I keep my 20k+ songs on an external drive because the of tiny drive in my MacBook Air. Unfortunately after i removed the drive, all my tracks in iTunes show the exclamation mark. Is there any way to tell iTunes "Hey, now all the tracks are here again"? Get info or play works for individual tracks, but for 20k+ tracks it's a hassle. I haven't tried iTunes track CPR because it needs a very ordered library folder (mine does not strictly follow the Artist/Album/Track file hierarchy) and I'm afraid it might damage something.

I would gladly use another music app, but iTunes is the only way to sync songs to my iPhone.

  • This sounds weird. When this happens to me, all I have to do to bring them back is plug the external drive and restart itunes. Doesn't that work for you? Or are you looking for reanimating the tracks without restarting itunes?
    – m000
    Nov 30, 2013 at 0:05
  • 2
    dougscripts.com is the place to go for anything like this. Backup your iTunes XML files (not your entire library, just the few XML and other files inside your ~/Music/iTunes/ folder (or wherever) and then use whatever tools Doug has for this. There's nobody who knows this stuff better than Doug.
    – TJ Luoma
    Dec 1, 2013 at 10:09

1 Answer 1


First, go to Preferences > Advanced, and uncheck "Copy files to iTunes Media Folder." For whatever reason, that seems to be necessary to get it to search for missing files. You can re-check that option when you're done.

You have to get iTunes to recognize that tracks are missing. The only method that I know works is to select the first track, hold the down arrow on your keyboard, and scroll all the way through. This should check each track as it is highlighted and mark it with that exclamation icon.

There may be a better way to do that…

Once iTunes recognizes multiple tracks are missing, select one, and get info. It should notify you that the track is missing. Find the file for that one, and it should then ask if it should search for other missing tracks in the same location. It may take a long time, depending on how many tracks it has to go through. Just let it churn away and it should eventually come up with a message saying "X items were found, X items could not be found," or something like that.

I've done this many times, moving old items to a network storage drive. Works with music, podcasts, books, audiobooks, music videos, and mobile apps.

  • Unfortunately, with the external drive mounted again, I don't get the notification that the track is missing. Instead, iTunes happily plays the track (or shows its information) while all the other 19999 tracks still sit there with their exclamation mark :(
    – chiborg
    Nov 27, 2013 at 12:53
  • Go to Preferences > Advanced, and uncheck "Copy files to iTunes Media Folder." For whatever reason, that seems to be necessary to get it to search for other missing files.
    – iynque
    Nov 29, 2013 at 23:14

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