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Find missing files in iTunes 10 Apps
I recently had a hard drive failure and had to resort to a backup of iTunes. However, iTunes couldn't find many tracks, as it was still looking for them on the old drive.

Despite manually editing the library files, I couldn't get iTunes to look on my new drive for the several hundred files it had mistakenly misplaced. The only way was to play each one, wait for it to not find the drive and then use the 'Locate' button to find each file.

iTunes 10 has what I can only assume is a new feature, whereby if you use the 'Locate' feature to find a missing file, a dialog box then asks if you would like to use the information to find other missing files. Straight away it found all of the other missing files. Hurrah!

This may not be new functionality, but in all of the times I've used the 'Locate' button, I've never seen this dialog box. This is functionality that has existed in Apple's pro applications such as Logic for years, so I'm glad they've finally added it to iTunes.

[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one. Searching the web found some other more complicated methods for doing this, but this one is very straightforward. I'm sure if it's not new somebody will mention that.]
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All files with one click
Authored by: prnl on Sep 08, '10 08:14:36AM

I wrote a tool that uses Spotlight to find and correct all missing iTunes files without asking silly questions:

iTunes Fixer

(it's free and open-source)

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All files with one click
Authored by: creamofbeats on Feb 24, '12 10:53:36AM

Thanks Prnl! That app worked like a charm! Itunes 10 was only able to find one file at a time, but I had almost 10,000 missing files. I loaded your app, and it did everything else. One click and an hour later, and I was done! :)

Cream of Beats

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Find missing files in iTunes 10
Authored by: david-bo on Sep 08, '10 08:23:02AM

I wrote a hint that as a part of it solves the situation this hint author had at

iTunes first looks at inode ('hard link') number when looking for a file. This is good because it means that you can rename the file, move it within the drive it is located on etc without iTunes loosing track of it. However, if this fail, for example if you have changed drive (or even just duplicated a file, gave the duplicate the same name as the original and then replaced the original with the duplicate = you have an identical file but with a different inode number) iTunes resort to the path to the file.

So, for example, if you have a track a path /Volumes/external drive/music/my track.mp3 and then move it to /Volumes/another drive/music/my track.mp3 both the inode and the path will be obsolete. However, there is an easy fix for this. Just create a symbolic link in the /Volumes directory point to /Volumes/another drive and name it external drive. Now the original path will work and iTunes will find the files again and update there inode and drive details.


% ls /Volumes

another drive
external drive -> /Volumes/another drive

Now you can, for example, cd to

/Volumes/external drive/music/my track.mp3

but you will actually be at

/Volumes/another drive/music/my track.mp3

Simple, huh?

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Find missing files in iTunes 10
Authored by: DougAdams on Sep 08, '10 08:26:31AM
In AppleScript, a file track's location property is now writeable, meaning that you can assign a new location to a file in place without losing its tag data. I suppose that's what the new Locate feature does.
Doug's AppleScripts for iTunes

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Find missing files in iTunes 10
Authored by: DeltaTee on Sep 08, '10 09:34:24AM

That's great to know. Maybe I can finally getting around to finishing the update to my Organize Files script. (It's been in limbo for about 8 years or so...)

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Last Version of iTunes 9
Authored by: lullabud on Sep 08, '10 08:42:02AM

Joyfully I found this in the last version of iTunes 9. It was certainly not there through all of iTunes 9, and I don't know when this feature was put in, but I've had to do this the manual way enough times that when it popped up and offered to automatically handle this mundane, automatable task I nearly fell out of my chair.

Interestingly, this missing file business is related to some buggy behavior I've seen where my music Library was stored at the old ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes\ Music location... every time I played a file it would move it to ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes\ Media/Music/ and often times after restarting the files were unable to be found. This was infuriating because not only does it underscore the illogical redundancy of such a long path, but it meant that all of the files I liked, the ones I was playing, got lost and I ended up with only songs I didn't really like as much that were playable without having to locate the actual file myself.

I was so hoping Apple would announce a complete redesign of iTunes, maybe even a new app altogether since it does so much more than just tunes these days, that would fix all of the little annoying bugs or at least replace them with different little annoying bugs. Alas we'll have to wait for that...

