live). So if that second drive isn't connected, you can still open iTunes and access your library, just not play back any media files as it won't be able to find them.

    1. Change the "iTunes Media folder location" to a folder on your secondary/external HD.



    2. Go to File > Library > Organize Library and Select "Consolidate files."



    So you'll still have ~/Music/iTunes which contains your Library and album artwork and misc stuff, but all your iTunes Media folders (Music, Apple Music, Podcasts, Movies, etc) will be copied over to the secondary drive and referenced there.

    See this for a bit more detail and other iTunes things:
    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201625

    edited March 2018 watto_cobra
  • Reply 28 of 30
    Currently I have my iTunes on an external HD, but as mentioned in the article, it suffers from the problem that if I open iTunes accidentally without the external HD mounted, it'll default to creating a new iTunes Library in my internal drive. However, that problem may not be an issue anymore ever since SanDisk came out with the 128 GB (and recently announced 256 GB) Ultrafit USB 3.x flash drives. It's small enough to leave plugged in and always mounted, and large enough for my modest collection of iTunes media files. YMMV.
    Mentioned this earlier, but not with instructions. This is how I did it, and works great — iTunes Library is stored on the main disk, the iTunes Media contents are stored wherever else (in my case, the secondary HD in my MBP where the optical drive used to live). So if that second drive isn't connected, you can still open iTunes and access your library, just not play back any media files as it won't be able to find them.


    [...]
    So you'll still have ~/Music/iTunes which contains your Library and album artwork and misc stuff, but all your iTunes Media folders (Music, Apple Music, Podcasts, Movies, etc) will be copied over to the secondary drive and referenced there.

    See this for a bit more detail and other iTunes things:
    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201625

    Hmm, I thought I was doing that too.

    My experience has been that if the external HD were not present, iTunes will reset the location of the Media folder location to '~/Music/iTunes'.
    So if I added new files into the library in the meantime (accidentally or otherwise), it'll add the new contents in ~/Music/iTunes, and the original media library on the external HD is now orphaned (or vice versa, new contents orphaned when starting iTunes with the external HD mounted, and resetting the Media folder to the external HD).


  • Reply 29 of 30
    Maybe AI should take a stab at the eternal question next - Seagate or WD!!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 30 of 30
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 2,972member
    Maybe AI should take a stab at the eternal question next - Seagate or WD!!
    Brand doesn't matter that much, check Backblaze stats. It has to do with certain models of certain brands, like the cursed 3TB Seagates which were garbage, yet the larger capacities since have been fine.
    watto_cobra
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