How to retrieve deleted playlists from itunes

Written by deanna koch
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How to retrieve deleted playlists from itunes
Restore your playlists from iTunes. (music image by bociek666 from

iTunes playlists sometimes have days and days of music compiled. What happens after you have made the perfect list only to find it has been accidentally deleted? There is almost always a way back. If you perform regular incremental or full backups of your hard drive, you will be able to restore your playlists from iTunes.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • iPod
  • iTunes
  • USB connection cable
  • Backup DVDs or external hard drive (optional)

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  1. 1

    Insert or attach your backup device, whether it is a backup external hard drive, or a series of DVDs and quit iTunes.

  2. 2

    Locate your music folder inside your backed up hard drive.

  3. 3

    Move the backed up music folder to your computer's music folder to replace the contents.

  4. 4

    Launch iTunes and confirm that your playlists and songs are restored.

  1. 1

    Do not sync your iPod until you have completed the following steps: Open the "on-the-go" playlist on your iPod.

  2. 2

    Remove any tunes listed in the playlist.

  3. 3

    Navigate back on your iPod to the playlist that is missing from your computer. Hold down the centre button on the iPod until you see your playlist begin to flash. The flashing indicates the copy playlist command is initiated.

  4. 4

    Return to the "on-the-go" playlist to confirm that your songs have been transferred over to this playlist.

  5. 5

    Sync your iPod with your computer. iTunes will automatically pull the missing playlist from your iPod to your computer. You will be able to rename the "on-the-go" list once the sync is complete.

Tips and warnings

  • If you have multiple playlists to recover on multiple iPods, repeat the above steps on each iPod.
  • You are transferring the playlist file not any actual .mp3 or .aif files.
  • On-the-go playlist has a limit of 1,000 songs.
  • Your iTunes has to be set to automatically sync rather than manually sync for the above steps to work.

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