Splitting an iTunes Library Between a Notebook and an External Hard Drive

Posted by Sean — 27 Aug 2008

Here’s the (relatively) short story for all you people using The Google:

  1. Find the iTunes Music folder location in iTunes Preferences under the Advanced:General tab.
  2. Click Change… then navigate to the location on the external hard drive where you’d like to store your music. Create a new folder.
  3. Ensure that the Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library option is checked and click OK.
  4. Go to the Advanced menu in iTunes and choose Consolidate Library….
  5. When prompted with “Consolidating your library will copy all of your music into the iTunes Music Folder.” click Consolidate.
  6. Once the copying finishes take a look at the folder on the external hard drive where you put the music and do a spot check to ensure all your music was copied over.
  7. On your notebook’s hard drive, open Finder and go to your Music::iTunes::iTunes Music folder and free up hard drive space by deleting as much or as little of your music as you like. Don’t delete any music that you’d like to be able to take with you when the external hard drive isn’t attached.
  8. There is no step 8. When your external hard drive is attached you can play any song (or Movie, or TV Show, or Podcast, etc.) from your music library. When you’re external hard drive is not attached you’ll be able to play any song (or Movie, etc.) that you kept in your Music::iTunes::iTunes Music folder.

If later you add new songs by ripping from a CD, buying from the iTunes store or whatever when your external hard drive is not attached, you can add them to the external hard drive simply by re-consolidating your library when your external hard drive is attached. Just go to the Advanced menu and choose Consolidate Library… again.

Note that if you previously changed your iTunes Music folder location to something other than Music::iTunes::iTunes Music, you’ll need to move your music back to Music::iTunes::iTunes Music between steps 5 and 6, otherwise iTunes won’t be able to find the music you kept for when your disconnected from the external hard drive.

The Back Story

Back in 2006 I responded on Ask Metafilter to a question someone posted about keeping a larger-than-would-fit-on-the-PowerBook-hard-drive music library in sync between a PowerBook and an external hard drive. The questioner wanted to keep a subset of the music on the PowerBook for use when disconnected from the external drive and, when connected, wanted to be able to access the entire music library through iTunes.

Having helped a friend with exactly the same problem I had the solution, but in my answer I left off the crucial bit about using iTunes’ Consolidate Library… feature to do the copying. Instead I had written that you could just copy the music to the external hard drive yourself. As I discovered yesterday when trying to recreate this setup on my (now full) MacBook, if you copy the files yourself the iTunes Library doesn’t get updated with the new file locations. Then when the external drive is disconnected iTunes can’t find your music. Updating the iTunes Music Library XML file in the Music::iTunes folder to reflect the new location doesn’t help either. It seems the only way for iTunes to update its library is for it to do the copying itself.

Grouping RSS Feeds in Apple Mail

Posted by Sean — 12 Nov 2007

James Dempsey wrote in with a follow up on RSS Feeds in Leopard Don’t Prefer Plain Text to solve the problem of grouping Apple Mail’s RSS feeds into folders. Turns out it’s dead easy.

  1. Click the “+” icon in the lower left of the mail list and select New Mailbox
  2. Give the mailbox a name (eg, “Apple Feeds”)
  3. From the Location drop down select RSS instead of On My Mac

Thanks for the tip James!

Perian QuickTime Plugin

Posted by Sean — 01 Nov 2007

I was going through my Applications and Library folders for some routine cleanup and I came across the Perian plugin in my ~/Library/QuickTime folder. It had been awhile since I checked for an update, so I was pleased to see they released version 1.0 this summer with support for a number of new video formats.

NetNewsWire Does RSS Better Than Apple Mail

Posted by Sean — 31 Oct 2007

After a few days it was a no-brainer to go back to NetNewsWire for my RSS feeds. It seems the new Spaces virtual desktop feature in Leopard finally made it necessary.

You see, my typical usage scenario for RSS feeds is that I go through all of the new items and double-click those that I want to read more about. But I don’t read them right away. Once I’ve made it through the whole list, I mark the rest as read then switch to my browser to go through the entries I found interesting.

NetNewsWire has a preference (Browsing → Behavior) that let’s me open links in the background (i.e., without switching focus to my web browser). With Apple Mail, every time I clicked a “Read More…” link I was thrown into my browsers “space” and had to CMD-TAB back to Mail to continue looking for interesting things to read. Combine that with the fact that I had to find the “Read More…” link in the first place and I just couldn’t take it any more.

How to Switch from Yahoo! to Gmail

Posted by Sean — 29 Oct 2007

I’ve found a couple of ways to move at Yahoo! email account to Gmail, but I think this is the easiest.

  1. Buy Yahoo! Mail Plus. It’ll cost you $19.95 but the POP3 access and email forwarding are essential.
  2. Move all of the email that you’d like to transfer to your Gmail account into your Yahoo! inbox.
  3. Set up Gmail to grab your messages from Yahoo! using POP (Settings → Accounts → Get mail from other accounts)
  4. Sit back and relax as Gmail downloads all your messages.

If you’re concerned about the potential for losing email in the mix, you can tell Gmail to leave copies when you configure the POP access to Yahoo!

If you’d like to continue sending email from your Yahoo! address you can configure that in Gmail under Settings → Accounts → Send mail as. Note that for some reason (spam control?) Gmail puts your Gmail address in the Sender header and your Yahoo! address in the From header, causing recipients using Microsoft Outlook to see a message like “Sent by username@gmail.com on behalf of username@yahoo.com.”

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