I'm trying to move all my music to another drive and I don't let iTunes organize my music for me. I moved the "iTunes" folder to my external and I also moved my Music folder which is also outside of my external but the issue I'm having is when I export the XML file.

In Itunes I went to File > Library > Export Library which exports an XML file.

In the XML file I see a ton of paths that begin with:


So my plan is to change all the files from beginning with that to:


That way iTunes can find my files. I haven't done the last step yet because when I option+click the itunes file and it opens up to the message with an option to "Choose Library..." when I click this option it won't let me select the XML file I just exported but an ITL file in the

iTunes/Previous iTunes Libraries/

folder where there are some files with the extension ITL and some that dont have an extension at all.

How do I move my files from my self managed Music folder on my hard drive to a Music folder on my external?

1 Answer 1


Leave the iTunes folder where it is, or symlink it from there. It's relatively small compared to the actual music data, but iTunes really wants to find it in the default location.

The simplest way to do this would actually be to change the library location then let iTunes organise it for you… however, if you don't do that you will have to change one file, then Import it. iTunes will not simply find your changed file & say to itself, 'hmm, I see, they're all here now.'

Your premise is almost correct, however, you don't export the XML, you change the existing one.

  • If you've already moved the main ~/Music/iTunes folder structure put it back (or Symlink it) & check all is still OK in iTunes.

  • Quit iTunes.

  • Copy the iTunes Library.xml & .itl files to the desktop for safety.
    Delete the ITL still in the iTunes folder. iTunes will rebuild this itself at the last step.
    Open the XML in BBEdit or similar.

  • Change the paths, as you were doing - you already noticed that these are, rather irritatingly, absolute paths not relative.

  • Now - this is the important bit that none of the 'moving my iTunes Library' guides tell you. They mostly tell you to Import this new XML from the Import menu - I've done it, it can take 12 hours & you lose some data.

  • Save your modified XML file back into the iTunes Music folder.
    We now need to make a new broken ITL file.

  • Open Terminal & enter this touch ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes\ Library.itl That will create an empty ITL file, broken enough for this.

  • Launch iTunes. It will now notice something is 'wrong' & start rebuilding the ITL file, using your newly-modified XML file. The message is 'Importing ‘iTunes Music Library.xml’ This will take some time, but more like 15 minutes than 8 hours.

You may find some album artwork missing - it never seems to be a truly perfect solution, but your play counts, playlists etc should all survive intact.

  • Why wouldn't someone just follow Apple's steps to let multiple users share music media folder - per support.apple.com/en-us/HT201979 and support.apple.com/en-us/HT204488 ?
    – bmike
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 14:30
  • 1
    …because it doesn't work if you have 2 different computers using one repository in a 3rd location & want to keep iTunes itself in sync, only having one 'master' - you periodically have to do this manually, from one machine to the other, otherwise things eventually fall apart. Machine one is in control, machine 2 is only ever used as a playback machine of things previously set up on machine one. Machine 1 is not necessarily accessible when 2 is needed.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 14:32

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