Copy iTunes Library from a Windows PC to a Mac

Mar 21, 2010 - 22 Comments

If you’re moving from a Windows PC to a Mac, then you’ll probably want to move your iTunes library with it. This lets you keep all of your music, apps, and downloaded media, and you won’t skip a beat. This article will cover moving an iTunes library from a PC to a Mac OS X based machine using just about any version of iTunes, to insure everything is transferred over to properly you’ll go about consolidating all music files into a single transportable library that can then be copied directly to a Mac. This is by far the easiest way to transfer an iTunes library from Windows to OS X (and even vice versa), and it’s entirely free – there is no need to download any of the third party apps or services that claim to do it for you.

Move an iTunes Library from Windows PC to Mac OS X or vice versa

Let’s get started copying your iTunes media over!

How to Move an iTunes Library from a Windows PC to a Mac

To get started, you will either need to have an active SMB network where you can transfer directly between OS X or Windows (click here for a simple PC to Mac file sharing guide), or use a hard drive that has formatted for dual compatibility between a Mac and Windows so that you can use it as a means of copying the data over.

  1. From iTunes, go to Edit then to Preferences
  2. Click on the ‘Advanced’ tab, select the checkbox next to ‘Keep iTunes media folder organized’ then close the preferences
  3. Go to the File menu, then to Library submenu, and select ‘Organize Library’ (in older versions it’s labeled as “Consolidate Library”)
  4. Now you need to locate your iTunes library. Do this by navigating from the Edit menu to Preferences, and back to the “Advanced” tab
  5. You will see the iTunes library location specified here, now that all your music is consolidated you will want to move this folder to your Mac’s home Music directory – copy this folder through Mac-Windows networking, or copy it to a USB flash drive as an in-between storage drive which can then be used to copy over to the Mac
  6. Copy all the data over and wait, this process can take a while depending on the size of the total iTunes library, and depending on the speed of the drive or network connection used for copying
  7. Launch iTunes on the Mac, it may take a few moments while it gathers the new library information

If you have other music in your Macs iTunes directory be sure to back that up before copying over the files from the PC so you don’t accidentally overwrite any files.

move itunes library from pc to mac

I have done this a few times for myself and a couple friends who have made the switch to Mac and always follow this method, but it wasn’t until I stumbled on a post that I realized we hadn’t covered this here before in the context of a PC to Mac switch. If you just want to move your iTunes library to another location on your Mac it’s a pretty similar process.

Enjoy your iTunes music, and happy switching!

Enjoy this tip? Subscribe to the OSXDaily newsletter to get more of our great Apple tips, tricks, and important news delivered to your inbox! Enter your email address below:

Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iTunes, Tips & Tricks

22 Comments

» Comments RSS Feed

  1. Mike says:

    I’m a little surprised Apple doesn’t emphasize this a bit more considering they want to bait so many PC users to switch to the Mac. Wouldn’t it make sense for Apple to build a nice tool that would transfer over music and picture files from a Windows PC to the new Mac? A cheap cable and some software is all it would take, right? When I switched years ago I ended up just copying everything to an external drive then to the Mac because trying to go direct PC to Mac OS wasn’t exactly easy (and still seems a bit overly complex).

    Just a thought.

    • Sonyc says:

      Apple will transfer your itunes together with all the music and other stuff for $99, that’s why they don’t have a tool for that. so in addition to already expensive products they can still get some more money.

      • debra says:

        No they wont if you bought the mac at myers. when I telephoned for help to book the course, as am unable to move my itunes over I was told to take back my mac to myers and then buy at apple. Its been a nightmare and wish I had never brought it at all

        • qqallan says:

          All you do is take your entire iTunes folder contents and move it to your new laptop. When you launch iTunes on your new machine, hold in alt/Option (depending on if a Mac or PC) – when you get prompted for new iTunes folder location, find the itunes library.itl file and click on it. You should have your entire library show up in iTunes afterwards.

  2. Jordy says:

    when i tried to click on ‘organise library’ it came up with a warning box saying “Copying files failed. The file name was invalid or too long.”

    any idea how to fix/get around this??

    • tabax says:

      Yes, some idea: names in PC can have some characteres that are unidentifyied in a mac. Accents, or other symbols or too long names of a music file can difficult the copy. Try to find any very long name and reduce it. There are some free programs that rename a hughe of files at same time. This can help. I hope you turnaround this issue.

  3. QP says:

    Thank you. Work perfectly!

