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Migrate iTunes to a new Mac

I couldn’t find anything, via Google nor the Apple support site, that explained in the simplest and quickest terms how to migrate a functioning iTunes library to a new Mac.  I use a bunch of smart playlists to generate my own ‘radio station‘ playlist which relies on playcount, skip count, rating and other cool stuff.  That means that I really don’t want to lose the meta-data stored in the iTunes DB file when moving my data to my shiny new Macbook Pro (courtesy of work).

The last time I migrated, from my Mac Mini to my Macbook, I lost all the meta-data and really didn’t fancy it again.  It turns out it’s pretty simple and straightforward.  The following steps assume a brand new install of iTunes.

1.  Start up iTunes on the target device.  Accept the license agreement and choose NOT to add anything to the library at this time.  You should now find the iTunes folder and a blank database in your /%username%/Music folder.

2.  Start up the Migration Assistant app (in Applications/Utilities), choose “From a Mac”.

3.  Reboot your source device and hold down the ‘T’ key whilst it restarts.  It should boot up to show a Firewire symbol.

4.  Connect the source and target devices with a Firewire cable.

5.  This should mount the source disk on your target device.

6.  Copy the entire Music/iTunes folder from source to destination.

7.  Once the copy is finished, open iTunes and you should see all your tracks preserved with the meta-data intact.

The cool thing about this is that any iPods or iPhones registered with the previous iTunes installation will continue to work on your new device.  No need to format and re-sync.


  1. JSP says:

    Just to say that I had to do something similar when migrating from an old iMac (where the screen was not working but the disk could be mounted via FireWire) to a new iMac.
    So – thanks !

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