My problem is this. I have my language lessons and my music in different folders on an external hard drive. For some reason my libraries got mucked up (by opening iTunes when the hard drive wasn't connected). So I need to set up my libraries again.

What I want to do is set up two separate libraries: Language Lessons and Music. I know this is possible because I've done it, and set the location to the respective folders. The problem is that the new libraries I set up are empty -- there are no songs or lessons in the playlist! So how do I get iTunes to populate my playlists? I've found two alternatives but neither is satisfactory:

  1. Click on each individual song/lesson in the folder to play it, and iTunes then lists it in the playlist. This is ridiculous as I have about 4,000 songs.

  2. Physically drag the folder containing the Songs or Language lessons onto the window. This copies all the songs in the folder into that playlist. The problem is that I don't want it to copy my 4,000 songs into a new folder (which exceeds the space limit on the hard disc drive), I just want iTunes to populate each library with the songs in the existing folder.

I'm sure this is a dumb newbie kind of question, but there is nothing in the Mac documentation that even suggests how this can be done.

Using MacBook Pro, MacOS 10.6.8.

  • In iTunes > Preferences > Advanced, uncheck Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library. Does that make Option 2 acceptable?
    – hairboat
    Feb 5, 2012 at 1:57
  • Abby, thank you, I tried it and it seems to work! (I'll try it with my music collection tomorrow when I have more time). I'm afraid I find iTunes one of the less intuitive of Apple's programs -- but I guess I'm not a 'power user' Thanks again!
    – Bathrobe
    Feb 5, 2012 at 15:46
  • No problem! I'm glad it seems to be working for you. I don't find iTunes very intuitive either - you are definitely not the only one!
    – hairboat
    Feb 5, 2012 at 16:09

1 Answer 1


You can add your files to your iTunes library without having iTunes copy the files to its own folder. Go to iTunes > Preferences > Advanced and un-check Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to Library. This will let you drag-and-drop entire folders into iTunes, and it will add them to its iTunes Library xml file without making copies of all of your files.

(If you keep that checked and un-check the other option on that preference pane, Keep iTunes Media folder organized, iTunes will copy all of the files you drag into it, but it will preserve the naming and file structure of the original source folder.)

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