iTunes 12.2 update may ruin your existing library. What we know so far and how to fix

iTunes 12.2 with support for Apple Music came out yesterday and managed to create quite a stir for all the wrong reasons.

Some of us updated to the new version only to find our existing iTunes library ridden with missing tracks and exclamation marks. Here’s all we know so far about what’s causing the problem and how to solve.

What we know so far

Issues with the iTunes library may appear straight after the update or after enabling iCloud Music Library in iTunes 12.2. use icloud music library itunes prompt

Issues include:

  • missing iTunes songs marked with an exclamation mark and an error message reading “the song could not be used because the original file could not be found”
  • songs with mixed-up track tags and artworks
  • tracks disappearing from iTunes
itunes-missing-songs We were eager to learn whether anyone else experienced issues after the update and we found that we were not alone. Discussions with possible solutions are quickly heating up on Apple community forums.

Didn’t update yet? Backup iTunes now

Possible solutions

First and foremost, if you have an iPhone, iPod or iPad, disconnect it from your PC.

Next, if you enabled iCloud Music Library in iTunes, navigate to Edit > Preferences. edit preferences in itunes on pc

From the newly-opened window, under the “General” tab uncheck “iCloud Music Library” and click OK. itunes preferences window with icloud music library option in view

Return to a previous version of the iTunes library

iTunes must have automatically made a copy of the library before the update. You can try to sort out the problem by bringing up the previous library.

Note: The iTunes bug is known to rearrange the songs’ positions in the Media folder. Therefore returning to the previous version of the library may prove to be futile. If you instead have your music and playlists intact on an iPhone, iPod or iPad device, skip to this section: Restore library from iPhone, iPod or iPad.

  1. Close iTunes
  2. Navigate to the iTunes Media folder on the PC. If you are on Windows, the default location of the Media folder is: C:\Users\YOUR-USERNAME\My Music\iTunes\
  3. Open the folder named “Previous iTunes Libraries” windows explorer window showing folder previous itunes library
  4. Select a previous library file, preferably the most recent one before the disaster struck and copy it by pressing CTRL + C old itunes library file seen in windows explorer
  5. Return to the main iTunes folder and paste the file you just copied by pressing CTRL + V itunes library folder location
  6. Then rename the already existing “iTunes library”.itl file to “iTunes library (corrupt)”.itl rename old itunes library file
  7. Next, rename the file you just pasted to “iTunes library”.itl itunes music folder with old itl file renamed
  8. Start iTunes and see whether the issue with the library is resolved
  9. If you still experience the problem, continue with the next solution

Restore library from iPhone, iPod or iPad

If you still have the music and playlists safe on an iDevice, use CopyTrans to bring them back to iTunes on your PC.

  1. Be sure the device is not connected to the computer
  2. Press and hold the SHIFT key then start iTunes to display the below prompt. Click “Create Library…” create new itunes library prompt
  3. Choose the location for the new library and click “Save” window to create new itunes library NOTE: We advise you to keep the new library in a separate folder from the already existing one
  4. This creates a new and empty iTunes library. If prompted to use iCloud Music Library, click “Not Now” icloud music library prompt not now
  5. Close iTunes
  6. Download CopyTrans from the following page

    Click here to download CopyTrans
  7. Start the program
  8. Connect the iPhone, iPod or iPad to the PC and let CopyTrans list all tracks and playlists copytrans main window with iphone songs and playlist listed
  9. Ensure the “Smart backup” option is selected and click “Start backup” smart backup button in copytrans
  10. CopyTrans begins transferring all the needed songs, playlists and videos from the iPhone/iPod to iTunes. If you have podcasts, audio books, iOS apps, iTunes U or voice memos, these will also be transferred copytrans backup progress window
  11. That’s it; your iTunes library in all its former glory is restored! itunes complete with music and playlists

Didn’t update yet? Backup iTunes now

The easiest way to avert any potential problems with a future iTunes release is to back up the library in advance. CopyTrans TuneSwift helps you make an exact copy of your iTunes library to a safe place, complete with tracks, ratings, playlists, apps, settings and even iOS backup files. Follow the steps below to back up the iTunes library.

  1. Download CopyTrans TuneSwift from the page below

    Click here to download CopyTrans TuneSwift
  2. Start the program and click “Backup” backup button in copytrans tuneswift main window Continue with the iTunes backup

Don’t take your chances, we’d advise to not yet update to iTunes 12.2 until Apple resolves the issue.

Apple Music and DRM-protected tracks on your iPhone

Apple Music tracks are DRM (Digital Rights Management) protected. When you enable iCloud Music Library on the iPhone, the local iPhone songs are matched with Apple Music database. music settings on iphone ios 8

The iPhone library is then seamlessly populated with DRM-protected copies of the original songs. We therefore recommend that you back up the iPhone music before resorting to enabling Apple Music or iCloud Music Library on the device.

