iTunes clean out: Getting rid of all the old dross

Posted on by Mike Evans

My iTunes library was a mess. I suspect most libraries get like this after years of fiddling, rearranging, migrating to new computers and general messing around. I keep the library on Dropbox, so it is available to all my Macs, and this seems to cause no problems. But the Music folder was full of old indexes and, even worse, cluttered with music I never play.

Like most people, as soon as I discovered iTunes I sat down with all my old CDs and ripped them to the computer. That was catharsis, it was definitely the wonder of the day.  I was able to move all the old CDs and their jewel cases to the loft and I felt good about it. Over time, though, I’ve realised most of that stuff, some of which dated back thirty years, was of poor quality and really not worth listening to.

Then came Spotify. This wonderful streaming service means that I can listen to more or less any music that takes my fancy. I don’t have to buy, I don’t even have to download unless I want to. In months I haven’t fired up my iTunes music once.

So what did I do? I just deleted the entire Music folder, but not before copying it all to my trusty Drobo. I do retain a semblance of caution. Twenty gigabytes of music just disappeared in a flash, reducing my Dropbox usage and getting rid of all that old dross.

Before the introduction of iOS 5 I was worried about such a drastic move because I thought I might upset tenuous the relationships with my iPad and iPhone. Now, of course, I no longer need to worry because both are happily syncing to iCloud.

I have now created a “New iTunes” library and downloaded all the stuff I’ve purchased over the years from iTunes. This isn’t a lot. I also downloaded my iBooks, although not strictly necessary, and repopulated my list of podcasts. After all this, my New iTunes folder weighs in at a slender 1.9GB compared with the old 20GB of rubbish. Since I shall probably never buy another track from iTunes, I don’t see the size of the folder growing by much.

This is real catharsis and I feel great, if a little rash.

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