Copy iTunes to a Second PC
iTunes was first released in January of 2001 and since that time consumers have built-up fairly large iTunes libraries. When it comes time to copy iTunes to a second PC, the process can be time consuming and sometimes complicated depending on the method used to copy the library. The majority of the methods to transfer an iTunes library are free; however, there are some low-cost third party solutions designed to help reduce the overall time required to copy the multi-media library to another PC.
What Are the Available Methods to Copy iTunes to a Second PC?
Some of the methods that can be used to copy iTunes to a second PC are using: backup software, an external hard drive, iTunes backup features, iTunes Migration Assistant (Mac only), iTunes Match, and by merging iTunes libraries. Each of these methods varies in the amount of time and steps to copy the library.
Copy iTunes to a Second PC Using Backup Software
One of the easiest ways to transfer an iTunes library to a second computer is to use third party software. Some of the popular options available for consumers to download or purchase (most range in price from $15 to $30 USD) to conduct the transfer task are: CopyTrans, Senuti, TouchCopy, iRip, iCopyBot, Phone to Mac, and TuneAid. General steps to conduct the iTunes library transfer using the third party software, CopyTrans are listed below. The steps to use other third party applications will be similar in nature to these, but may vary slightly.
Step 1 – Download and install the CopyTrans suite of applications onto the computer that has the main iTunes library.
Step 2 – After installation, launch the CopyTrans TuneSwift program from the listing in the application suite.
Step 3 – Choose the “Transfer iTunes Library” menu option.
Step 4 – Select the destination operating system (OS) for the iTunes transfer (either Mac OS X or Windows).
Step 5 – Choose the “I want to transfer my iTunes library to a new computer” menu option. You can also select a “new folder/drive on the same computer” or an “external hard drive.”
Step 6- Select the destination drive or folder to save the library. When transferring to a 2nd computer, you will want to use either a network drive or external hard or thumb drive to save the file.
Step 7 – Install CopyTrans on the computer you are copying the iPod library. After installation is complete, if you are using a portable hard drive or USB drive, insert or connect the drive to the destination computer. If you do not have iTunes installed on the target computer, install the application before proceeding.
Step 8 – Launch CopyTrans on the 2nd PC and select “Restore” from the main menu.
Step 9 – Select the drive and then folder the iTunes library was saved using the CoptTrans file chooser. This file will have a “.tsw” extension. For other third party applications, this extension may vary.
Step 10 – Select the “Restore” menu button, and the software will complete the transfer of the library to the new computer.
How to Use External Hard Drive to Copy iTunes to a Second PC
Third party software does not have to be used for copying an iTunes library to a second PC. A popular option to transfer large iTunes libraries is to use an external hard drive that can store very large multi-media libraries on the drive.
Step 1 – Located the storage location of the iTunes Media folder on the original computer. With the iTunes application open, select the “iTunes” and “Preferences” menu options on a Mac. On a Windows computer choose “Edit” and “Preferences.” Then, click the “Advanced” menu option and record the location of the iTunes Media folder.
Step 2 – Select the “Ok” menu button. Then, consolidate the multimedia library by selecting the “File,” “Library,” “Organize Library,” and “Consolidate Files” on iTunes 9 or newer. For iTunes 8.2.1 or older the options to select are “File,” “Library,” and “Consolidate.” On Mac OS X, the library is consolidated by default. On Windows computers, iTunes will copy all music files to the central iTunes media folder on the computer which will be duplicates. If your computer’s hard drive is close to being full, you will want to proceed with caution before consolidating the library.
Step 3 – Exit or quit iTunes and connect the external drive to the computer if it is not already connected.
Step 4 – Open the external drive using “My Computer” in Windows or from the Mac desktop. After the drive folder is open, locate the iTunes folder and drag it to the external drive. This will initiate copying the library to the drive. Common locations for the iTunes Media folder are:
Windows XP: \Documents and Settings\username\My Documents\My Music\
Windows Vista: \Users\username\Music\iTunes
Windows 7: \Users\username\My Music\iTunes
Mac OS X: /Users/username/Music
Step 5 – Eject the external drive from your computer after the copy operation is completed (for larger libraries this can take some time to complete). To eject on a Mac, “Control-click” the drive and select the menu option to “Eject.” On a Windows computer, right click the drive and choose the same or similar menu option.
Step 6 – Download and install the most current version of iTunes on the destination computer if it is not already installed.
Step 7 – Launch iTunes on the new computer. After the program opens, connect the external drive to the new computer.
Step 8 – Backup any pre-existing music on the new computer. To do so, first open the “Preferences” menu option and click the “Advanced” menu tab. Then select the “Reset” menu button located next to the iTunes Media folder location followed by choosing the “OK” menu button and select the “File,” “Library,” “Organize Library,” and “Consolidate Files” menu options (iTunes 9 or newer). After the consolidation is complete, quit or exit the iTunes program.
Step 9 – Locate the iTunes media folder on the new computer and drag this folder to the desktop of the computer.
Step 10 – Locate the external drive on the new computer. Then, drag the iTunes folder from the external drive to the Music folder on the new computer. The transfer will take some time to complete for larger iTunes libraries.
Step 11 – Launch the iTunes application. Add pre-existing music on the new computer to the current library by select the “File” and “Add to Library” (Mac)” or “Add Folder to Library” (Windows) menu options. Information such as play count and ratings will not be preserved for the pre-existing music added to the iTunes library.
