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Most of the media players that have a "media library" functionality usually self-refresh the library when files are added or removed. As I share the media library with other media players (I use iTunes only to copy music on the iPod), I would like iTunes to automatically refresh when I add, remove, or rearrange audio tracks in the file system. How can I get iTunes to do this?

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To me it seems a legitimate question, and a problem common to a lot of people: audio tracks added to the music folder don't show up in iTunes. Calling it "a rant" is just a fanboyism. – Wizard79 Jan 6 '11 at 13:47
First of all, I am anything but an apple "fanboy". Second, I see only 2 questions here. The first is "why did apple choose design implementation x?", which can not be answered except by a team of apple engineers. The second is really just commentary on the first, disguised as a question ("how can I work around this design flaw?"). – Robert S Ciaccio Jan 8 '11 at 14:35

10 Answers 10

What you call a “design” flaw, is not such thing. It’s a design decision made by the iTunes team. Although iTunes lets you “manually manage your library”, it’s never intended to let you move things around in the filesystem, add, remove or modify files.

The premise for iTunes happiness is that you always add the items to the library and modify things from within iTunes. You have the choice to let iTunes “organize” the library (which will copy the media to the iTunes library folder and organize it there as he wants) or you can leave it wherever you originally had it, but iTunes doesn’t “read” or “monitor" the filesystem for changes. It knows things changed when the library.xml is changed, and the only application that does that is iTunes itself.

Is this the best way?

Yes and no, it has advantages, but a lot of people miss the “Winamp-like” ease of use and it’s understandable. On the other hand, it simplifies a lot of things for a lot of people. It has decently worked for quite a few years now.

But that’s the topic for another discussion. :)

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I understand that Apple tries to design software for dummies that don't deal with the file system, but there are also some power users forced to various reason to use Apple products, so they could add some option also for this type of users – Wizard79 Oct 19 '10 at 11:51
I’m a power user then given that I interact with multiple OSs and program for a few of them for a living, and yet I couldn’t care less about where iTunes puts my music. It’s a bunch of mp3/4, I have other things to do with my time than worry about that. As I’ve said, it has drawbacks and advantages. Power user is not the line that divides it in this case. Some people cares, some people couldn’t care less. Welcome to Apple’s world, where things are… well… the way they want it. – Martín Marconcini Oct 19 '10 at 11:55
It is actually a world I don't like... but I'm forced to use it due to the iPod... By the way, I really care of my personal data: pictures, documents, ebook, music... the way I organize them in folders (and subfolders) is not what the program does. – Wizard79 Oct 19 '10 at 12:00
You have two choices: a) Change your music player, b) adapt to the way it works. Get used to drag your music to iTunes, organize the tags in iTunes, make sure your library works fine. Have new music? Drag it to iTunes, not to the filesystem. Yeah, if you come from the Winamp world, it’s a pain, but iTunes, as bad as it is, does a decent job organizing the music and finding it real fast. – Martín Marconcini Oct 19 '10 at 12:03
I'm pretty sure Martin was only trying to answer the question you actually asked, not read your mind and figure out whatever it is that you're trying to get at. If you want help around here I would suggest figuring out what you want help with before asking. – Robert S Ciaccio Oct 19 '10 at 14:15

In addition to Martin's answer, I would point out that a major reason for this design decision is speed. If iTunes had to scan the filesystem for changes every time it ran, the program could potentially slow to a crawl.

There are a number of tricks and third party utilities you can use to get around this behavior. The wiki for MusicBrainz Picard has some quick tips on refreshing metadata info, like using the "Get Info" menu item to refresh individual track information. They also detail a small AppleScript that will refresh multiple tracks at once.

As for adding and removing files, the best way to get around this is to not try to get around it in the first place. Use the "Add to Library" and "Delete" functions in iTunes itself. However, if you do decide to remove files without using the iTunes "Delete" function, you can use a script such as "Super Remove Dead Tracks" from Doug's Apple Scripts For iTunes.

