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iTunes Architecture: The Library Folder and Files Explained

The default location for an iTunes library under Mac OS X is:
/Users/username/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/

As your library grows, you will quickly run out of space on Macintosh HD (i.e. your system drive).  For this reason, Ciamara audio systems generally employ an external storage system (e.g. G-Tech hard drive, G-Speed eS hard drive array, etc.). In these computer audio systems, the music library can be found on the external storage device.

If you are in doubt as to where your music library is stored, go to File > Library > Export Library and look at the dialog box.  You will then see where the iTunes library files (iTunes Library, iTunes Library.xml, etc.) are stored.  (After finding the location of your library, Escape from the dialog box to avoid actually exporting your library.)


You can also see where iTunes is storing you media files (Music, Books, Movies, etc.) by opening Preferences (from the iTunes menu) and selecting the Advanced Tab.  ALWAYS keep the iTunes library files (iTunes Library, iTunes Library.xml, etc.) and the media files in the same location -- i.e. on your external storage system.  ALWAYS enable the following two settings to ensure all of your music is kept in one place:

  • Keep iTunes Media folder organized
  • Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library

In this second example, the music library is stored inside the folder “iTunes Mac Pro” which resides on the Macintosh Data drive

As noted above, there are several key files inside the iTunes library folder -- i.e. the iTunes library files (iTunes Library, iTunes Library.xml, etc.).  These are critically important files that contain information about the music library (location of files, album artwork, song name, artist name, album title, etc.).  iTunes does not automatically embed all information into the underlying music files, so keeping your library and media files together and in tact is important, especially when copying or moving your library from one location to another.

If you need to move or copy your iTunes library from one storage device to another, it is critically important that you copy the ENTIRE library folder, not just the music.  Copying or moving your library is as simple as using the Finder to copy the iTunes library folder (in this example, “iTunes Mac Pro”) from one storage device to another

NOTE: If your library and music files are in different locations, you should first consolidate them into one location. For example, if your library files are in “/Users/username/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music” and your music is stored on an external hard drive, you should move the library files to the external hard drive.