I am attempting to copy my wife's Music Library to a new user on my iMac.

Update 2021-04-09

My previous attempts failed. I thought this may have been due to attempting to copy from Catalina to Big Sur.
I have now updated my iMac to Big Sur, but still not having much luck.

I now have a fresh copy of my wife's iTunes folder on the desktop of her login on the iMac.
My many attempts to get Music to use this have failed. There was a iTunes folder and Music/Music/Music Library.musiclibrary from previous failed attempts, which I deleted.

I have been unable to find any Automatically Add to iTunes folder

It is frustrating, as I can see ALL the music, but not access it in Music.

Update 2 I have partial success.
I gave up on trying to copy the iTunes folder.
I went into the Music Files menu and there was an import option (I can't remember exactly, but think Import Library - it is now gone).

My wife's playlists are missing, but that is a minor issue.

It seems this is a case where all the instructions on the web no longer work.

Years ago I did similar things, but it seems much harder without iTunes.

After many web searches I followed a set of steps:-

Copying Your iTunes Folder

Plug your USB flash drive or external drive into your computer. Go to the iTunes folder. Finder double-click the Music folder. You'll find the iTunes folder here. Copy the iTunes folder. Click once the iTunes folder to select it, then press ⌘ Command+C to copy the entire folder. If you already have music in iTunes on the new computer, you'll instead double-click the iTunes folder and then copy the iTunes Media folder inside of it. Open your USB flash drive or external hard drive. On the left side of the File Explorer or Finder window, click the name of your plugged-in USB flash drive or external flash drive. Paste in the copied iTunes folder. Press ⌘ Command+V to paste in the folder.

Transferring Your Library

Plug your USB flash drive or external drive into the new computer. Open the flash drive or external drive. Either click the drive's name in the File Explorer (Windows) or Finder , or wait for the drive's window to open automatically. Copy the iTunes folder. Click the iTunes folder inside of the drive's window, then press or ⌘ Command+C. Open your computer's Music folder. Go to the location of the Music folder, which is where you found the iTunes folder on your first computer. You shouldn't see an iTunes folder here if you haven't already used iTunes on this computer. If you instead copied the iTunes Media folder in the last part, you'll double-click the iTunes Media folder, then double-click the Automatically Add to iTunes folder before proceeding. Paste in the iTunes folder. Press ⌘ Command+V to do so. You should see the iTunes folder appear in the Music folder. Once the folder finishes copying into the Music folder, you should be able to open iTunes and view your music.

If you do see an iTunes folder and you haven't already used iTunes on this computer, you can delete the iTunes folder clicking it and dragging the folder to the Trash.

The copied directory looks like the following (edited for brevity)

|-- Album\ Artwork
|   |-- Cache
|   |-- Cloud
|   |-- Cloud\ Purchases
|   |-- Custom
|   |-- Download
|   |-- Generated
|   `-- Store
|-- Mobile\ Applications
|-- Previous\ iTunes\ Libraries
|   |-- iTunes\ Library\ 2010-07-19
|   |-- iTunes\ Library\ 2010-11-02
|   |-- iTunes\ Library\ 2011-03-18
|   |-- iTunes\ Library\ 2011-03-26
|   |-- iTunes\ Library\ 2011-10-10.itl
|   |-- iTunes\ Library\ 2012-03-19.itl
|   |-- iTunes\ Library\ 2013-05-07.itl
|   |-- iTunes\ Library\ 2013-05-29.itl
|   |-- iTunes\ Library\ 2014-10-18.itl
|   |-- iTunes\ Library\ 2016-01-15.itl
|   |-- iTunes\ Library\ 2016-11-15.itl
|   |-- iTunes\ Library\ 2017-03-04.itl
|   |-- iTunes\ Library\ 2017-05-27.itl
|   |-- iTunes\ Library\ 2017-10-24.itl
|   |-- iTunes\ Library\ 2018-09-28.itl
|   `-- iTunes\ Library\ 2019-01-20.itl
|-- iPod\ Games
|   |-- Klondike
|   `-- iPod\ Quiz
|-- iTunes\ Library\ Extras.itdb
|-- iTunes\ Library\ Genius.itdb
|-- iTunes\ Library.itl
|-- iTunes\ Music
|   |-- Alan\ Clark
|   |-- Alan\ Clark,\ Eddie\ Gomez\ over\ The\ Acetones
|   |-- Alan\ Clarke\ over\ The\ Acetones
|   |-- Alan\ Clarke,\ Mike\ Brecker,\ Mike\ Mainieri,\ Neil\ Jason\ &\ Steve\ Jordon
|   |-- Aled\ Jones
|   |-- Andrew\ Dalton
|   |-- Andrew\ Parrott_\ Taverner\ Consort\ &\ Players
|   |-- Antonio\ Vivaldi
|   |-- Winsome\ Evans
|   |-- Yvonne\ Kenny,\ Adelaide\ Symphony\ Orchestra
|   `-- Yvonne\ Kenny;\ Takuo\ Yuasa_\ Adelaide\ Symphony\ Orchestra
|-- iTunes\ Music\ Library.xml
`-- sentinel