  4. Billabongo says:

    If you are moving itunes and email from a PC to a new Mac you may want to read this. On August 18, 2010 I purchased Cucusoft iPhone/iTouch/iPod to Computer Transfer by Kadavy to move my itunes library, ratings, and smart folders from an HP laptop running Windows Vista to my new MacBook Pro. The transfer was NOT successful and Cucusoft technical support took forever to respond and by August 29, 2010 was still not helpful in resolving the problems I was experiencing with their software. Cucusoft also refused to refund my money even though their software did not work for me. I am pleased to say that I found other software that did work for me. I was able to use software by TouchCopy ($24.99) to get my iTunes library with all attachments including ratings moved over to my new MacBook Pro. The Touchcopy software featured a free demo that was clear and easy to use. This was a great feature because it let me see how easy Touchcopy was to use before I bought it. I would not recommend Cucusoft by Kadavy. The product did not work for me, their tech support was of no help and there was no refund. Two thumbs down for Cucusoft computer transfer software.

    I was also able to use TechHit MessageSave 4.0 for $29.95 to move all of my emails and email folders from my HP to my Mac.

    There are some less expensive ways to transfer the files but they seamed more time intensive for me. Having software to help with the transfer was a big time saver and worth it for me. Also, check the apple store where you bought your Mac, they may be able to do the transfers for you when they set up your new mac. I did not live near an Apple store so I was left to figure this out on my own.

  5. haha yea right says:

    I am so confused on how to do this given that I have a single internet connection.

  6. Sully says:

    This worked perfectly. Thanks!

  7. Brian says:

    I purchased the seagate 350 gb external goflex drive from office depot for 60. Attached to my dellpc, did not install the memeo backup program, got to the main screen for the device. It will ask you what file to copy. I chose “my music” and it copied all my music plus my itunes. I then attached the device to my macbook, goflex icon appeared, selected the icon and all my cd’s were showing, and there was an itunes folder that appeared, selected that, selected the cd’s I wanted, selected the first one, scrolled down, shift, select the last one and then drag the files to you Macbook itunes icon and they will all transfer to your mac itunes.

  8. Sam says:

    When doing this step: Go to the File menu, then to Library and select ‘Organize Library’

    Can you select a different hard-drive, itunes keeps telling me there’s not enough space on my main one to back up but I’s like to use my external hard-drive anyway.

    Help would be hugely appreciated :)

  9. michelle says:

    How the hell do you transfer the library? Tried it by flash drive but not enough room when you have 1500 songs…you’re instructions are vague and pretty much suck!

    • qqallan says:

      Michelle I’d be a little more polite with people helping out.

      To answer your question, if you can’t do it all at once, do it in parts. Just make sure your file folder structure ends up being the same as what it was on your old machine. Then see my other post on this page for how to make your old library show up in your new instance of iTunes.

      • fred says:

        qqallan,
        You said:’I’d be a little more polite with people helping out.’
        Great response. I will remember that and use it myself.

  10. Chris says:

    To transfer big libraries, turn on both your mac and your PC at the same time, and set one of them up to have a shared folder (so you can copy the stuff between them without needing a USB stick)

  11. Hayley says:

    I have transferred my itunes library from my pc to my new mac using an external hard drive and can see all my songs etc on the computer (very proud of myself!) BUT i can’t get my iphone or ipod touch to sync with the mac? it will charge and it does a quick sync but none of my new songs etc are transferred over?

    Can anyone help please!

  12. lexi says:

    How do I get my itunes library onto my USB drive?

  13. Brooke says:

    All you have to do is go under home sharing on your mac and pc and put your apple id in and then go on your mac and all of your music should be there to import

  14. ktown says:

    All of my songs appear as if they transferred to my MAC, but when I double click on a song to play it, an error message comes up that says “The song “XXX” could not be used because the original file could not be found. Would you like to locate it?

    Any thoughts on where I went wrong with the transfer? My hard drive appears to have my iTunes library from my old PC.

  15. Richard says:

    Hi,
    I have recently bought a Mac Mini and im looking to export my library from a Dell PC to the Mac.

    My MP3 files are currently stored on an external harddrive but I want to move these directly on the MAC. Whats the best process for this?

    Based on the thread, I think consolidating and organising the library through the Dell and external hard drive first, then export the library file. I then need to move the source data over to the MAC, then import the library to Itunes MAC. I would then just need to change the path as the files would be structured in the same way?

    Thanks for any help anyone could offer

Leave a Reply

 

Shop for Apple & Mac Deals on Amazon.com

Subscribe to OSXDaily

Subscribe to RSS Subscribe to Twitter Feed Follow on Facebook Subscribe to eMail Updates