6 Replies Latest reply: Sep 12, 2009 6:51 PM by shuaksky
john.atkins@london.com Level 1 (0 points)
I have a problem with ITunes. I'm getting growing number of ! (exclamation mark) symbols in tracks in my library. When I try to click to listen with any of these tracks i get the notice 'The song cannot be used because the original file cannot be found. Would you like to locate it? I can listen to these songs on my ipod fine, but not on my PC. Help!

Compaq Presario, Windows Vista
  • polydorus Level 6 (11,960 points)
    You get exclamation marks or dead tracks because iTunes can’t find the file. This can happen for a number of reasons:
    The song file or a folder in its path was renamed
    The song file or the folder it is in has been moved
    The song file has been deleted
    The device containing the song files e.g. external drive is not accessible or the drive letter has changed..

    The exclamation marks only appear when you access the track so the problem may be general, but you only see it in the tracks you access.

    SO have you changed or moved your files? Do you have music on an external drive? if the drive letter changes that can cause the problem.

    Otherwise check your music folder to see if the tracks are still there.

    You can find out where iTunes thinks the tracks are by opening iTunes Library.xml with WordPad. Lines starting <key>Location contain the paths to tracks, but with the space character replaced by %20.
  • Blue11 Level 1 (0 points)
    I have the same problem on my G5. I moved (saved) the entire library to an ext. hard drive as per Apple directions. However, in Preferences I changed the location of the Music folder to the ext. hard drive (just to try). When I changed it back, it could not find it on the G5 hard drive. Confused.

    The songs are still there in the path and I checked the library.xml file. I would rather not individually go through and change 8300 song's location. Is there a way to do this all at once?
  • Evan! Level 1 (0 points)
    I had this same problem myself. Are you absolutely sure the file paths in the XML file are correct? Because mine weren't. They should have been "e:/my music/itunes", but for some reason, they all were "e:/my music/itunes/itunes music". I don't know where that extra folder came from, but all of my 25,000+ files were pointing to it. No matter how many times I held down shift and told iTunes where my library was, it would not change the XML file for me. So what I had to do was open the XML file in notepad and do a find/replace for the file path, so that every instance of "e:/my music/itunes/itunes music" was replaced with "e:/my music/itunes". It took at least 18 hours for my computer to finish it, but as of this morning, I'm back in business.

    So, yeah, make absolutely sure that the file paths in the XML file are correct. iTunes likes to change them sometimes.
  • gailpearl Level 1 (0 points)
    I am also finding many "ghost file" duplicate files (with the exclamation point "can not locate files" message), after pointing Itunes version to my music folder on a separate, networked hard drive. My understanding is that the "Consolidate Files" feature in Itunes is supposed to properly identify all of the file locations, but it only worked for about 1/5 of our 10,000 plus files before it stopped running. (I've read in other forums that this software is buggy, and gets confused with long song titles, etc.)It also leaves you with duplicate "ghost" files to delete, when the music from the separate drive is "added".

    I can not find a file called ituneslibrary.xml to try your suggestion, when I open my Itunes folder. When I do "get info" on the individual music files in Itunes that can't be located, the "where" field = "not available". I have doublechecked the library location in preferences and it is properly pointed to "K:\itunes" which is the correct location.
  • shuaksky Level 1 (65 points)
    Hmm...I did a global find/replace and it was pretty quick, but it didn't solve the problem.

    One thing I found out is that a lot of the filenames in the XML file don't have track numbers, but a lot of the actual files do. E.g. the XML file reads


    but the track has been renamed

    05 Satellite.mp3

    When I find the file, it renames it, and re-opening the XML file I get


    I think I might need to re-import my whole library with "organize files" unchecked in preferences. Wish me luck.
  • shuaksky Level 1 (65 points)
    Yup, that was the problem. Now I'm getting somewhere.

    I unchecked "Keep iTunes Music Folder organized" in Preferences/Advanced.

    I moved all the folders in my iTunes Music Folder to a holding folder called "XXXMusic". I replaced the Music folder in iTunes Media with the contents of my original iTunes Music folder.

    Now the exclamation points are gone, my playlists are intact, and iTunes can find all my songs!

    I'll let you know if, when I re-check "keep iTunes Music Folder organized" it screws everything up again...