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Dec 9, 2013

Migrating iTunes and your iOS Devices to a new Computer

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Over the weekend I had to transfer my iOS devices and iTunes library over to a new computer. My old laptop, used mainly just for syncing of late, is going to my nephew where it will be put to actual use.

So the challenge, how do I migrate my apps, music, movies, and books from one computer to another computer? This must be easy thinks I, why it is Apple after all! So I hook up my iPhone to the new machine (a Mac Mini running Mavericks 10.9 with an iPhone 5 running iOS 7.0.4) and attempt to sync with iTunes. So a little dialog pops up and makes me confirm that I “trust” this new machine. So I click on the “trust” dialog on my iPhone. The device appears to sync quickly, but upon further inspection, nothing happened. Looking at the various media tabs on my iPhone I see that basically, nothing is checked to sync or backup for that matter.

So under the Music tab, I check Music (sync everything) and finally a dialog pops and with an ominous sounding button “Remove and Sync”? Hmmm, this is a bit scary. Reading the explanatory text basically says this (and I’m paraphrasing):

Click this button to erase all the music on this device and replace it what is in this iTunes library.

Well if you have no music in your Library, clicking the button will erase all your music and replace it with nothing! I wonder how many non tech folks have done that.

So bottom line, migrating iTunes from one machine to another is NOT EASY. Plus there is little to no documentation on what to do. Plus, since the UI keeps changing what technotes and blog entries have been written, tend to be a little off from the current version. If you are are not a techie, find a friend to help you or go to the Apple store and have them help you. If you erase all you stuff you are not gonna be happy.

So here are the high level steps of what you need to do. (Use these steps at your own risk. If you are unsure about anything, get help first!)

  1. Backup all your media. Get a thumbdrive or an external usb hard drive and back everything up. This will save your bacon if you make a mistep along the way.
  2. Authorize the new computer with the iTunes store. This step is required to be able to play any of your purchased content. You are limited to a total of 5 machines for syncing, so you likely will have available slots. You can find this option under the Store menu option in iTunes.
  3. Copy your media to the new machine. In this step, copy all of your music, books, and movies to the new machine. Basically, this means copy your iTunes Music directory to the new machine and import it into iTunes on the new machine. This sounds easy, but can be difficult. Get help if you need it. For an end result, you want all of your content available in iTunes on the new machine just like it was on the old machine.
  4. Transfer your Purchases. This step should transfer all of your Apps and purchased content into your new iTunes library from your iPhone and iPad. Connect your device to the new computer, but do not sync. With the device connected, there should be a menu option (currently with iTunes 11.1.3 choose File –> Device –> Tranfer Purchases) to Tranfer Purchases to your iTunes library. Make sure you do this for your phone and an iPad as the Apps between the two differ.
  5. Sync your devices. After all the above has been done, you should be able to sync your devices. For each device, reconfigure your syncing options for music, movies, and books. Also, configure your device backup options as the default is to backup to iCloud.

That is it. If you have done everything right, the first sync will replace your music, movies, and books, with your music, movies, and books. The first sync will be slow, but after that, everything should be as it was before.

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