Submit Hint Search The Forums LinksStatsPollsHeadlinesRSS
14,000 hints and counting!

Easily clean up an iTunes library Apps
Every so often, the hardrive bearing the weight of my iTunes library reaches it's limit, causing me to spend a couple of hours archiving and deleting albums. Once the files are deleted from the drive, though, I'm faced with the unwelcome task of going through iTunes and deleting all tracks referencing files I've taken off the drive. Today, I stumbled onto an easy workaround:
  1. Delete songs from your hardrive as needed
  2. Open iTunes
  3. Select a particular genre's worth of songs
  4. Select all tracks within this genre
  5. Get Info for all selected tracks
  6. Rename the genre to anything other than what it currently is. In my case, the 'Metal' genre becomes 'Metal1'
  7. When iTunes finishes updating all the tracks with the new genre, you'll be left with two genres: 'Metal1', with all the updated tracks and 'Metal', which neatly contains all the tracks pointing to files you've just deleted, ripe for easy removal.
Piece of cake!
  • Currently 4.08 / 5
  You rated: 3 / 5 (13 votes cast)

Easily clean up an iTunes library | 13 comments | Create New Account
Click here to return to the 'Easily clean up an iTunes library' hint
The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Easily clean up an iTunes library
Authored by: brianw on Jul 21, '03 10:19:04AM
Alternately you could download a free Applescript like "Super Remove Dead Tracks" from which will clean out missing tracks without any intervention from the user. Easy peasy.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Easily clean up an iTunes library
Authored by: fletcherpenney on Jul 21, '03 10:26:53AM

I'm going to ask a stupid question - why not just delete your files using iTunes? The files will be deleted as well, and all references will be handled appropriately. And of course, you can always burn the songs to a cd or copy them to another drive prior to deletion, perhaps using a temporary playlist to decide which files to destroy.

I don't understand the benefit of deleting from the finder, especially when you have to go through this convoluted scheme of fixing your iTunes library.

Also, I may be mistaken, but I believe that changing the genre on all of your songs will update their modification date. I use those dates to determine which files are backed up so that I can back up new songs without backing up 10 gigs of files. If every songs was modified, my backup that week would be enourmous. Perhaps others are, or should be ;) doing something similar.

But perhaps there are some advantages I don't understand that you could elaborate on?

[ Reply to This | # ]
Easily clean up an iTunes library
Authored by: Spartacus on Jul 21, '03 10:38:25AM

iTunes behaves differently whether songs are located inside or outside of the iTunes Music folder (as set in the preferences). If you uncheck the option in "Preferences -> Advanced -> Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library", iTunes references them where they're located on your hard disk, which can be a second partition, another disk or a CD/DVD, instead of copying them to its library.

When you delete songs in iTunes, it asks whether you want to move the files to the trash, but only if they're located inside the iTunes Music folder. If they're on another disk, iTunes will leave them alone. Therefore this hint is interesting if you're cleaning e.g. a second disk full of MP3s.

Note: Explaining this gave me an idea for a hint. Be right back.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Easily clean up an iTunes library
Authored by: chabig on Jul 21, '03 12:01:24PM

As another person said, I just do all of this within iTunes.

But if you have music outside the iTunes folder, or scattered in several places I still think there is an easier way.

After you're done deleting music, go to iTunes and clear the entire library (without trashing the associated files). Then just "Add to Library" the folders where your music resides.


[ Reply to This | # ]
Easily clean up an iTunes library
Authored by: Dephex Twin on Jul 21, '03 03:03:29PM

Yes, but doesn't that mess with the dates of when things were added and whatnot? I always have a smart list of recently added songs, and doing this would just cause my entire library to just appear there.

"Alcohol: the cause of-- and solution to-- all of life's problems."
--- Homer Simpson

[ Reply to This | # ]
Easily clean up an iTunes library
Authored by: Number Three on Jul 21, '03 04:34:17PM

My list really needs cleaning up, and while I've only got about 2000 MP3s, I don't want to risk losing my ratings, play counts, album art, et cetera.

