3 Tips for Managing Your iTunes Collection

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A few weeks back, a friend asked about his iTunes collection. Apparently, he had accumulated so much stuff over the years that his Mac Mini didn’t have the hard drive space to hold everything he had downloaded. He wanted to know what he could do to manage that collection. We have a few little tips for those who are looking to manage those files, or hope to clear up some hard drive space to keep their computer running smoothly.


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1) Put iTunes Collection on an External HDD

This is probably the best solution as it keeps all your files nearby and hard drives are cheap these days. A terabyte or two will set you back less than 200 bucks. Newegg.com has plenty of them.

Apple has a great how to, and we have posted it below for your convenience:

If your hard drive is nearly full after loading all your music and other media into iTunes, or if you just want to move all those music and media files to another hard drive on your system, here’s a way to make the move while retaining all your playlists, ratings, and play history.

First make sure that the “Keep iTunes Media folder organized” option is selected in iTunes Preferences:

  1. From the iTunes menu, choose Preferences.
  2. In the resulting window, click the Advanced button.
  3. Select the “Keep iTunes Media folder organized” checkbox.
  4. Click OK.

Once you’ve done that, follow the next set of steps to change your iTunes Media folder location to the new drive and then consolidate your library to the new location. This not only copies your audio and media files over, it also retains your ratings and playlists. Note: If you move your music and media to an external hard drive, you will need to have that drive connected to access your files. No matter what, it’s always a good idea to have a backup of the media you have in iTunes.

  1. Open iTunes.
  2. From the iTunes menu, choose Preferences.
  3. Click the Advanced button in the Preferences window.
  4. Click the Change button in the iTunes Media folder location pane.
  5. In the Change Media Folder Location window that appears, navigate to the location where you would like your new iTunes Media folder to be created. Note: By default, your iTunes Media folder is a folder named “iTunes Media” in ~/Music/iTunes/ where the tilde “~” represents your home directory.
  6. Click the New Folder button in the Change Media Folder Location window.
  7. In the New Folder window that appears, enter the name of the new iTunes Media folder.
  8. Click Create.
  9. Click Choose in the Change Media Folder Location window.
  10. Click OK in the Advanced window.
  11. From the File menu, choose Library and then Organize Library if using iTunes 9 or laterIf you’re using iTunes 7 or iTunes 8 for Mac, choose File > Library and then Consolidate Library.
  12. In the Organize Library (or Consolidate Library) window, select Consolidate files.
  13. Click OK.  Important: This action copies all of your music and media files to the new location. There must be enough hard disk space available to copy all of your music and media files.
  14. After the folder has been copied, locate your original iTunes Media folder, and drag it to the Trash or Recycle Bin. Note: Don’t remove the iTunes library files that may be in the same location as the iTunes Media folder. For more information about the iTunes library files, see this article.
  15. Empty the Trash.

 Additional information

If your iTunes library was originally created using iTunes 8 or earlier, the iTunes Media folder will be called “iTunes Music” instead.


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2) Save it in Drop Box

This is another great solution for iTunes users who are running out of space. The best part about it is that you can actually set things up so that you can listen to music from any of your computers by directing iTunes on each to your Drop Box. Keep in mind, to do that, you will have to close iTunes on the computer that’s not being used. Visit their website for more details.

The process is pretty much the same as the one described above, but rather than save it to an external hard drive, you are going to save it to your Drop Box folder. It’s also worth knowing that if you opt for a free account, you will start with 2GB to work with. You can increase that by referring other users. for 10 bucks a month you can have 50GB storage, and for $20 you can up that to 100GB. We’ve also posted some other interesting uses for Drop Box, and you can check them out here.

Another plus side to this is that you don’t have to worry about your hard drive or computer crapping out on you, because it’s all stored on the cloud.


3) Delete Old Files

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This is one of those things we only recommend if you are truly hard up for extra space. As we noted earlier, hard drive space can be pretty cheap these days. Still, if you really need that extra space, and are out of options, you may want to use a program that helps you manage the files. GrandPerspective seems like one of the better ones out there. It gives you a graphic representation of all the files on your computer and tells you where the space hogs really are. Larger squares = larger files on your computer.

It will help you decide on what is worth deleting and what is worth keeping on your computer.

You can check it out here: GrandPerspective


iTunes, Larger Than Life

We’ve talked about it before. As iTunes has grown into something much larger than a way to manage your music, it’s become increasingly resource hungry. Regularly downloading from the iTunes Store can quickly fill up any hard drive with movies, games, music and applications.

Hopefully those of you who are filling up those hard drives have found some of the above information helpful. That said, how do you manage your iTunes media?

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