How to Transfer Your iTunes Library to a New Computer (Windows 10)
iTunes to Windows 10: The Easy Way
I bought a new laptop that had Windows 10 installed and spent a day and a half transferring programs, photos, etc. from my old laptop to my new laptop. The last task was to transfer my iTunes music, something I expected to be rather straight forward, This turned out to be a daunting task, not because the process is difficult, but because most of the online how-to articles grossly over-complicate the issue. This method will preserve all of your play counts, ratings, and playlists.
- These instructions are for moving iTunes libraries from Windows (98, 2000, XP, 7) to Windows 10.
- If you are moving between Mac and PC, these instructions aren't for you. Some very good videos on that subject can be found on YouTube.
- The instructions may seem long and complicated, but that's because I've tried to detail every step so that a complete computer novice could do it. If you have more advanced computer skills, here is an overview of the steps:
- Use iTunes to consolidate the media files.
- Copy the iTunes folder to the new computer.
- Edit the "iTunes Music Library.xml" file to reflect the new file locations. (Windows10 uses a different folder hierarchy than some previous versions).
- Import the XML file.
Use an External Storage Device
An external storage device is the easiest and fastest way to transfer the files between two PC's. I bought a 1-terabyte (1000 gigabyte) external drive for less than $100. It made transferring many gigabytes of photos from the old PC to the new one really easy, plus it serves as a back-up for all of my media files (photos, music, movies, etc.). Alternatively you can use an inexpensive USB drive for this. You may have copy your files in batches if they don't all fit in one move.
Consolidate Your iTunes Files
Your iTunes files may not all be stored in the same place if you imported music from CD's, other iTunes libraries, and the iTunes store. To make the transfer easier, we will use iTunes to consolidate all of the files into a single place. This will not move the files from their original locations, but will make new copies as necessary. If your old PC is running low on disk space, you may be prompted that there is not enough room to continue the operation. In that case you'll need to free-up some space and try again.
On your old PC:
- Start iTunes
- File / Library / Organize /Consolidate
Note: If you are managing multiple iTunes libraries on one PC, then perform these steps for each library. If you don't know if you have multiple iTunes libraries then you only have one and don't need to be concerned. Managing multiple libraries in iTunes is something an advanced user might do, as there is no direct way to do it within the iTunes software.
Create an XML File From Your Library
Newer versions of iTunes no longer automatically create the XML file. If you look at the above screenshot you'll see a file called "iTunes Music Library.xml". If it doesn't exist in your iTunes Media folder, you'll need to create it. In the iTunes menu select "Edit", then Preferences", then click on the "Advanced" tab.
Check the box that says "Share iTunes Library XML with other applications", then click "OK". The XML file will be created in the folder shown at the top of the screen
Copy the Files to the External Drive
Once you have consolidated the iTunes files, close the iTunes program and start Windows File Explorer. (Right-click the Start button and select "File Explorer")
Navigate to the iTunes media folder. This is the folder that holds all of the music and album artwork, not the folder that holds the iTunes program. If you have a standard iTunes installation, the media folder will depend on which version of WIndows you have.
If your old computer's Windows is earlier than Windows 7, the media folder will be under "Documents and Settings\(your login name)\My Documents\My Music\iTunes".
If your old computer is running Windows 7 or older, the media folder will be under "Users\(your login name)\Music\iTunes".
In my case, the iTunes media folder on my Windows 2000 computer was:
C:\Documents and Settings\William.Yovino\My Documents\My Music\iTunes
Copy the iTunes folder to the external hard-drive:
- right-click "iTunes", select "Copy"
- Navigate to the external hard-drive
- right-click the external hard-drive's name, select "Paste"
- You will see the progress of the copy operation. It can take 5 minutes or more depending on how large your iTunes library is. Once the copy operation has completed, you can disconnect the external hard-drive.
- It's a good idea to de-authorize your old computer so that it doesn't take up one of the five slots allotted by iTunes for sharing files. From the Account menu, select Authorizations, then Deauthorize This Computer. If your iTunes version is very old, from the Store menu, choose Deauthorize This Computer.(See http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1420 for more information on Authorizing and De-authorizing)
On to the New PC
The next steps assume that your new PC is properly set-up and connected to the Internet. If iTunes has not yet been installed, go to http://www.apple.com/iTunes/Download/ to download and install iTunes on your new computer.
Shut down the iTunes program if it is running.
Examine Your New iTunes Environment
We need to find out where iTunes expects to find its files on the new PC. Later we will edit a file and use the information we learned during this step.
- Start Windows File Explorer (right-click the Windows icon on the bottom task-bar and select "File Explorer")
- Under "This PC", click on "Music", then open the iTunes folder.
- Right-click the file called "iTunes Music Library.xml" and select "Edit".(If the file isn't there, create one by following the steps shown above first)
- Look for the line that says "File://localhost/"
- Select the text from "C:/" to "iTunes/" In my case, I copied "C:/Users/Bill%20Yovino/Music/iTunes/"
- Copy the selection (hold down the Ctrl-key and press the letter "C")
- Close the edit window without saving.
- Open up Notepad and paste the selected text by holding down the Ctrl-key and pressing the letter "V". You will use this information in the next step.
Copy the Files to Your New PC
- Navigate to Libraries / Music /My Music / iTunes
- Right-click the iTunes folder and select "Delete"
- Attach the external hard-drive to your new PC.
- Navigate to the iTunes folder (from the old PC) on the external hard-drive.
- Right-click the folder and select "Copy"
- Scroll up and navigate to the "Libraries / Music / My Music" folder
- Right-click the "My Music" folder and select "Paste". You will see the progress of the copy operation. It will take 5 minutes or more depending on the size of your iTunes library
- Important Note: Move the XML file to a different folder otherwise iTunes will delete it when you start it. (Thank you iTunes for continually changing things)
Finishing the Move
The last step is to edit the "iTunes Music Library.xml" file to reflect the proper location.
- Use Windows Explorer to navigate to the XML file that you copied from your old computer in the step above.
- Right-click the file "iTunes Music Library.xml" and select "Edit"
- Find the "File://localhost/" text as we did earlier.
- Select the file location beginning at the "C:/" and ending at the "iTunes/". In my case it was "C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/william.yovino/My%20Documents/My%20Music/iTunes/
- Copy the text by holding down the Ctrl-key and pressing "C"
- From the Notepad menu, click "File" then "Replace"
- Paste the text into the "Find What" field by holding down Ctrl-key and pressing "V"
- In the "Replace with" field enter the text that we saved earlier.
- Click "Replace All". It will take several seconds to replace all of the occurrences. In my case, I replaced C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/william.yovino/My%20Documents/My%20Music/iTunes with C:/Users/Bill%20Yovino/Music/iTunes
- Close the Notepad session and save the results.
- Start iTunes. Select "File/Library/Import Playlist". Navigate to the XML file that you edited, select it and click "OK". The songs should now appear in iTunes. If not, recheck that you entered the correct information during the Find/Replace step.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2011 Bill Yovino