iTunes 10, at Last, Auto-repairs Broken Links

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.