119 directories, 48 files

I have had several tries and at one stage using Library / Import Playlist I could get a couple of tunes to play, but I am reluctant to do for hundreds.

Can anyone help, or suggest an alternative.

I have been unable to find any Apple instructions for the Mac - although they have Windows instructions.

My iMac is running Catalina

4 Answers 4


This is how I was able to transfer my Music (not iTunes) library from one Mac on another. Both were running on Big Sur. All my music files are on an external drive and I have always used iTunes/Music with the 'keep music media folder organised' option ticked.

In ~/Music/Music/ on your old laptop you should have something similar to this:

├── Media.localized
│   └── Automatically\ Add\ to\ Music.localized
└── Music\ Library.musiclibrary
    ├── Application.musicdb
    ├── Extras.itdb
    ├── Genius.itdb
    ├── Library\ Preferences.musicdb
    ├── Library.musicdb
    ├── Preferences.plist
    └── sentinel

3 directories, 7 files

Copy all the files from the ~/Music/Music/ directory from the old Mac on to the new one (be sure to create a backup of the original directory on the new Mac before overwriting any files).

Ensure that the Music Media folder location in Music (Preferences > Files) is pointing to the correct location - do this before the next step (I'm not sure if relevant or not but I happened to do it in this order). Save and quit Music.

Reopen Music, holding down the option key as you open it. Browse to the ~/Music/Music/ directory and choose Music Library.musiclibrary. This opened up with all my playlists, album artworks, play counts etc. from my old Mac intact.

Note - only follow these instructions if you are transferring your Music library to a completely empty one!!


I'm not sure why the instructions refer to the 'Automatically Add to iTunes' folder. This shouldn't be necessary, so long as your old & new users have the same name & you always used default settings for iTunes.

Your previous library must be consolidated before you do this - that ensures all necessary data/tunes are in that folder structure & not scattered elsewhere. iTunes should do this by default. In prefs > Advanced, the boxes for 'Keep iTunes Media folder organised' and 'Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library' should be checked. If they aren't, you need to manually consolidate, from the File menu > Library >

Then all you need to do is copy the entire iTunes folder to the new Mac.
If there was no existing structure, ie if the account hasn't yet launched iTunes, then it should immediately see & use the new data. This should show in the folder location in the advanced tab.


TLDR; To move a Music library from one Mac to another, copy the contents of the ~/Music folder on the old Mac to the same location on the new Mac, and hold down ⌥ option while opening the Music app on the new machine, where you can select the library you just copied.


Apple is not making this easy wanting to tie everyone up with Music Subscription. Downloaded "free" tools not free if want something more than a few songs.

I was migrating a Music library from Sonoma to Big Sur so going backwards on macOS. Big Sur won't read Sonoma Music library file.

  • Run Music on first macOS

  • Select "Songs" on left pane

  • command-A to select all songs

  • right click the selected songs choose copy

  • open a folder (say on USB stick) choose Paste

  • Run Music on 2nd macOS

  • import the music files in the folder created above

Note the Copy and Paste operation can be huge file list so is not instant. I did 1k songs in 1 copy+paste step. Don't know if work for much larger song #s. If not, may need to break it up into chunks.

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