Okay! Let’s back up my iPhone library.

Your take

Did you experience troubles with iTunes 12.2 and iCloud Music Library? Did you find another solution that worked for you? Why not tell us in the comments section below and we’ll make sure to add your solution to the list.

  • Emmanuel

    Thanks for this article! There is another pb with this update, not so serious but still annoying : you can’t make anymore the distinction between checked and unchecked songs, both are highlighted. Do you have any solution ? Thanks !

    • Hi Emmanuel, not entirely sure I understand this problem. Can you send us a screenshot?

      • Emmanuel

        The unchecked songs don’t show up as grey out like before. The second screenshot shows that the first song for example is unchecked but appears as a checked song. Thanks for your help !

        • Interesting. You can still have a better overview of which songs are checked and which are unchecked by using the “Songs” view instead of the “Albums” view.

          • Emmanuel

            Thanks ! Yes i know but Im used to use artist or album view… Bad update anyway.

          • gkirms

            I’m having the same issue with the unchecking songs and they don’t show up as greyed out. Beyond frustrating. I don’t use the song view as I like to see everything under the album view and not being able to see unchecked songs as greyed out is ridiculous. Also, when you click on Get Info for the album the entire contents disappear until you click on something else. Hopefully the next update corrects this.

  • Socioqueen

    Thanks. I haven’t done the update yet and am thinking I won’t to my personal iPhone. But I did the update to my work iPhone and noticed all the music is only searchable by artist, not by song list. Am I missing something? I have to know each artist? What if I just had a track without an artist before? They’re really pushing purchasing and spending with this update.

    • You are right that the default view is organized by “Artists”. However, you can tap on “Artists” and then tap “Songs” as in the screenshot below.

      “They’re really pushing purchasing and spending with this update.” – Yep, unfortunately, I have a similar impression.

  • Hi, can you tell us a bit more about the trouble? For example, list all the steps to reproduce the issue. Thanks!

  • Michael Scott

    Thanks for trying to help…….but you have the wrong screenshot in Step 5. Your text says “Return to the iTunes Media Folder”……but the screenshot shows the “Previous iTunes Libraries” folder as selected. (This is the folder from which you just copied the “previous iTunes FILE”….and you will now be pasting it right back where you got it. No?)

    • Hi Michael, the screenshot actually shows the iTunes Media folder and its contents. Thanks for the remark.

  • HK Havana

    Brutal when I saw all my playlist gone…Thanks for the options. I see you are using a PC and not a Mac, so the key strokes in a few areas of – Return to previous version of the iTunes library – are different. Went back to my Time Machine Back Up and retrieved a previous version; Ya, my previous iTune Libraries were deleted when I ran an OnyX Maintenance on my system that same day of the upgrade!! Good stuff, my playlist are all back in. Thanks!

  • Rhian Harrison

    I updated to 12.2 and lost 90% of my music, ALL my playlists, and all the notes I had for each song. I’m a fitness instructor so had 1000’s of songs categorized and noted.
    Plus the music I do have is on the cloud and I can’t download it. The update also wiped out all the music on my iPhone (which was synced with some of my music and some of my playlists) there is nothing on the phone but it now says the storage is full!!??
    I keep getting a pop up on my computer saying the icloud storage is almost full but it won’t let me do anything about it. some of my music is on my ipad and I disconnected it from Wi-Fi and am scared to do anything with it.
    I tried doing the steps above but got stuck at the first step as my preferences looks nothing like the one you have a screenshot of! I also tried to copy my previous iTunes library but somehow the update wiped out all my music backups plus all my phone back ups!! The most recent one in the previous iTunes library is dated almost a year ago and that would not copy over! I have definitely done many backups since then!!
    Please HELP!

    • Hi Rhian, sorry to hear you had to go through all this! Do you already have some or all of your iTunes music loaded on an iPod, iPad or an iPhone?

  • Michael, thanks for the suggestion. I updated step 5. It now reads in clearer terms: “Return to the main iTunes folder and paste the file”.

  • Christopher Beauchamp

    Thank you! A godsend. What an absolute clusterf* on Apple’s part once again. This is getting to be far too frequent of an occurrence. It worked fine on a MacBook Pro as well. I did have to find about a dozen songs which were purchased AFTER the iTunes library backup that I located, but they were there, just not in iTunes. So far so good. Thanks again!

