iTunes 10, at Last, Auto-repairs Broken Links

| Analysis

Back in March, I called Apple to task for overlooking a serious problem in iTunes. Links to items in the library could become broken, for no apparent reason, and it was a tedious process to manually repair those links. The readers agreed. Now, in iTunes 10, Apple has introduced a long-awaited auto-repair function.

On March 3, 2010, I wrote “The iTunes Broken Promise: Broken Links.” In that analysis, I said, in part: 




“Apple’s first line of defense against this is an almost DOS-like, pathetic avoiding of responsibility by iTunes engineers. When you double click a song that has a broken link, iTunes invites you to go look for it, manually, with a File dialog box. That’s not the user experience Apple is famous for.”




Worse, repeating the repair hundreds of times, not an unheard of problem, would make one seriously question the iTunes Product Manager’s commitment to the customer.

Broken Links

iTunes broken links

iTunes 10 to the Rescue

iTunes 10 eliminates that tedious process. If you find an item in your library with a broken link, designated with a leading !-mark, the dialog starts out the same. You’re asked to navigate to the volume and directory where the item actually resides:


The initial dialog

After that link is repaired, however, iTunes 10 takes some initiative and asks a question:


The offer

If you say yes, iTunes 10 will use that location to look for and repair other broken links. It’s likely that most of the items that have become unlinked are on that same volume, not scattered over several volumes, so that’s a safe bet.

Here’s the result, in my case, which took about a second.


The result

While iTunes said it couldn’t repair 45 missing files, there are zero exclamation marks in my library, so I’m not yet sure what’s happening with those 45 items.

Well Done Apple

It had become my hobby, when I had a spare hour in the evening, to sit down and manually repair 50 or so of my hundreds of broken links as described in the original article from March 3. Last night, iTunes 10 did in one second what would have required six hours of manual work. And except for making it a Menu item, Apple followed the script I proposed exactly.

Some of my broken links were for video files, but I haven’t been able to verify if the dialog box #1 above changes from “The song…” to “The video…” or “The item…”.

This fix was probably on Apple’s list of things to do all along based on customer feedback, so I doubt that my original article made any difference. What’s terrific is that a serious problem with iTunes, one that drove me and other users crazy — and was long overlooked — got fixed fairly elegantly. It’s just a shame that it took until version 10.0.

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Bob Barker

Man, have I been stuck in the vortex of lost songs. I updated to ver.10 in the hopes that it could pull all of the together… But it did not work for me. In fact the dialog windows presented in this post are no different than those of previous versions of iTunes. It blows my mind that, if it actually works for others, that it took Apple this long to get iTunes to do this, and makes it even more frustrating for me that it didn’t work in my case.

I had a genius appointment this week about this prior to updating to version 10. Most revealing, the Genius did not say right off the bat to upgrade to 10 for the fix. Instead, we experimented with different ways to rehabilitate one’s library (yes, she had no definitive answer). The required solution is that itunes needs to create a new library database. Unfortunately, all one’s playlists are included in iTunes’ database. So, a new database nukes all your playlists. This could be highly undesirable. After some experimentation we came up with the following solution if you want to preserve your play playlists:

1) export all playlists as XML files. XML is the only export format that ignores the songs’ locations. Using the other export formats will reimport the same problem for those playlists.

2) quit itunes

3) delete the existing iTunes library data file (not the iTunes Music or Media Files folders—those contain your actual songs.

4) while holding down the Option key, launch iTunes. iTunes will ask if you want to either load a library or create a new one. Select create a new one. Go ahead and let it “organize” the library if it wants to. This process may take a long time.

5) import those XML files of your playlists.

Still not fun but it seems to work.

PS: I have not been able to get a great iTunes script that I got from the Doug’s Applescript website Working for quite a while. It is called iTunes Track CPR, designed to get rid of those bloody !s without having to rebuild anything. Maybe the script got broken by an update, I don’t know, but it used to work great.

The best we could come up with is to export

Play Ultimate

this existed in iTunes 9.x

Bob Barker

OK, somebody please clarify this for me:

Click on a song, iTunes can’t find it. iTunes asks you to locate it. You navigate your folders via iTunes to get to that exact song file which may be ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Music/Artist’s Name/Artist’s Album/THE SONG.

Great. Super. But, when it then asks you if you’d like the location of the found song to find other songs… does it search here:

~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Music/Artist’s Name/Artist’s Album/

or here:

~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Music/

because if iTunes looks at ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Music/Artist’s Name/Artist’s Album/ for the whole library it won’t find much. I even tried dragging a “lost” song up to ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Music/ just to see if THAT would make iTunes find all the lost music but that didn’t work, either.

Lulamae Broadway

Does not seem to be working in iTunes 11.  Any ideas whether this feature was removed, or how to prompt iTunes to ask me the question to repair multiple links.  Thanks.

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