I recently decided to do a big cleanup of my iTunes library. I am low on disk space and have quite a bit of music that I haven't listened to since I was a much younger man, but I can't bring myself to get rid of it completely yet. So what I would like to do is move these tracks to another machine or an external drive, but I don't want to lose any of the metadata, (including dates added, play count etc). Any ideas on a safe and efficient way to do this? I'm running 10.9.4 with up to date iTunes.
You can do a manual 'backup' of your existing iTunes library to a separate drive, which then gives you the capacity to restore the library later:
It's also possible to leave the library version intact and just move the audio files. iTunes marks missing tracks with an exclamation mark. If you try to play a track that has been moved, iTunes will prompt you to locate the track and enable you to point to it. If you wished, you could eventually manually update all your off-disk music. You can even move your entire media folder, should you wish: