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How to transfer iTunes songs from one computer to another

Updated on April 26, 2012

Move iTunes songs from one computer to another

So you have iTunes music on two computers and want to consolidate? It's happened to me, too. Bought a new computer, and also downloaded music on my work computer. Thought I could transfer them to my main computer at home with my iPhone. No such luck. But you can move songs legally and not run into problems with Apple or iTunes (in fact, an Apple rep is the one who told me how to do it). Here's how you do it.

Transfer iTunes music from one computer to next

If you are moving your music from, let's say, your home computer, to your work computer (so you can listen to music at work), then first, go to your home computer and move your iTunes library to recordable media, meaning a CD (if you have a CD burner), DVD (if you have a DVD burner), or flash drive (if you have one of those).

  1. Go to your iTunes Music folder on your computer.
    Windows: (Documents & Settings > [your username] > )My Documents > My Music > iTunes > iTunes Music
    Mac: [your home folder] > Music > iTunes > iTunes Music
  2. Copy this entire folder to a CD, DVD or flash drive. You could try zipping it and emailing it if you only have a song or two, but anything beyond that, and it will be too large.
  3. At your second (recipient) computer, insert the CD, DVD or flash drive.
  4. Open iTunes
  5. Choose File > Add to Library...
  6. Select the iTunes Music folder in your recordable media in the dialog box
  7. Give it a few minutes to import all the files
  8. Done!

Still having trouble? Try this.

Before you begin adding files/folders to your library from another PC or a portable device or a network location, check the Copy Files setting in your iTunes. By default, adding items to your iTunes library places a pointer (a link only) to each file in the iTunes folder; it does not actually copy the song. According to iTunes Help, the original file remains in the current location (which would be your flash drive or whatever).

So, before starting the import, do this: From the Edit menu in iTunes, select Preferences and then click Advanced. Put a check in the the "Copy files" check box. From this point on, when you Add files or folders, iTunes will actually copy your music files to your new PC and not just a link back to the original location.

If this procedure does not work, then follow steps 1-3 above but these following steps afterwards:

4. Copy the entire folder of music files to your computer's hard drive. This could take a few minutes, depending on how many files you have.
5. Open iTunes.
6. Choose File > Add to Library...
7. Select the iTunes Music folder on your computer's hard drive in the dialog box.
8. Wait a few minutes for iTunes to complete importing all the files.
9. Voila!

Comments

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    • profile image

      dixienms 5 years ago

      Thank you so much worked like a charm!!!

    • profile image

      KP 5 years ago

      It worked like a charm. I used a flash drive and it didn't take as long as I thought it would. Thanks !

    • profile image

      Aisha Sherina 5 years ago from United Arab Emirates

      Thank you so much such an informative article...

    • livelonger profile image
      Author

      Jason Menayan 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks, ChickPeeves - added it above. :)

    • profile image

      ChickPeeves 5 years ago

      Before you begin adding files/folders to your library from another pc or a portable device or a network location, check the "Copy Files" setting in your iTunes. By default, adding items to your iTunes library places a pointer (a link only) to each file in the iTunes folder; it does NOT actually copy the song. According to iTunes Help, the original file remains in the current location (which would be your flash drive or whatever). So before starting the import, do this: From the Edit menu, select Preferences and then click Advanced. Put a check in the the "Copy files" check box. From this point on, when you Add files or folders, iTunes will actually copy your music files to your new PC and not just a link back to the original location.

      Best of luck, music fans.

    • profile image

      joelCgarcia 5 years ago

      you're heaven sent! thanks!

    • profile image

      tongueking 5 years ago

      i had to put my itunes library folder in the Library-music folder of my windows 7 laptop,

      hope this helps

    • profile image

      Jen 5 years ago

      Thank you sooo much! I've been fighting with transfering my iTunes library from my work computer, which I loaded to a thumb drive, to my laptop for months! I had it all done w/in 10 min. of reading your post. You are a rock star!!!!

    • profile image

      coli 5 years ago

      does it also transfer apps and stuff besides just music if not is there some way i can

    • profile image

      Dimitra 5 years ago

      Thanks A LOT!

    • profile image

      njoynjp 5 years ago

      Unfortunately, the mac mini does not have a CD player. I thought this wouldn't be a problem, but I'm learning that it really is. Thanks for posting and i'll continue to look for a "cloud" or network answer to my problem of moving songs between my Windows computer and my CD-less Mac Mini.

