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itunes troubleshootingiTunes is one of those programs many of us love to hate. When it’s working well it’s okay, but when things go wrong it can get spectacularly bad. And quickly. Ever run into an iTunes issue that left you hunting all over the internet and Apple forums for a fix? I doubt there’s any iTunes users who haven’t spent time doing exactly this.

So, today we’re going to look at some of the best iTunes troubleshooting tips and tricks to fix the most amount of problems quickly. Let’s go through the quickest ways to get your iTunes setup behaving normally again.


Whether you’re using XP, Vista, Windows 7 or a Mac, these same tips will help you to troubleshoot iTunes (OK, Mac users do get let off a little sooner than PC users). Items might be in slightly different places, or be called slightly different things, but the gist is essentially the same.

Here’s the best iTunes troubleshooting ideas in the most effective, least painful order. See the Apple iTunes support pages for more specific instructions for your particular device.

Back Up First!

Before you start messing around with iTunes, do a quick backup of your entire library folder (especially the .xml and .itl files). In newer versions of iTunes (9.2), there’s a backup option you can use by going to File > Library > “Back up to Disc”. That will also backup any music you’ve downloaded from the iTunes store.

1. Is It Your iPod Or iPhone?

Sadly, a lot of iTunes problems occur when you’re trying to use iTunes with an iPod or iPhone. Some of the best troubleshooting methods for these troubles involve resetting or rebooting your iPod/iPhone device or updating the firmware for the device – all of which is different for each device, so see the Apple support pages. If you’re lucky, it can be fixed by upgrading iTunes.

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itunes troubleshooting

2. Is It The iTunes Or Quicktime Install?

It’s possible your installations are faulty or need updating:

  • Re-install iTunes and Quicktime. This will both fix any faults and ensure you have the latest version.
  • Possibly delete Quicktime (Quicktime sometimes affects video and audio playback).

3. Is It Your Anti-Virus Software Or Internet?

Try these steps (check iTunes again after each step to see if it now works):

  • Disconnect computer from internet.
  • Check for viruses. Remove if required.
  • Update/remove virus protection software and virus definitions.
  • Disable internet filtering software.

4. Is It Your iTunes Library Or Account?

Things to try:

  • Create a new library (by holding down Shift when opening iTunes or by moving the old library before you open iTunes).
  • If the new library works, you might need to import your old library or re-create the old one. Slowly re-add files to see if it’s a problem with an individual file.
  • Create a new user account and run iTunes there (see if it’s broken just for your account).

itunes problems

5. Video/Audio Troubles Only? Enable The Highest Setting

Throughout iTunes troubleshooting documentation for video and audio troubles has one recurring theme: enable the highest setting.

Go into your sound or video settings and set things to maximum hardware acceleration, maximum screen resolution, enable 3D video etc. Rule of thumb, “turn it up”.

6. Check Your Plug-Ins

Remove all your third-party iTunes plugins 13 Addons iTunes Users should Know About 13 Addons iTunes Users should Know About Read More .

7. It Might Be DirectX

If you’re using Windows (especially XP, 2000 Vista or Windows 7) and you have video issues, try updating DirectX or disable DirectX in Quicktime (change it to Safe Mode GDI instead).

8. Check Your iTunes Configuration

Close iTunes. Move the file you’re testing to a safe place. Restart iTunes. Replace the file if that didn’t help.

  • Temporarily remove the iTunes preferences files (try each file individually by moving it elsewhere and starting iTunes).
  • Remove the iTunes configuration files (delete the “SC Info.sidb” file).

The preference files for Windows Vista and 7 live here:

C:\Users\username\App\Data\Local\Apple Computer\iTunes
C:\Users\username\App\Data\Roaming\Apple Computer\iTunes

In Windows XP and 2000 the iTunes preference files are here:

C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Apple Computer\iTunes
C:\Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Application Data\Apple Computer\iTunes

In Windows XP and 2000 the iTunes configuration files are here:

C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Apple Computer\iTunes\SC Info

Delete the “SC Info.sidb” file and restart iTunes.

