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  1. #1


    Member Since
    Oct 29, 2007
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    iTunes and file organisation
    I currently have a 250Gb external disk which plugs into my new 120Gb Mac Mini. On that disk I have a large collection of MP3s in a variety of standard folders, possibly up to 80Gb worth.

    My questions are regarding iTunes - an app I tried to religiously avoid on the PC due to performance issues, and the fact I don't have an iPod!

    If I add my existing songs to iTunes my understanding is that it will copy them all to the local drive and index them within the application. The problem is that this will then eat up most of my local disk, so probably wouldn't be a good idea. Alternatively, I can presumably host the iTunes database on the external drive although this seems overkill to make 2 copies of the files.

    What would be my best strategy? Would it be to run using iTunes on an external drive and remove the originals? Is it possible to build an iTunes library without moving files around?

    I would normally leave things as they are however iTunes seems to be so integral to everything on OSX (including, for example stuff like FrontRow), that leaving files outside this app would probably be counter-productive in the long run.

    Which brings me to the second question area :

    Does iTunes maintain the MP3 status of the files and can you get at them using from the filesystem (for example, if I wanted to read them with a PC) rather than having to always use iTunes?

    Sorry to sound completely dense on this subject by the way! I'm sure there are some simple answers

    Thanks in advance

  2. #2


    Member Since
    Oct 27, 2005
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    4,702
    Quote Originally Posted by Minkster View Post
    If I add my existing songs to iTunes my understanding is that it will copy them all to the local drive and index them within the application. What would be my best strategy?
    The originals will not be moved from your ext HD if you uncheck the options to "Keep iTunes Music folder organised" & "Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library" ... these prefs are found in iTunes ~> Preferences ~> Advanced ~> General



    So just keep them where they are, launch iTunes and point it to your ext HD and import your music files with the above boxes unchecked.

    Quote Originally Posted by Minkster View Post
    iTunes seems to be so integral to everything on OSX (including, for example stuff like FrontRow), that leaving files outside this app would probably be counter-productive in the long run.
    Not really, this is where alias' come into play ... the files reside on your external but within the iTunes library window all you see are alias' and as long as the external is connected/mounted then all will be good. This applies for Front Row also.

    Quote Originally Posted by Minkster View Post
    Does iTunes maintain the MP3 status of the files and can you get at them using from the filesystem (for example, if I wanted to read them with a PC) rather than having to always use iTunes?
    Since you aren't allowing iTunes to take control of your music the mp3 status will be kept and iTunes will import them in as mp3 regardless of whatever encoder you set in:

    iTunes ~> Prefs ~> Advanced ~> Importing



    As your files are still in their original place on your ext HD, you can easily access them whenever ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Minkster View Post
    Sorry to sound completely dense on this subject by the way!
    Not at all Minkster! You've asked some very good questions here ... I hope the answers help ..


    .

  3. #3


    Member Since
    Feb 18, 2007
    Posts
    265
    iTunes is way less destructive than, say, iPhoto. Even when you let it take control of your file structure, it organizes your music logically, and it's very easy to go into Finder to find a specific MP3 file (again, compared to what iPhoto does with pictures)

  4. #4


    Member Since
    Oct 29, 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by visualpurple View Post
    iTunes is way less destructive than, say, iPhoto. Even when you let it take control of your file structure, it organizes your music logically, and it's very easy to go into Finder to find a specific MP3 file (again, compared to what iPhoto does with pictures)
    Ok, i have to ask....

    What does iPhoto do with pictures?

    its on my to-do list to import all my photos into that too!

  5. #5


    Member Since
    Feb 18, 2007
    Posts
    265
    Once you import your photos into iPhoto and let it organize them for you (which is an option you can turn off in iPhoto preferences), it puts them into a completely bizarre file structure that you aren't supposed to (and shouldn't) dig around in in Finder. Basically, once you let iPhoto take control of your photos, anything you do with those photos needs to be done through iPhoto. If you want to upload a photo to the internet, you need to open iPhoto, find the photo, and export it to your Desktop or something - you can't just open Finder and find the photo easily. For some people that's not a problem, but for me it's really inconvenient - I often need to access my photos in Finder, and iPhoto is too slow for me to have to deal with.

    What I do is not let iPhoto organize my photos for me. That way, I can still add them to iPhoto and use it when I want to make slideshows or whatever, but when I want to get to my photos in Finder, they are there in my own file structure.

  6. #6

    Headie*Threadie's Avatar
    Member Since
    Nov 06, 2007
    Location
    Small Town, IL
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    7
    Specs:
    Macbook 2.0 1gbRam, 80GB HD OSX Leopard!
    Itunes Copying while Importing
    I keep coming upon the same response when I search for this issue, and all of the people asking seem to have an external HD. Well, I just want to know how to import music directly into my iTunes without having them copied into my macbooks music file.
    All of my music has already been transfered onto my mac from my previous PC and I have deleted all the dupes resulting from this issue, but in the future, when ripping CD's, I will need this issue resolved.
    This is my first mac, so I know there must be a simple setting. Will the setting given to all the posters with the external HD qualify for me as well, eventhough I am just adding from CD (or downloading from the net)? Sorry for the long-wind! I appreciate everyones patience.
    ~Live The Life You Love~

