How To Store Your Music On an External Drive

In macOS Catalina if you are not using Apple Music you can choose to store your music files on an external drive. There are a number of methods you can use. Also learn how to clear out your Music app library to start from scratch.

Comments: 18 Responses to “How To Store Your Music On an External Drive”

    Caroline
    1 month ago

    Am I right in thinking that it’s advisable to keep a separate external drive just for music? I have one external drive for Time Machine backup; a second one for my Photo library; and I assume that I should get a third one if I’m going to adopt Method 2. Thanks for another clear and helpful tutorial, Gary!

    1 month ago

    Caroline: So you mean a separate drive for Music and one for Photos? Not really. No reason they can’t both be on the same drive. Just keep that drive separate from your backup drive which should be used only for backups.

    Caroline
    1 month ago

    Ah right! Thanks for that, Gary. Good to know that it’s ok to have Music and Photos on the same drive; less clutter on my desk!

    Russ Winkler
    1 month ago

    HI Gary. Thanks for all that you do. Some of music on my iPhone 6s/plus and on my MacBook Pro aren’t synced. On my iPhone, I have all the Led Zeppelin albums, but on my iPhone they are not all there. All my music is stored on my external drive. Purchased music is on my media folder on the external drive. Help!

    1 month ago

    Russ: How are you syncing them? Through the Finder (iTunes before Catalina), trouble iTunes Match? Apple Music?

    Joanne Harris
    1 month ago

    Will the same procedures be applicable (under iTunes) with Mojave or High Sierra?

    1 month ago

    Joanne: More or less, yes.

    Russ Winkler
    1 month ago

    I have Apple Music to keep them “synced”. On my MacBook Pro, I discovered that I wasn’t logged into the same account as my iPhone. Now they are both “synced” up. I can see all the Zeppelin albums on my MacBook. Thanks.

    Rod Hacking
    1 month ago

    Thanks Gary, but my own music (7000 songs) are stuck in Google Play Music. Is there some way of getting them on to an external drive without spending four years downloading to iTunes and then loading the external drive? I so appreciate what you do. Cheers.

    1 month ago

    Rod: I doubt there is a way to go from Google Music in the cloud straight to iCloud. You’d need to download them if you got rid of your local copies. 7,000 shouldn’t take long over a good connection. Maybe go to a place that has a fast connection to do it?

    Dennis Czech
    1 month ago

    Thanks, Gary, as always a very helpful, instructional video. One concern is when I grabbed a folder to move from the external drive back into Music on the Mac it disappeared from the external HD, and yet when I check the info it shows it’s on the external drive. Confusing.

    1 month ago

    Dennis: That’s odd. So the music is gone from the original location? You are dragging into the Music APP right, not a folder named Music. In Info did you look at the path and check that exact location?

    Marco Giacomini
    4 weeks ago

    I’ve been using method 3 with iTunes, but what is really annoying and frustrating me on Catalina with Music app is that, with method 3, I cannot eject the external drive as, when I want to do that -even without opening the Music app- it tells me that it is in use. I searched in Apple community website and I see that this issue is not that unusual among the users (same thing happens with Photo app). I can’t figure out how Apple hasn’t prevented this to happen. Have you Gary experienced the same?

    4 weeks ago

    Marco: Are you sure it is the Music app using the drive? Have you tried quitting each app you are using, and closing each window, to see what is using the external drive? I use Apple Music and don’t store my music on an external drive so I wouldn’t see this.

    Marco Giacomini
    3 weeks ago

    Hi Gary, thanks for your reply. Just did another try: based on Activity Monitor, this time it’s the process called “AMPLibraryAgent” which is continuously accessing my external drive also after I quit the Music app. And, surprisingly, that process is accessing the TV library file, which is too on the external drive. The workaround is to log out and log in again. The same happens with Photo Library on the external drive as soon as I designate it as the system library. I cannot find a fix for this

    3 weeks ago

    Marco: Are you using iCloud for your Photos? If so, it could be iCloud updates that are slowing things down since they have to go through the connection to an external drive, maybe?

    Marco Giacomini
    3 weeks ago

    Hi Gary, for Photos, I am not using iCloud and the library file is on an external SSD plugged in with USB 3.1 gen-2 on a MacBook Pro (version 2018, Four Thunderbolt 3 ports). See my post https://discussions.apple.com/thread/251028554 and, for example, another https://discussions.apple.com/thread/251160424?page=1

    3 weeks ago

    Marco: So if photolibraryd is doing something then it must have something to do. Perhaps when it is done you’ll be able to eject. It could be analyzing faces or objects in the library. Is Photo Stream also turned off?
    Maybe try setting up a second library on your internal drive. You don’t have to put any photos in it. Then switch to that library so you can eject. Make that empty internal one your “System Library” too.

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