9. Check Conflicting Processes

Go through the list of current processes, disabling things sequentially to see if you can pinpoint the problem.

Here’s Apple’s guide for using MSCONFIG to check for processes conflicting with iTunes in Windows Vista and Windows 7.

10. Update PC drivers

Look at sound cards and video cards in particular and see if there’s an available update.

itunes troubleshooting

There’s a number of things that may go wrong with iTunes, and the exact details of the steps you need to take will always be device-specific, but these are the general troubleshooting ideas which will get you results fast.

If none of the itunes troubleshooting tips listed here worked and you’re a little over iTunes now, you could try Songbird Move Over iTunes - Mozilla's Songbird is Here Move Over iTunes - Mozilla's Songbird is Here Read More and many ways to sync your iPod 6 Ways To Sync Your iPod To Computer Without iTunes 6 Ways To Sync Your iPod To Computer Without iTunes Read More and iPhone 6 Ways To Sync Music To Your iPhone Without iTunes 6 Ways To Sync Music To Your iPhone Without iTunes Read More without iTunes.

Good luck!

  1. Dwight Sherlock
    June 23, 2015 at 12:02 am

    I'm using Windows 7, my iPod Touch is, by iBreak standards, ancient technology rivaling Atlantis (Capped at 5.1.1). I get the message "Some of the items in the iTunes library, including the "(insert name of whatever here)", were not copied to the iPod "(Name of iPod here)" because they could not be found." after I've...
    1. Uninstalled and reinstalled iTunes
    2. Created new files/libraries
    3. Rebooted/Reformatted iPod
    4. Manually attempted direct upload
    5. Got frustrated and threatened the spirit of iTunes creator with any number of horrific tortures once I find the gate to Hades that Hercules used.
    6. Cried like a little girl
    7. Re-uninstalled iTunes and re-reinstalled iTunes, reformatted iPod, created new files/libraries, dropped everything into iTunes (again), resyncced (for the bazillionth time) and sighed forlornly... you know the result.

    How do I fix this?

  2. zyrel
    March 12, 2015 at 11:18 am

    my issue is my ipad wont open it is disabled and it said i should connect it to itunes, how thus this happen?

  3. Rafael_alonso
    November 21, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    my itunes keeps frezzing...anybody can help i would really apreciate it.!

  4. Nyrang2294
    November 17, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    hey, I am having an issue I have never seen before. Everything about iTunes is working ok on my PC-Laptop, except the CD import. As soon as I try to import a CD, I get the "This program has stopped working" message. Import seems to be the only action that does this, and its still doing it after repairing the installation (via re-downloading and running the setup). Any suggestions?

  5. SebaNob
    October 29, 2010 at 12:40 am

    It's helpful.

    First the First! ...That's true, you have to backup your iTunes regularly.
    More ways to sync your iPod and iPhone without iTunes by the transfer software.

    More info about iPod transfer and sync, on this site http://www.ipodmactransfer.com

  6. Anonymous
    October 28, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    It's helpful.

    First the First! ...That's true, you have to backup your iTunes regularly.
    More ways to sync your iPod and iPhone without iTunes by the transfer software.

    More info about iPod transfer and sync, on this site http://www.ipodmactransfer.com

  7. Angela Alcorn
    October 26, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    This one has stumped me, sorry! Try asking it on MakeUseOf Answers, http://www.makeuseof.com/answe...

  8. Angela Alcorn
    October 26, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    It means the library doesn't know where the files are. Maybe you moved them or re-named the folder they were in?

    Try right-clicking on the files to edit them and it will ask you to find the file and re-associate it.

  9. Angela Alcorn
    October 26, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    Is the music that won't go back in WAV or some other format that's different to the ones that work?

    If so, you might need to tell iTunes to convert them on import.

  10. Bates1282
    October 26, 2010 at 3:16 am

    Everytime I go to watch a video I purchased, it won't let me watch the whole thing, plus its really choppy. how do I get it to work properly?

