How to create a second iTunes library for Apple Music and iCloud Music Library

Currently, iCloud Music Library limits you to uploading or matching 100,000 local tracks from your iTunes Library, and it will stop dead if you try to turn it on with a library of more than 100,000 songs. But even if your track collection is massive, you can still use iCloud Music Library with Apple Music or a stand-alone iTunes Match subscription. Here's how to go about doing it.

You need a second iTunes library

Just like you can have multiple Photos or Aperture libraries, you can also create multiple iTunes libraries and store different tracks in each one.

If you want to use iCloud Music Library but have too many songs, you can create a second iTunes library and link only the tracks you want to that library. Better yet, iTunes allows track aliasing, so you don't need double the storage space for two libraries.

How to create a second iTunes library on your Mac

  1. Quit iTunes on your Mac.
  2. Hold down the Option (⌥) key while clicking iTunes to relaunch.
  3. In the Choose iTunes Library screen, click on Create Library.

  1. Name your new iTunes Library "iCloud-Music-Library" or something equally catchy, then click Save.

  1. Go to iTunes > Preferences in the menu bar.
  2. Check the box for iCloud Music Library to turn it on.

  1. Click on the Advanced section of iTunes Preferences.

  1. Un-check the "Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library" box.

  1. In the Finder, go to your Music folder.

  1. Find your original iTunes library folder (it should be named "iTunes") and double-click it, then select iTunes Music.

  1. Highlight the artists you want to add to your secondary iTunes Library, then drag their folders into iTunes.

  1. Repeat until you've moved the all the songs you want to your secondary iTunes library.

After you've done this, these songs should upload to iCloud Music Library. After they've done so, you can quit iTunes and relaunch it with the option key held down to return to your original full-features iTunes library.

Any questions?

Did this work okay for you? Any questions about making a secondary iTunes library? Sound off in the comments.

July 2019: Updated with steps for macOS Mojave.

Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.

When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.

18 Comments
  • Hi Serenity, Great article but one question though is there a way that you can add pictures to it like you guys do other articles?
  • There should be two images in there that detail the steps! Let me know if you're not seeing them.
  • oh yeah I just went over them sorry about that brain freeze on that one!
  • After growing tired of syncing errors between my iTunes library and iTunes Match, I didnt bother renewing my iTunes match subscription. Instead I uploaded my library of mp3s to dropbox, and listen to them via the CloudBeats app.
    This solution is now cross platform, and doesn't leave me tied solely to the Apple infrastructure.
  • And I use Google Music. The process of uploading all of my decades of collected music took a while, but I've been quite satisfied with all of the free cloud backup and accompanying freedom from worrying about whatever random decision Apple should make disabling iTunes functionality or any hard drive issues that may arise in the future.
  • Will this limitation (25,000 songs) go away in iOS 9? I'm close to 25,000 songs in iTunes Match (I have no plans to use the new Apple Music subscription). I'll wait a few months to rip my remaining audio CD's if that's the case.
  • It will jump to 100,000 when iOS9 comes out.
  • About time. For the same price, Amazon has allowed 250,000 for a long time now.
  • Can you do this on Windows? Sent from the iMore App
  • So then my secondary library is the one syncing with iCloud. But what will be in September or October when they finally raise the limit to 100,000? How will I get then my complete (first) library to be the one syncing with iCloud without resulting in a complete mess?
  • Rather than adding artists or album folders or presumably individual tracks - is there an easy way to add playlists instead? Including metadata like genre, ratings, play count etc.?
  • Thanks for the wealth of information you've been providing regarding Apple Music, Serenity. It's truly helped me navigate through its many quirks.
  • Not worth the potential mess, IMO. Wait 2 months and the limit will be raised. In the meantime, you could add some of the music you like from iTunes to Apple music so you seed the for you area of the app.
  • I second this. In fact, I've been waiting four years for Apple to raise the limit. Two more months is nothing compared to that. (Actually, I'm not bothering with Apple Music at all until Apple raises the limit.)
  • I don't get this article. Once you switch on "iCloud Music library" the new library merges with the old one.... ?
  • There should be two images in there that detail the steps! Let me know if you're not seeing them.
  • Yeah does the second library replace the slots in icloud music library or does this effectively mean your can store 200,000 songs now? And theoretically 300,000 if you created a third library?
  • did anyone comment on this i was wonderting the thing