Excluding anything in the iTunes Library, what and where (or full relative path is fine) are all of externally called files including preference list files etc used by iTunes X 10.6.3? And by iTunes XI 11.2.1?

A comprehensive and exhaustive list of what files these 2 separate versions of iTunes access, excluding the iTunes Library and anything inside the application bundle is what I'm after. If they both use identical external files to store their preferences, all the better. If you can give any short explanation on each file, what is stored there, it is also appreciated.

The purpose of identifying these files is to aid in the understanding of how to go about having both versions of iTunes installed at the same time, so that I can choose (via a switcher script that may shuffle the files in and out of the correct place) which version to load for the purposes of enabling administration of older iOS devices that are no longer supported in the current version of iTunes.

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    Have you tried the following terminal command? lsof | grep -i itunes | grep -i plist while running iTunes? It lsof lists all open files, and grep returns only lines matching certain words (itunes, plist). Plist is the common extension for a preference file (plist = property list) – CousinCocaine May 19 '14 at 20:18
  • @CousinCocaine - nice suggestion, I have not. But I'd need someone else to check for iTunes XI, because I won't install it until I know what these files are, but I can check iTunes X. I recommend you add this as an answer here, as it is instructive and has a great chance of being comprehensive. Then you can delete your comment to avoid redundency. And thanks. – chillin May 19 '14 at 21:07
  • @CousinCocaine appreciate your suggestion, but I was unable to get the command to return anything. But running lsof |grep -i iTunes did return useful information, if not any plist, and I realize my intent behind discovering these files is for naught—which I didn't mention, which was to see if multiple versions of iTunes can live on the same installation of OS X. Thanks in part to your suggestion, I've discovered they cannot, because iTunes X opens frameworks, and the install of iTunes XI will break all previous versions. iTunes is not so much a discrete app as it is integral to OS X. – chillin May 19 '14 at 23:16
  • Aha! you want to run two seperate iTunes versions side by side? I tried to open iTunes as a seperate user (test): sudo -u test open /Applications/iTunes.app but that just seem to use the current local variables. And opening an other instance of the same app using the (-n) flag does not work as well (open -n /Applications/iTunes.app). It looks like you need some real virtualization, like VirtualBox, VMWare or Parallels. – CousinCocaine May 20 '14 at 7:25
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    No. Not side by side, not concurrently, nor simultaneously. I was trying to determine if it was posssible to run two distinct versions of iTunes on the same System, but not at the same time. I thought that iTunes had become a discrete app. It did not, it only looks like one. It is actually integral to OS X. Its impossible to run 2 distinct versions of iTunes on the same box not at the same time because of the frameworks each version uses. Installing the subsequent version always breaks the previous version. You can't just move the old version to a different folder and get it to work. – chillin May 20 '14 at 7:55

This answer is in two parts. If you're after all the preference files associated with iTunes then the list is relatively short. If you want every file that iTunes accesses then the list is going to be vastly and incredibly long and also very difficult to track down. If you can offer some more context of what reason you're trying to track these down maybe I can help you isolate files related to your needs.

All of iTunes preference files:

File (Primary): com.apple.iTunes.MACHINE_GUID.plist

Located at: /Users/USERNAME/Library/Preferences/ByHost

Files: com.apple.iTunesHelper.plist | com.apple.iTunes.plist | com.apple.iTunes.eq.plist

Located at: /Users/USERNAME/Library/Preferences

Hidden File: .iTunes Preferences.plist

Located at: /Users/USERNAME/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media

All of the settings you set/change in the iTunes application are represented in the two primary preference files. The one in the ByHost folder above and the other main one called com.apple.iTunes.plist above.

Hope that helps.

  • sgelliott - I am marking the question as answered to deter any more answers, as I have my answer. Though it was CousinCocaine that partly led me to my realization, you answered the question and it appears correct. I thank you for the effort, and I hope it is useful to anyone in the future that may need it and find it. Thanks again. – chillin May 19 '14 at 23:19
  • @chillin Sure thing, glad I could help. Yeah, the command line tool is a good suggestion. I actually used a free tool you might find useful in the future as well. It's called EasyFind and you can search (without spotlight) almost everything on your machine. It's free both on the App Store and as a stand-alone download. It'll let you find every file you could imagine using powerful options. Good luck! – sgelliott May 19 '14 at 23:58
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    thanks, I'll remember it, but I'm partial to locate – chillin May 20 '14 at 4:14

This question is answered sufficiently, but it was revealed what I was trying to do... run multiple versions of iTunes on the same system non-concurrently, which is not possible because iTunes is not so much a stand alone app as it is integral with the system (see comments under my question at top). The reason I wanted to do this is because I am running 2 iOS devices at iOS5 with iTunes X, but I just acquired an iOS7 device, requiring iTunes XI, and knowing Apple's modus operandi of surreptitiously removing functionality, I did not want to blindly update my system's iTunes to 11.

Here's what I did instead:

  • copied my entire iTunes Library to an external drive
  • installed a near identical system on a 16GB SD Card, same username as my main system
  • room on the card was tight, so I disabled SafeSleep mode thusly:

sudo pmset hibernatemode 0; sudo rm -rf /var/vm/sleepimage which gave me back a whopping 8GB of disk space

  • downloaded the iTunes XI installer from Apple and installed it
  • ran softwareupdate and applied appropriate updates including iTunes patch
  • made a softlink from ~/Music/iTunes to the duplicate iTunes Library on the external drive
  • launched iTunes and signed in, and because of the near identical system, Apple didn't even recognize it as different, so I did not have to authorize a new system

Now I can sync my iOS7 device with iTunes XI without affecting my main system and the iTunes X install there by booting from the SD Card when I wish to sync my iOS7 device.

I realize that eventually the 2 iTunes Libraries will diverge enough to become annoying, but it should take awhile as the only thing that changes these days are the apps I download for iOS (my music library doesn't change that often).

I'll have to manually keep track of what changes I make within certain apps such as GoodReader and iBooks to keep them in sync on all the devices (or I could use iCloud to backup app data and keep my apps synced that way), but at least I have local storage of backups of my iOS7 device, and can sync my music, books, movies, etc.

The situation is not ideal, but I am extremely pleased with it as I won't be backing up the iOS7 device on a very regular basis, and I find iTunes XI to be deplorable (iTunes X is bad enough for its bloat and feature creep, its slow, but it lets me do what I want... but iTunes XI removes nearly all user control, has inscrutable automation routines that can't be stopped, and is overall what I would call "junk software." I'm not sure how other users tolerate it! Doesn't anyone miss being able to have the autonomy to be able to control how your iOS devices are managed without having to fight the software for that control? What planet am I on?!?! :P

I appreciate the help that the responders and commenters to this question gave, as it was necessary to know what couldn't be done before I could do what I could do.

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