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iTunes: Finding lost media and downloads

Symptoms

Follow these steps if you're missing music or other media that you expected to appear in iTunes. You may notice an exclamation point to the left of items in your iTunes library, or they may not appear at all. Exclamation points appear when iTunes is unable to locate the media file or when a purchased item hasn't downloaded.

Resolution

exclamation_point

Follow these steps to locate your missing iTunes media:

For Mac OS X

For Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8

For Windows XP

  1. Open Windows Explorer from the Start Menu.
  2. From the left-hand column, double-click My Music.
  3. In the main window to the right, double-click iTunes.
  4. Double-click iTunes Media.
    Note: You may need to double-click the iTunes Music folder if the iTunes Media folder is empty.
  5. Double-click the corresponding folder for the file type you're looking for. The contents of the folder will be listed in alphabetical order. Depending on the folder, the files will be sorted by artist, author, or title.
  6. If you couldn't find your lost media in the iTunes Media folder, check your preferences in iTunes to find out if your media is in another location.

If you find any of your missing items, you can add them to your iTunes library.

  1. Resume any interrupted downloads.
    1. Choose iTunes > Store > Check for Available Downloads.
    2. Click Resume if any downloads are listed as unfinished. Learn more about how to resume interrupted iTunes Store downloads.
  2. Check your iTunes media folder.
    1. Open Finder.
    2. From the Side Bar, click your Home folder (the folder named after your user account).
    3. Go to Music > iTunes > iTunes Media.
      Note: You may need to go to Music > iTunes > iTunes Music if the iTunes Media folder is empty.
    4. Open the corresponding folder for the file type you're looking for. The contents of the folder will be listed in alphabetical order. Depending on the folder, the files will be sorted by artist, author, or title.
    5. If you couldn't find your lost media in the iTunes Media folder, check your preferences in iTunes to see if your media is in another location.
    1. Windows 8: Choose File Explorer from the windows taskbar.
      Windows 7 and Windows Vista: Choose Windows Explorer from the Start Menu.
    2. From the left-hand column, under Favorite Links, click Music.
    3. In the main window to the right, double-click iTunes.
    4. Double-click iTunes Media.
      Note: You may need to double-click the iTunes Music folder if the iTunes Media folder is empty.
    5. Double-click the corresponding folder for the file type you're looking for. The contents of the folder will be listed in alphabetical order. Depending on the folder, the files will be sorted by artist, author, or title.
    6. If you couldn't find your lost media in the iTunes Media folder, check your preferences in iTunes to find out if your media is in another location.
  3. Check your Trash (Mac) or Recycle Bin (Windows).
    • Mac OS X: Control-click (or right-click) the item and choose Put Back.
    • Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8: Right-click the item and choose Restore.
    • Windows XP: Right-click the item and choose Restore.
  4. If your media doesn't reappear in your iTunes library after you restore the item, locate the restored file in your iTunes Media folder and drag the item into your iTunes library window.

Still can't find your media?

If you still can't find your missing media, you may need to restore from a backup, if possible.

If a backup isn't available, your media may be lost and you may need to purchase replacements.

Best practices to avoid losing your media

The best way to avoid losing your media is to make regular backups of your media files. Learn more about how to create a backup and subsequent incremental backups.

You can change the default iTunes Media location in the Advanced tab of iTunes Preferences. You can also change the preferences to have iTunes copy files to the iTunes Media folder when you add files to your library.

advanced_preferences

If you've changed either of these preferences, you may need to edit the iTunes Media folder location or enable the option to "Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library." You should do this before adding your missing files back into iTunes if you want your media files to return to their original location, in the iTunes Media folder.

Learn more

Software not manufactured by Apple may potentially damage your iTunes library on Windows. iTunes may create a new empty iTunes library if this happens. If your iTunes library appears to be empty and you didn't misplace or delete the files, follow these steps.

Important: Information about products not manufactured by Apple is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute Apple’s recommendation or endorsement. Please contact the vendor for additional information.
Last Modified: Sep 19, 2014
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  • Last Modified: Sep 19, 2014
  • Article: TS1408
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