  7. #7

    Neo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Headie*Threadie View Post
    ...I just want to know how to import music directly into my iTunes without having them copied into my macbooks music file.
    All of my music has already been transfered onto my mac from my previous PC and I have deleted all the dupes resulting from this issue, but in the future, when ripping CD's, I will need this issue resolved.
    ...Will the setting given to all the posters with the external HD qualify for me as well, eventhough I am just adding from CD (or downloading from the net)?...
    Your question is not clear. To clarify, it sounds like you have music on your Mac HD, but not in iTunes yet (when you open iTunes, the Library is empty).
    If this is the case (and you want to put your music in your Library, but don't want the files in the iTunes Music folder), you can uncheck the Copy Files... option box, as depicted in the tutorial provided above by Spawn. Then you can select your music files contained in your preferred music folder, and drag them to the iTunes application. Done. You can do the same with music or podcasts from online. Save them to your computer, then drag them to iTunes. Done. Now, if you Import music from a CD, I am pretty sure iTunes will put the files in the iTunes Music folder. But notice on Spawn's screenshot that you can also specify which folder you'd like your iTunes folder to be...

    My iTunes is setup to NOT copy files to my music folder, but I DO prefer to let iTunes keep my music organized. It is very convenient if you are going to use iTunes at all to listen to music.

    Finally, I don't know what you mean when you talk about resolving this issue so you can burn CDs. I have burned playlists from within iTunes many times without a problem.

  8. #8

    Headie*Threadie's Avatar
    Member Since
    Nov 06, 2007
    Location
    Small Town, IL
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    Specs:
    Macbook 2.0 1gbRam, 80GB HD OSX Leopard!
    I said when ripping CD's, not buring. Meaning that when I rip a CD onto my computer, I want it to only go into my itunes, not into itunes AND my music file. I believe changing the destination folder and unchecking copy should do the trick.
    Thank you.
    ~Live The Life You Love~

  9. #9

    knightjp's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jun 22, 2007
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    Specs:
    Mac Mini Core 2 Duo w/ 4GB ram running OS X Lion
    Hey guys,

    I have an external drive with alot of music on it. I do not want itunes to copy the files into my local drive. I know how to solve that issue. However I want itunes to play my files directly from the external drive and manage my music, but without changing any file format, etcs... I would like my music to remain as mp3 and not be duplicated in other formats.

  10. #10

    louishen's Avatar
    Member Since
    Oct 22, 2007
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    London
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    Mac Mini Core i7 2012 | White 2009 MacBook 2 Ghz | 733 Mhz G4 Quicksilver
    Right, for those who want this

    The following solution lets itunes organise your library, but on an external disk, so that any additional imports will be stored on the external


    To copy your itunes library to the external drive choose consolidate library from the Advanced Menu. This will copy all your itunes media to the external and link the itunes library file to it

    The music will now be on the external while the library file (the index as it were) will still be in the Users > Music folder of your macbook.

    If you want this library file on the external as well, copy it to the external drive, start itunes with the alt key pressed and you see this screen:



    Select the library file you just copies to the external and now both your music and the library are on the external

    You can now delete the stuff off your macbook

    You can also use the choose library dialogue to switch between your large music collection on the external and a smaller music folder on the macbook if you wish

  11. #11


    Member Since
    Mar 04, 2008
    Posts
    477
    I think there is also some confusion about adding music to the library and keeping them mp3s or whatever format you want.

    When you drag a mp3 onto itunes or even when you use the "import..." command in the file menu all it does is copy the exact same file into the itunes folder (or whatever you have it set up to do in the preferences, go to external hd, whatever)

    My point is, it doesn't re-encode your music when you do this. The only time it does is if you are ripping from a cd, or when you select "convert selection to AAC..." from the advanced menu. (It will show up "Convert selection to" and then whatever file format you have set up in preferences for importing)

    You don't loose any quality by just adding music to the library.

  12. #12

    traveler09's Avatar
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    Dec 24, 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by NanoBite View Post
    The originals will not be moved from your ext HD if you uncheck the options to "Keep iTunes Music folder organised" & "Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library" ... these prefs are found in iTunes ~> Preferences ~> Advanced ~> General



    So just keep them where they are, launch iTunes and point it to your ext HD and import your music files with the above boxes unchecked.



    Not really, this is where alias' come into play ... the files reside on your external but within the iTunes library window all you see are alias' and as long as the external is connected/mounted then all will be good. This applies for Front Row also.



    Since you aren't allowing iTunes to take control of your music the mp3 status will be kept and iTunes will import them in as mp3 regardless of whatever encoder you set in:

    iTunes ~> Prefs ~> Advanced ~> Importing



    As your files are still in their original place on your ext HD, you can easily access them whenever ...



    Not at all Minkster! You've asked some very good questions here ... I hope the answers help ..


    .

    What did you make the nice screen markup's with?

  13. #13


    Member Since
    Mar 30, 2008
    Posts
    6
    Can I set it so that once I move my music files into itunes, they are moved into the itunes folder and arent wherever they were before? I hate it when I have to move the folder the music was originally in and then itunes can't find it and I have to move everything over from the new spot. It would be so much easier if the music was just moved into the itunes folder and I never had to see the files listed anywhere but in itunes.

    Does that make sense? Is it possible?

  14. #14


    Member Since
    Mar 04, 2008
    Posts
    477
    You want to have the "Copy files to itunes music folder when adding to library" selected in the advanced tab of itunes preferences.

    Check out the pictures NanoBite kindly provided above.

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