How to move your music and photo libraries from one iOS device to another

There are three things that can eat up all of the free space on your iOS devices, and those are music, photos and videos. These are also the three things that many seem to collect, hoard and like to keep on their devices for extended periods of time. While getting photos music and videos on to a device seems easy enough, getting it off of one iOS device and onto another iOS device can be a bit more challenging.

The easiest way is to perform a backup to either iCloud or iTunes and restore from that backup. But sometimes you may just want to start anew without losing all of your photos, music and video files. The following will offer some general tips on how to move these files off of one device for safe keeping, and then how to get them back on to another device if you so choose:

How large are your media libraries

How large are your media libraries?

Counts and Free Space – Before you move your various media libraries full of photos, music and videos to a new home, you may want to see how large each library is first. For a count of things on iOS, you can look under Settings > General > About. Here you will see how many songs, videos and photos you have stored on your device. While you can see the total amount of free space left on your device, what this section of the Settings app does not show you is how much space each of your media libraries actually take up on your device.

Size on the Device – On iOS you can check how mush space your media collections take by checking out Settings > General > Usage. Under the Storage section you will see a breakdown of how much storage each app is taking up on your device sorted by size. For the Apple related media libraries stored on your device you need to look at the Photos, Camera, Music, Videos, and Podcasts apps. You may also want to check out how much storage your iPhoto, iMovie and GarageBand apps are using up as well. Projects you create in each of these three app in iOS are counted separately when it comes to how much iCloud storage space you use.

iCloud Storage Space – The other place you may be interested in checking out is how much space each device’s iCloud backup is using. Each library will take up a varying percent of your iCloud backup. This information is located in Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup > Manage Storage section of the Settings app on iOS. From here, select one of your device’s backups to see how much of your iCloud storage is being taken up by your media libraries. Many people are surprised to realize how much of their iCloud backup is taken up by their Camera Roll.

Music, Movie and Television Libraries

Music, movie and television libraries

Getting music and video files off of your device – In managing your own music library, you should have noticed that getting music files on to your various devices using iTunes is a one-way process. You can copy music on to your device with iTunes, but you cannot copy it back off. One way you can copy your music library directly off of your iPods and iOS devices is by using third-party apps like Ecamm’s PhoneView for OS X ($29) or DigiDNA’s DiskAid for both OS X and Windows ($29). Each of these apps can access the music files stored on your device and copy them onto a local hard drive on your Mac or PC.

Getting music and video files back on to your device – The fastest and easiest way to get your music library back onto your iPod or iOS device is through iTunes. Just tether your device to your computer, launch iTunes, and drag and drop your music files onto your device. It may be best to manually manage your content via iTunes. When your device is connected to either your Mac or PC, be sure to check the “Manually manage music and videos” on the Summary tab of the device settings in iTunes. That way you can control exactly which files are stored on your device, and which files are not.

Consider the cloud instead – Rather than manage your music locally on your device and syncing it to your PC or Mac’s music library, move your music to the cloud.  Google’s free storage of 20,000 music files will be more than enough space to store most music libraries online. If you have a really large music library, you can use either upgrade to Amazon’s premium service and store 250,000 songs online for $25/yr, or you can buy a Synology Disk Station Manager’s Audio Station personal cloud device starting at just $150.

Photo and Home Movie Libraries

Photo and home movie libraries

Getting your photos off of your device – The easiest way to get photos off of your device and on to your computer depends on what type of computer you are using. On a Mac you can use iPhotoAperture or the Image Capture utility to safely remove your photosWindows Explorer or the Windows Photo Galleryare your best bets on a PC.

Syncing photos back to your device – There really is no easy or direct way to get your photos back on to your device once you have removed them. You can try to use iTunes and ‘sync’ a photo library located on your Mac or PC to your device, but this may not be what you want as the photos will be stored in an isolated location in the Photos app that you will not be able to control directly from on the device. Any and all changes will need to occur on the host system where iTunes is installed and you will have to sync your changes.

Copy photos to your Camera Roll – To get photos back into your device’s Camera Roll, you can use third-party apps like the Photo Transfer App ($2.99 Universal, Free OS X, Free Windows). This app gives you more direct access to the Camera Roll on your device. I would recommend turning off Photo Stream when you perform this transfer back to your device as this operation will add each of the photos to your Photo Stream a second time if you do not.

Create multiple Shared Photo Streams instead – Another option to consider is to create multiple shared iCloud Photo Streams.  Each can store up to 5,000 photos and unlike your personal Photo Stream, the photos will not roll off of your shared photo stream after 30 days.