  • William Edmunds

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!
    I updated iTunes this morning and all of my playlists and podcasts disappeared from my computer (windows).
    I used your tutorial to return to a previous version of the iTunes library and all my stuff is back!
    Why did they have to make things so difficult? I had avoided iTunes updates for a looooong time because it always seemed to cause issues. After a friend recently updated and liked it, I gave it a shot. What a headache.

  • Bill

    Hope you can help. I added several mp3 but it will not let me rename them When I go to Get Info, all of the fields are gray and will not let me edit them. Any ideas?

    • Sounds as if you are trying to edit the songs on your iPhone/iPod from within iTunes which is not possible. You need to edit the songs in the library on your PC, then sync back the device in order for the changes to get applied. Did you know that you can use CopyTrans Manger to edit the songs directly on your iDevice? Here’s how it works: http://www.copytrans.net/copytransmanager.php

      • Rob

        or you need to go to the windows folder that the file your trying to edit and right click for properties and remove the “read only” then save

  • GigiKay

    Thank you!! Hours of organizing playlists and adding comments. Solution 1 repaired it. Thank you!!

  • I have an iTunes version 12.1 only as i am only using windows xp. Is the older version of iTunes not compatible with the iOS 8.4 or Apple Music? Does that mean that I can no longer sync my files from my itunes to my iphone?

    • Hi Diwata, iTunes 12.2 does not run on Windows XP. This means indeed that you won’t have access to Apple Music on your computer. However, iTunes 12.1 supports iOS 8.4.

  • Kirstin D

    I have nearly 30,000 songs in my library-on an external hard drive. Approximately 8,000 of them are missing…. Obviously, wasn’t using the cloud and the entire library was not on my phone or iPad because it is too large. I started locating individually (which when it prompts “do you want to then started re-importing albums. Not only will that take me forever but then I have to go back and delete the duplicates. I may have to import my entire iTunes library again which will take forever. Plus have family sharing so it’s just screwing everybody up!

  • Will you have an update for for Copytrans Tune Swift for I tunes 12.2.2.25 soon

    • Hi Carey, CopyTrans TuneSwift is now fully compatible with the very latest version of iTunes. 🙂

  • The nightmare of this “upgrade” means I must now bid iTunes farewell. I shall use it to update my iPad, but my music has been wrecked, and that is unforgivable.

  • lisab_030

    I had three upgrades the last upgrade has produced a pot luck scenario of whether you actually get your library or have to restore it from the hard drive every time you open Itunes.

  • Kirstin Burdett

    I have a 7th Gen iPod touch which I use when I travel/run because I don’t want or have wifi at those times. I keep my music there, not on my phone. I updated the software on my iPod touch and it’s pretty much useless without wifi. How do I get the songs back on my ipod touch so that I won’t need wifi to listen to them? Is it similar for the process for iTunes on my computer? THANK YOU!

  • Zeb GrandPre

    I just came across this – thank you! I upgraded back in July but didn’t notice that in the transition to Apple Music it nuked all of my carefully detailed song ratings. This did the trick.

  • Glmory

    Thanks!

    I updated my iTunes and iPhone today. Then I noticed that my iPhone was mysteriously empty! For some reason, it had none of my fifty or so audiobooks on it. Then I noticed that the playlist of audiobooks was completely missing! I was going to have to go through my 500 audiobook library to rebuild wasting several hours if I did not find this solution.

  • Susan

    Thank Goodness for People like you and to Share your knowledge. I have my playlists back that took my YEARS to create. I’m so happy. Cheers to you!

  • Brian Nguyen Le

    Was excellent……..until it said I have to purchase the full version for unlimited use….

    • Hi Brian, ‘paid’ does not affect ‘excellent’ in a negative way, quite the contrary. 😉

  • Mindy Sparks

    Thank you!!! This worked!! Saved me! 🙂

  • Oh, let us know more about the matter by contacting us directly at copytrans@copytrans.net Thanks!

  • mathew

    I updated my iphone recently and all the music that I uploaded from CDs was lost! Almost 35 CDs are gone! I no longer have my imac that I had all the music uploaded on, and I have no idea what to do now. is there any way that I can get my music back without the CDs or my original computer that the iTunes was on?

  • Emma-Lee Boulton

    I can get my library back ! I don’t have any devices with enough storage to hold all my library (Over 8,000 songs). I can see the .Itl file but can’t open it in itunes 🙁 Help Please!! I have now only got access to my itunes library from 2009 !

    • Hi Emma-Lee, it’s still possible to get the library back with CopyTrans. Please get in touch with our support team directly at copytrans@copytrans.net and we’ll help you figure it out.

