Published Jul 12, 2004

Switching from a Mac to a PC, I needed to move my iTunes library from my old Mac to my new PC, without losing any of my playlists, ratings, etc. From my inital Google searches, it looked hard. Moving my iTunes library from my Mac to my PC didn’t turn out to be bad at all, modulo my initial long walks down wrong paths.

It’s not possible to just move your music files from your Mac to your PC; iTunes won’t know where they are. The good part is, iTunes seems to use more than just an absolute path to the music file to identify said file for your library; this makes the job a lot easier. The problem is, whatever iTunes seems to use besides the path only seems to work when you’ve let iTunes organize your library for you.

The first step is, therefore, to let iTunes organize your music for you. There’s no particular reason not to do that, although lots of people don’t; I don’t remember the last time I used the file browser, rather than iTunes’s interface, and I bet you don’t either. Go to iTunes>Preferences, click on the Advanced tab, choose a music location you’re comfortable with, check next to “Keep iTunes Music Folder organized”. Then go to Advanced>Consolidate Library. iTunes will take quite a while to put all of your music in one single, well-organized folder.

The next step is to install iTunes on your PC. After installing, run it once. This will put all of the folders and files in their default locations, which will come in handy when you replace them. Quit iTunes before moving to the next step.

Now copy your iTunes Music folder from your Mac to your PC, placing your music in your default “iTunes Music” folder in your “iTunes” folder in your “My Music” folder that iTunes created for you the first time you ran it. Also copy your “iTunes 4 Music Library” file.

iTunes will also have created “iTunes 4 Music Library.itl” and “iTunes Music Library.xml”. It’s not clear what the .xml file does. Ignore it. Delete “iTunes 4 Music Library.itl” and replace it with your “iTunes 4 Music Library” from your Mac, adding the “.itl” extension by hand. Now launch iTunes again. Presto! You’ve moved your iTunes library from your Mac to your PC.


Why the hell would you move from a Mac to a PC anyway? I have to use a PC everyday at work and itis a nightmare, a nightmare shared by everyone of my co-workers.

There, literally, are hundreds of reasons why Macs are better than Windows based PC’s. I’ll never understand how someone, especailly someone who has used a Mac before, could ever make the switch to the PC… unless you are a Republican, if you are, then it’s all clear to me.

I’d be more inclined to take your comments seriously if you’d provided a URL or an e-mail address with your comment.

I agree that, all things equal, I’d choose a Mac over a PC. All things are not, however, equal. My business school requires Windows XP. Read more:

First off, how does having my email address allow you to take me more seriously. This is a board you’ve provided for people to give you feedback on posts you’ve made. I, unlike you, do not want to receive any sort of feedback on my thoughts outside of this forum and so am not inclined to give out my email address. With that being said…

I’m glad to hear that this was forced upon you, and that you have not strayed that far off the path.

Thanks, this was very helpful.

When you use this method to move your iTunes library, does this also move the DRM, records of authorized devices (iPods, iPhones, etc.), and other metadata, or just the music?




The DRM is built directly into the music file itself, so all you need to do to move that is to de-authorize iTunes in your old computer and then re-authorize it on your new computer.

I don’t know about the records of authorized devices, but I suspect not.

Other metadata is stored directly within the music file as well, so things like keywords and ratings move with this method.