What happens to your iTunes library in macOS Catalina?

After 18 years, Apple is finally getting ready to break up iTunes into individual, dedicated apps. While it's hard to imagine iTunes being no more, nixing the app makes a lot of sense with the addition of the dedicated apps for podcasts and video content like TV shows and movies — not to mention the rise in popularity of music streaming on Apple Music. With iTunes going away the question remains, where does all your music, movies, and TV shows go?

Apple's official upcoming changes to iTunes on Mac

Apple's support webpage was updated to include information on the upcoming changes to iTunes on Mac in macOS Catalina. While most of the information is the same as we had previously heard, there a great list of important changes that Apple published.

  • Music that you've imported or purchased will be in the new Apple Music app.
  • The iTunes Store will still be available to buy music on Mac, iOS, PC, and Apple TV.
  • iPhone, iPad, and iPod backup, restore, and syncing will move to Finder.
  • Movies and TV shows that you purchased or rented from iTunes will be in the new Apple TV app.
  • Use the Apple TV app for Mac for future movie and TV purchases or rentals.
  • Podcasts that you subscribed to or added to iTunes will now be in the new Apple Podcasts app.
  • Audiobooks that you purchased from iTunes will now be in the updated Apple Books app.
  • Use Apple Books for Mac for future audiobook purchases.
  • iTunes Gift Cards and iTunes credits will be maintained and can be used with the new apps and the App Store.

Where's your iTunes library in macOS Catalina?

The good news is macOS Catalina should roll your entire iTunes library into the Music app. There you should be able to see any music you've purchased on iTunes, tracks you've ripped from CDs, MP3s you've imported into your library from outside sources, and any other files (like recordings) that you've had in your library. Nothing should be lost, just moved to a new centralized location in Music.

Same goes for your movies and TV shows, but in the TV app. You have a Library section in the TV app on Mac in Catalina that stores all of your purchased movies, ripped DVDs and Blue Ray discs, and movies you downloaded by other means. If it was in iTunes, it's now in the Library section of your TV app.

Syncing your iPhone or iPad to macOS Catalina

In prior versions of macOS, when you'd connect your iPhone or iPad to your Mac, iTunes would launch and you could check for updates, sync your information with your Mac, manage your data, and create backups. Instead of doing all this in iTunes, macOS Catalina instead moves this to Finder.

In Finder you'll see your iPhone or iPad pop up in the sidebar when you connect it to your Mac, and when you click on it, you'll see an interface very similar to the one that was in iTunes before. Here you can sync your iPhone or iPad, create backups, manage your data, and all of the other things you used to do through iTunes.

How to sync your iPhone and iPad to your Mac in macOS Catalina

What happens to iTunes on Windows?

iTunes was so popular and big that many people did and still do use it with Windows, so it begs the question how iTunes shutting down in macOS would affect those users using the software on other platforms. According to Ars Technica, they asked Apple at WWDC and there's wasn't a ton of information.

"Apple says users of iTunes under Microsoft Windows will not see any changes. It won't be broken up into several apps; it will work just like it does now. However, Apple did not provide any clarification about what support will be like for future features."

It appears for right now, iTunes in Windows will remain unaffected, but there's no clear indication of how long iTunes will continue to be supported on other platforms, now that Apple has decided to kill off the program for its own operating system.

Sad about iTunes leaving?

Are you sad about iTunes leaving? Let us know in the comments down below!

Updated September 2019: Updated for release of macOS Catalina.

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 

Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.