  • Eric R

    I wish I had seen the horror stories of iTunes 12.2 !! on 11 November 2015 I was prompted to upgrade my iTunes ….I had usually rejected this as I dont care for the latest edition layouts .However i succumbed and was in for a Hell of a night …After upgrading NONE of my PLAYLISTS were available only purchased and some cloud material . My library was over 170 GB with years of my own playlist formulations . I was horrified & the air was blue ref Apple , How can these ‘so called’ smart geeks get this wrong after the problems encountered on 12.2 !? why was it not smoothed out ….I found the forum through Google and thanks to some even smarter people I was able to follow the instructions and get back much of my Library …BUT the problem didn’t end there as , because i had NOT regularly updated the software and the last record was dated Oct 2012 . So a lot was missing ….Hopefully the bulk of these playlists will be on my iPod Classic !! I have copied the Trans Control Centre apps and will embark on hopefully recovering many playlists from that to my PC Many thanks those on the forum who stopped me going mad and aided my recovery made. maybe if Apple had spent less ‘time’ on their precious watch development they could get this ipod software working efficiently …I have spent $ thousands on Apple ipods for my self and presents and this night of hell is how I’m repaid …. !!! Many many Thanks for the tutorial fix !!

  • Hello Eric, thanks for your sharing your experience. The .itl is created as soon as you first open iTunes on the PC (basically the .itl is the iTunes Library). To get your playlists back you might probably need the old .itl file, but it is not very likely that it still exists somewhere on the PC. But, if you still have your playlists somewhere on an iPod or iOS device you can recover them using our program CopyTrans. The free trial already lets you copy up to 300 items (100 + 200 when sharing), so maybe this helps. Here is a guide: http://www.copytrans.net/support/how-to-transfer-iphone-playlists-to-pc/ – Good luck!

  • Evelyn Christianson

    I’m incredibly, incredibly grateful for this article! For some reason, I guess that I must have been running some pre-12.2 version of iTunes, but yesterday I got an update prompt and did so, going to iTunes 12.3.3.17. And instantly found that my music and my audiobooks were ALL missing.

    I started looking around for how-to-recover instructions and (thankfully!) found this.
    And it was sufficiently step-by-step, and logical, with a generous number of visual examples.

    I’ve never been interested in messing around with my PC – I use it like I use a car – just turnkey user/driver.
    I just want it to function – so perhaps, some other sites may’ve included relatively similar into but they made jumps and assumptions about knowledge. I didn’t want to mess around and due to a mistake, maybe lose my whole library irretrievably.

    Worked like a charm! Again, thank you, thank you!

    (and—I’m not a person who usually sprinkles exclamation points into a note this way, but I’m just sooo appreciative of a good, competent helping hand to have helped me rescue my iTunes library.)

  • Sam Bisquit

    Unfortunately I use iTunes on a Windows 7 PC. After upgrading to Itunes 12.3.3 (from an earlier v 11) I discovered this “feature” — all my playlists are gone and the date-added date for ALL the tracks in my library has been set to the same, incorrect, bogus date (Feb 6, 2012 1:18 pm). Since this is iTunes on WIndows none of the recovery steps you’ve mentioned applies. Guess I’m SOL. This is a F’up of STAGGERING proportions. Thanks Apple.

  • Phase Nonapp

    I don’t see any option for ‘cloud music library’ under preferences/general tab. I am using MacBook Pro with El Capitan and latest iTunes. Why don’t I have this option? I copied a whole bunch of songs from cd to iTunes and then they went missing and I get the exclamation mark. I cannot relocate them because they are no longer there to locate!! What the hell has happened and how do I fix this f__ng mess?

    • Hi, this case does not seem to be related to performance of the CopyTrans programs. Visiting the nearest Genius Bar or the Apple Support forums would be the best here.

  • Ellie Saks

    This was very helpful. Thank you so much!

  • jabney8

    This is bull. Apple owes me for every song and album stolen. Sick of test driving their incompetent programmers

  • This article is related to the older iTunes version. Since v12.2 Apple changed a whole bunch of things in its media software. There’s a general rule to stick to: before updating iTunes or experimenting with a significant number of tracks, make sure you have them backed up on your PC.
    To back up music you can use CopyTrans (it’s a paid program but there’s a trial version to experiment before buying): http://www.copytrans.net/copytrans/

  • Hello, I’d love to help you. Could you please contact me directly at copytrans@copytrans.net and explain what is the problem and which CopyTrans program you are using. Screenshots would be of huge help in understanding the case. Thank you.

    • jaymetal

      Hey… sorry for not getting back to you. My hard drive went in my computer and I have not replaced it yet. I put all my iTunes onto an external hard drive so I have that saved at least.. thank you for your generous offer to help. Much appreciated. Have a great day

      • Marika CopyTrans

        We are glad that you saved your iTunes files after all. We are always there for you, Jaymetal.