iTunes 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.
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).
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 .
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.
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.