Move iTunes music to another drive and free up space

Disk driveNot all Apple Macs have big disk drives and if you have had one for some time you might be running short of space. This is especially true of Macs with SSDs (solid state disks) and early MacBook Airs for example, only had 64GB SSDs. Even now entry level models only have 128GB. You can free up many gigabytes of disk space by moving the iTunes folder to another disk drive, such as an external unit.

iTunes demands a lot of disk space and the amount used will vary from person to person. It depends on how much music you have, how many movies you have downloaded, the number of podcasts you have subscribed to, the iTunes U courses stored and so on. If you sync with an iPhone or iPad then even more space is consumed and iTunes stores a copy of every app you have installed on the device.

Some people have iTunes libraries that are 30GB, 50GB or even more. If you are struggling for space on your Mac's internal drive, freeing up this space can solve a lot of problems.

Before you can move the iTunes folder you need to make sure that it is organised properly. Music and other media can be stored anywhere on the disk drive and if this is the case, it would be an impossible task to locate it all and move it anywhere. For this reason, there are features that enable media to be organised into a single location. With everything in one place it then becomes a much easier task to move it elsewhere.

Start iTunes, go to the iTunes menu and select Preferences. Select the Advanced tab:

iTunes preferences

Near the top it tells you where the iTunes folder is stored. The default location is /Users/YourName/Music/iTunes, Make sure the two options at the top are ticked, Keep iTunes Media folder organised and Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library. This ensures that any music or other media that is added to iTunes is copied to the iTunes folder and stored in the correct subfolders.

Click OK to close Preferences, then go to the File menu and select Library, Organise Library. Tick Consolidate files.

iTunes consolidate files

This means that if any music files or other media files are stored elsewhere on the disk drive, they will be copied to the iTunes folder. Note that this does not move the files, it places a copy of them in the iTunes folder. Afterwards you could delete the originals if you wanted to. Most people don't have media outside of the iTunes folder, so this won't affect everyone.

Now that all media files used by iTunes are stored in the iTunes folder, it can be moved elsewhere. Quit iTunes. Open an Finder window and go to your Music folder. Open another Finder window at the location you want to move iTunes to, such as a second disk drive, and drag the iTunes folder to it. Dragging folders from one Finder window to another to move them should present no problems.

Now that the iTunes folder is in a new location, such as another drive, we need to tell iTunes where it is. Hold down the Option key and click iTunes in the Dock. This message is displayed:

Move iTunes library

Click the Choose Library... button. You can then select the new location of the iTunes folder. iTunes will then start normally and it will remember this new location every time you start it.

Disk drive image is public domain from


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