Music & Photos libraries

In this article, we assume your music and commercial videos are in the Apple Music or iTunes app, and personal photos and videos are in the Apple Photos app. If you have loose photos, music & videos files, you can drag them to the iTunes & Photos app icons and take advantage of the features in these dedicated apps. Or manage the files manually by dragging them whever you like, such as folders or external hard drives.

Storing music & photo libraries in the cloud

You can safely delete any music, movies or TV shows [Evernote] that you purchased from Apple. They will still show in your library and you can stream or download particular items again whenever you have internet access.

If you have a lot of music that wasn’t purchased from Apple’s iTunes, or you have a ton of pictures & videos in the Photos app, we highly recommend storing them in iCloud instead of the computer. You’ll save a lot of space because they are streamed to your computer on-demand… and all music, playlists, pictures & albums are synced between Macs, iPhone & iPad. Even if you lost your phone and computer, your entire library is safe in the cloud.  And don’t worry… you can always download everything to a Mac in the future. Sign up for iTunes MatchApple Music or iCloud Photo Library.

Using multiple Music & Photos libraries

If you don’t want to keep media on the cloud or you just need separate music or photo libraries, you can split up your media files and store on another drive.

  1. If Music or Photos app is running, click its menu and choose Quit.
  2. Click the icon for Music or Photos in the dock.
  3. Immediately hold down the Option key.
  4. Choose an existing library or click to create a new one. You may need to help your Mac find your library. Music                                                                                                                                                                                                 libraries are usually found in the Music folder and Photos libraries are in the Pictures folder. But you can save them anywhere such as another disk.
  5. Click Choose and confirm. The items in the selected library appear.
  6. To switch libraries again, quit the app and repeat these steps.

While you’re working in one library, you cannot access music or photos that are in another library.

Copying individual songs & pictures between libraries or computers

  1. Make a folder on your desktop, flash drive or other storage for the music or photos.
  2. Open Music or Photos.
  3. Drag the songs or photos to the folder you created.
  4. Select a library (see above) or switch computers.
  5. Drag the folder to iTunes or iPhoto.
  6. If you have duplicate songs in iTunes, choose Show Duplicates from the View menu to find duplicate copies. Delete the extra copies. Photos automatically handles duplicates.

Transferring entire music & photo libraries

You can copy an entire library of music or photos from one Mac or drive to another.

  1. Quit Music or Photos. Click on the Finder (desktop).
  2. From the Go menu, choose Home. Open the Music or Pictures folder.
  3. Copy the Music, iTunes folder (or Photos Library file) to a drive.
  4. If you’re transferring to another computer, place the folder in the same spot you copied from – in Music or Pictures. Already have a Music or Photos library? You can choose to keep both libraries or rename one of them.
  5. Select the new library (see above).
  6. If you’re permanently moving your Music or Photos library to another drive, you might want to drag the original library to the trash to regain space.

Combining music & photo libraries

To merge all music, sign up for iTunes Match or Apple Music. To combine photos & videos, enable iCloud Photo Library on all your Macs & devices. Be sure to use the same Apple ID on each device. Your libraries will be combined without duplication and the same albums & playlists will show on all of them.

You can also share selected photos with members of an Apple Family group.

Learn more about graphics & media.

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