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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Moving iTunes from PC to Mac

I also write for the My First Mac web site. In talking to the editor, Chris Kerins, he told me that many switchers to the Mac had installed iTunes on their Windows machines. They probably set up playlists, too. Now how do they transfer their music and associated metadata, such as playlists and song ratings, over to the Mac successfully? That's their #1 question.

Kirk McElhearn at Macworld tackled this question. His post is here. I suggest you read it before moving your years of music over to your new Mac from your aging Windows XP box.

Well, I set up a test Mac using an external hard drive I keep for such purposes. I installed Snow Leopard and then ran Software Update twice to bring the machine up to date. No Terminal work involved.

Well, Kirk's procedure works without a great deal of pain. I will summarize it for you.

First, make sure you use the latest version of iTunes, which is 10.1, on both machines. Run that software update! This procedure demands at least iTunes 9.

Second, on the Windows side, open iTunes preferences by going to Edit>Preferences. Click the Advanced tab. You want to check the "Keep iTunes Media folder organized" and the "Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library"

Then you go to the File Menu. Go down to Library. It will have several selections. You want Consolidate Files. Check it and then click OK. iTunes will then do housekeeping to make sure all the files's locations on the drive agree with their location in the library file. Be warned, this could take a while.

After you've consolidated your library files in the iTunes folder and made sure the library file is accurate; now it's time to copy the iTunes folder from your PC to your Mac.

Kirk pointed out that a lot of people have opted for wireless networks in their homes instead of laying down Ethernet cable. Wireless networks, by and large, run slower than wired ones. Kirk suggests you use an external hard drive instead of wireless networks. Even with a wired network, it took me over 3 hours to copy 67 Gigabytes from my Windows machine to my test Mac.

I'll refer to Kirk's article for information on where to find your iTunes folder on your Windows machine. It varies on whether you use Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7.

Now, do you already have an iTunes folder inside of your Music folder? Assuming you haven't put any music in it, you need to move this iTunes folder out of the Music folder. Just move it to the Desktop for now.

Once you've copied all the files into your Mac's Music folder, you can start up iTunes on your Mac. When I did it, iTunes recognized the library and files. But then it took a few minutes to process them.

When this processing was done, iTunes played an interactive tutorial on how to use iTunes.

Additional issues. You must remember your iTunes account passwords. If you've had several different ISPs and different e-mail addresses, you've probably had at least two iTunes accounts under which you purchased music. Dig them out!

If you forgot your passwords, iTunes will let you reset them. Now remember to write them down!

Lastly, if you don't intend to use iTunes on your old Windows machine, go under the Store menu of iTunes and choose "De-authorize computer." You only get to have 5 computers running iTunes. Don't waste it.

To summarize: Moving your iTunes library and associated data from your Windows machine to your new Mac is relatively easy, involving no editing of files if you remember to use the latest version of iTunes on each machine. It does take time to copy files from the Windows box to the Mac. Remember to find your iTunes accounts' information if you have to authorize protected media.

And if you're done with iTunes on the Windows box for Heaven's sake, DE-AUTHORIZE IT!

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