Well I have my Mac since 2007, that means when I bought it I had only 120Gb hdd. So I decided to use an external hdd for music files just to free up some space. I didn't purchase a lot of stuff from ITunes, but definitely I had many music files taken off cd's. It's very important that I get back my iTunes the way it used to be. I know that when an exclamation mark is shown is because it can't locate the file, but I have the external hdd connected to it and I don't understand what it seems to be the issue.
This happened to me when I moved to a different computer. Sometimes what happens is that, due to the way the media files are organized, iTunes forgets where they are if the library is moved. First, in iTunes, go to Preferences > Advanced and see where iTunes thinks your library is located. Make sure the 2 checkboxes below that are selected ("Keep iTunes Media folder organized" and "Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library"). Next, open your external hard drive and make sure your library is still there, along with the various folders and subfolders. If they are, they go back to iTunes and for each song with an exclamation mark, choose "Get Info" and you will see a dialog box saying it can't find the file and asking if you want to locate it. Click the button and use the normal method to navigate to the folder where that song's file is located. It will then update and show you the info for that file. Close the "Get Info" window and repeat for each song that has the exclamation mark.
I have exactly the same problem with my iTunes: it shows an exclamation point next to almost every song and when I try to play them it states that it "cannot locate the file". I have managed to use the "Get info" trick described above to "relocate" songs however I have over 7,000 songs which means that manually locating every single song will take an awfully long time. Is there a work around that'll allow me to "locate" multiple items?
I've been able to fix my iTunes so that the exclamation marks are gone and it plays my music but it was tedious and took me three days to do.
Open iTunes preferences and click the "Advanced" tab.
Make sure that the" iTunes media location folder" is the iTunes folder on your external hard drive.
Open iTunes, select an albumn and delete all of its tracks.
iTunes will ask you; "Are you sure you want to delete the selected songs from your iTunes library?"
Choose "Delete songs"
iTunes will then ask you; "Do you want to move the selected songs to the Trash, or keep them in the iTunes Media folder?"
Choose "Keep files." (If you move them to the trash you won't be able to complete the next few steps.)
Open a Finder window, select the external hard drive and look in the iTunes folder for the albumn that was just deleted. If you selected "keep files" in the step above it should be there somewhere.
Select all the tracks in the albumn then drag and drop them into "Library" section of the iTunes sidebar.
The albumn should appear in iTunes without exclamation points and ready to play.
I did the same steps above for my Movies and TV shows and everything worked fine.
In theory, you could delete everything from iTunes and then drag and drop everything from your external hard drive into iTunes in one go but I wasn't game to try that - thought it was safer to do things one small bit at a time
Glad that option worked for you!!
I still had exclamation marks even when I chose my library after holding down the option key when opening iTunes.
To answer your other question:
"how would this differ if I just try to drag them right off the folder where they're located?"
It probably wouldn't differ except you're likely to have two "copies" of every track in iTunes: one with an exclamation point and one without. Deleting the albumn before you drag and drop it back in avoids having to go back and delete each individual track with an exclamation point next to it.
The whole idea here is that the songs in your song list have either moved (for local stores), disconnected (for remote store) or not yet downloaded (for cloud store).
For local store or remote store (internal or external drive): check to see where iTunes is looking for your music (iTunes/Preferences/Advanced/Media Folder Location), go there with the finder and verify that the drive is unreacheable or your music files for the tracks of concern are missing. Fix that.
For cloud store: Go to iTunes Store, Click purchased. Select the songs or song groups and download them either individually or download all.
Hope this helps.
This was the answer!!! I found that when I had moved my songs back onto my computer from my external hard drive that it still was showing exclamation marks and it was having a hard time locating most of my songs. I went into itunes preferences/advanced and noticed that the location at which iTunes was trying to locate my music was not the location my music was currently sitting in. I changed the location in preferneces and VIOLA!! my itunes library updated and all the exclamation marks went away!!! Oh my gosh, thank you so much. I couldn't be happier now. This has been a major source of frustration for me. Thank you again Don!!!
Don, you've done it for me too, thank you so much. This has been bugging me for years! I'm not highly technical so, in layman's terms, I searched the computer for one of the songs and found it under my old ipod. I then went to the songs in itunes and individually located them to that file when prompted. It didn't work for some but I later found the rest in a shared file as my sons had shared them with me. Ticking the two boxes is obviously a key factor too. It took hours but it was so worth it and very satisfying. You've made my day, thank you!
Lucky you guys. I lost about 150 songs to the exclamation icon and I have been in contact with cust serv for over 3 months. Every thing I was advised I did it, the 2 attempts to re download the songs were fruitless and in a nutshell, after 3 months the only real solution isL I LOST MY MONEY, NO REFUND ISSUED!!!!! and I STILL DO NOT HAVE THE SONGS, NO WAY TO RECOVER THEM!!! I complained to BBB and my request was dismissed by Apple.
I am seriously considering switching my Apple equipment to a brand I can trust. I alerted my friends in Facebook and also via e-mail about this.
And I am not talking for the sake of it. I have a document with all the e-mails involved in this ordeal as well as screenshots I have been sending to itunes to show them I could never recover the damm songs, but everything was just a merry go round and the songs never appeared, neither my money