Keeping the RATINGS when moving iTunes stuff to a new Mac
May 24, 2010 3:27 AM   Subscribe

Helping my father re-create iTunes on his new iMac—AND keep all of his song ratings.

My father just got a new 27" iMac and he loves it.
He's has all of the files from his old iMac backed up on an external drive.

On Friday he went to an Apple One-on-One appointment and the guy there told him he could just drag his iTunes folder over from the backup to the new Mac and that would transfer everything. That didn't quite work.

Instead, now iTunes will only launch when he has this backup drive plugged in and mounted. Basically (even though he copied all of the MP3s and the iTunes library to the new iMac), I think the "master file-location list" kept by the copied library file is still pointing to the MP3s on the backup drive. (which does makes sense)

Anyway, while it would be nice if there were some "Hey iTunes, forget where you think the files are... and please scan the following folder to find the actual files..." option, I'm guessing there isn't.*

The problem is that my dad has several hundred songs that he's rated and he uses these ratings to drive "Smart playlists" he has set up
(things like "Jazz music, 3 stars or higher").

So, here's what I'm thinking of doing, but I wanted to run it by AskMe first so I can be sure it will work.

My idea breaks down into two basic steps.


1. Take a look at the "Smart" playlists he has set up and take a note of their specific criteria (ex: Genre=Jazz, Rating=3 or more stars) so that I can re-create them later


1. Create five different non-Smart playlists—one for each possible star-rating ("1star", "2star", "3star", "4star", "5star")

2. Display all of the songs in his library

3. Sort all of the songs by rating

4. Highlight all of the 5-star songs and then drag them to the "5star" playlist. (Then do the same thing for the 1, 2, 3, and 4-star songs, respectively.)

5. One by one, export these five "star-rating playlists" to text files
(ex: "5star.txt")

6. Quit iTunes

7. Rename the "iTunes" folder on the iMac to "iTunesBackup" and drag it to the Desktop

8. Unmount the external (backup) hard drive

9. Launch iTunes on his iMac while holding down the Option key
(this will pop up a dialog asking me to choose an iTunes library file or create a new one)

9. Choose "Create (new) Library..."

10. Open the "iTunesBackup" folder that is on the Desktop and drag the "iTunes Music" folder that is within onto the iTunes window (thus copying all of the MP3s to this new, empty iTunes library)

11. Once all of the songs have been imported into iTunes, do the following: File > Library > Import Playlist... and, one by one, import those five different star-rating playlists

12. Select a playlist (ex "5star") and then select all of the songs within it and do a batch change of their rating to 5 stars
(and do the same routine for the other star-ratings)

13. Re-create the "Smart playlists" from the notes I took back at the beginning (I think he only has about ten Smart playlists so this would only take a couple of minutes)

14. Delete the "iTunesBackup" folder that is on the Desktop

See any flaws in my thinking/planning?
Thank you in advance for any comments/suggestions/corrections (and for your reading this far!).

Note: I'm not worried about time spent on (or extra space used by) the files copying from one place to the other—I just want a pretty iron-clad "it's gonna work" solution. Also, I'm not worried about losing the Play Count, Last Played, or Date Added information—I just want the ratings.

*Note to Steve Jobs: Please put some sort of Export Song Ratings option into the next version of iTunes.
posted by blueberry to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Following this kb mY help you
posted by moochoo at 3:45 AM on May 24, 2010

Quit iTunes on the new Mac. Delete the Music folder on the new Mac. Copy the Music folder from the drive to the new Mac. Relaunch iTunes. Unless he created the backup in some very unusual way (i.e. assuming the backup is simply a copy of the Music folder on the old Mac), that will do it. If you do that, all the playlists, playcounts, ratings and other metadata will be there, and all the songs will refer to local copies of the files. As the guy in the Apple store told your dad, this really is that simple.

The fact that it has gone so wrong suggests we may need to back up a step and find out how the backup was made and exactly what you're doing and in what order to restore it. But first, just trash the Music folder on the new Mac and try again, following the steps above.
posted by caek at 4:12 AM on May 24, 2010

p.s. delete ~/Library/ on the new Mac at the same time as you delete the Music folder on the new Mac. The Genius-recommended method works with the default iTunes configuration, but if your dad screwed around with iTunes Preferences before restoring the backup this file may be the cause of the problem.
posted by caek at 4:17 AM on May 24, 2010

p.p.s. if the original configuration was unusual in some way (e.g. if the Media folder location was not set to ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music/, or if "Keep iTunes Media folder organized" or "Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library" were not checked), the generic advice may not work.

If that's the case and if the backup drive is a true backup or you still have access to the old Mac, then just use Migration Assistant. There is almost certainly no need to turn this into a manual, error prone 14 step process involving text files and notepads.
posted by caek at 4:26 AM on May 24, 2010

Response by poster: I should also mention—and maybe this is what caused the problem—that on his old iMac he had some of his MP3s in his personal account folder and some in a shared folder (so that others users could listen to those certain MP3s).

Also, the user account name he has set up on the new iMac is different than the one he had back on the old iMac.

I'm not sure if these two issues will put the kibosh on the above suggestions or not. Any ideas?
posted by blueberry at 4:33 AM on May 24, 2010

Before you do that, choose file -> library -> organize library -> Consolidate files on the old mac. This will copy all the music files to the standard iTunes location, so that you can just do the above folder switcheroo.
posted by CharlesV42 at 5:08 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

CharlesV42 has it. Consolidate on the old Mac then do it the easy way.
posted by caek at 5:10 AM on May 24, 2010

Also, in the future, you can just edit the iTunes music folder permissions, as detailed here:

you don't have to do the aliasing and etc, unless you want to actually have a shared iTunes library within iTunes. Folder permissions will let other users access the files if they want.
posted by CharlesV42 at 6:29 AM on May 24, 2010

Best answer: If it's not too late, running the Migration Assistant between the old and new Macs *should* copy everything from all account - files, music, preferences, shared folders, etc. - between them flawlessly. The one gotcha is that you need to do this before you begin setting up the new Mac too much (preferably at first launch of the new Mac), as it will invalidate the work you've put into the new Mac, or the new user account will block the old one from moving over.
posted by GJSchaller at 11:05 AM on May 24, 2010

Response by poster: My father got everything working a few days after I asked—I think what he just did was just ran the Migration Assistant thing which worked perfectly.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by with suggestions!
posted by blueberry at 11:08 PM on June 23, 2010

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