In which I take forever to get to the point because I don’t give a damn about SEO

We recently upgraded Macbooks, and in the process of doing so, I came across the dilemma of what-do-I-do-with-my-iPhone-now? Having never owned an iPhone, or really even an iPod, before last September, this had never been an issue for me throughout the past three laptop switches.

Managing music on an Android phone is fairly easy– you have a memory card, you have a dedicated music folder on said card, you drop music files into said folder, and done! Music can be added from any computer, music can be accessed from any phone that reads said memory card.

iPhones? Bit more complicated. I greatly prefer the folder method on Android to the notion of syncing, and thus have always chosen to manually manage the music and video on my iPhone. The well-documented-and-bemoaned problem here is that one can only manage one's iPhone library from one specific iTunes library that is not linked in any way to one's iTunes account, which really just boils down to: iPhone == computer. New computer? New iTunes library! New iTunes library that politely demands you erase all the content on your iPhone before it allows you to manage that phone again!

Apparently, if I migrate my user account from the old computer to the new one, I can use iTunes like normal, no problems, no hassle. Except I don't want my old user account. One of the joys of a new computer is getting to start fresh, like moving to a new place– you delete all the stuff you suddenly realize you don't want and will never need, back up the things you also don't want but suspect you will someday possibly need, and then you begin your brand new computer life with a clean, clean slate.

Anyway. I found, as one is resourcefully wont to do on Google, articles on how to sync an iPhone on more than one computer (technically in more than one iTunes library). Tried them, got nowhere. Turns out all those articles only refer to versions of iTunes earlier than 10. Dug through Google a bit more and found this gem on MacRumors, which worked in principle but not verbatim. More or less, this was my process:

How to sync your iPhone/iPod/iPad/iWhatever to multiple computers running iTunes 10!

  1. Uninstall iTunes 10 on the new computer and delete all the files (including iTunes Music Library.xml and iTunes Library) in Music > iTunes
  2. Install iTunes 9.2 ( Open the app, do quick setup, then quit.
  3. Follow instructions here and disregard the iTunes 10+ revelatory claim. For the clever lazies who also don't need screenshots, the instructions are:
    • Open iTunes Music Library.xml in your old library and copy your Library Persistent ID. Paste it somewhere.
    • Open iTunes Music Library.xml in your new library. Find the Library Persistent ID. Copy the new ID and paste it somewhere. Replace it with the original ID. Save the file and close.
    • Download HexEdit here (somewhere else, obviously, if using Windows).
    • Open the (new) iTunes Library file in HexEdit. Search for the new Library Persistent ID (Hex, not ASCII). Replace it with the original ID. Save, close.
  4. Download the latest version of iTunes.
  5. Ta-da!

Note that if you don't have access to your old computer/iTunes library, you're screwed.

Also note that if you're the type who wants to treat your iPhone like a multifunctional hard drive, you're probably also going to be the type who wants transferring media to be a two-way street, so if you don't have a weapon of choice here yet, I highly recommend expod.