Manage and back up your iTunes media library

Learn how to find, consolidate, and back up your iTunes media library.

Your iTunes library, a database that's made up of all of the music and other media that you add to iTunes, is organized into two iTunes library files and an iTunes Media folder.

Before you back up your media, find the location of your iTunes Media folder and consolidate your library.

Find the iTunes Media folder

By default, your iTunes Media folder is in your iTunes folder:

  • Mac: Finder > username > Music
  • Windows Vista or later: \Users\username\Music\
  • Windows XP: \Documents and Settings\username\My Documents\My Music\

If the folder isn't in its default location, you can find where it's located using these steps:

  1. Open iTunes.
  2. Mac: From the menu bar at the top of your computer screen, choose iTunes > Preferences.
    Windows: From the menu bar at the top of the iTunes window, choose Edit > Preferences.
  3. Click the Advanced tab.
  4. Look in the box under "iTunes Media folder location" for the location of your iTunes Media folder.

Consolidate your iTunes library

Before you make a backup of your iTunes files, consolidate all of your media into the iTunes Media folder. To consolidate your media:

  1. Open iTunes.
  2. From the menu bar at the top of your computer screen or at the top of the iTunes window, choose  File > Library > Organize Library.
  3. Select "Consolidate files."
    organize library
  4. Click OK.

Consolidating copies any files that were outside of your iTunes Media folder into your iTunes Media folder. To save space on your hard drive, you might want to delete the original files after you make sure that the copies are in your iTunes Media Folder.

Back up your library and media files

After you consolidate your media files, you can back up your library and media files to an external drive.

  1. Quit iTunes.
  2. Find your iTunes folder.
  3. Drag the iTunes folder from its location to an external drive. Your library and media files copy to the drive.
    drag iTunes folder to external drive

Restore your library from a backup

You can restore your iTunes library or iTunes Media folder from your external drive to your computer.

  1. Quit iTunes.
  2. Locate your external drive.
    Mac: On the Desktop or Finder sidebar. 
    Windows: In My Computer.
  3. Drag the iTunes folder (that you backed up earlier) from your external drive to where you want it on your internal drive. We recommend that you put the iTunes folder back into its default location.
  4. Hold down the Option key (Mac) or Shift key (Windows) while opening iTunes.
  5. When you see a message that asks you to Choose iTunes Library, click Choose Library.
    choose iTunes library
  6. Choose the iTunes folder (that you dragged in step 3) from your internal drive.
  7. Mac: Click Choose.
    Windows: Click Open.
  8. Choose the iTunes Library.itl file inside.

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