Posts Tagged itunes

iTunes 9 and Custom iTunes Folder

itunes-logo I am not a fan of the iTunes software or philosophy.  On Windows it’s sluggish, the UI is unconventional and awkward for the platform and it forces the user to accept a bunch of other software like Quicktime.  The philosophy is patronizing and heavy-handed.  Apple says, "don’t worry your pretty little head about where your files are, we’ll take care of everything."  And, "don’t sweat the music format, just play this where and when we tell you."

Unfortunately, it’s probably the best and only way to manage and sync content with my iPods, which I use mainly for exercise and road trips.  So I want all the MP3s available to other programs, like when I make family slideshow movies.  I want to store everything in a separate data volume (drive) that can be shared with my whole home network and backed up on its own schedule.  For me iTunes is a utility for subscribing to my podcasts, managing a few playlists and syncing with iPods.  It is not my media management tool.

But it wants to be.

Here’s how I moved my iTunes files after some experimentation and reading helpful snippets scattered on the ‘net.

Before You Do Anything

Back up your iTunes folder.  If you haven’t already customized everything already, on Vista or Win7 it’s usually somewhere like "C:\Users\<you>\My Music\iTunes".  Just copy the whole folder somewhere.  It may be very big if you have a lot of stuff in there.

If you’re transitioning from one computer to another, the safest bet is to also "Deauthorize" your computer first.  Then Reauthorize it later, after a reinstall.

Install iTunes

Just do a straight install.  Then quit the program.

Attach Your Library

OK, here’s the tricky part.  Go your old iTunes folder.  Mine was on "D:\Music\iTunes".  Maybe yours is on a removable disk or something.  In that folder is a file called "iTunes Library.xml".  Open it with a text editor like Notepad.  Make sure all the paths for all the music and podcast files are right.  Fix with Find-Replace anything that’s not right.


Now edit the file "iTunes Library.itl" with Notepad.  It’ll look like gobbledygook.  Delete everything in the file and Save it.  That file should now exist, but be 0-bytes in size.


Now launch iTunes while holding your SHIFT key down.  You’ll be prompted to choose a Library.  Browse over to your old iTunes folder and select the "iTunes Library" file there.  Presto, now iTunes will rebuild itself and point to your old iTunes folder!

If you want, you can now delete your default iTunes directory at "C:\Users\<you>\My Music\iTunes". 

Fix Podcasts

Podcasts may not get added automatically.  This is a pain.  So you’ll need to use File > Add Folder to Library… to find your old podcasts directories.  Then you’ll need to re-subscribe to them.

Final Tip: Scheduling Podcast Download

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to leave iTunes running all the time.  With a bunch of podcasts subscribed, it tends to suddenly lag the internet while downloading.  Instead, I use the Task Scheduler to create a task to run iTunes once a week while I’m asleep.  This means you need to leave your computer on of course.  When it runs, as usual, iTunes tries to download any new podcast episodes.