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Sync iTunes to an External Hard-Drive

Question: I saw your article on how to copy music to an ipod, but is it possible to point the ipod to an external portable drive, so that it finds music files there instead of from the main hard drive?

Answer: Since iPods get their music by syncing with iTunes, you'll need to either 1) tell iTunes to store music files on your portable external hard drive instead of your regular drive, or 2) import music files from your external drive into iTunes.

Option 1: Tell iTunes where to store music files

Open iTunes and select Edit -- Preferences. Then click the Advanced tab where you'll find the iTunes Music folder location.

Click the Change button and choose a folder on your external hard drive (you might want to create one first if you want files to be stored in a particular folder on the new drive).

If you want all of your music files to be moved over from your main drive to the external drive, then make sure the Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library option is checked.

Option 2: Import music into iTunes from an external hard drive

If you already have music on a portable hard drive, and just want to get them into iTunes so you can sync up and get those songs on your ipod, then you can just drag and drop those music files onto iTunes.

You can also use the File -- Add Folder to Library menu in iTunes, choose a music folder on your portable drive, and iTunes will add those to your library.

If you uncheck the Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library option, which is on this same tab shown above, then iTunes will leave the files on your external drive.

In the checked state (shown above), iTunes will copy all of the music files from the folder on your external drive over to your main drive. That might not be what you want (particularly if your external drive has more files on it than the size of your main drive).

Thanks Rick, this caught my attention because a couple of weeks ago I spent about 4 hours writing shell script and apples script to import over the air sage tv recording into iTunes. The next day I found the checkbox for 'Add to Apple TV'...

I bet that was a bitter-sweet discovery, after spending all that time on the scripts!

How well does that checkbox option work? Any gotchas along the way?

Ricky, Thanx for returing the e-mail!! I did see the article on your site that you sent me...It did not give any detailed description of how to do things, like drag and drop, drop to where on i-tunes? Is their something out there that has detailed info for mentally challanged people like me?? I have been thinking about using the drive for a door stop, but might reconsider......Please reply.......Peace.......greg z..:)

Hi Greg. No worries :-)

It's actually just a matter of telling iTunes where to look for music file - you're external drive in this case. The details are described in Step 1 above, and included here as well:

"Open iTunes and select Edit -- Preferences. Then click the Advanced tab where you'll find the iTunes Music folder location.

Click the Change button and choose a folder on your external hard drive."

Hope that helps.

I did this and it all went well and the itunes synced nicely with my iphone. The next day however when I opened my itunes, all the music I had imported in from my external drive via the add folder to libary route had a greay 'exclaimation mark' next to them and were corrupted. I've done it twice now. What is going on???


Did you drag the folders from your external drive to your computer? If you dont put the folders on your computer or have the drive plugged in, it will always have the ! and not play those songs.

i recently put my entire itunes libary to an external hd to free up disc space on the computer. it works fine. however, i tried to sync music from itunes to my blackberry curve, it trys to retrieve tunes from the c drive, not the external drive. it says there are not tunes in the folder because there are not, i deleted them from the c drive, once all had been transferred to the external hd. how do i change blackberry media sync to sync itunes from the external drive? thanks. ddp

I am having this same issue and wondered if you ever got an answer on how to sync your I-Pod with your external after you delete all the music from your C-Drive?

Can you have more than one folder location for music on an external hard drive, or do you have to consolidate all music to one file. Also if you pull music off of your external will you be able to create playlist and leave the music on your ipod.


Iresd your instructions above and I am still having a problem. I am new at this, I copied all my music from my Sony Jukebox to an external hard drive via my laptop. I then took the music from the external hard drive and copied to my desktop. Itunes will not allow me to import music from the folder I creating in My Music containing all the copied cd albums. Itunes is essentially saying it is protected and I need the original CD. My intent was not having to move cds 1 by 1 onto my desktop for Itunes.

hey rick i recent purchased an Apple Mac book pro. i mate has one already and has a mountain of TV shows and Movies on an external hard drive, when he plugs it into his laptop it shows up automatically in itunes when i plug mine in it doesnt show up..? i want to stream my tv shows and movies to my apple TV how can i get this hard drive to be displayed in my itunes with our dragging all the movies and that across


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