The "original file could not be found" thing happens if the file is no longer where iTunes expects to find it. The usual causes are that you or some third party tool has moved, renamed or deleted the file, or that the drive it lives on has had a change of drive letter. It is also possible that iTunes has changed from expecting the files to be in the pre-iTunes 9 layout to post-iTunes 9 layout,or vice-versa, and so is looking in slightly the wrong place. In this case it would seem you've gone the wrong way about migrating your library.
Select a track with an exclamation mark, use Ctrl-I to get info, then cancel when asked to try to locate the track. Look on the summary tab for the location that iTunes thinks the file should be. Now take a look around your hard drive(s). Hopefully you can locate the track in question. If a section of your library has simply been moved, or a drive letter has changed, it should be possible to reverse the actions.
Alternatively, as long as you can find a location holding the missing files, then you should be able to use my FindTracks script to reconnect them to iTunes .
Thanks for your swift reply and the info. Actually whilst I was wading through forums trying to find an answer the other day I did come across your answer and tried it but no joy. WHen I tried Ctrl-i (after first trying ctrl-L as that's what I first read your answer to be) it gives the location of every single song as file://localhost/G:/ITUNES.... which I assume is the ITUNES folder on th ehard drive from which I copied it... ie I assume that means that for some reason it did not copy them across correctly?
SO, just to fill in any blanks, what I did when I got the new computer, was first downloaded the latest version of itunes (I think it's itunes 10..?). Then connected my hard drive, where I have stored all my music. Then opened itunes - at this stage obviously the MUSIC library was empty. Then opened the hard drive, found the 'itunes' folder, clicked and dragged it to the itunes music library. It went through the operation of (apparently...) copying all th emusic from the hard drive to the music folder in itunes. All good so far. Clicked on the 'disconnect' icon to disconnect the hard drive, then tried to play any / every song in itunes and they all came up with the exclamation mark. (I think, although I cannot be 100% sure that initially actually they might have worked, but that's probably irrelevant now). If however I reconnect the hard drive then it happily plays any song.
So what I am left with is a list oif every song in itunes, but alll with exclamation marks. I tried to search for many of them but couldn't find any . Incidentally, just in case I did it wrong, I searched by clicking on the windows icon - bottom left, and typing the names of the songs in the 'search programmes and files' box. came up with nothing...
Any other ideas would be hugely appreciated.
Reading between the lines it looks like you have iTunes connected to the original files on the external drive. If this is the case then it not surprising things don't work when the drive is disconnected. Normally iTunes sets itself up to copy files into its local media folder when they are added to the library, however this option can be turned off. Please check your settings under Edit > Preferences > Advanced for Keep... and Copy...
If you connect the external drive, then start iTunes, does everything play normally?
Where is your active iTunes library file?
Normally it would be in C:\Users\<User>\Music\iTunes.
Where is your media folder?
Normally it would be C:\Users\<User>\Music\iTunes\iTunes Media.
If may be that you simply need to consolidate the library into your local hard drive so that iTunes is no longer looking to the external drive, however if you have already tried to copy the files across by hand then you may need to do some housework first.
again thanks for the swift reply.
Okay, I apologies but I do not fully understand the advice, I'll work through it as best I can. I have gone to Edit>Preferences> advanced... now what? Not sure I understand the "for KEEP ... and Copy" bit...? The @Copy files to itunes media folder when adding to library ' box is ticked. There are 3 boxes starting with 'Keep'. I am guessing that you mean I should tick the top box, 'Keep itunes media folder organised'..? At the mo it is not ticked. Should I tick that one?
Yes, when I connect my external hard drive then itunes plays the songs nortmally, without any hint of an exclamation mark.
I AM NOT SURE WHERE TO FIND OUT WHERE MY 'ACTIVE ITUNES LIBRARY FILE' IS...
The media folder is, I assume , in the box at the top of that advanced page, - ie the 'itunes media folder location', in which case it is "C:\users\Tony\music\itunes\itunesmedia" ... is that okay?
So, it may well be the case that some housework is required first, but I have tried a few things that I found on various forums, nothing worked, I uninstalled itunes twice and tried again, and still nothing... Any idea where I go from here? It definitely seems that itunes does not realise that the songs have been copied across to it yet, although why then it should have all the nakes of the songs, is beyond me...?
Any further help much appreciated.
The preference iTunes Media folder location tells iTunes where to put new files that you purchase, download or rip with iTunes.
The option Keep iTunes Media folder organized lets iTunes move and rename files inside the iTunes Media folder in response to changes to tag information. Unless you are very particular and have time to kill moving your files around by hand, let iTunes do its thing.
The option Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library controls what happens when you add a or drag in a folder that is outside of the iTunes Media folder. If enabled, iTunes creates a new copy of each file inside the iTunes Media folder and links to that, otherwise it remains connected to the original file in the original location. Again it is probably best to enable this option unless you have particular reasons not to.
From what you have posted it seems clear the library is organized at C:\Users\Tony\Music\iTunes with the media folder inside this as C:\Users\Tony\Music\iTunes\iTunes Media. This is the normal layout.
Inside the iTunes Media folder there should be a folder called Music and inside that will typically be folders for each artist in your library. If these already exist that would suggest that you have previously tried dragging in your media by hand, but iTunes is still connected to the files on the external. If that is the case then the next step would create duplicate copies of your files on the internal drive, only one of which is actually connected to iTunes. This should be avoided.
Assuming there are no issues with exisiting copies use File > Library > Organize Library > Consolidate files to get iTunes to copy in all the media from the external drive.
Okay, again I am struggling to actually understand exactly what implications your advice has, or how to physically apply it, but I think (???) you are advising me to :
a) go to the Edit> preferences> advanced> "Keep itunes media folder organised" and tick that box, and
b) go to File> Library> Organise Library> "consolidate files ..." and tick that box.
I have done both of the above and there are still exclamation marks by every song in the itunes music library, apart from the 3 songs that were actually installed on the computer on purchse when new. When I try to play a song I still get the message "... original file could not be found..."
I do not know if I have followed your advise correctly as I was not entirely sure what you were instructing me to do but I tihnk that was correct. Should I perhaps delete all the music, uninstall itunes and start again, re-installing and this time set it up correctly before clicking and dragging all songs from the external hard drive to the itunes? If so, then please would you be able to advise me advise me exactly how to set up itunes before copying songs across... ie which boxes on which pages should be ticked, etc...
Again, many thanks...
Please look inside C:\Users\Tony\Music\iTunes\iTunes Media\Music
As long as you only have the three folders assoicated with the music that was on your computer when iTunes was installed do the following:
Connect external drive, make sure it comes up as drive G:
Use the menu item File > Library > Organize Library... Tick the box Consolidate files, then click OK.
Disconnect external drive, check media still plays.