    • Angela Alcorn
      October 26, 2010 at 12:27 pm

      Did you try deleting Quicktime? Re-installing or deleting DirectX? Sometimes they affect video playback in iTunes.

  11. Cassiobury1969
    October 25, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    Can someone tell me what the exclamation point next to some of my tracks means?

    • Angela Alcorn
      October 26, 2010 at 12:25 pm

      It means the library doesn't know where the files are. Maybe you moved them or re-named the folder they were in?

      Try right-clicking on the files to edit them and it will ask you to find the file and re-associate it.

  12. Sweet_pumpkin9
    October 13, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Only some of my music will play. There are others that won't. How do i fix that?
    I tried reloading them back into itunes, but they won't go back onto itunes.

  13. Sweet_pumpkin9
    October 13, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    Only some of my music will play. There are others that won't. How do i fix that?
    I tried reloading them back into itunes, but they won't go back onto itunes.

    • Angela Alcorn
      October 26, 2010 at 12:24 pm

      Is the music that won't go back in WAV or some other format that's different to the ones that work?

      If so, you might need to tell iTunes to convert them on import.

  14. Lee Kingham
    October 9, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Itunes wont let me connect to library.... claims that I am not connected to the net when I am??

    • Angela Alcorn
      October 26, 2010 at 12:29 pm

      Is your firewall blocking iTunes? Is the computer with the iTunes library you're trying to connect to set up to share with all other users on the network?

  15. Steffy101
    October 3, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Hi Guys, I am having a problem and I wonder if anyone can help. I upgraded to itunes 10 and all of my podcasts have gone out of date order. I have selected to sort by release date but they are still all mixed up. I have no idea what to do!

    Stef

  16. Steffy101
    October 3, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Hi Guys, I am having a problem and I wonder if anyone can help. I upgraded to itunes 10 and all of my podcasts have gone out of date order. I have selected to sort by release date but they are still all mixed up. I have no idea what to do!

    Stef

  17. Angela Alcorn
    September 17, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    Have you tried getting the iPhone into restore mode? It's not the same as rebooting - it takes it back to factory settings.

    Apparently this might work for 3GS http://forums.macrumors.com/sh...

    Here's another thread I found, but it looks like you tried all these ideas: http://forums.techarena.in/por...

    I was having a similar problem with an iPod which was fixed by enabling disc use. Maybe something like this will work for the iPhone too? Details here: http://www.last.fm/user/smange...

    Good luck!

  18. Aibek
    September 17, 2010 at 7:02 am

    Try asking it on MakeUseOf Answers, http://www.makeuseof.com/answe...

    Make sure to list what you have done to resolve the problem so far.

  19. Laceman
    September 16, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    I am tearing my hair out......I have a new Windows 7 64 bit PC & am getting the error that itunes doesn't recognise my 3gs iphone device or my touch. I have uninstalled ALL apple stuff, used different usb ports directly on the PC & not on monitor or keyboard, I have stopped & restarted in services the 'apple mobile device', and have also rebooted my iphone & none of this has worked! :(

  20. Angela Alcorn
    September 7, 2010 at 8:20 am

    Have you got write access to the iTunes folder? It's not protected? Have you got a virus checker that's maybe blocking downloads?

    It sounds like for some reason the actual file save hasn't worked, even though iTunes has done its bit in downloading the files for you.

  21. Phil H
    September 6, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    I just downloaded 3 songs. They all look like they are there on iTunes, but when I try tp play any of them, I get tis error message: The song "XXX" could not be used becase the original file could not be found. Would you like to locate it?"

    However, the music file is nowhere to be found. ???

  22. Phil H
    September 6, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    I just downloaded 3 songs. They all look like they are there on iTunes, but when I try tp play any of them, I get tis error message: The song "XXX" could not be used becase the original file could not be found. Would you like to locate it?"

    However, the music file is nowhere to be found. ???

    • Angela Alcorn
      September 7, 2010 at 6:20 am

      Have you got write access to the iTunes folder? It's not protected? Have you got a virus checker that's maybe blocking downloads?

