Help Me Rebuild My iTunes Library
May 8, 2008 7:39 AM   Subscribe

My Macbook Pro was stolen. Just about the only non-shitty thing about it is that I keep my huge iTunes library on an external drive. All the music files are on the drive, but the data files (library.xml) were on the stolen Mac. I have another Macbook. What's the simplest way I can rebuild my library on it?

I don't use playlists or ratings. All I want is the ability to see all my music in iTunes.

The music is now in two places: On the external usb drive and on my iPod.

On the new Macbook I'm using, I have an empty iTunes. Should I add all the music? Plug in my iPod and download from there? Something else?

(By the way, my stolen machine was a 17" Macbook Pro. It has a missing S key on the keyboard and is in generally bad condition. It takes forever to boot up. If anyone sees someone selling it online, let them know they can make more selling it to me. No questions asked. The machine isn't worth much. But there are chapters on it of a book I'm writing.)
posted by grumblebee to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is pretty easy. First, change iTunes' preferences to use the external drive for music files. Then drag all your music from your external drive into iTunes.
posted by kindall at 7:51 AM on May 8, 2008


Yep. The library is just a database of the information already tagged in the music files. Drag and drop the files and it'll just rebuild the database. You don't need the iPod to restore it unless you're missing newer files or something.
posted by cowbellemoo at 8:21 AM on May 8, 2008


You don't need to change the preferences first. Just drag it in and decide if you want a COPY of the music on your new computer (no) or just an index/library of what's on the external drive (yes).

Then re-fill your iPod. Try some new stuff while you're at it. ;)
posted by rokusan at 8:41 AM on May 8, 2008


Cool! Thanks.

One more question: the music in my library folder is in hundreds of subfolders. Do I select all those subfolders and drag them? Do I select my library folder and drag it? Surely I don't have to go into each individual subfolder and drag the mp3s?

There are a few files that are only on the iPod (because I hadn't yet consolidated them into my main library). I'm assuming that when I plug it into the usb, it will ask me if I want to import those files.
posted by grumblebee at 8:43 AM on May 8, 2008


Oh. One more question: I'm not sure why my xml files weren't on the external drive along with the music. Is there a way to tell iTunes to store the files there?
posted by grumblebee at 8:51 AM on May 8, 2008


You can grab your whole library folder and drop it into iTunes, and it'll deal with the subfolders.

Actually, when you plug in the iPod, you'll discover that Apple doesn't want people moving things off of iPods and onto computers (piracy, don'tcha know.) Try Senuti.

You also may want to spend a hundred bucks, grab an external hard drive, and make Time Machine your friend. Lost book-chapters stings, but it's avoidable with good backup habits - which Apple has made really, really easy.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:52 AM on May 8, 2008


Yeah. I went into a writing frenzy and wrote four chapters non-stop. I was just about to back up. I'm usually good about doing that. Of course, the one time I wasn't...
posted by grumblebee at 8:56 AM on May 8, 2008


Tomorrowful, I'm pretty sure that one other time I had something on my iPod that wasn't in my library, I plugged in the iPod and it asked me if I wanted to download the missing item to iTunes. Maybe I dreamed it.
posted by grumblebee at 8:58 AM on May 8, 2008


I'm pretty sure that one other time I had something on my iPod that wasn't in my library, I plugged in the iPod and it asked me if I wanted to download the missing item to iTunes. Maybe I dreamed it.

That only happen for tracks purchased from the iTunes store.
posted by designbot at 9:38 AM on May 8, 2008


In that case, one more question. Is there a way I can find out the differences between what's on my iPod and what's in iTunes. I'm not sure which songs are on the iPod only, so if I use Senuti, I won't know which ones to download. I need some kind of iTunes/iPod diff.
posted by grumblebee at 9:47 AM on May 8, 2008


I'm not sure which songs are on the iPod only, so if I use Senuti, I won't know which ones to download. I need some kind of iTunes/iPod diff.

I don't know an easy way to do that, but maybe you could sort the tracks on your iPod by Date Added, and easily pick them out that way.
posted by designbot at 10:14 AM on May 8, 2008


If you had a PC you could use iTunes Library Updater, which automatically scans any group of folders that you select for music to include in your iTunes library. It's a great way to keep your itunes library database and the music files themselves coordinated.

Maybe someone can recommend a Mac equivalent.

When I changed my default iTunes location to an external drive I just copied the xml file over to itunes. You can option-click (or shift-click on a PC) to open iTunes and choose which library to use. Then you just navigate to the one on the external drive and it should be the one that iTunes uses from then on. Option-clicking is something you should only need to do once, unless you like switching between libraries for some reason.
posted by billtron at 11:03 AM on May 8, 2008


I copied the xml file over to the external hard drive, I should have written.

Isn't iTunes fun?!?!
posted by billtron at 11:05 AM on May 8, 2008


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