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Find missing files in iTunes 10
Authored by: interlard on Sep 08, '10 10:55:08AM

This fix was a long time coming, for people with any more than the simplest music folder setup (which should be everyone, but the world just doesn't work that way).

Another method to fix your broken iTunes folder is to remove all the songs from iTunes (select all your music in iTunes and hit delete--this makes iTunes forget about them but doesn't actually delete the files). Then drag your music folder into the middle of the iTunes window and it will re-import the songs (check your iTunes preferences to make sure what *it* thinks is your music folder is what you think it is, otherwise it might make copies... if the "copy files" preference is set. Oh iTunes, why are you so complicated?).

Then go make some tea/coffee because this takes a little while.

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Find missing files in iTunes 10
Authored by: DougAdams on Sep 08, '10 12:23:34PM
Another method to fix your broken iTunes folder is to remove all the songs from iTunes...
And if you use this technique, don't forget to say goodbye to your lyrics, ratings, play and skip counts (and any non-embedded artwork). These are managed by iTunes' database and do not travel with a file. Thus if you delete a track from the database, those items disappear. The great thing about "Locate" is that the meta-data will be preserved.
Doug's AppleScripts for iTunes

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Find missing files in iTunes 10
Authored by: morespace54 on Sep 08, '10 01:22:28PM
That's interesting...
I thought I was going insane with all those sudden missing files.

With both comments of lullabud and interlard, I realized I've never looked at my iTunes Music folder location (in iTunes pref) since I set-up my iTunes a few years ago... Could it be that some update changed the the Music location folder from "~/Music/iTunes/iTunes\ Music" to "~/Music/iTunes/iTunes\ Media/Music/" without (correctly) updating the files paths?

Edited on Sep 08, '10 01:25:13PM by morespace54

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Find missing files in iTunes 10
Authored by: adunsay on Nov 20, '10 04:14:22AM

I'm running iTunes 10.1 (54) on OS X 10.5.8 and I keep my music library on an external drive.

I understand that I should mount the external drive before opening iTunes, but I'm only human and occasionally I'll forget.

I recently synced my iPhone when my external drive was not mounted, and iTunes promptly "lost" every media file that was on my phone. None of these files will play on iTunes now, and when I select "Show in finder" iTunes will point to an apparently random file on my internal drive. All the files still exist on my external drive, and I know that I can manually re-add them to itunes, but if I do I will lose all the ratings, playcounts, etc that I like to make use of.

To further frustrate things, iTunes does not show the familiar "!" symbol with any of these files, so I cannot use the "locate" function.

I'm sure that I can eventually rebuild my media collection manually, but I don't think I'll be able to retain the ratings, playcounts, or playlists. The fact that there's no "!" symbol makes it impossible to use other scripts that automatically locate files.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

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Find missing files in iTunes 10
Authored by: doz75 on Jun 15, '11 12:02:57PM

Could anyone help me understand why all my first songs on most albums are either deleted or unable to play with an exclamation mark next to it? Also i can not locate files when Mac asks me to locate songs ?!?!?!? This is driving me crazy. Thanks!

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Find missing files in iTunes 10
Authored by: BobbieLee on Nov 03, '11 07:39:12AM

I have a very large iTunes library which I recently moved to an external hard disk.

Now all of my tracks have a gray exclamation mark next to them in iTunes and when I try to play there is a prompt which appears and asks me to locate the track.

Any advice would be welcome. I am desperate for help. I do not know where I went wrong...

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Find missing files in iTunes 10
Authored by: BobbieLee on Nov 15, '11 04:36:39AM
I have found the culprit for the problem. It turned out that when I moved my iTunes library to the external HDD, the drive appeared under one letter: G:\. Now my drive letter appears under H:\ and that is why iTunes would not locate immediately the tracks. After spending some time online I found a program which identified the issue with my missing iTunes tracks and helped me sort out the issue:

iTunes missing songs

I hope this would be helpful to anyone with a similar issue to mine. Just make sure you have the same configuration of your drives as they originally appeared on your PC once you moved your entire library to the external HDD. This is especially important if you have card slots as I do, which automatically take up unused drive letters when you inset a card (in this case the letter G:\ under which my HDD previously appeared was temporarily taken by my card reader once I inserted my MagicGate card - thus making my external drive appear under the next available letter H:\ when I plugged it in).

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