iTunes: How to re-create your iTunes library and playlists

This article explains how to re-create your iTunes library and playlists.

The iTunes Library files store information about your iTunes library, such as what songs are available for iTunes to use, but they do not store your actual song files.

The two iTunes Library files are:

  • iTunes Library ("iTunes Library.itl" in Windows) is a database of the songs in your library and the playlists you've created. Some song-specific data is saved in this file. If you delete the file, iTunes creates a new, empty copy when you open the application, but any playlists, song ratings, comments, or other information you created will be lost. The iTunes Library file is only used by iTunes.
  • iTunes Library.xml contains some (but not all) of the same information stored in the iTunes Library file. The purpose of the iTunes Library.xml file is to make your music and playlists available to other applications on your computer. If you delete the file, iTunes creates a new copy from the iTunes Library file.

Your iTunes Library file may become damaged and cause iTunes to become unresponsive. The "iTunes Library.xml" file may be used to re-create a new iTunes Library file.

Re-creating the iTunes Library file is a very specific troubleshooting step which you should only perform if you have been directed to do so by a specific troubleshooting article.

See the list below to first find more specific troubleshooting articles for the issue you are experiencing (if you have not done so already).

iTunes is unresponsive, quits unexpectedly, or will not open

You're missing music or other media in iTunes

Re-creating the iTunes Library file

Note: After re-creating your library, any devices that you sync with iTunes (Apple TV, iPod, iPhone, iPad) will see your iTunes library as a new library and will completely resync. The next sync with such a device will take longer and may reset some options since your rebuilt library isn't familiar to the device.

1. Quit iTunes.

2. Locate your iTunes folder (this is the folder that contains the iTunes Library and iTunes Library.xml files).

Operating System Default location of iTunes Folder
Mac OS X /Users/[your username]/Music
Microsoft Windows XP \Documents and Settings\[your username]\My Documents\My Music\
Microsoft Windows Vista \Users\[your username]\Music\
Microsoft Windows 7 \Users\[your username]\My Music\

3. Open your iTunes folder.

4. Drag the "iTunes Library.xml" or "iTunes Music Library.xml" file to the Desktop. If neither is available, learn how to add files back to the Library (because the XML file is not available, playlists and other information will not be available).

5. Drag the following file from your iTunes folder to the Trash:

Mac OS X "iTunes Library" or "iTunes Library.itl"
Microsoft Windows "iTunes Library.itl"

6. Open iTunes.

Important: Do not add any content into iTunes at this point (such as by purchasing something from the iTunes Store).

7. Choose File > Library > Import Playlist.

8. Navigate to the "iTunes Library.xml" file on the Desktop.

  • Mac users: Click Choose.
  • Windows users: Click Open.

Learn more

You can move your iTunes library to a new computer if you are trying to re-create the same library on the new computer.

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