Help me help iTunes not to be stupid
May 9, 2005 3:49 PM   Subscribe

I want to move a chunk of my music collection from a folder on one drive to a folder on another, without losing metadata in iTune's library and without reconnecting each and every file.

I have about 40 GB of ripped CDs I want to move from my D:/ drive, which is internal, short on space, and shared on the network, to my H:/ drive, which is external, not shared, and has another 200 GB free. I do not want to lose any data or metadata (playlists the songs are in, what their ratings are, how often I've listened to them, etc.) and I also do not want to reconnect each and every mp3.

Final Cut Pro, also by Apple, handles a situation like this well: if you have movie clips A through H in folder X then move them to folder Y, there's an option to reconnect only the first and let Final Cut automagically reconnect any exact title matches found in the same folder. It's a useful feature; it would go a long way towards doing what I want done, but that's in Final Cut. iTunes isn't so smart.

Simply changing the location of the iTunes folder won't work, as I'm not letting iTunes (mis)manage my collection; the .xml is in My Documents (on C:/) and the music is currently split up between D:/ and H:/.

I've already looked at this page, which comes close to telling how to do what I want iTunes to do. A search and replace on the source file is logical enough, but this process loses some important metadata. I value knowing how often and how recently I've listened to songs; I use that information to make playlists of songs I haven't been listening to lately so I can decide if they're worth keeping around (it's also good for rediscovering songs I've liked a lot).

Deleting the source files but leaving them referenced in the library, then reimporting each CD with "replace existing", is simply not an option. I'm willing to spend some free time on this, but I'd rather not spend months.

Is there any way to do what I want done, however inelegant?
posted by Tuwa to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I did this when I got my 300GB external drive the other week. It worked great.
posted by matildaben at 3:55 PM on May 9, 2005

Oops, it's a long page, you have to scroll down to:
Dec. 23, 2004
iTunes Libraries

posted by matildaben at 3:57 PM on May 9, 2005

Can't you 1) go into iTunes preferences and redefine the location of your iTunes muic folder to the new desired location, and then 2) go to advanced -> consolidate library.

This will copy all files to the location and presumably not lose the metadata, as iTunes is the one doing the moving...

I believe (95% confidence) that I have seen this a a solution elswhere, but I can't turn up a link to it at the moment.
posted by misterbrandt at 4:12 PM on May 9, 2005

Check out this page on ipodlounge. The solution the article lists isn't what you want, but there are some good ideas in the discussion section below the article.
posted by Could it be, El Guapo ... at 4:58 PM on May 9, 2005

What I meant to say was check out this page on ipodlounge.
posted by Could it be, El Guapo ... at 5:06 PM on May 9, 2005

misterbrandt's solution is one of the ones listed on the page I linked to, and is the one that worked for me. My library was already consolidated before I started, BTW, I just pointed it to the new drive.
posted by matildaben at 5:26 PM on May 9, 2005

Has anyone talked about spanning iTunes music libraries across multiple drives? I'm running out of room for my "consolidated" library and upgrading drive space is somewhat expensive (at least, when you already have 2 120gb SATA drives, a 160gb IDE with the iTunes library on it and an old 60gb sitting in there not sure what to hold).
posted by VulcanMike at 5:42 PM on May 9, 2005

I did this recently by following the directions provided in the ipodlounge article mentioned and linked above. Worked like a charm but expect a long wait while the files move.
posted by terrapin at 6:51 AM on May 10, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions; I backed up my .xml and .itl files, moved them, and tried them on an import of a small playlist. iTunes moved each and every mp3 into a folder named after the album and artist the song is after--somewhat tedious if, as I have, you've only ripped a few songs off some subpar CDs. It also moved songs out the folders for obscure mix CDs into the more traditional artist/album folders, which would be ok except it scatters the mix CDs hither & yon. So I think this isn't a workable solution for me either. Perhaps I'm expecting too much. ^_^
posted by Tuwa at 10:18 AM on May 10, 2005

Best answer: I forget where I read this - but here's a solution that worked for me (similiar to the initial link posted):

1 - backup the itunes xml and database files
2 - Do a find and replace in the iTunes xml file to update all of the song locations
3 - open the itunes database in a text editor, delete everything, and save. (simply deleting the database file does not work)
4 - open up itunes - it will rebuild the library file from the xml.

Using this method, you keep your folder structures and all the metadata is maintained, except for the "date added" tag.
posted by tsetsefly at 11:43 AM on May 11, 2005 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: thanks, tsetsefly; I will try that tomorrow and report back. (I'd much prefer to keep e.g. " mp3s" and "library of congress mp3s" in their own folders instead of [dis]organizing them by artist/album.)
posted by Tuwa at 10:58 PM on May 11, 2005

Response by poster: Well, I'm glad it worked for somebody, but I'm not one of them. saved the xml a mess in some way that it constantly crashed iTunes. I don't know why; I specified plain-text; it complained but pretended to do it.

Dreamweaver took on average 3 minutes to open the XML file (16+ MB), and would parse only the first 50-100 lines before choking. I tried it half a dozen times; once I left it alone for about ten minutes and when it opened finally, the program showed the first 74,000 lines--which might seem remarkable, but what it is is remarkably crappy. It's a 500k+ line file; 74k is not good enough or even in the ballpark. :-) Why Dreamweaver, you ask? So I could run the XML validator on it and try to find whatever malformed tag had iTunes choking. Pasting in the text was a poor substitute but I tried anyway. Even with 512 MB running only win2000, a firewall, and DreamWeaver, the system got very very slow. But so I ran the validator on it and DreamWeaver complained (sensibly enough) about not being able to find the DTD. So that was a no go: suddenly Windows wouldn't call out any more.

Notepad bungled the file a few times, then I realized I should turn word wrap off because the search and replace was causing the lines not to extend all the way, making them "wrap" before they should. Since XML honors all whitespace, the new line breaks were killing it. So I turned off wordwrap and tried again, and three hours later Notepad had finished the global search and replace.

5 a.m. and iTunes is now happily crashing again every time I open it. Half a day spent and no progress made.

This way iTunes has of dealing with moved files is so far beyond subpar that it's almost commendable in its audacity. The program needs a brain transplant.

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Igor, would you mind telling me whose brain I did put in?
Igor: And you won't be angry?
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: I will NOT be angry.
Igor: Abby someone.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Abby someone. Abby who?
Igor: Abby Normal.
posted by Tuwa at 2:05 AM on May 13, 2005

Response by poster: I did finally get tsetsefly's solution to work, but for some reason it worked only using WordPad (not NotePad and not any of the other myriad text editors I have). I'm not sure what the other text editors are doing to the XML file that they shouldn't, but in any case: I'd suggest (on Windows) using Wordpad for this and not something else.

Thanks a million--
posted by Tuwa at 10:32 AM on May 13, 2005

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