The Battle that is iTunes

iTunes Logo

I hit a milestone in my life. While I have a 30 GB iPod to store my collection of CD music (which started in 1983 with Greg X Volz’s “River is Rising” CD), I found that I was continuously trying to find the 30 GB of storage space on my laptop. Now I didn’t want to just throw it all to my external firewire drive as that would mean I’d have to have the drive connected any time I wanted to listen to my iTunes and I’m a traveling kind of guy. But I also didn’t want to just reduce my library and delete all those CDs that I don’t listen to all the time but I wouldn’t mind them just being backed up and out of my iTunes library.

So here’s the technical finding for this week:

Problem: Too large of an iTunes library. Decided that I wanted to create a backup of everything and put it on my external hard drive. I wanted to keep locally on my laptop everything that was in my playlists (which is really what I use to listen to my songs anyways) but just keep a backup of everything else.


  1. First I wanted to get everything moved over to the external hard drive. I did this by changing my iTunes Music Folder location (on a Mac, it’s Preferences -> Advanced -> General tab). Click on the “Change” button and select your storage folder on your external hard drive.
  2. Next, click “Ok” and then go to your menu bar and click on Advanced -> Consolidate Library. Make sure you have iTunes set to organize the iTunes Music Folder. This will move everything over to the hard drive. Give it some time especially if you have a large library (like mine) or if you are using a USB 2.0 or Firewire 400 hard drive.
  3. Go to your local music folder and delete all of your music files.
  4. Then I made sure that I had everything in Playlists that I wanted to keep and that my playlists were up to date.
  5. I created a Smart Playlist that had as a definition where it was to Match “All” rules and then created a rule that said “Playlist is not _____” for each playlist that I had (including Movies and TV Shows). I also had a rule that was “Podcast is false”. This creates a Playlist of everything in your library that is NOT in your playlists.
  6. After the new Smart Playlist (I called it – Not in Playlists) populates, go to it and select everything. Now you can’t automatically delete things from a Smart Playlist, so you have to hold down the “Option” key when you hit the “Delete” key. This allows you to “Delete from Library” but make sure you click on “Keep Files” or else it will delete them all from your external hard drive.
  7. Now you have in your iTunes library only those items that you want to keep on your hard drive. So change back your iTunes Music Folder location (see step 1 above) to your music folder on your local drive.
  8. Again, you’ll need to click on Advanced -> Consolidate Library which will bring over from your external hard drive all of the music you wanted.
  9. Synchronize your iPod and you are ready to go!

I hope this helps someone out there that was going through the same thing as me. I know it took me a little bit to think this all through so that I didn’t loose any of my songs.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.