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sync itunes library I have a lot of music on my computer. I won’t bore you with the numbers, but let’s just say that I periodically have to painstakingly go through my iTunes library, deleting the few songs I don’t listen to, just to free up room for some more music on my hard drive.

Needless to say, my iTunes collection can easily get unwieldy. I delete songs from multiple different places, constantly download new songs, change the tags and titles 4 Easy Ways Fix Music Tags & Organize Music Library 4 Easy Ways Fix Music Tags & Organize Music Library Read More of songs, and so on and so forth. I’m tough for any piece of software to keep up with when it comes to music organization.

Luckily for me (and all of us), there’s a small, free utility called the iTunes Library Updater out there that’s designed for those like me – serially adding, removing, and changing their iTunes library.

A quick note: before you do any kind of major editing to your iTunes library, it’s a good idea to back it up (the library, not just the songs). To do that, find the files called “iTunes Music Library.xml” and “iTunes Library.itl” in your “My Music\iTunes\” folder, and copy them somewhere else. If something goes wrong, just copy them back, and no harm done.

Once you download the iTunes Library Updater (Windows only), run it. It’s a small utility, and opens up a single window like this one:

sync itunes library


Within the window, you have several options. The first thing you’ll want to do is point it to where all your music actually is. Personally, I hated having everything in an “iTunes” folder (I’m rebellious or something), so I had created my own folder called “Media.” Wherever your music is (one location or several), point iTLU there.

Then iTLU starts to really shine. You have several options of what to do with your music, each useful in its own way. The first, “Add new music,” does just what it sounds like – scans the files and folders you added to iTLU, and adds new songs to iTunes that weren’t already there. It’s so much easier than manually dragging every song into iTunes.

The next option, and my personal favorite, is to “clean orphaned files.” When I delete music, I rarely do it from directly within iTunes; if you don’t store all your music in the iTunes folder, it has trouble deleting songs from both your library and your hard drive. iTLU will scan your iTunes library, and if it sees that you’ve deleted a song from your hard drive but not iTunes, it removes the empty listing from iTunes. On my first pass doing this, I cleared something like 800 songs.

synchronize itunes library

iTunes Library Updater can also sync track data (artist, album, etc.) between iTunes and your music folder, as well as update your iPod. It will open and close iTunes for you, should you so desire.

Once you’ve run a particular task with a particular folder set, you can click “Save Profile,” to easily run the same one again next time. I use the same few folders all the time, and find running iTLU a lot easier than always manually adding songs to iTunes, so I run that particular profile once a week or so.

The most popular use for the iTunes Library Updater is to keep your library in sync with a folder outside of the default iTunes folder (which I recommend, because the iTunes folder can easily get deleted if you delete iTunes). Just pick a folder, tell iTLU to add new files and delete empty ones, and you’re back in sync!

What music player do you use? How do you manage all your music files? What do you like about iTunes Library Updater most?

  1. Ben
    January 19, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Hi all,

    This is a much better application to sync iTunes Library to iPod

    Go for it!

  2. michael patterson
    March 22, 2009 at 1:27 am

    why can't I just sync my own cd's and the music in my libeary like on ever other cheaper , even a 20 .00 piece of shit but not on this "Ipod" that is supposed to beso great. By now I would have 10 alblums on any of the cheap ones from staples, or radio s., office max etc. . if it dos not begin to work in next 10 min. i will return this tomorrow . so far it only a pain in the ass!

  3. Josh
    February 25, 2009 at 7:12 am

    To be honest, you could do this manually if you don't want to download this program.

    You need to damage the iTunesLibrary.itl file so that iTunes will revert back to the iTunesLibrary.xml (Right click>edit in Notepad and delete all the text. Save it.

    Because iTunesLibrary.itl is a proprietary file, we can't edit it, but we can edit the .xml file. Now open iTunesLibrary.xml with a Text editor. You can use the Find and Replace function to simply replace the path of your music. Save the .xml file and open itunes again. Done.

    That's the geek way.

  4. Philippe
    February 24, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    It's quite incredible to me that Apple is not providing such a meaningful function within ITunes itself.
    Picasa and Windows Live Photo Gallery do not have any trouble staying sync with the folder ...
    Even Adobe Lightroom can do it (but you have to start the sync process manually).

  5. Margie
    February 24, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    A friend told me about this application when I complained about my missing files in iTunes. I too have a massive music collection, which I am endlessly managing using outside applications to correct tags and remove duplicates. iTunes simply wouldn't refresh unless I removed and readded all the files. And with my collection, that takes days to delete alone.

    In comes the library updater to save the day! The article on lifehacker also had information on adding a batch script to your scheduled tasks. As of right now, I run it as I need and it works beautifully. Thanks for sharing this!

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