      It sounds like for some reason the actual file save hasn't worked, even though iTunes has done its bit in downloading the files for you.

  23. the Kuhn-ster
    September 6, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    You are right, of course - but it was still strange. When I wrote this post originally, the podcasts were NOT there. After monkeying around with iTunes a bit, they magically appeared. No complaints here, though!

    Keep up the great work!

  24. Angela Alcorn
    September 5, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    The podcasts should still be there, but the library just doesn't link to the files. Have a look in your iTunes library for a "podcasts" folder.

    Glad you fixed it!

  25. the Kuhn-ster
    September 5, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    I HAS FIX'D IT!!

    Yeah, I know - I am rather surprised myself! How did I fix this nagging duplication problem? Read on!

    One of the things I noticed was that iTunes was making duplicate song title entries for the same MP3 file - a quick CTRL > I "Get Info" check confirmed the "Where:" was the same path for both of the song titles. After some research, I found out that iTunes uses two types of files to organize & sort the song library: "library.xml" and "library.itl". This may not be the revelation to some that it was to me, but bear with - I am no Genius for this kind of thing.

    Anywho . . . I basically wanted iTunes to recompile the music I already own (and yes, I did upgrade to the most recent version, just after this week's press conference). So, I deleted the XML file first - no change (anyone else see the step I didn't take?). I went to the recycle bin & restored the file, just in case - then I deleted the ITL file. This forced iTunes to re-boot itself (?) - like a very clean first time installation. Problem is, all my songs were gone **GASP!** - a quick check to my large internal hard drive confirmed that the songs were there, and that this was just a forced clean reboot for iTunes. I dragged the entire library (6k items, 30GB) back into iTunes, where it recompiled the library. Now, I has one song title for every MP3 file - the way it should be. .

    What step did I miss? Well, first of all I didn't back up my entire music library - stoopid, stoopid, stoopid. This was a bit of a shock - I won't do that again! The bad news is that my podcasts have to be manually reloaded - all 33 of them. However, I was smart enough to print out a list of the podcasts & will manually download them again today.

    I hope this helps some one out there. It was a vexing & long lasting problem for me with a rather simple fix.

  26. the Kuhn-ster
    September 5, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    I HAS FIX'D IT!!

    Yeah, I know - I am rather surprised myself! How did I fix this nagging duplication problem? Read on!

    One of the things I noticed was that iTunes was making duplicate song title entries for the same MP3 file - a quick CTRL > I "Get Info" check confirmed the "Where:" was the same path for both of the song titles. After some research, I found out that iTunes uses two types of files to organize & sort the song library: "library.xml" and "library.itl". This may not be the revelation to some that it was to me, but bear with - I am no Genius for this kind of thing.

    Anywho . . . I basically wanted iTunes to recompile the music I already own (and yes, I did upgrade to the most recent version, just after this week's press conference). So, I deleted the XML file first - no change (anyone else see the step I didn't take?). I went to the recycle bin & restored the file, just in case - then I deleted the ITL file. This forced iTunes to re-boot itself (?) - like a very clean first time installation. Problem is, all my songs were gone **GASP!** - a quick check to my large internal hard drive confirmed that the songs were there, and that this was just a forced clean reboot for iTunes. I dragged the entire library (6k items, 30GB) back into iTunes, where it recompiled the library. Now, I has one song title for every MP3 file - the way it should be. .

    What step did I miss? Well, first of all I didn't back up my entire music library - stoopid, stoopid, stoopid. This was a bit of a shock - I won't do that again! The bad news is that my podcasts have to be manually reloaded - all 33 of them. However, I was smart enough to print out a list of the podcasts & will manually download them again today.

    I hope this helps some one out there. It was a vexing & long lasting problem for me with a rather simple fix.

    • Angela Alcorn
      September 5, 2010 at 4:32 pm

      The podcasts should still be there, but the library just doesn't link to the files. Have a look in your iTunes library for a "podcasts" folder.

