Massive music import to new iphone ... trying not to shoot self in foot...

Discussion in 'iPhone Tips, Help and Troubleshooting' started by gjarold, Mar 24, 2018.

  1. gjarold macrumors regular

    Nov 14, 2007
    I am a new iOS user with my first iphone (SE).

    I have a 64 GB archive of music, organized into directories, on my mac laptop.

    I want to transfer this entire music library, which I own, to my new iphone but I am a little worried about how this works ... every HOWTO from apple is about "dragging and dropping" a file or two ... or an album ...

    How do I import a massive directory, which contains many multiple subdirectories, into my iphone ?

    What happens to the directory structure ? Will I be able to view the files in itunes *by their filename* ?

    In fact, is it even possible to see a directory in my laptops itunes ? I am not going to drag and drop 30,000 files ...

    Can anyone steer me in the right direction here ?

  2. mikzn macrumors 6502a


    Sep 2, 2013
    Lots of way to do this - I would recommend using iTunes and playlists (enable sync only check songs and videos) you could create a play list "all songs"?

    Using playlist will allow you to create other additional playlists and access the same songs without duplicating them.
  3. gjarold thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 14, 2007
    So I add the (huge) music library to itunes on my laptop (and make sure NOT to sync to the music folder, since then I would have TWO 64 GB copies of my music on the laptop) ...

    But when I do that, won't I just have an enormous list of 20,000+ files ? I don't think an "all songs" playlist would be helpful - a playlist with 20k+ songs in it ?

    So *then* I need to sync itunes to my iphone, right ? Then what will I see on the iphone ?

    The reason I don't just charge forward and try this is because:

    a) the sync of 64+ GB is probably going to take a few hours

    b) If I do it wrong and end up with just 20k+ songs all mashed up in one list, I am worried that itunes will freeze (on the mac or on the phone) and just be unusable ...
  4. mikzn macrumors 6502a


    Sep 2, 2013
    If you use "Playlists" it will not duplicate the music - probably a good idea to make a small playlist and test it so you know how it will work. Then add others later.

    Also your complete library probably will not fit on the phone?
  5. gjarold thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 14, 2007
    Well, I have the 128 GB model so it will fit ...

    This all sounds very silly, but I'm going to run with it ... I make a massive playlist of 20k+ songs and then import that playlist to the iphone ... ok ... when it is done, will they be organized on the iphone by filename ? How will all of the songs in each album be together in the listing ?
  6. BrianBaughn macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2011
    Baltimore, Maryland
    Try doing it first with 20 songs...say 4 each from 5 albums. See what happens.
  7. E3BK, Mar 24, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2018

    E3BK macrumors 68030


    Mar 15, 2008
    You should do a test for one album or artist or genre so you can see how music is laid out in iTunes. It's the only way you can see for yourself if you like the way it will handle your music and how it looks to you. It doesn't present folders but it can be organized in whatever way you'd like, you just need to get used to it.

    Make sure you have a BACK UP OF ALL YOUR MUSIC BEFORE YOU START. I can't stress this enough.

    If all your files are on one drive or within one large library, it's easy to just drop that folder, with all the subfolders inside into iTunes or just File >> Add to Library. It's just as easy with a single album or song, same process. iTunes pulls metadata from files to organize it, not file names. The same as any other music player.

    Once it's all in iTunes, you can sync your iPhone. You don't import music, you sync it. 64GB is really not that much but it might take a couple hours on first sync.

    ** Serious question out of genuine curiousity - have you never used iTunes before? I see you've been on the forum for quite some time and your posts indicate you've owned other Macs and very familiar with them. What have you been using to listen to music on these machines?
  8. T'hain Esh Kelch, Mar 24, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2018

    T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Aug 5, 2001
    Easiest way is through iTunes.

    You will get one long list of files in iTunes. iTunes will show them by ID3 tags if they are there, and then filename.

    No, iTunes doesn't care about file structure. iTunes creates one big library, and you then sort out your music using ID3 tags and playlists. iTunes is not a file manager, it is a playlist manager. If you've used Photos on your Mac, then you will know exactly how iTunes works, as it does it the same way, but with images.

    Correct. If you do plan on using iTunes regularly, I will recommend


    I don't think so either.

    In order for this to work properly, you will need to spend time adding ID3 tags and put them into playlists. If your songs have ID3 tags, then this will be a breeze.

    Alternatively, you should find another music player on your iPhone than the standard built in one.

    You can choose in iTunes what to sync, on a per-playlist basis. You will then see these playlists on the iPhone, and can further filter on the go by artist, album, etc.

    You can just stop it whenever you need to, and continue at a later point.

    iTunes handles more than 100k+ files or multiple terabytes of files without any issues. (iCloud Music Library and Apple Music Library does have a hard 100.000 sync limit though)
  9. gjarold thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 14, 2007
    I've never had an iphone or iOS device before.

    On my desktop/laptop macs, I would rsync over my entire music collection and then use iTunes to listen to it - but just using the command-O keyboard shortcut to open files and I would choose songs from my local filesystem ... then "delete" them from itunes when done (but not actually deleting any files).

    So I used itunes, but just as a simple mp3 player ... no importing, no exporting, no playlists ...
    --- Post Merged, Mar 26, 2018 ---
    Thank you - this post was helpful and I did figure it out.

    For the archives ...

    First I rsync'd my entire music library to my mac.

    Then, I made sure I had checked "manually manage music" in iTunes.

    Then, I would (using, file->open) select all the files in my 'A' directory and import them into iTunes.

    Here's the tricky part - once the files are in iTunes, regardless of their filename, they had different "names" based on metadata or what iTunes thought, or whatever ... so I kept my iTunes organized by "Date Added" ... and I could then select all of my 'A' files and make an 'A' playlist.

    I repeated this for all 26 letters and then I connected the iPhone and imported 26 playlists.

    I have to say ... there are something like ... 40 ? different column headings you can sort songs by in iTunes ... "Episode Number" "Equalizer" "Size" "Skips" ... but FILENAME is not one you can sort by. So I am glad I thought of the trick of adding them in batches (and waiting at least one minute to add the next batch) so I can sort by letter using the "Date Added".

    Man this is a lot of effort apple goes to to keep people from treating files like files ...
  10. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Aug 5, 2001
    There's no "what iTunes thought" involved here. As i already stated iTunes shows you what is in their metadata, and if there's nothing, their filename. If you have a mix of ID3 data, then you likely downloaded all your music online from random locations.

    You can use an ID3 tag editor, such as Media Rage, to quickly add the filename to say, the title of each song. Then you could technically sort by filename in iTunes. You could even use same editor to scrape info from the filename, and give everything correct ID3 tags.

    As I also mentioned before, iTunes is created so people don't treat files like files. If you want to use iTunes, you really should stop thinking in a file centric manner, because that is not how the app functions.
  11. aliensporebomb macrumors 68000


    Jun 19, 2005
    Minneapolis, MN, USA, Urth
    I've got over 9500 songs on my 7+ and my recommendation is to transfer things "one band at a time" (no really).

    Or even several albums at a time. If you just collect singles, then do them in batches of 50 or 100.

    I always use a cable connected directly to my Mac and always manage everything manually.

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