Transfer iTunes Playlists and Song Ratings
This post is part of our multi-post wizard on how to Transfer Your iTunes Music Library. If you have already moved your actual iTunes music files to your new computer, either by reading the post Move Your iTunes Music to a New Computer with Home Sharing, or by other means, then you are ready to start transferring your iTunes Playlists and Song Ratings. Otherwise, check out our Transfer iTunes Wizard to determine what solution works best for you.
Like many things in life, there is more than one way to do this. This post tells you about the free – albiet somewhat complicated – way that requires a little bit of hacking with an XML file. If you are a Windows user and would rather spend a few bucks on some handy software to save yourself some time and frustration – then we suggest you read Using Software to Transfer iTunes Music and Playlists instead.
- Export the Library.xml file from your old computer. File > Library > Export Library… Now, get this file over to your new computer somehow. It should be small enough that you can e-mail it to yourself.
- Export the Library.xml file on your new computer (after you’ve transferred over all of your songs).
- Open both Library.xml files and examine them. Use a basic text-editing program like TextEdit (Mac) or Notepad (Windows). Don’t use Microsoft Word because it will mess things up. You should see a file path to an actual song file in each of them. Find the file path that leads up to the filename on the Library.xml file from your new computer. So, if it’s C:\Users\[username]\My%20Music\iTunes\iTunes%20Media\Bob%20DylanBringing%20It%20All%20Back%20Home\01%20Subterranean%20Homesick%20Blues.mp3 then the important part is C:\Users\[username]\My%20Music\iTunes\iTunes%20Media.
- Do a Find/Replace on the file paths in your old computer’s Library.xml file. The Replace command is in Notepad at Edit > Replace… and in TextEdit at Edit > Find > Find…. You’re going to want to “find” the file paths that are in your old computer’s Library.xml, and “replace” them with the file paths from your new computer’s Library.xml file. For example, if you’re transferring from a Windows XP computer, to a Windows 7 computer, you are probably going to “find”C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\My%20Documents\My%20Music\iTunes\iTunes%20Media\, and “replace” it with C:\Users\[username]\My%20Music\iTunes\iTunes%20Media.
A little explanation on what is happening here: the Library.xml file on your old computer holds all of that important info you’re interested in, such as Song Rating, Playcount, and Playlists. It keeps these records, along with the location of the file. By doing this find/replace, we are keeping all of that information, but changing the information that locates the actual file – so iTunes will know where it is. So, now:
- Select all of your music files
- Press your “Delete” or “Backspace” key. You’ll get a warning dialog box saying something like “Are you sure you want to remove the selected items from your iTunes library?”
- Click on “Remove.” We know this is scary to do, but – provided you follow the next instructions – it’s only deleting iTunes’ records of the files, not the files themselves.
- Click on “Keep Files.” This way you’re only deleting iTunes’ records of the files, not the files themselves. We’ll restore iTunes’ records for these files in the next step.
- Import your modified Library.xml file into your new computer’s iTunes Library. File < Library < Import Playlist…. Locate your modified Library.xml file and click “Choose.” iTunes will now import all of that data you had about your music files (Ratings and Playlists), and will also have to correct file paths for those files. It will probably take several minutes for iTunes to import everything.
You should now have all of your Playlists, Song Ratings, and Play Counts transferred over to your New Computer. It’s that…easy? Keep in mind that there is also a software solution for Windows users for this process, which we explain in detail in our post, Using Software to Transfer iTunes Music and Playlists.