How to: Rebuild your iTunes library

“Every now and then, an iTunes Library shows problems,” Kirk McElhearn writes for Kirkville. “You may have tracks or songs that disappear in the library, but that are still in your iTunes Media folder. Or playlists may change or disappear. Or there may be other, inexplicable problems.”

“One way to try and fix these issues is to rebuild your iTunes library,” McElhearn writes. “I’ve done it from time to time, and, once, it even fixed some issues creating Genius playlists.”

“It’s a simple process, but one that may take a while if you have a lot of content in your library,” McElhearn writes. “Here’s how you do it.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. I had a massive problem with my iTunes library recently. Something got corrupted somewhere and I had TV Shows moved into Music and being relabelled with a mix of info from other artists. Certain songs would be linking to folders containing entire albums, so wouldn’t load, and the albums within those folder wouldn’t load either. Worse still certain tracks linked to images and other files from within iTunes Extras. Even starting from scratch and doing a completely new library didn’t work since the metadata in many tracks was completely screwed. Had a backup, but it’s not as current as my main backups (my iTunes library is 3TB) and all my play counts and so on are now out of date because it seemingly borked iTunes Match partially as well.

    Absolute pain in the behind. I may invest in a more robust solution, but it’s all money and time.

    1. How big is your library? My main library is about 1TB (for music), and I’ve never seen any corruption either. I allow iTunes to name and manage all files (and never mess with them manually). Personally, I think a lot of corruption is due to user-error.

      However, like you, I wish iTunes was a lot faster. It’s painfully slow now.

      Also I wish iTunes Match would allow for more than 25K songs. I have another library just for iTunes Match, and 25K is very limiting.

  2. It’s like the software engineer who created iTunes was on LSD or something. The whole app is so terrible it should be redesigned from the ground up.

    Just one example — I can drag an album’s worth of tracks to iTunes and it will put the first track in one of its silly icons, the rest in a second icon. Grrr

  3. Apple needs to break out iTunes into Standalone Apps… Music, Videos, Podcasts etc. – just like iOS.

    Then have an ‘iOS Configurator’ App or something that lets you choose what music/videos you want to sync to your devices.


    1. A compromise is for iTunes to show the various functional interfaces one-at-a-time instead of making one single window attempting to offer everything. It has gotten nuts.

      One idea: A menu bar for the basic functions at the top with big friendly buttons to access all the various interfaces one at a time as you choose. You click a button for Music, you get the complete Music GUI below the main buttons. You click Apple Store, you get the complete Apple Store interface.

      There are some important overlaps between the various interfaces. Working through those crossovers is the challenge.

  4. I just tried this out and was VERY disappointed with what resulted after the rebuild. SO: Be sure to follow Kirk’s advice and BACK UP your iTunes two library files before you attempt the rebuild. I ended up UN-doing the rebuild.

  5. I like it how iTunes Match sees the same track as 2-3 different versions of the actual song after updating the library. It gradually makes a completely FUBARed version of you library in the cloud.

    I am quite sure the almost $3 Billion Apple pissed away on Beats could have fixed iTunes, but Tim must have other priorities.

    1. Yes, Tim is attending a pride parade. iTunes users who want to manage your own music, you’re on your own. Apple prefers that you rent music, so it seems Tim will be letting iTunes die without improving it.

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