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How To Backup A Single Playlist To A Hard Drive in iTunes

Daniel Roe
Poster: Daniel Roe @ Wed Dec 24, 2008 12:48 pm

So I'm using iTunes and I want to put some music on an external hard drive (for reasons I don't think I'll reveal).

The tricky thing is: It's a smart playlist so I only want certain files to actually be transferred.

The easy way is, of course, to select all files in the playlist and "drag" it to the location. However, this playlist just so happens to be 16,000 files, and so that's easily enough to crash both my file manager (Finder, in this case, since I'm on Mac) and iTunes at the same time.

Given the incredible amount of files here, and the fact that I want to maintain the directory structure of my playlist, I had to find another way.

Here is how to do that. This should work for Mac or Windows, but I tested it on a Mac.

1) Export the playlist in XML format (Right click [ctrl+click] on the playlist and select 'export'). Make sure to save it where other users can access it.
2) Create another user on your Mac or PC
3) Make sure your music library will be accessible by the new user (give them appropriate privileges or whatever)
4) Login under the new user and open iTunes
5) Hopefully, iTunes should throw up the EULA and ask you to agree. Agree to that but DO NOT have it search for files on your hard drive--select the "manual" option
6) Go into Preferences -> Advanced and change your music folder to whatever location you want your backup (eg: an external hard drive). While you're there, make sure BOTH "keep my itunes music folder organized" and "Copy files to iTunes Music Folder when adding to Library" are checked. They're enabled by default, by the way.
7) Import the playlist you made in step 1. (File -> Library -> Import Playlist)

That's it! iTunes is extremely quick and powerful, and will copy a playlist of any size to the new location.

I tested this out with a playlist of 16,000 files. It preserved directory structure and copied them all flawlessly.

(67,740)
Comments: 2  •  Post Comment  •  Share Share Top
1m1w Wed Dec 24, 2008 7:05 pm
So your Hannah Montana discography is now completely safe from the prying eyes of the RIAA am I right?
Daniel Roe Wed Dec 24, 2008 9:34 pm
it took me 2 hours to figure out how to do this stupid thing
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Bio: Daniel Roe
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Daniel is Medical Resident from the southwest US. Prior to medicine, he worked in IT as a consultant, programmer, web designer/developer, and technician.

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