Everyone knows Custard died at Little Bighorn. This novel suggests... maybe he didn't?

[ Reply to This | # ]
Easily clean up an iTunes library
Authored by: bryaneh on Jul 21, '03 12:39:30PM

Also, if you for you some reason if you wanted to delete from the finder, there's an easier way to delete the unreferenced songs in iTunes. Do a select all from the library, start to drag all of the songs over to a playlist window (but don't drop them), and then drag them back over to where you were dragging them from (the main window). All of the unreferenced songs will have an exclamation point next to them, just delete all of those.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Easily clean up an iTunes library
Authored by: argh128 on Jul 21, '03 02:55:01PM

The issue with that approach is that you can not sort by that exclamation mark. The aproach written in the hit lets you easily select all the songs that have lost there referenced file with out going through your list page by page.


A completely SANE Canadian.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Easily clean up an iTunes library
Authored by: bluehz on Jul 21, '03 02:39:53PM

One of the main reasons for organizing in the Finder is because iTunes can get DOG slow on my machine. Granted I have over 45,000 mp3 in ONE of my libraries... hahaha. Image how many dialogs I would have to click OK on if I started modifying even a PORTION of that!

Anyway - organizing via the Finder allows me to use other tools like MP3Rage - which is an excellent tool and much faster at modifying than iTunes.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Easily clean up an iTunes library
Authored by: WannaFish39 on Jul 22, '03 01:51:24AM
You could just use one of the greatest apps that I have ever used. I has a special feature that allows you to 'remove dead tracks'. Now that is a timesaver. No making new playlists and changing genres and all that. This is also a great app in general just to control iTunes. Small and efficient. Try it out!

[ Reply to This | # ]
Easily clean up an iTunes library
Authored by: charles2003 on Jul 22, '03 07:29:11AM

I personally often do this to get a clean Library. It's fast.

1. Go to the Library of iTunes.
2. Do a COMMAND-A (Select All)
3. Delete everything - When you get the message saying do you want to delete the files -- ANSWER NO.
4. Then drag the folder with all your MP3 files unto a newly created playlist (or just into the library.)

WARNING: This will make all your previously created playlists empty. This dosn't bother me, since I'm constantly creating new playlists. I don't feel I need to retain old ones, so I just delete all the old ones and make news ones as needed. However, if you have a few "favorite" playlists, you'll not want to do clean you library this way.

NOTE: I also prefer not to keep my MP3 files in the iTunes folder. I'm not sure if that makes any difference.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Easily clean up an iTunes library
Authored by: houseofwax on Nov 22, '11 05:03:24AM

The biggest issue with my iTunes library is the amount of unaccounted duplicate tracks I have. If I go to Edit > Display Duplicates, this will only show a list of both original tracks and their duplicates, leaving me to decide which one to delete. iTunes also does not provide a decent feature to delete all your duplicates at once and automatically.

I once experienced the horror of making the mistake to select all of the displayed duplicates and delete it. Of course at the time I did not know this would also delete my original tracks. I just wonder when will iTunes come up with a good duplicate-remover function?

[ Reply to This | # ]
Easily clean up an iTunes library
Authored by: BobbieLee on Nov 23, '11 03:39:22AM
Hi, houseofwax. I myself have had numerous problems with my iTunes library in the past the biggest of which was having a hard time finding my iTunes tracks and they being marked by an exclamation mark. I have spent a good time looking for solutions here and there and have found numerous utilities which could help you get your iTunes library to where you want it to be - one without duplicates or missing tracks. Here is a neat article which compares and reviews a number of such iTunes cleanup utilities:

clean up iTunes

It has helped me navigate my way along the not always very illuminated iTunes ways. I strongly recommend that you put to use some of the tools reviewed above. Among them there is an iTunes duplicate-remover utility too. Have fun, and good luck with your iTunes adventure...

[ Reply to This | # ]