    • profile image

      thats me 5 years ago

      thank you thought it would be harder than it was tried it from my iphone its dumb it doesn't work

    • livelonger profile image
      Author

      Jason Menayan 5 years ago from San Francisco

      zach: Make sure you're transferring your songs from your flash drive to your desired folder before you import them via iTunes. The problem is iTunes is recognizing your songs as located on the flashdrive.

    • profile image

      zach 5 years ago

      i have my songs on my new computer but i have to leave the flashdrive in for the songs to play. how can i solve this problem?

    • profile image

      wahdadlee 5 years ago

      Thanks your process works

    • profile image

      TareBear 5 years ago

      I downloaded Itunes on my new computer and all of my Itunes purchases are showing up in my library, but none of the CDs that I burned onto my old computer/itunes account are showing up. I don't have a burner on the new one, is there a way to get the rest of my music off my ipod onto my new computer? It's probably simple but I just can't seem to figure it out...

    • profile image

      RissaLux 5 years ago

      This method was incredibly easy, but I'm still having troubles. When I import my music from my old computer to my new computer/library, only 20 or so (out of 1271) items are imported. And those select few aren't even only purchases. They're a mix of uploaded from CDs and purchased. Any advice? Much appreciated.

    • profile image

      JennieB 5 years ago

      Ok, I a bit stressed out here, I feel like a complete noob. People say it is easy - and it must be. Yet I am getting lost, I cant figure out exactly how to transfer all the contents of my iTunes library (from my Windows XP computer currently running iTunes 7) to a brand new windows 7 PC with the latest version of iTunes. It just didn't work out. I know I am doing something wrong.

    • profile image

      Amanda 5 years ago

      when I put the songs onto my flashdrive, I'm not able to find them (I can find the folder but the songs aren't there) when i put it into my other computer, any suggestions?

    • profile image

      Emma 5 years ago

      This was really helpful! thanks so much for enlightening my musical world!

    • profile image

      Catwoman 5 years ago

      I transferred my iTunes library from my old PC to my new Mac. Now how do I get them to play in my iTunes. When I open iTunes I still don't see any of my music even though it's all there in the music file. Help please.

    • profile image

      Lauren 5 years ago

      But what happens if your iTunes is too large to fit on a CD or flash drive?

    • profile image

      Alexandra 5 years ago

      Does it keep all the info like album art, date released, genre or other info that I added to the library? I spent a lot of time fixing up my itunes library and I don't want to lose all of the information I have in there...same with videos or apps...???? Please help?

    • profile image

      cheri 5 years ago

      I am still unable to get my playslists. can anyone address that problem? It's killing me!

    • profile image

      The one 5 years ago

      All u have to do is take out ur C drive and put it in ur new computer and copy then past it. Easy to do and anyone can do so. Better then wasting all those disk and time transferring all those file to and from one device to another and then another.

    • profile image

      james 5 years ago

      does this delete the album covers?

    • profile image

      kate 5 years ago

      Thanks a lot!

    • profile image

      Andrew 5 years ago

      wow livelonger you sure do help people... this is from 3 years ago and you answered another question 63 minutes ago!

    • livelonger profile image
      Author

      Jason Menayan 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I'd get an external drive.

    • profile image

      max 5 years ago

      hey i have 100 gbs of stuff how to i transfer all my shit because doig that will take the rest of my life

    • profile image

      Ace Klez 5 years ago

      I just got a new computer and was wondering if I hook up my itouch to the new computer after following these steps it should keep all the music right? Even if only some of the songs were bought directly off iTunes?

    • profile image

      james 5 years ago

      My old computer died, there is no way to access any files. Is there any way i can transfer all my music from my iphone to a new computer? Music that was ripped onto my old computer?

    • profile image

      Alison 6 years ago

      This is not working for me for some reason.. I have a MacBook Pro, i have the iTunes library imported onto my jump drive, but when I select "open with iTunes" as an option, nothing happens. Please help meeee

    • profile image

      nic 6 years ago

      to anyone who this post may apply to,

      im almost positive that if you put the music on a thumb drive (flash drive) and play it on another computer, in order for the music to be able to play after you remove the drive, you need to copy the music from the flash drive to the music folder on your computer and import that folder into itunes

      i recommend copying the flash drive music to a new folder inside the music folder on your computer, so that if you only want to import the files that were on the flash, you only have to select the folder you put the flash drives music in. then itunes will only import the files from that folder.

      i hope this helps.

    • profile image

      Julie 6 years ago

      Thank you so much for taking the time to write this out in such easy to follow and clear directions! I truly appreciate it!

    • profile image

      Boss 6 years ago

      This saved me thank u so much

    • profile image

      Pix 6 years ago

      This didn't work for me, but now iTunes has the home sharing. I was just wondering if anyone knew if I could use the home sharing and sync using my second computer? Or would i still have to import all the songs?

    • profile image

      Rachel 6 years ago

      you saved my life, bro! :)

    • profile image

      Lindsey 6 years ago

      Thank you so much! I was able to transfer all of our songs to another computer.

    • profile image

      Mary 6 years ago

      @dawn @KEB, that's exactly what happened to me. I ended up with hundreds of exclamation marks and the connection to my iPhone was lost. But, I kept on searching for new solutions and came across the following article explaining once again how to transfer iTunes songs (entire libraries) manually, by using DVDs or a software. The third solution did the trick: http://en.kioskea.net/faq/10073-transfer-itunes-to...

    • profile image

      Andrew 6 years ago

      THANK YOU SOOOOOOO MUCH!!!! I have been looking all over the internet for doing this exact thing!!! Great job! :-)

      Andrew

    • profile image

      KEB 6 years ago

      I have the same issue as Dawn did 7 weeks ago. Itunes won't recognize the files. How can this be resolved? (I got a new computer and then had my Ipod stolen so I can not use that to transfer my music)

    • profile image

      Dawn 6 years ago

      This was great advice, except that it doesn't tell you to also transfer the files to your hard drive. If you don't also save the files to your hard drive, your itunes Library won't recognize the songs (and will show an exclamation point !), and your ipod won't recognize the songs or import them.

    • profile image

      unicornPurpleDance18 6 years ago

      OMJ (oh my jello) thank you so much!!! ily (no homo) AHHHHHHHHHHHH IT WORKED SO FUNKIN EASALY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      kilojm 6 years ago

      Hi, I found your original reply excellent. However i also have an ipone which linked to my itunes.

      You mention about moving music.

      I would like to transfer the whole thing so is this the same?

      I also have a new laptop and a hard drive to be able to transfer it all onto.

      I am just so scared of losing all my songs and iphone data

      please advise

      thank you

      Janet

    • profile image

      Bob 6 years ago

      So will my itunes still be on my old computer too?

    • profile image

      hopper 6 years ago

      Do you know what to do when your computer has crashed?

      Cause i really want my music back...

    • profile image

      Dan 6 years ago

      Outstanding and so easy to use - I had to transfer music to another harddrive and this made it easy.

      Dan

    • profile image

      Chad 6 years ago

      Thank you so much

    • profile image

      Lynn 6 years ago

      After i transfer will I be able to Syn my iPod with the new computer?

    • profile image

      Down and out Bklyn 6 years ago

      My Computer crashed and the hard-drive fried and I didn't have my files backed up. I lost a huge amount of purchased Itunes media; tv shows, movies and songs. How do I Re-Download the media on to my new Computer?

      Thanks

    • profile image

      Amanda 6 years ago

      My problem is that I have a couple thousand songs and that would take a TON of CDs, not to mention time. I did this a long time ago when I had a lot less music and it still took many CDs

    • profile image

      kwilson 6 years ago

      when i put the songs on my flashdrive, it came up on my other computer as a text doc.

    • profile image

      Liz 6 years ago

      How do you know if its working? i did all the steps and choose to add file but nothing popped up

    • profile image

      cupcakesyummm 6 years ago

      then can you download music on that one computer without messing up the songs on your ipod?

    • profile image

      paul 6 years ago

      Thanks for all the advise .... seems to work a treat

    • profile image

      littlejosh 6 years ago

      if you transfer the music to another computer will it still be on the other computer as well as the one you transferred too.

    • profile image

      Chand 6 years ago

      Hello, it tells you clearly, tho let me explain..

      This is like copying all your misic to one(1) computer.. start copying into flash dri9ve or cd from 1st computer and put them all together in the 2nd computer then sync your itunes with your device.

    • profile image

      itunesuser:)xxx 6 years ago

      Umm hi it would work but i have 1 laptop with cd drive and the other without soo hw do i do that becuse everytime i switch computers it says erse and sync??? Help please it's urgent

    • profile image

      Q McD 6 years ago

      TTTTTTTTHHHAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNKKKKKKKKKSSSSSSSSSS soooo much i was about to rebuy all my songs

    • profile image

      Teegan Hogan 6 years ago

      Thanks mate works well. I now have all my music on one computer.those of you complaining that it didn't work get a bigger USB.

    • profile image

      tina 6 years ago

      not sure if someone has mentioned this yet, but when i open my music/itunes folder the only music that comes up are the ones i've purchased through itunes and not one's i've downloaded from cd's. does that sound right?

    • profile image

      Jeremy 6 years ago

      okay but what if my disk drive is broken? >.

    • profile image

      lw 6 years ago

      Oh thank the Lord! now my husband can quit downloading crap on my computer and do it on his own!!! thank you!

    • profile image

      LittleOneBecca 6 years ago

      Person-You are my hero! I love you so much! I was freaking out because I didn't have my music that I paid so much for and now I have it!!! Thank you!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      JoJof 6 years ago

      Does Don's absolute answer 3 months ago work for Mac to Mac? I tried copying but it would only allow one piece at a time... rather slow!

    • profile image

      pissed 6 years ago

      i already knew how to do that anyway.

    • profile image

      rob dog 6 years ago

      it works but everytime I unplug my flashdrive my music will not play anymore

    • profile image

      Roy 6 years ago

      Thanks man that was awesome i was super worried when i got a new computer.

    • profile image

      Anne 6 years ago

      My dad just ran into the same problem as fangbanger, HELP! and ??Cary??--he put his music on a flash drive, then used File>>Add to library. The songs loaded (suspiciously quickly) and played, but the next time he turned on the computer (without the flash drive in it) and tried to play some of the songs, he got the "files cannot be located" message--none of the files had actually been copied over onto his new computer; iTunes had been playing them from the flash drive.

      I didn't think to come back here and look at the comments until just now, after we figured it out, but our solution was the same one Don posted above--once you've got the flash drive with all the music on it plugged into the new computer, highlight it all, open up the folder My Music\iTunes\iTunes Media\Automatically Add to iTunes\ and drag all your music into that folder.

    • profile image

      ??Cary?? 6 years ago

      Ok having same problem as Help did..cept it was while transferring from laptop to desktop so I can get music again..but right now Gigs of music are equal but on desktop says music can't be located??? Help me please??

    • profile image

      HelperOfLife 6 years ago

      if you bought sumthing from itunes u can get it back , but other stuff u cant...

    • profile image

      Asian 6 years ago

      Would I have to re-download iTunes on the new laptop if I were to transfer it?

    • profile image

      Aleks 6 years ago

      Have used Don's 'Now for the absolute answer....' approach and works really well. Can do in chunks too which is useful if you don't have a big drive with you.

      Note: If you have iTunes open when making the transfer into the 'My Music\iTunes\iTunes Media\Automatically Add to iTunes\' folder, those files will disappear into iTunes app immediately once transfer is complete.

    • profile image

      Rick O'Shay 6 years ago

      WTF! RU F'ing kidding me? We buy music online, then have to manually copy physical files to listen it on other computer? Don't they GET the benefit of having a central account where the SERVER maintains your content in ONE place? Clearly, Apple's days are numbered if they are THAT fuk'in arrogant.

    • profile image

      Scott 6 years ago

      I was so frustrated. I had 15 gigs of music lol.

      This saved my a**

      Thank you!

    • profile image

      911 6 years ago

      I am buying a new laptop today...moved all my music, ipod apps, and everything else in the itunes folder onto an external hardrive. I couldn't see folders for Iphone contacts, photos, notes, calander etc. When I sync to itunes on new computer with itunes folder copied across, will this have all my iphone data?

    • profile image

      randy 6 years ago

      Why can't Apple just devise a system that allows someone who buys a new computer to download their old library of songs on their new computer.

      Since they have or should have a record of all of our purchases, this would make life much easier for everyone and seems like a good idea in light of how often people purchase new computers every year.

      Steve, are you listening?

