6 Replies Latest reply: Jun 22, 2008 5:01 PM by Jeffery Nunes
tlee61 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
Last night, when I opened iTunes, each song I clicked on gave me a "!" next to it, followed by this message:

"The song XYZ could not be used because the original file could not be found. Would you like to locate it?"

Well, I know exactly where the song is, which is where all the songs are and have been for some time on my LaCie external drive. They are, in fact, still there. When I go to a music file through the Finder and double-click the file name, it plays--through iTunes--and is recognized by iTunes thereafter. I could do this for all 2,500 songs, but I have a life to live in the next three to four years.

Why is this happening and, more importantly, what can be done about it?

iMac G4, Mac OS X (10.4)
  • John Guo Level 5 Level 5 (5,260 points)
    Don't know why that happened, but I can help you solve it. Click on iTunes to open the programme only this time hold down the option key. Click on choose library. Navigate to the external HDD. iTunes should know where to look for them now. I do have a theory of how this happened in the first place. Someone opened iTunes without plugging in the external HDD first and iTunes was confused with its music. When that happens iTunes defers to the default location which is in your internal HDD's Music folder.
  • tlee61 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    John, thanks. I've tried that, but the songs listed in iTunes are not linked to the files. Could there be a problem in linking the library database to the files themselves?
  • Jeffery Nunes Level 1 Level 1 (90 points)
    this can also happen anytime the external drive is not available... i have 1/2 my library on an external drive and whenever the power goes out in my neighborhood, iTunes temporarilly looses the link to the external drive... my neighborhood was built in the 1920s, and the power goes out many times a year... i use an old powerbook for my iTunes computer, which i keep plugged into my stereo... when the power hiccups, the external drive goes down, but the powerbook continues on it's battery... if iTunes or the external drive get too confused by going up and down, then i just powercycle the external drive and reboot my powerbook and everything has normally gone back to normal... the power issues are part of the reason i wanted to keep as much as i could on the internal powerbook drive... and i keep everything backed up...

    anyway, i'll try you suggestion for the "option" on launch... i had to replace my external drive which finally died (from 2001)... so now i need to relink the files back to iTunes, hopefully not manually since i have about 2500 files to fix... i did copy all the files from the internal disc to the new external drive and merged the libraries, then tried using the iTunes preferences to point to the folder in the external drive... but that didn't work in my case... it still sees 1/2 of the files still in the internal drive and still has "!" for all the files on the external drive...

    for tlee61, this makes me wonder if you might not need to check the iTunes preferences to see where it is looking for your files. if you set it up to store all files on the external disc, and it is set up to copy in the files to the iTunes library, then that option in the preference file for the library location might have gotten changed inadvertently... if you have iTunes set up to NOT copy in the files, and your files are in random locations on the external drive, that may be much harder to solve... i'm not positive of the best approach... i think there may be an option for iTunes to search the drives for music, like when someone installs/runs iTunes for the 1st time... but i'm not sure, off the top of my head, how to trigger that... i may be looking for that option if i can't seem to figure out another way to relink my files... but i'm afraid that it will try to either copy everything from the external drive to the internal drive, where there is no more space, or that it will try to copy the files on the internal drive to the external drive, where i've already merged the files (and eliminated some duplications)...

    i very much want to keep all the metadata... so i'm hesitent to experiment blindly too much since i don't want to do something that "imports" all the songs, but looses all the metadata... in my case, it would be easier to relink the files manually than attempt to recreate all the metadata...

    if i find a solution besides just manually relinking files, i'll let you know...
    i expect there is a way to solve this...
    luck to us both-
  • John Guo Level 5 Level 5 (5,260 points)
    Well, you can also try importing that iTunes Library file (the one inside the iTunes folder). Open iTunes, go to File>Import.
  • tlee61 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Hey, there IS a solution to the problem, at least mine. In iTunes, go to File>Add to Library, and add all the songs from the iTunes Music folder. Preserved all my lists, and album covers. Seems like a workaround, but it worked.

    Thanks so much, all, for your thoughts and encouragement. Apple community rocks.
  • Jeffery Nunes Level 1 Level 1 (90 points)
    that was a good idea... in my case, it didn't work since the files are in a new location... all it did was duplicate every song in my library. the new entry for each song lacked the meta data, like ratings etc. the old listing for the song which had all the meta data was still a broken link...

    after that, i tried importing the xml file i'd just made as a back up and that didn't delete the new duplications... then i renamed the library files to a temp name, open a blank itunes and imported the xml backup file... it gave me an error message that it deleted entries for files it couldn't find and deleted more than 1/2 of the songs from the list... i had no idea that when attempting to reload the info from a backup file, it would not just use the info... so mine is going from bad to worse...

    i put the previous files i'd renamed with temp names back and at least i'm back to 10000 songs, which if necessary, i'll spend the next 2 weeks fixing... i'm still hoping there is another fix for my circumstance... but sometimes i just resort to brute force to get it done...

    this does worry me because in addition to the current situation, i'll be swaping out the old computer and external hard drive for another computer sometime in the not so distant future... so i don't want to go thru this twice...

    at this point, since yours is fixed, i might have to make a new thread for my issue, unless someone reads this and decides to chime in here-

    glad it worked for you-