iPod Copying a Pile of Music from One Mac to Another


macrumors member
Original poster
Jan 24, 2007
My main iTunes library rests on an external HD attached to my iMac -- 105 gigs of music. 99+% of the songs are from my CD collection and not iStore purchased or DRMed.

I just bought a MacBook with a 120 gig HD. Once I load photos and other files I have about 80 gigs of space left there. In the long run I'll get an external for the laptop but for now ...

I want to copy maybe half of my main library to the MacBook and keep all the songs in my main library too.

My music is on the external because there isn't enough room on my iMac's internal. Without music my iMac's internal HD has 88 gigs available. My external is a 250 gig so I have about 140 gigs available space there.

Any suggestions on how best to copy?

I looked at the migration assistant but it wants to copy everything.

I also tried hooking the two machines together with a firewire and restarting the iMac holding down the T key but then the iMac's internal HD shows but for some reason the external HD doesn't show.

I can and have hooked up the external HD direct to the MacBook but am not sure what to do next.

I can go into Finder and get my iTunes Music but it has 1,000 subfolders -- one for each artist, then sub sub folders by album before you get to songs. I can drag and drop from my iTunes music on the external HD into the iTunes library on the MacBook but that solution isn’t practical on the scale of 40 or 50 gigs of music.

I thought maybe I could make a playlist on my iMac and "export" it to some temp folder on my external then hook up to the MacBook and import same but export seems to just export the names of the songs in the playlist.

It would be best to be able to pick and choose the music in a playlist (or whatever) then somehow copy those songs and get them onto the MacBook.

My latest thinking is to make a second copy of my iTunes library on the external. Then hook the external to the MacBook, direct the MacBook's iTunes to use the clone as its library then in the MacBook iTunes go through and delete songs / albums / artists until I get to a manageable size at which time I can flip that library from the external to the MacBook's internal and redirect iTunes.

This approach is a bit convoluted and counts on me to remember where I am, what I'm doing.

There must be an easier way but for now this is the best I can figure.

bla bla bla -- I hope you see my problem.

Any and all advice would be much appreciated.

Topic :

mad jew

Moderator emeritus
Apr 3, 2004
Adelaide, Australia
After making a playlist, literally drag the songs from iTunes to a folder in Finder and it should copy them across. Just be aware that it won't copy if two song names (and therefore file names) match up, so sort everything by song name and copy in batches. If there are two songs with the same name, copy the second one to a different location. Once all your songs are in Finder, add them to iTunes as you normally would, obviously after disconnecting from the external library. :)


macrumors member
Original poster
Jan 24, 2007
Great -- thanks!

It is so much more intuitive for me to add songs I want to a playlist (that we then copy over) than to remove songs I don't want.

Guess I wouldn't be a very good sculptor!