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Thank for your useless advice to not manage files manually. If you'd read my question (and not only the title), you would know that I only use iTunes to sync iPod (as I can't just drag and drop my music into it). – Wizard79 Oct 19 '10 at 11:55
If you'd read my answer (and not only my name since you apparently don't like my answer to your question on SuperUser), you'd would know that the fact you only use iTunes to sync iPod has no bearing whatsoever on the answer provided. If you're asking some sort of different question, maybe you should make that question clear. – Robert S Ciaccio Oct 19 '10 at 13:50
And yes, I think you should definitely get different hardware, since, as stated in your profile, you "hate: Apple, iTunes, Steve Jobs, the iPhone, the iPad, Mac OS, and especially the Dock." – Robert S Ciaccio Oct 19 '10 at 13:52

Itunes Folder Watch is the external app you require for this functionality

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It might be worth noting that this application is Windows only and more or less replicates the functionality of the "Add to iTunes" folder – patrix Jan 19 '13 at 15:32
thanks for having a real answer to this question. – JT703 Feb 24 '13 at 23:32

My answer is use a different music manager. That is what I have done. iTunes use to pickup on new music I added but now you have to put it the "watch folder" and of course then it moves it from there into the library. That wont work when I use Google Music Manager and have my cloud music sync to my hard drive. So iTunes is out for me.

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The only way I have found success is deleting the itunes index and then adding the main directory of music but seems to work.

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As an addition to the above answer: I put all new music to be added to the iPod in a seperate folder then point iTunes to this folder under "add folder". I then add these files/folders to my HDD library and delete them from the seperate folder. 'Works for me.

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As others have mentioned, I don't know that you can get iTunes to automatically track changes, but here's one possible work-around.

I keep my music on an external hard drive, and whenever I add new music to it, I go to File -> Add Folder to Library, and point it to my external HDD. I also have (under Edit -> Preferences -> Advanced) unchecked the "Keep iTunes Media folder organized" and "Copy files to iTunes...".

This works for adding files, but unfortunately does not detect removed files. It also means that you'll only be able to add files to your devices when the HDD is attached.

I also have "Manually manage music" selected for my ipod, but I don't think that's related to how I store my music.

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(I'm running iTunes in Windows) I had to do it the hard way after running a program to remove duplicates from my computer. I changed the location of my iTunes library in preferences. Then, I selected all songs in iTunes and deleted them (they didn't delete off of my original library location).

I then changed my library location back to where my music is located.

Then, I opened Windows explorer and navigated to the folder where all of my music is and selected all the folders except the "Automatically add to iTunes" folder. I dragged all music folders into the "Automatically add to iTunes" folder and moved them there.

iTunes detected them and then refreshed the library.

It was a small hassle, but at least my duplicate files are gone now.

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if using window 7 you can move all music files o itunes . itunes media . music then right click music library properties remove the current monitered folder change it to the itunes >itunes media > music you will have to do something simaler with windows media player open window media player orginize>mange librarys>music remove the current monitered folder add tunes >itunes media > music to monitered folders To clear the Windows Media Player database, follow these steps: a. Exit Windows Media Player. b. Click Start, click Run, type %LOCALAPPDATA%\Microsoft\Media Player, and then click OK. c. Select all the files in the folder, and then click Delete on the File menu. Note: You do not have to delete the folders that are in this folder. d. Restart Windows Media Player. Note: Windows Media Player automatically rebuilds the database.

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Sorry if this answer is located elsewhere in the thread. I didn't see it, so figured I would add my two cents worth. The easiest way I found to do this is to just re-add the library folder (without deleting the library because that is time consuming and unnecessary) for example. I keep all my movies on an external drive in a folder marked iPod Movies, and not in my iTunes media folder that is designated in my preferences. So, whenever I add new movies to that external drive, I just re-add the iPod Movies folder "File>Add Folder to Library>". It always adds the new movies I've put in the iPod Movies Folder. It is still a manual process, but it is quick and it adds all movies I've added since the last time I did this, and it is free and doesn't use up memory running in the background (unlike the albumbrowser recommended above). Hope this helps

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It is not a thread - and read all the other answers first I have down voted as I can't be bothered to read more than the second sentence - see – Mark Apr 25 at 14:27

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