I used an external program to mark the ID3 "BPM" metadata of 8,000 music files. How can I get iTunes to reload metadata from those files?

Right now if I just begin playing a file it will recognize the new metadata, but there must be some way to force iTunes to do this in bulk.

  • I don't know whether this will do it, but it might be worth a try - break the .itl file & let iTunes rebuild it - see apple.stackexchange.com/a/175171/85275 – Tetsujin Oct 11 '15 at 17:29
  • @Tetsujin - Good find! Yes, I had to actually break (not just move) the .itl, and then point iTunes to "Add" its own folder back in. But lost Playlists in the process.... – feetwet Oct 11 '15 at 20:36
  • It should have done it automatically & preserved playlists, counts etc. If it finds no itl file at all, that's the result, if it finds a broken one it rebuilds.. Did you use Terminal to create an empty/broken itl ? – Tetsujin Oct 12 '15 at 6:30
  • @Tetsujin - I guess the problem is that I started it once with a missing .itl? Then I closed it, broke the .itl, and reopened it. In any case: You should post that as an answer so I can accept! – feetwet Oct 12 '15 at 12:35
  • Yeah - I guess that would do it, I'm afraid. I'll just move my other answer straight over to here, as it appears that the same cure works for 2 sets of symptoms, so it will make it easier for future Googlers. – Tetsujin Oct 12 '15 at 14:17

Try breaking the ITL file & make iTunes rebuild it.
Don't just throw it away, & don't launch iTunes until there is a broken .itl file in place - that will not produce the desired result...

First, move the existing iTunes Library.itl to the desktop, just in case.
Don't touch the .xml, just the .itl file.

It can be found in ~/Music/iTunes/


  • Delete the existing ITL if you left a copy in the iTunes folder.

  • Open Terminal & enter this touch ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes\ Library.itl That will create an empty ITL file, broken enough for our purposes.

  • Launch iTunes. It will now notice something is 'wrong' & start rebuilding the ITL file, using your existing XML file. The message is 'Importing ‘iTunes Music Library.xml’ This will take some time, maybe 15 minutes or so, depending on your Library size.

Breaking it rather than not having any .itl file there at all makes the difference between several minutes & several hours for the rebuild, & also how much playlist & other metadata is successfully kept.

You may find some album artwork missing - it never seems to be a truly perfect solution, but your play counts, playlists etc should all survive intact.

  • Make sure you back up the files in this directory (not just iTunes Library.itl but also sentinel and extras) before you do this, you might not be happy with the changes that are made to your library and want to revert back – Derwent Sep 11 '18 at 5:03

If you only want to scan a few files and don't want to wait 15 minutes for your itunes library to reload, here's an applescript that will view the info for the track (which re-reads the tags from the file).

on run {input, parameters}
    tell application "iTunes"
    end tell

    repeat 100 times
        tell application "System Events" to tell process "iTunes"
            keystroke "i" using command down
            key code 53
            key code 125
        end tell
    end repeat

    return input
end run

make sure you are in "view as -> songs" first so that the keys work.

Also another tip is to select the songs you want to scan, and determine the number of songs, then replace "100" with that number, so you don't end up with extra keystrokes. If you set the number too high it will re-open a the last file in the playlist repeatedly until it runs out of keystrokes, and at this point the applescript will have already finnished submitting the keystrokes, so can't be stopped.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .