This article was first published on 2007-06-08. Due to the age of this article, it is included here for archive purposes only.
So you’ve got a bunch of music stored on your PC and you want to get set up in iTunes on your new Mac. No Problem. We will review the basic concepts of moving music files and the best way to go about it.
Many of us have built up quite a music collection on our computers over the past few years. If you were a PC user, you may even have used the old Napster to, uh, share music with your closest friends. iTunes will play all your MP3 and AAC files, but not WMA files. See One Last Note at the end of this article for more.
The first thing you will want to do is find out how big your music collection is in gigabytes. If you have all your music in iTunes on your PC, you can see the size by first selecting Music under Library in the upper left. Then look at the bottom of the window and you’ll see how much music is selected. See illustration below.
If you don’t use iTunes, you will need to find the folder all your music is in. On the PC, it’s probably in My Computer/My Documents/My Music. To find out the size, right-click on the icon and select Properties. If your music files and folders are not all grouped together in one place, now is the time to do it.
Next, you should decide if you will keep all your music on your Mac’s internal hard drive or on an external one somewhere. I suggest you keep it on your internal drive unless there isn’t enough space. You just need to do the math by comparing how much space you have left on your Mac hard drive and how much music you have. You might also take this opportunity to slim down your library to just the music you really want.
We will proceed figuring you will store the files on your new Mac’s hard drive. In a future How Do I…?, we will look at keeping your iTunes library on an external hard drive.
PC to iPod to iTunes. At this point, you might be saying, "Why can’t I just hook up my iPod to my new Mac and have it read all the music just like when it’s connected to my PC?" Well, that seems like the obvious thing, but Apple has designed the iPod so the copying can only go from your computer to the iPod and not vice versa. It’s their way to help prevent piracy and calm the music companies.
PC Itunes to iPod to Mac iTunes. If you are already running iTunes on your PC, you can see this article from Apple on how to move your iTunes folder to its new spot on your Mac. This article from LifeHacker adds details to keep all you playlists. But if you already have some music in iTunes on your new Mac, you might want to skip to the next section instead.
PC to hard drive/DVD to iTunes. Conceptually, you first want to connect your Mac to your music, then import it into your iTunes Library. When you do the importing, iTunes will do the copying and organizing, so you don’t want to copy it to your hard drive in advance. That will just duplicate the files and waste hard drive space.
There are many ways to copy files between PCs and Macs. The simplest way is to copy your music files on your PC to an intermediary, like an external hard drive, iPod or blank DVDs. It depends on the size of the library. If you have a lot of extra room on a large iPod, you can check the box that allows the extra space on the iPod to act as a hard drive. More info on how to do that here. You can also make a network connection between your Mac and PC, but that is a bit more complex than copying to a disk of some type. If you prefer using a network connection, see this guide from MacRumors.
Go ahead and copy all your music files to this drive now.
Before you import your music, open iTunes on your Mac and select Preferences… from the iTunes menu. Click the Advanced tab and then General. This is where you can make sure "Keep iTunes Music folder organized" and "Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library" is checked. What this does is tell iTunes to move any new music files to your Home/Music/iTunes folder and keep it organized for you.
Next, plug in your external drive or insert your DVD that has your music files on it. Look for it on the desktop and open it showing your music folder. You can just drag this folder into the iTunes window and importing should start. This should take a while if you have a bunch of music. You can track the progress in the top bar or the iTunes window. Later, you can continue to add music files to iTunes in this way as time goes on.
If for some reason you have a problem with dragging files into the iTunes window, you can also go to the iTunes File menu and select Add to Library and then navigate to your folder with music in it and hit the Choose button.
One Last Note: iTunes doesn’t play WMA files. If you ripped your CDs in WMA, iTunes can convert them when importing. Converting is not optimal, so if you still have the CDs, you may want to rip them again in iTunes. From Apple:
"Converting WMA Files
In iTunes for Windows, you can convert your unprotected WMA files to AAC files (or whatever file format is chosen in the Importing pane of iTunes Preferences) without changing the original WMA file. Simply drag the WMA files into your library in iTunes and iTunes does the grunt work, converting them for you. Windows Media Player 9 or later must be installed to convert unprotected WMA files. Protected WMA files cannot be converted."
This is just the first step in exploring all the things iTunes can do. Look for more articles here about iTunes in the future, and be sure to visit Apple’s iTunes tutorial.