Move Your iTunes Music to a New Computer with Home Sharing
This post is part our multi-post guide on how to Transfer Your iTunes Music Library to a New Computer. This post will help you use the Home Sharing feature in iTunes 9 to transfer your actual music files to your new computer. Once you’re done here, you can read about how to transfer the Playlists and Song Ratings by hacking XML, or using software.
This video describes the process, but details are below:
There are a couple of things to remember before you use iTunes Home Sharing to copy your music files to your new computer:
- both computers need to have iTunes 9 or higher, and
- both computers have to be on the same network (such as your home’s WiFi network).
First, make sure both computers are upgraded to iTunes 9 or higher. On a Mac, you can find out what version you are using under iTunes > About iTunes - on a Windows computer, this is under Help > About iTunes. If you need to upgrade, you can download the latest version of iTunes here.
Get Your iTunes Music Organized
Before you moving on - and this is especially important if you’re later going to be transferring Playlists, Song Ratings, etc. -make sure iTunes is keeping your Library organized. If you aren’t going to be transferring Playlists and Song Ratings, you can skip this step.
- Check your iTunes library organization preferences. On your old computer, under the “Advanced” section of your Preferences (iTunes < Preferences... on Mac, Edit < Preferences... on Windows), make sure “Keep iTunes Media folder organized” and “Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library” are both checked.” If they are not, check them, press “OK.“
- Organize your files. Under File < Library < Organize Library.... Choose “Consolidate files”, and “Upgrade to iTunes Media Organization” (if this option is available) and click “OK” again. Also, make sure “Keep iTunes Media folder organized” is checked in your Advanced iTunes Preferences on your new computer as well.
Is this last part totally necessary? It may not be. But, just in case you have music files strewn all around your hard drive, these steps will help make things go much more smoothly when you are transferring other library data such as Song Ratings and Playlists. You may find that the hard drive on your old computer doesn’t have enough room to do this because some copies of files may have to be made, in which case - make room.
Turn on iTunes Home Sharing
Now that you have your iTunes library nice and neat, you need to get your new computer recognizing the iTunes library on your old computer. We’ll do this with iTunes Home Sharing.
- Turn on Home Sharing on both computers under Advanced > Turn On Home Sharing. You will need to enter in your login information for your iTunes Account on both computers and click “Create Home Share.”
Now you should be able to navigate through the music on your old computer from your new computer. You should see your old computer’s library on the left-hand side of your new computer’s iTunes window under “Shared.” The catch is that you can only view your music in one big list. You can’t categorize (though you can sort) by Genre, Artist, or Album.
Copy Your Songs to Your New Computer
Now that you can see the songs from your old computer’s library you can easily copy over individual songs, or groups of songs, by selecting them and dragging them up to your new computer’s library, which is at the top of the left-hand navigation. If just transferring a few Playlists is important to you, you can drag individual playlists from your old computer’s library up to your new computer’s library. However, if you’re thinking of first transferring your songs, then transferring the individual playlists, think again. You’ll end up with a bunch of duplicates. So, we recommend that you:
- Drag all of your songs from your old computer’s library to your new computer’s library.
This will probably take awhile if you have a large library, but don’t run away. Unless you’re super organized, you’re likely to get at least couple of messages that say “There was a problem downloading ‘[song name].’ The URL “” could not be found on the server.” Take note of this song if it’s important to you because this message means that iTunes couldn’t find the file associated with it. It could very well be somewhere on your hard drive and iTunes just doesn’t know where it is. When your transfer is done, find it on your old computer, make sure iTunes knows where it is (drag it onto iTunes) and transfer it this same way.
Migrate Your Playlists and Song Ratings
Now you’re done transferring your songs, movies, podcasts, etc. from your old computer to your new computer. But, none of your playlists, song ratings, or play counts have transferred. This probably isn’t acceptable to you (it certainly isn’t for us), so you’ll need to learn how to transfer all of that stuff.
Like many things in life, there’s more than one way to transfer your Playlists and Song Ratings. If you’re decently tech-savvy, there’s a free method involving a little XML hacking that we cover in our post, Transfer iTunes Playlists and Song Ratings.
If you don’t feel like messing with XML files, are a Windows user, and don’t mind paying a few bucks for software to save some time and frustration, you can buy iTunes Transfer software, and read Using Software to Transfer iTunes Playlists.