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This may have been discussed before but I'm trying to find out the best way to have two different hard drives with the same music files on them work with the iTunes Library on my MacBook Pro. I have a LaCie mirrored RAID HD as my main drive with all my music on it. Mostly AIFF and ALAC files. This works great but it's not very portable. What I'd like to do is also put all of my music on a smaller portable drive and have my iTunes library access that as well. I tried using a program called TuneSpan and that worked well for getting my music working on the portable drive but it pointed my iTunes Library only that drive. The LaCie wasn't recognized at that point and the only way to listen to music from the LaCie was to "Restore" the Span. At that point the Portable drive didn't work. Any thoughts on getting both to work would be greatly appreciated.



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You’ll need a duplicate of your Lacie’s media files collection on the portable, and have iTunes use a separate library database for each collection. Then when you launch iTunes with Option key held down, you’ll be prompted for which library to use, and therefore which drive will be accessed for music. iTunes can duplicate the media files with its consolidate function. If you need guidance to do that, let me know.

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Would love some guidance to do this. I'm pretty Mac savvy but have never done this before. Does iTunes make a separate database for the portable drive when it does the consolidate?


iTunes copies media files and updates the currently open database when doing a consolidation, so playlists are maintained but now reference the new set of media files. You’ll want to first duplicate the current library which references the files on the Lacie, then open that new library and declare a folder on the portable drive as that library’s media container, then tell iTunes to consolidate (i.e. copy the media files from the Lacie to the portable while updating the library).


Before I provide the steps, is your iTunes library (the database) in the default location on the MacBook HD or on the LaCie alongside the media collection?


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The iTunes Library is in the default location on the MacBook Pro. Thanks for your help on this I really appreciate it.


You’re welcome!

Quit iTunes if it is running.

On your MacBook HD, duplicate the “~/Music/iTunes” folder except for its Media subfolder (regardless of whether you actually use that subfolder). Name the duplicate as “iTunes Portable” so you have “~/Music/iTunes Portable” alongside “~/Music/iTunes”.

Hold down Option and launch iTunes, keeping Option depressed until a dialog asks you to choose a library. Pick the “~/Music/iTunes Portable” folder. iTunes will open and all your music will be available as normal because the new library still references the media files on the LaCie.

In iTunes Preferences, go to Advanced and change the iTunes media folder location to an empty “iTunes Media” folder on the portable. That empty folder can be created by clicking the New Folder button after navigating to the portable drive in the “Change…” window.

Finally, do File > Library > Organize Library. In the Organize dialog, enable the Consolidate option and click OK. The media files will be copied from their current location to the portable and the database will be updated accordingly.

Now you will be able to switch libraries by holding down Option when launching iTunes.

By the way, it’s possible to have the portable’s library (the database) be stored on the portable, alongside the media files, so it can be available to any Mac running a compatible version of iTunes that mounts the portable.

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One option is to get an iPhone with enough space to hold your entire iTunes library in 128 Kbps AAC. This is the most portable solution as you always have your phone with you.


The quality won't be as good but portable music is usually e joyed on the go, in a car etc. so it won't matter.


128 Kbps files are roughly 1/8 in size compared to that of regular red book CD files. So if you have more than 500 gBytes I'd recommend a phone with 128 gBytes. 250 gBytes will fit on a 64 gBytes phone when compressed.


It is really easy to do also. Just connect your phone. Change the settings in iTunes to copy files to iPhone at 128 Kbps and then select all your music and drag and drop it on your iPhone. A few hours later it will be done and you will always have all your music with you!


BTW I messed around with a portable drive and it just gets troublesome. You have to keep both databases updated which can be challenging. Also, if your HD is not mounted and you launch iTunes it will default to another default location (at least it used to) and this is painful as you then have to change your settings back...or when you burn a CD or buy an album from Apple Store it will go to a different location than you expect.a Also iTunes is a sloppily written program, it does not reliably copy the image of the album cover to the ALAC files themselves (can be embedded manually by "get info" on each track and pasting album art in) - often it stores the album covers in a separate folder in the ITunes folder on your Mac (and not on the hard drive).


Also itTunes does not support native sample rates. So you should set your Mac audio to the highest resolution files you have or you will be down converting any high resolution audio.


Frankly if I was to start again I am not sure I would use iTunes, however, it has one thing going for it - many many users - so hopefully it will be supported for a long long time.

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