What's the easiest way to merge two iTunes libraries?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by c073186, Apr 20, 2008.

  1. c073186 macrumors 6502a

    Nov 2, 2007
    So I have two computers, each with its own iTunes library. They share a lot of songs in common but not all. I want to create one library with all songs. Is there a way to do this without just bringing over all the songs and then spending an hour deleting duplicates?
  2. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    Wow mate, this could take a while. There's not really an "easy" solution.

    First off, do you have access to Windows, OS X, or both?
    2nd, how perfect does it need to be? Does play count, playlists, and stuff like that need to be retained?
    3rdly, how is everything organized? Have you let iTunes manage everything and import everything into the itunes music folder?
  3. c073186 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Nov 2, 2007
    1. I have access to both Windows and OS X. Both computers are OS X though (one Leopard, one Panther).

    2. I only care about the actual songs. Playlists, etc. is not a concern.

    3. I have allowed iTunes to manage all of the songs. (So I should just have two iTunes folders with everything in them).
  4. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    Awesome. Here's what I would do.

    First things first, we need to add the one library to the other. The easiest way is to go into iTunes, and import the 2nd library. Unfortunately, this leaves us with duplicates of many songs. So, we need to add just the songs that aren't already in the library.

    In windows, you can just drag the contents of one folder into the other, and it will add the files. OS X differs, in that it will overwrite the entire folder.

    So what you want to do is pull the main library into Windows, and while you're in Windows, add drag the contents of the iTunes folder into the iTunes folder of the main library. It will ask you if you want to overwrite files. choose "Ignore all" or "No to All" to make it go faster and to keep your old library info. That puts all of your music into one place, without duplicates.

    Then, just pull the folder back into OS X, and open up iTunes. All of your music files will be there, but only what was in the main library will appear in iTunes. From there, just go to file > import and import your whole iTunes library. iTunes automatically skips files that are already in its database, so it will only add the new ones.

    Hopefully, this made sense and it helps. Just met me know if you get confused or anything.
  5. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    This is not an ideal option, but I think it would work. (the example is based on OS X).

    1. Open up iTunes with each individual library and make a note of how many songs each has.

    2. Create a temporary folder somewhere outside your libraries.

    3. Now navigate inside one of your libraries (i.e. inside the Music folder, in Finder), and spotlight using the spotlight tool in the finder window for kind:music ... make sure that it is delimited to the current directory. This should give you a list of every song file in the library -- check the number against the number you got above in (1).

    4. Now drag all these songs from the spotlights results to the temporary folder from (2). Hold down whichever key causes the green plus icon (I think it's shift or control?) to appear, so that you create a copy ***

    5. Repeat this procedure for the other library using the same temporary folder. I think that the result should be that it will prompt you to overwrite or not overwrite any duplicates (you should be able to make either choice). This way you shouldn't have any (or at least many) duplicates left.

    6. Now import all the songs in that folder into a new iTunes library. When done, you can delete the folder and also the old libraries.

    You'll lose all playlists, as discussed. Each song will retain one set of playcounts, metadata, and album art (for the duplicates, if you chose not to replace, it'll be the first library you did, and if you chose to replace, it'll be the second).

    *** The only part I'm not 100% sure about is if you'll run into trouble here at (4). I'm not 100% sure that iTunes names songs in a way that you will have zero duplicate file names from a single library (e.g. two different songs in your library have the same file name). You'll know if you receive a prompt at this step (you should receive the prompt at (5), but hopefully you won't at (4)) to overwrite an existing file with another file of the same name.

    I don't know that there's a way to merge two sets of DRM music, though? I think you're only allowed to be authorized to one iTunes Store account at a time. If you want to do that permanently, I guess you'd have to contact Apple, and I'm not sure what their policy on that is.
  6. Queso Suspended

    Mar 4, 2006
    Your friend and mine, rsync :)

    Example of how to do it here, but check the man files before you actually perform to make sure you have the right options.
  7. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
  8. Queso Suspended

    Mar 4, 2006
    Looking at what that does, it looks as if somebody's written a nice GUI that calls the relevant rsync commands. Nice find :)
  9. c073186 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Nov 2, 2007
    What if I just do a "Backup to disc" on one computer and then import from that onto the other computer. Will it skip the ones already in the library or will it import everything?
  10. rynoman macrumors newbie


    Apr 6, 2008
    Do the songs have the exact same titles/artists? If so, you could combine the libraries and choose View > Show Duplicates, and delete the extras (selecting multiple tracks with the :apple: key before hitting Delete). Or is that what would take you so long to do?

    Happy Sunday
  11. sakoide macrumors newbie

    May 5, 2008
    Slightly different version of the same problem

    I hope it's okay to post this here? I have a slightly different version of the same problem. Just got a new laptop (windows, vista) and wnat to transfer my music and shows from old computer to new computer.

    Went to my iTunes directory and found that somehow, my music is in two different folders:
    D:\My Documents\My Pictures\My Music\iTunes

    I think I can do the following, but need someone to tell me that this is right / wrong:
    Step 1: Merge on old computer.
    - Drag the "My Pictures" directory into my iTunes "Library"
    - Let iTunes update my XML Library

    Step 2: Move everything to new computer
    - copy directory to external hard drive
    - copy directory from hard drive to new computer
    - import library in iTunes
    - OR, 'drag' directory into iTunes library, let iTunes manage it
  12. ra noodle Guest

    Mar 14, 2008

    i know you were answering the one poster's question but that too has been a difficult act...i have been one of those who has-yes did it the long long long way--your suggestion i think helped a lot of others too--i am surprised every OSX iTunes doesn't have such ability built in like it should be!

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