    • profile image

      HELP! 6 years ago

      Hey not sure if this is still a valid site but... i tranferd my music from my pc to laptop via usb stick and now when i try to play songs it says they cannot be located. I have already deleated the songs from my usb stick! I dont know what to do :( i cant play any music.

    • profile image

      no name 6 years ago

      its not working for me... it will only put a few songs on the flash drive stick... please rexplain your instructions. HELP

    • profile image

      nakiah 6 years ago

      i hhad 5 computer on sharing 2 of them broke i got ride of them and now i need to deleat them but they dont work so the dont disscotine so i cant do anithing with my new one

    • profile image

      Tiffany Szulikowski 6 years ago

      It told me that the orignal file could not be located. Sorry didn't work

    • profile image

      T~Roc 6 years ago

      I have a Mac. Reformatted my WD 500G Passport hard drive from NTFS to FAT32 (supported by both PC and Mac). After plugging into my PC to transfer, my Windows XP PC can not "find" the FAT32 formatted HD. I've transferred files from PC to Mac before. Can I not transfer Mac to PC?

    • profile image

      Don 6 years ago

      Now for the absolute answer....

      I did this importing on a windows 7 pc using itunes 10 and a flash drive.

      On old computer, I inserted a large capacity usb flash drive. I created a folder on it named "music", though this is not necessary. I opened iTunes as well as "my computer" in adjacent windows. The My Computer window was pointing to the "music" folder of the flash drive.

      I highlighted my entire list of songs, then dragged them into the "music" folder on the usb drive.

      Once copied, I plugged usb drive into new computer. I then used the windows file manager to drag all of these files from the usb drive into the folder:

      My Music\iTunes\iTunes Media\Automatically Add to iTunes\

      The files are copied from the usb drive to your new computer so you do not get the "file not found" error you would otherwise get if following this article's "add file to library" suggestion.

    • profile image

      Mike 6 years ago

      I've got about 4,000 songs on my PC and want to transfer them to an external hard drive (Pro drive) capable of use on both PC and Mac so I can access them on my MacBook Pro. As an experiment I copied and pasted a few (Artist Folder, Album Folder, Song) from the PC to the Pro Drive. When I import them from this drive into my iTunes Library on the MacBook I get the Song but neither the Artist or the Album appears in the iTunes on the Mac. Any suggestions?

    • profile image

      Carolina 6 years ago

      But what if you bought a new computer and you bought the songs from the itunes store.. isn't there a way to get them from your account or something? I have a macbook pro..

    • profile image

      Ahnaf Ahmad 6 years ago

      Hi! I just wanted to alert you people that the only items that will be transferred are those which have been bought on the recent iTunes that you have downloaded.

    • profile image

      joe shmoe 6 years ago

      I wanna upload songs from my aunts computer to my computer using a thumb drive. If i try your method, will the songs be saved on my hardrive or will i not be able to listen to them once i remove my thumb drive??

    • profile image

      BoneDadd 6 years ago

      Worked like a charm. Thanx for the directions.

    • TrajicK profile image

      TrajicK 6 years ago from GA, NYC

      Great Article!! Thanks!!

    • profile image

      Tom C 6 years ago

      I just tried to move music from laptop to desktop following your instructions. It didn't work, I'm afraid. I think bossy Mr Jobs has found a way to stop it.

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      Marcello  6 years ago

      itunes library in the folder says its only 372 kb but i have 4 gb of music. is it supposed to be more than 372 kb?

    • profile image

      ... They have Home Sharing now. It works with up to 5 computers. 6 years ago

      ... Lol

    • profile image

      thanks 6 years ago

      YOU R AMAZING THANK YOU

    • profile image

      whitewolf 6 years ago

      i am moving music from my vista to my ibook g4 its not working plz help

    • profile image

      SummerDays77 6 years ago

      HELP!!! okay i had over 900 songs on my itunes a year a go and had no ipod or cd to put them on... my computer crashed and now i have a new itouch.. how do i load all of those songs onto the itouch?? someone please email me with help111 itd be much appreciated. Email: love2beavillan@aol.com

    • profile image

      bro 6 years ago

      thanks so much bro

    • profile image

      Rachel 7 years ago

      THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOUU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      cheergirl 7 years ago

      wow! this is outstanding i never thought it would be so easy!! ow i can finally listen to my old music on my new compiter!

    • profile image

      missrarakitten 7 years ago

      You saved my life... You are a legend.