iTunes Tip: Refreshing the Library

May 4, 2010 at 4:28 PM
Edited May 4, 2010 at 11:02 PM

This may not be suitable for all users but I've found that if you set iTunes to "Keep iTunes Media folder organized" on the Preferences dialog Advanced tab then it will ensure that the entry name equates to the file name and vice versa, and that music files are always placed in the correct Artist/Album sub-folder.

If your library is particularlly messy for whatever reason - using a third-party tool other than iTuner for instance - you can refresh your iTunes library using this brute force approach.  All my testing leads me to believe that it is safe.  (I claim no warranties however.)

  1. Open iTunes and select your "Music" playlist
  2. Select and delete ALL entries in the playlist. This is safe because while it will clears out the iTunes library, it leaves all the media files on your disk.  (Backup your library if you're uncomfortable with this.  Even just copy it temporarily to a separate place on your hard-drive if you have the space.)
  3. From the File menu choose "Add folder to library..." and point to the root of your iTunes library folder.
  4. iTunes will re-import all media files, rebuilding your entire library.  With 10,000 files, it takes unders 5 minutes to complete.

I've even tested this with custom playlists and it seems to preserve those.  But I haven't tested it with every version of iTunes so I can't guarantee that these custom user playlists will survive.

I have a small portable 1TB USB drive that I use to backup my library regularlly and even store alternate libraries that I use when testing iTuner.  I use the above steps to swap these libraries in and out of iTunes frequently without issues.  I use Beyond Compare 3 from Scooter Software to automate the backups.  If you can a big backup USB drive, I highly recommend this approach for easy backup.

Jun 1, 2010 at 9:01 PM

I tried that but it did NOT prevent my customer playlists. All entries of those are gone.