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How to transfer your iTunes library from PC to Mac

Congratulations! You’ve bought your first Mac! Quite a moment, huh?It took you a while to build up to this moment – you got yourself an iPod or an iPhone, learned to manage your music using iTunes, maybe, you even got a MobileMe membership. Well, now you probably want to learn how to transfer your iTunes data from the PC to the Mac.

First of all, you need to consolidate your iTunes library. By default, OS X based iTunes copies every single song or video you add to iTunes into a central iTunes folder. iTunes on Windows is different.

Luckily, we can easily tell iTunes to consolidate its library manually.
Open up iTunes on Windows and go to File>Library>Organize Library. In the window that pops up, select the checkbox next to “Consolidate Files” and then click “OK”.

iTunes tips consolidate

iTunes will now copy all your media inro a cenral iTunes folder, this process might take a while, depending on the speed of your hard drive and amount of media you have.
When the process is done, you’ll have to choose how to actually move your content. There are two options:First is to use an external hard drive;second is to create a network connection between the Mac and the PC. We’ll cover both of these below.
Transfer Content with an External Hard Drive
Get an external hard drive with enough capacity to store your iTunes content. If you don’t know what size you’ll need, check the size of your iTunes media folder which, if you followed the consolidation steps above should be located inside the following folders:

  • Windows 7: C:/Users/username/My Music/iTunes
  • Windows Vista: C:/Users/username/Music/iTunes
  • Windows XP: C:/Documents and Settings/username/My Documents/My Music/iTunes

Find the proper folder and right-click on it. Select “Properties” and let the system to measure the size of the folder. The total size represents all the content you have (iTunes database, support files as well).
Once you have an external drive, plug it in to your PC and open it with Windows Explorer. In a separate Windows Explorer window, navigate to the appropriate iTunes folder and copy the entire iTunes folder to your external hard drive. It might take a while depending on the speed of your hard drive and the size of your library.

Once the copying process is done, safely eject the drive from the PC and plug it in to your Mac. Open it in Finder. In a separate Finder window open your Music folder. Make sure the iTunes app is closed and then delete the iTunes folder in your Music folder on the Mac’s hard drive. Keep in mind, that this action will erase all music you already have on your Mac(this tutorial assumes that you’re moving your music from the PC for the first time). Also remember that the iTunes folder will only be in the Music folder if you’ve opened it at least once. In case you haven’t opened iTunes, you won’t see anything here and you can move on to the next step.

After you delete the Mac’s iTunes folder – drag and drop the iTunes folder from the external drive into your Music folder. That’s it – all your iTunes data is now on your Mac just the way it was on the PC.

pc vs mac

Transfer Content with a Network Connection
To use this option you need to make sure that both the PC and Mac have an ethernet port. It is possible to perform the content transfer via a wireless connection, though there is a big chance you’ll end with an unexpected error, therefore, it is better to use the hardwired connection.
Connect Mac and the PC together. Open System Preferences on the Mac and then choose the Network preference pane. On the menu to the left, choose the Ethernet interface and make note of the IP address, a series of numbers and periods, listed to the right. Save that address for later.

ethernet ip

Next thing you want to do is go to System Preferences and click on the Sharing preference pane. Select the checkbox next to “File Sharing” in the list to the left and click “Options” on the right. In the pop-up-window check the box next to “Share files and folders using SMB”. Do the same to the checkbox next to your user account name in the menu below.

file sharing

Now, return to the PC. Open the “Start” menu and search for “Run..”, then type the following into the “Open” box:\\[IP Address]\[Home Folder Name] and click return.

If your Mac is protected by a password – punch it in when requested. If all goes well, a new Windows Explorer window will appear – that is the home folder of your Mac’s user account. To find the Music folder execute the same procedure as you did for external hard drives. Erase the iTunes folder, if it exists. Next – open a separate Windows Explorer window and find your PC’s iTunes library. Drag and drop the iTunes folder from your PC into the Music folder on your Mac. That’s it! Launch iTunes on your Mac and you’ll see all the content you’ve had on your PC.

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