Two MACs and moving an iTunes Library.

Joe Batt shared this question 12 years ago

I have a MacBook Pro and recently bought a Mac Mini that I want to use for a media player.

At the moment the 500Gb drive on the MacBook is nearly full (mainly with iTunes Media) and there is nothing on my MacMini.

I want to move the iTunes library from my MacBook to a WD 2TB drive and then connect that to my MacMini and have the MacMini use the 'copied' library on the WD 2Tb drive.

I have spanned the library from the MacBook to the WD drive, but when I plugged the WD drive into the MacMini I cannot see how to direct iTunes on the MacMini to play from the WD drive.

The ultimate intention is to have the iTunes library on the WD drive connected to the Mac Mini and then to use iTunes to play on the MacMini and also should I need it, sharing the music etc to the MacBook. Thus leaving the MacBook with loads of free HD space and the MacMini also free since it just uses the iTunes library on the WD drive.

Replies (5)


Sounds like that shouldn't be too hard to achieve.

Since you've already spanned all of your music to the external drive, your iTunes Library files on your MacBook know the location as /Volumes/YourExternalDrive/Spanned Media/... or something along those lines. So if you load up the same iTunes Library files on your Mac Mini, the path will be the same from there when the drive is plugged into it.

So, you just need to copy your iTunes Library.

If it's located in the default location on your MacBook, you need to copy it to the same relative location on the Mac Mini. You would need to copy the whole "~/Music/iTunes" folder. Don't delete anything from anywhere, just copy that folder to the Mini. Using the external drive as a temporary location, if you need. If you already have an "iTunes" folder on the Mini, just move it to the desktop, or rename it, no need to delete anything in this situation until you know exactly what you got and that iTunes knows where everything is.

Once your whole iTunes folder is copied with all the library files and everything, you should just be able to plug in the external drive, launch up iTunes and it should know where everything is.

BUT... you may also want to copy your TuneSpan Library to the Mac Mini incase you want to have the span history and be able to restore the tracks (which would go into the relative location on the Mac Mini). But, that may not be necessary as you can just install TuneSpan on the Mini and the current locations on the external will be considered the original location and you can still span everything wherever you choose.

In this process, you will end up with two identical libraries on the MacBook and Mac Mini, this is not really ideal since if you change something on one, the changes will not sync to the other. You should have one main library and use Home Sharing through iTunes or something to play the media from the other system. Once you know the migration worked, you can trash (or more wisely, make an archive of and then trash) the original library on the MacBook and just create a new empty library to use just to pick up the stream from the other system.

Let me know if this doesn't make sense. If any of it doesn't make sense, or you have questions, let me know. I don't want to lead you down a path that may be confusing or end up with a messed up library. Since I can't be there to do the process, I just have to try my best to describe what needs to be done, trusting that you have a good handle on what I'm talking about.


Thank you for your reply, it seems to be working and now I am using the spanned iTunes library on my WD HD on the MacMini....The only small hiccup is that 95% of the artwork has vanished for some reason.

I literally copied the iTunes library directory from the MacBook and placed it in the same location on the MacMini. As I said its working fine just the album and movie artwork is not there....well I say not there random artwork shows up but only about 1 in 20....

Any ideas?


Just noticed the weird thing is that if I select an album or a movie and go to 'get info' and go to 'artwork' the artwork is there....then when I close the window that album or movie now has the artwork.

I have a hundreds of albums and movies and don't want to do this for each one individually....any idea?


Hmmm, sorry about that, the artwork cache should have been in that iTunes folder along with the library files, but I guess it got reset somehow.

In iTunes, open the "Advanced" menu, and look for the option "Get Album Artwork" it may take a while for a lot of music, but it should retrieve as much artwork as it can. Make sure you external with your media is plugged in before you launch iTunes as well.

I have found that it is best to have the external drive plugged in before launching iTunes because if iTunes finds that some track is missing at one point, it will continue to skip it in shuffle or through an album unless it is double clicked manually. But, if you launch iTunes after the drive is mounted, it will find everything. The artwork loading may be part of that if you mounted the drive after launching iTunes.


I hope you have solved the album artwork issue. Let me know if you have any other questions or issues.

I'm going to go ahead and mark this as answered as the initial question has been answered.

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