iTunes iconI have recently upgraded my home computer setup so that I have my iTunes media library stored on my network-attached storage (NAS) drive.  This means that I have way more storage capacity than what my MacBook has onboard, I can grow my media collection without worry of filling up my limited SSD drive in my laptop, and I can easily expand the NAS capacity by adding an additional or larger hard drive.  However, now that I have the physical capacity to handle my ever-growing library, I wanted to find a solution that could help me to automate the task.  After all, there are more important things to do that to sit around editing iTunes libraries!  Unbelievably, I stumbled onto a feature that I have always wondered about but never bothered to explore at all.  This was a mistake, and now I am going to share with you this trick that will teach you how to automate your iTunes library.

When you download a media file from the Internet (and I’m talking NOT from the iTunes store), you usually save it somewhere like in your Downloads folder, or on your Desktop.  Then, you probably would go and manually import your file into iTunes.  This would be either a group of files, or perhaps one at a time over several days.  This task in itself is not complicated.  It’s just a pain.  It’s so easy to do that surely there must be a way to set this up to do on it’s own.  There is.

What Apple has done is brilliant, and I don’t know how this has escaped me over the years.  Probably because I had no need for it.  Anyways, what they have included in iTunes since version 9 (I believe) is a folder inside your iTunes media folder called “Automatically Add to iTunes.”  Would you like to guess what happens when you put a file into this folder?  As soon as you open iTunes and it scans this watched folder, it will automatically import whatever files are inside it, provided of course that they are recognizable by iTunes.  So, you can do this with your mp3 music files, or mp4 movies and TV shows.  Probably more that I haven’t tried.

For the Power Users, you can even go a step further and specify this automated folder to be your download destination!  So if you see a video clip online that you like, you can download it and save it to this folder, and then iTunes will see it when the download completes and integrate it into your media library!  It’s incredibly easy, in typical Apple “it just works” fashion.

The only catch that I have noticed so far (and I have not completely explored this so there may be a simple workaround) is that iTunes imports the video clips into the Home Videos category.  Once in there, you can easily modify the file’s attributes as appropriate, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Now, you can set up a bunch of your downloads while you’re at your computer, and soon thereafter, you can automatically have your media available on your Apple TV, or even for your next iPhone and iPad sync, provided you have them setup to download all media files.  And the best part is that it is totally set and forget.  Start your download, and soon enough, you’ll have your files everywhere that you want them to be.

If you know of any other pointers like this, or how to customize this further, be sure to let me know!

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