iTunes Issues...

Feb 15, 2010
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Ok, so i bought a macbook pro on saturday and its fantastic.
I have an extensive collection of music that is stored on an external hard drive (500GB) and have been trying to figure out a way to get iTunes to read the files from the hard drive without copying them to my macbook pro or duplicating the files 'iTunes style' on my external hard drive.
I've already lost all of my hip hop music which i'm gutted about, so any help that anyone could give me would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks a lot
Jun 22, 2008
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Forest Hills, NYC
Your Mac's Specs
15-inch Early 2008; Processor 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo; Memory 4 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 10.7.5
First to answer your question: You have to disallow iTunes from managing your music. You have to do it manually. This can be a real pain the the arsenheimer, but possible. Look at my screen shot below first.

Un check both those top two boxes you see if they're checked. That will ensure no copying or auto management is going on. But now, every time you add more folders to your external HD, you'll have to remember to add it to your iTunes library by either dragging the folder to the main window, or by selecting import from the menu. I always chose the latter method. Otherwise I think you'll get dupes.

Now that I've answered your basic question: I don't use iTunes because its management sucks. It lacks the very basic thing which a media player needs in order for it to be hassle free, and that thing is "watched folders". I use Songbird which is a Mozilla product. No, it won't manage an iPod or iPhone. It's a media player. It plays Ogg and FLAC files natively, as well as the other standard formats.

It also does exactly what you've asked for iTunes to do, but without the hassle. It sees when you've added or removed folders from your external HD (because you've told it to watch that main folder) and will remove or place those items in its library accordingly, without you having to do a darned thing. It also has a host of other very useful features which seem to allude iTunes (now playing list anyone?) and the features are expandable via extensions just like Firefox. (same company).


Screen shot 2010-02-15 at 10.22.29 PM.jpg
Dec 7, 2007
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Hey there, congrats on your purchase!

All you need to do is click iTunes in the top menu and select Preferences. Click on the Advanced tab and UNCHECK the little "Copy files to iTunes Media Folder when adding to library" checkbox:


Notice that mine is checked, which means everything I add to my iTunes library will be copied onto my Macbook Pro's internal HDD-- which in fact is NOT what you want to do.

So all you have to do is uncheck that little box and then you can freely add music from your external HDD by selecting File > Add to Library and iTunes will not make a copy, instead, the music will be accessed from your external HDD.

Hope this helps. Cheers!

Edit: whoops, looks like Doug b beat me to it :)

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