How to reinstall iTunes without losing music

Updated March 23, 2017

Apple’s iTunes is more than just a music player. The program, which runs on both PC and Mac computers, organises your music files and provides updates and a backup utility for all your Apple devices, such as iPhones, iPads and iPods. If the iTunes program were to become corrupted and you needed to reinstall it, iTunes provides a way to protect your existing music while you replace the program.

Open iTunes.

In Windows, select “Edit" and choose "Preferences." On a Mac, click “iTunes and select "Preferences.”

Click the “Advanced” tab.

Click the check box for “Copy Files to iTunes Media Folder when Adding to Library.”

Click “OK.” iTunes will immediately copy music files that weren’t already in the iTunes Music folder to the folder on your hard drive. The path for the folder is “Users[username]\My Music” on a PC, and “Users[username]\Music" on a Mac.

Click “File” in iTunes, select “Library" and choose "Organize Library.”

Select “Consolidate Files.” This will put all your iTunes media into one folder so you can copy it to an external hard drive. It will help you avoid losing your music because of a hard drive crash. Click “OK.”

Close iTunes.

Connect your external hard drive to your computer.

Find your iTunes folder. If it is not in the default location, open the iTunes Preference menu. Click the “Advanced” tab, where the location of your iTunes Media Folder will be listed.

Drag the iTunes folder to your external hard drive.

Select the “File" menu, select "Library," and choose "Back Up to Disc” to back up your music to a disc instead of an external hard drive.

Select “Back Up Entire iTunes Library and Playlists.” Click “Back Up.”

Insert a blank DVD or CD into your disc drive. iTunes will beginning burning the files to the disc.

Download and install iTunes (See Resources). When you download it, you can choose to run the installer. If you download the file and choose "Save," double-click the installer once it is on your computer.

Recreate your iTunes library using the folder on your computer's hard drive. To do so, quit iTunes, and find your iTunes folder. Open the iTunes folder and select the “iTunes Music Library.xml” file. Drag it to your desktop. Select the “iTunes Library.itl” (or just the “iTunes Library” file on a Mac”), and put in the Trash or Recycling Bin. Launch iTunes. Click the “File" menu, select "Library" and choose "Import Playlist.” Select the “iTunes Music Library.xml” file.

You can also restore your iTunes library from an external hard drive. To do this, close iTunes and connect the external hard drive to your computer. Open the hard drive and drag the iTunes folder back to your computer. It’s best to put it back in its default location. Re-open iTunes while pressing “Shift” in Windows or “Option” on a Mac. A “Choose iTunes Library” dialogue box will appear. Click “Choose Library.” Select the iTunes folder and click “Choose.”

Another option is to restore your iTunes library from a backup disc. Open iTunes, and put your backup disc in the disc drive. iTunes will prompt you to restore the files. Click “Restore.”

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article


About the Author

Amy Dombrower is a journalist and freelance writer living in Chicago. She worked in the newspaper industry for three years and enjoys writing about technology, health, paper crafts and life improvement. Some of her passions are graphic design, movies, music and fitness. Dombrower earned her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.