Is it easy to transfer music files from an iTunes on an old computer to a new computer?
February 16, 2011 8:32 AM   Subscribe

I have a lot of music on my old computer's iTunes (which I didn't back up) which I'd like to transfer to my new computer's iTunes. Is this easy to do? Please treat me like a complete n00b and step me through this.

My old computer died but I'm hoping the files on the hard drive are unaffected. Unfortunately, I copied an enormous amount of cds onto iTunes on that computer plus also downloaded a shitload more *inset justification here* and never backed up because I'm an idiot.

Luckily I've just got a new computer! How does one transfer music files from one iTunes on a slave hard drive (presuming that will work) to the new and shiny version on my new and shiny computer?
posted by h00py to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Mac or Windows?
posted by caek at 8:37 AM on February 16, 2011

If Mac, then you can do a profile import and it's pretty straightforward. If Windows, you can specifically have iTunes go looking for relevant files, or import a directory and it will chug through importing files it recognizes.

Now, in the latter case, things like ratings and playlists are less likely to be found. If you have a Library backup xml file, that can help.
posted by artlung at 8:39 AM on February 16, 2011

Response by poster: Windows 7.
posted by h00py at 8:44 AM on February 16, 2011

Best answer: These files aren't exactly in iTunes but they are in a folder called iTunes Music (or maybe just iTunes?). Where that folder is will depend on the operating system on your old computer. It is likely in a folder called My Music if it is a recent Windows OS. I would select everything in that folder by opening the folder and hitting Ctrl+a, then I would copy it (Ctrl+c) and then navigate to the My Music folder in your new computer and paste (Ctrl+p). Now everything should start copying over but you will get questions about duplicates because both folders will have a subfolder named iTunes Music. Select the option that merges the two folders together. For any other questions about duplicates, I would select the option that copies the old file and renames it, unless I was sure I wanted the new version and not the old one.

Once everything is done, reopen iTunes and have it rescan your My Music folder.
posted by soelo at 8:45 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Okay, cool, so iTunes will detect the previous iTunes on the harddrive and download if I tell it to? If that's the case, how do it tell it to? Complete newb with no shame here. Step me through it, if you would.
posted by h00py at 8:46 AM on February 16, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, soelo.
posted by h00py at 8:47 AM on February 16, 2011

For cleanup afterwards, there's an option in iTunes called "show duplicates" or something like that. I think it's under view, but it might be under preferences. (I don't use iTunes any more, otherwise I'd have a better answer for you.) Select that option, and it'll show you which songs double (or triple) copied over, and you can make the decision to keep, rename, or delete your doubles without having to switch back and forth from your folders to iTunes to check the song.

(I had a lot of trouble with iTunes creating duplicates whenever I had to re-load my music after a reformat, one of many reasons why I switched.)
posted by phunniemee at 8:53 AM on February 16, 2011

On a Mac--I'm assuming that it's true of the PC version as well--iTunes has a watch folder called "Automatically Add To iTunes". Mount the hard drive (put it in an external enclosure, use a USB/SATA adapter, etc.) and copy all your music files to that folder. iTunes will copy it over and organize it into your new iTunes directories.
posted by fishpatrol at 8:56 AM on February 16, 2011

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