How to Backup iTunes Playlists on Mac

Here is a guide on how to Backup iTunes Playlists to the Finder on your Mac. There are times when we have created simply the best playlist in iTunes for a family event, a party mix, or even just some great tunes for the gym.

In the event of losing that playlist, it is usually a great idea to solidify that this track order can be preserved for later use. With a few simple steps, you can backup a file of your Playlist and ensure if you never lose your sacred song order for your playlists!

How to Backup iTunes Playlists on Mac

Here are the steps to export an iTunes playlist order to be used again in iTunes.

How to Export iTunes Playlists

One important note to establish is that this method does not save the actual song files. This method is designed to have the information for those songs and where they stand in the playlist. If you lose the songs in the playlist, you will need to make sure you have those songs imported into iTunes before loading your saved Playlist.

Save Your Playlists

In order to export your playlist information for backup or later use, you must select the Playlist in your iTunes Sidebar. When you are satisfied with your Playlist order and want to save it, Navigate to the File Menu, then Library and choose Export Playlist.

A new dialogue box will appear allowing you to choose the name, location and file type for this Playlist. Title the playlist whatever you would like and then choose its location on your computer or external drive if you are backing it up. Choose XML for the filetype. Click Save.

Export Playlist

If you navigate to your finder location and open the XML file, it may be an alarming site. You are viewing the coded XML data for your iTunes playlist and you will notice that it does not include any of the actual song files (mp3, m4a). Again, this is a reference playlist, designed to look for these songs in your greater iTunes library and then draw the tracks to the playlist according to this coded order.

XML File of Your Playlist

If you would like to save the song files as well, you will still need this XML file yet will also need to collate all the individual songs. Create a new folder and drag all the song files from the playlist in iTunes to copy them. Include the XML export in this folder and then right-click the folder and select Compress. This will create a .zip archive for your Playlist and will be completely functional in the event that you lose your library.

If you are not concerned about the music in iTunes as it potentially is coming from Apple Music or iCloud Music Library, you will likely always have access to these tracks. In this case, the XML file for your custom playlist is the only step you need to take to backup your playlists.

In order to import one of these exported playlists, Navigate again to the File Menu, Library and then choose Import Playlist. It will look for the files required by the XML export and then within a few moments, your playlist should reappear assembled and ready for use.

Compressed Copy of Songs and Playlist

If you would like to share exported playlists with friends, you will just need to ensure that they have a copy of the songs that you use in your playlist. Otherwise, you can send them the compressed archive you may have made earlier. Ensure that they will not have any problems with iTunes authorizations before sending your files.

Playlists have become a very integral part of the iTunes culture over the years, taking over for mixtapes and CD’s and I feel that they need to be able to be preserved and revisited just as those methods did. This is a great way to keep the song order that worked so well for you in that playlist and be able to enjoy it for years to come.