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Question: File name punctuation WILL cause MP3 and DVD burn errors – workaround?

OK, I’ve seen TONS of questions about problems burning MP3 format CDs and DVD. I’ve been having this problem for quite a while and today I just got ****** off enough to do some deep research. I seek to share my finding and suggestions for work arounds.


iTunes can burn regular CDs since the song file name is not actually put on the CD. The CD or DVD burner work for burning audio discs and with other applications. All the burn preferences are set correctly and have been validated. But when you attempt to burn an MP3 CD or DVD (for backup, transfer or for player that play MP3 discs), iTunes may do the following:

Checking media (iTunes will ask: “You have inserted a DVD. Are you sure you want to create a Data DVD? answer yes, it’s a blank DVD disc in a working DVD burner)
Checking playlist
Burning disc… initializing
"The attempt to burn a disc failed. An unknown error occurred (xxxx).”

Many times the error is due to song, album or artist names with unacceptable punctuation in them. iTunes does not tell you why and the error message and Google searches and Apple support/discussion forum details are sketchy… but in most cases its “illegal” punctuation in the song name, artist or album. I isolated at lest the apostrophe ‘ there are probably other illegal name punctuations too.

The cause my be explained by Apple following ISO or Joliet file name specifications or file name length specifications for CD or DVD discs. But since this appears to be undocumented (to the iTunes user) there is a need to understand the restrictions to allow error free disc burning.

Even if the playlist name does not have punctuation, if ANY playlist song name/artist/album does, the DVD burn will fail. Removing the offending songs from the playlists results in a successful burn but hey, I WANT those other songs too!


Changing actual song file name – even if you change the name in iTunes (Get Info, Info, change name, artist, album) the actual song file names are not updated and continue to have the punctuation error resulting in a burn failure.

It appears that the actual file name needs to be changed. This can be a challenge. If you change only the file name you need to add modified file back into iTunes and the old file link is now broken. This is a bigger problem if that song file is in multiple playlists (the old ones are broken and the new one needs to be substituted). This is a REAL problem if you have 2,800 songs with an ‘ in them (like I do).

I’ve seen many, many unanswered questions about iTunes CD and DVD burning problems that will likely be solved if we can collectively develop and document a workaround. So, here is

What is the best way to rename (or retag) MP3 song files to eliminate punctuation and update iTunes and playlists so these songs can be burned to CD or DVD without violating the undocumented illegal punctuation restriction? The work around may differ for OS X vs Windows users so help on both would be appreciated.

Thank you all in advance for your help!

Windows XP Pro

Windows XP Pro, iTunes Windows and OS X

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Question: File name punctuation WILL cause MP3 and DVD burn errors – workaround?