Howto: Shift the location of the iTunes default library path

Quite a few people, specially those using the SSD based MacBook Air, run out of space very fast with the iTunes library. The iTunes library of music, movies and apps can get extremely large over time.

I recently ran out of space on my iMac with my kids accounts going over 30 GB a piece on the primary drive. This happened within a months time. Although I have plenty of external storage and a secondary partition, the primary partition under OS X needs to have around 5-10 GB of free space for optimal performance.

The solution to moving the iTunes library is actually very simple.

First, copy the “/Users/username/Music/iTunes” directory to any other partition or external drive. You can use the finder, go into the “Music” folder and copy the “iTunes” folder there to where ever else you have space.

Next, delete the “iTunes” directory in the user/home so you will free up all the space it was occupying.

Finally, click on the iTunes application icon while pressing down and holding the ALT/OPTION key. When you start iTunes with the Alt/Option key, it will start up with a prompt for the iTunes library location. Select the location you copied the “iTunes” folder to and then select the iTunes library file within that “iTunes” folder.

That’s it. Done!

All future downloads/updates will now go into the new location. There are a couple of caveats to watch out for…

  1. You might have to drag-n-drop your apps from the new location onto the iTunes apps folder under some conditions. It happened to me on one account, and I did not investigate the reason for it.
  2. If you moved the iTunes library to an external drive/location, then, you have to make sure that the location is ready and available before starting iTunes. For example, if you move the library to a Time Capsule, click on it to wake it up and make sure it is accessible before you start iTunes.

Although the second issue can be a pain at times, the work-around is simple. In case you forget to wake the external storage, just quit iTunes, make the storage available, then start iTunes again.

BTW, my own iTunes library is over the 400 GB mark…just for iDevice apps. Of course, it includes a lot of good and some free deals over a few years. I will outline how to get good deals on apps in another post a bit later.