      Glad you fixed it!

      • the Kuhn-ster
        September 6, 2010 at 4:19 pm

        You are right, of course - but it was still strange. When I wrote this post originally, the podcasts were NOT there. After monkeying around with iTunes a bit, they magically appeared. No complaints here, though!

        Keep up the great work!

  27. Angela Alcorn
    September 4, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    It's mainly the iTunes library files (.xml and .itl files) that need backing up before trying to fix iTunes - much smaller than backing up all your mp3s.

    However, you should really back up your mp3s every now and then too. For doing this, look into getting an external hard disc. It'll take a while to back up via USB, but it'll be relatively safe while disconnected from your computer.

  28. Rachelle
    September 4, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Thanks for the list! My only problem is with the step before Step 1, do a "quick" backup. With nearly 7,000 songs, it would take a case of discs and a long, long time to do a backup. I know I am playing with fire here, what if my computer dies? Does anyone know of a good way to back up that actually is quick?

    • Angela Alcorn
      September 4, 2010 at 5:17 pm

      It's mainly the iTunes library files (.xml and .itl files) that need backing up before trying to fix iTunes - much smaller than backing up all your mp3s.

      However, you should really back up your mp3s every now and then too. For doing this, look into getting an external hard disc. It'll take a while to back up via USB, but it'll be relatively safe while disconnected from your computer.

  29. Angela Alcorn
    September 1, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Oh. In that case, I'm stumped for now. Maybe someone else reading this thread could pipe up with a suggestion..

    Good luck with it!

  30. the Kuhn-ster
    September 1, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Angela? The "Copy files to iTunes Folder" box isn't checked & to my knowledge never has been. I should have told you that I am on a PC, though - if that matters at all.

    • Angela Alcorn
      September 1, 2010 at 5:15 pm

      Oh. In that case, I'm stumped for now. Maybe someone else reading this thread could pipe up with a suggestion..

      Good luck with it!

  31. A
    September 1, 2010 at 6:34 am

    On vista/7 it is /username/appdata/ not /app/data

    You can also do %appdata%/..

  32. A
    September 1, 2010 at 4:34 am

    On vista/7 it is /username/appdata/ not /app/data

    You can also do %appdata%/..

  33. Newtrent
    August 31, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    Very useful article.. i will keep in mind to take the backup first before playing around with itunes..

    http://www.newtrent.com has more on this.

  34. Newtrent
    August 31, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    great tips! must imp point take the backup first..

    • Angela Alcorn
      August 31, 2010 at 7:32 pm

      Definitely. You don't want to lose your library!

  35. Angela Alcorn
    August 31, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Go to iTunes > Preferences > Advanced > General and de-select the option to "Copy library files to iTunes folder when adding to library. Should fix it. :)

    http://screencast.com/t/MGI0M2...

  36. the Kuhn-ster
    August 31, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    I am tired of trying to figure out why iTunes is duplicating my entire library. Before you ask, I don't have two of every MP3, and have trolled countless sites trying to figure it out. I was hoping this article would have the solution - sadly, no.

    Bueller? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone? Bueller?

  37. the Kuhn-ster
    August 31, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    I am tired of trying to figure out why iTunes is duplicating my entire library. Before you ask, I don't have two of every MP3, and have trolled countless sites trying to figure it out. I was hoping this article would have the solution - sadly, no.

    Bueller? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone? Bueller?

    • Angela Alcorn
      August 31, 2010 at 2:49 pm

      Go to iTunes > Preferences > Advanced > General and de-select the option to "Copy library files to iTunes folder when adding to library. Should fix it. :)

      http://screencast.com/t/MGI0M2ZmM

      • Aibek
        August 31, 2010 at 6:43 pm

        Yep, that should do the trick.

  38. Marcus Steiner
    August 31, 2010 at 11:18 am

    thanks for the excellent troubleshooting guide, already made us of it ;-)

    • Angela Alcorn
      August 31, 2010 at 12:08 pm

      Great to hear it. :)

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