Copy iTunes to a Second PC Using the Backup Features
The iTunes applications have built-in back-up functionality that can be used to transfer an existing media library to a new computer.
Step 1 – Launch the iTunes application on the old computer.
Step 2 – Select the “File,” “Library,” and “Back Up to Disc” menu options.
Step 3 – If you have a large library, you will want to burn to DVD if your computer has a DVD burner. If not, it may take multiple blank CDs to back up the library. (One DVD can hold the equivalent of 7 CDs).
Step 4 – Insert the blank disc and follow the default prompts to rip the library to disc.
Step 5 – Install iTunes on the new PC. After installation is complete, open the iTunes program.
Step 6 – Insert the backup DVD or first backup CD into the new computer’s disc drive.
Step 7 – iTunes will ask whether you want to restore from this disc. Then, click the “Restore” menu button. The restoral process will take some time to complete for larger iTunes libraries.
Copy iTunes to a Second PC Using the Migration Assistant
Another option that Mac users have to transfer an iTunes library to a new computer is to use the Migration Assistant tool. The Migration Assistant will try to recreate the setup on an old Mac to a new one by moving the settings, data, and other files.
Step 1 – Connect the two computers via Firewire cable.
Step 2 – Restart the old computer and hold the “T” key pressed. As the computer restarts it will display a “Firewire” icon on the screen.
Step 3 – Launch the “Migration Assistant” on the new computer (found in the “Applications” folder).
Step 4 – On the new Mac, close all other applications and select the “Use Firewire” and “Continue” menu options.
Step 5 – Select the items to migrate to the new computer followed by the “Continue” menu option. For this example, choose the iTunes library; however, other legacy items on the old computer can be migrated if desired.
Step 6 – Wait for the transfer to be completed. For large iTunes libraries, the process can take upwards of an hour or more to complete.
Copy iTunes to a Second PC Using iTunes Match
iTunes in the Cloud allows music that is purchased from the iTunes Tore to automatically appear on all devices associated with an iTunes account. For music that may be in your iTunes library not purchased from iTunes, the iTunes Match service is a paid service provided by Apple to allow entire iTunes collections to be stored in the iCloud. Although iTunes Match will not transfer all types of media, it is another option for consumers to copy an iPod’s library to a second PC.
Step 1 – Subscribe to iTunes Match.
Step 2 – iTunes will then match your iTunes library to the iCloud account. The unmatched songs will be uploaded but this step can take up to several hours to complete if there are a large number of songs in the local library not purchased from iTunes.
Step 3 – After iTunes Match completes the upload and matching process, login to the iCloud account on the new computer and open iTunes.
Step 4 – In the iTunes Store, select the “Turn on iTunes Match” menu option.
Step 5 – A listing of the music in the iCloud account is now downloaded to the new iTunes library (not downloaded yet).
Step 6 – Hold the shift key down and select multiple songs (all if possible). Then, right click the selection and choose the “Download” menu option to download the iCloud songs to the new computer. Alternatively, you can download single songs but for large iTunes libraries this will take a significant amount of time to complete. At the time of this writing, iTunes Match will not support videos but is suitable for those transferring audio files to a new PC.
Copy iTunes to a Second PC by Merging Libraries
When copying iTunes to a second PC, it can be considered a form of merging iTunes libraries. Some of the methods that can be used to merge libraries onto the second PC are: iTunes Home Sharing, using an external hard drive, third party software, and via network connection (similar to the external hard drive method previously discussed). iTunes Home sharing will work on up to 5 computers at a time and will require all sign-in to the same iTunes account. To complete the transfer/library merge via iTunes Home Sharing:
Step 1 – Update the iTunes program on the old and new computer to iTunes 9 or newer if running a legacy version of the application.
Step 2 – Launch iTunes on the old computer. Select the “Home Sharing” menu icon located on the left-hand side of the iTunes display. If the icon is not visible (or you can’t figure out where it is located), select the “Advanced” and “Turn On Home Sharing” menu option.
Step 3 – Enter the Apple ID account username and password when prompted by iTunes.
Step 4 – Select the “Create Home Share” menu option.
Step 5 – Repeat Steps 2-4 on the new computer.
Step 6 – Click the “Settings” menu icon while viewing Home share and select all of the content you want to transfer. By default, the automatic transfer of media files is turned off.
Step 7 – Drag and drop all files to the new computer which are not automatically shared. The play counts and star ratings will not transfer from the old to the new computer using this method.
The Trouble with Computer Authorization in iTunes
A common “gotcha” for new or savvy iTunes users when copying a library to a second or new PC is the iTunes authorization “Feature.” In order for a computer to be able to play all of the media purchase from the iTunes store, it will have to be “authorized” to play the music that has been transferred.
Step 1 – Launch iTunes on the new computer.
Step 2 – Under the store menu, select the “authorize this computer” menu option.
Step 3 – Sign-in to the Apple account on the subsequently displayed pop-up menu.
Step 4 – If iTunes will not let you add the new computer due to exceeding the five computer maximum, you will have to de-authorize one of the previous computers to play the content on the new computer. If you do not intend on keeping the old computer, that will normally be the one to de-authorize. If you no longer own the previous computers that have been authorized for the Apple account, Apple will let you de-authorize all computers associated with the account. You will then have to manually authorize each of the existing computers on the account to play the music purchased from the iTunes store.