If you love music, movies, TV shows, and podcasts, there’s a good chance that your iTunes Media folder has swollen to the point where it’s pushing the bounds of your hard drive’s capacity. In such cases you need to move your media to a more expansive drive. iTunes makes it fairly easy to do so, and here are the steps to follow.

Step 1: Add a hard drive
The whole point of this exercise is to make more room for your iTunes media, and you can add either an internal or external hard drive, depending on the type of Mac you have.

When choosing the capacity of that hard drive, consider both the current size of your iTunes Media folder and how big it’s likely to get in the next few years. (The iTunes Media folder was formerly called the iTunes Music folder; yours might still be called that if you’ve been using iTunes for a long time.)

If you purchase music from the iTunes Store, bear in mind that Apple has increased the bit rate of music sold from 128-kbps AAC to 256-kbps AAC. When the bit rate doubles, so, too, does the size of the files. And if you rip your own CDs and want the best quality, Apple Lossless files are even larger.

Also, the TV shows and movies from the iTunes Store can be huge – especially if you purchase the HD versions.

Step 2: Configure iTunes’ preferences
Launch iTunes and choose Preferences (Cmd-, [comma]). Click the Advanced button, and in the resulting window enable the Keep iTunes Media Folder Organized option.

In that same Advanced window, click the Change button next to the iTunes Media Folder Location entry. In the window that appears, navigate to the hard drive you’ve added for your media. Click the New Folder button. In the New Folder window that appears, enter a name for your new media folder (My Media, for example) and click Create. Then click the Choose button in the Change iTunes Media Folder Location window. Click OK to dismiss the Advanced window.

Step 3: Consolidate content
Choose File > Library > Organize Library. In the resulting Organize Library window, enable the Consolidate Files option and click OK.

iTunes will now set about copying the content from your original iTunes Media folder to the folder you’ve created on the new drive. It will also start using it for all new content.

Step 4: Test it
Quit iTunes. In the Finder, navigate to the location of your original iTunes Media folder – typically found at youruserfolder/Music/iTunes – and move the iTunes Media folder to the desktop.

Note: Do not move anything else from the iTunes folder. iTunes keeps its database files in this folder – the files that, among other things, keep track of your playlists, play counts, and ratings.

Launch iTunes, select an item, and click the Play button. If the track plays as it should, your library has been moved successfully. (To double-check, you can select a track or video, press Cmd-I to produce the Info window, and, in the Summary tab, find the location of the file listed next to the Where entry. The path should point to the new drive.)

If everything is working as it should, you can now trash your old iTunes Media folder. (If you prefer to move your entire iTunes folder, you can also copy it to a new location, hold down Option while you launch iTunes, and select the new location.)