My First Mac Archive

This article was first published on 2007-11-28. Due to the age of this article, it is included here for archive purposes only.

I recently switched to an Apple Mac and struggled to figure out how to transfer across my iTunes library. Copying the music is simple enough, but I wanted to keep my library file intact with all the play counts, ratings etc. that I had built up over the years. I found plenty of confusing guides that talked about editing xml files and changing access permissions, but I eventually discovered that it is much simpler than anybody seems to realize! So here is my simple 4-step guide to transferring your iTunes library from PC to Mac:

  1. PC – Consolidate your music library – In your Windows version of iTunes, go to the ‘Edit’ – ‘Preferences’ menu, select the ‘Advanced’ tab and then the ‘General’ tab. Make sure that both ‘Keep iTunes Music folder organised’ and ‘Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library’ have ticks in their little boxes, and make a note of the ‘iTunes Music folder location’. Click on ‘OK’ to save those changes and get rid of the preferences window, and then go to the ‘Advanced’ menu and select ‘Consolidate Library’. What all of this does is ensure that every single music file is held in the same directory, making it very easy to copy all of your music across.
  2. Mac – Initiate your new iTunes folder – Open up iTunes on your Mac. From the iTunes menu select ‘Preferences’, then the ‘Advanced’ icon and then the ‘General’ pane. Again make sure that both ‘Keep iTunes Music folder organised’ and ‘Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library’ are ticked, and make a note of the ‘iTunes Music folder location’. You can now quit iTunes.
  3. PC-Mac – Copy across your music folder – On your PC you need to go to the ‘iTunes Music’ folder that you noted down earlier and copy everything across to your Mac’s ‘iTunes Music’ folder. Either move it all to an external hard drive first, or perhaps share the folders across a network and copy across directly. This step puts your music in the right place on your Mac.
  4. PC-Mac – Copy across your library file – Now find the ‘iTunes Library.itl’ file on your Windows PC (it should be in the ‘My Documents – My Music – iTunes’ folder). Copy this across to your Mac’s ‘iTunes’ folder (note: this is not the ‘iTunes Music’ folder but is usually one folder back from that – you have the correct folder if it has the ‘iTunes Library’ and ‘iTunes Music Library.xml’ files in it). Now, delete the ‘iTunes Library’ file on your Mac, and then rename your newly copied across ‘iTunes Library.itl’ file to ‘iTunes Library’ (i.e. remove the .itl from the end). This has given your Mac’s iTunes a new library file pre-populated with all the extras you wanted to keep from your old library.

And that’s all there is to it! When you next open up iTunes on your Mac, all of your music should be visible and your playlists, play counts, ratings and album artwork should be just as you left them. If something is not quite right then don’t panic – you haven’t deleted anything on your PC so you can go through the steps again and give it another go. This method was tested using iTunes 7.4 on Windows XP and Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard.

Did this help you get all your settings over to your new Mac? Discuss further in the MFM Forum thread!
Craig Alan Williamson wrote his first novel on a PC, but you shouldn’t hold that against him. You can download an exclusive free preview of the rather funny ‘A Foreign Education’ from