I recently had a mishap with my music library, resulting in the untimely termination of hundreds of innocent music files. These songs were not removed from iTunes, so there are many tracks that are seemingly normal, but upon closer inspection are actually gone, never to be seen again.

Is there any way I can make a smart playlist or something that'll show me only tracks whose source file can't be found?


Two approaches: First, take a look at Doug's AppleScripts for iTunes - dougscripts.com. He has a ton of useful scripts, including Super Remove Dead Tracks, which you might be able to modify to just list them if you want.

Or, if all you want to do is create a playlist of songs which have no native file, there is a very simple way to do that (which I found repeated by so many people that I don't know who to attribute it to):

  1. Create a regular playlist, not a smart playlist. For this example, call the playlist "Alive".

  2. Select all tracks in your main library and drag them into "Alive". Note that "dead" tracks with no native file will not appear in this playlist.

  3. Create a smart playlist defined as: Playlist -- Is Not -- Alive. Call this playlist "Dead".

You now have a list of "!" songs which are missing their native files. You could then go ahead and delete the dead ones if you wish.

Deleting is not allowed from a smart playlist. So, select all songs from the new "Dead" playlist by clicking Ctrl A. Right-Click and select Dislike. Now they can be seen and deleted in the main library; sort using Love/Dislike column. Tested in current Windows version.

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  • Oh, I wasn't aware that "dead" songs wouldn't copy to playlists—thanks! – Timothy Mueller-Harder Apr 8 '12 at 18:51
  • Timothy: That's part of the beauty here: the "dead" songs won't copy to the regular playlist ("Alive"), but they can appear in a smart playlist ("Dead"). – Ed Stout Apr 9 '12 at 20:03
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    I can't seem to delete the songs in the Dead playlist. It just shows me the list but doesn't offer any way to delete them all at once. – user43712 Feb 24 '13 at 19:03
  • @Nickshorty You can select everything with ⌘A, then delete them normally. – Timothy Mueller-Harder Apr 16 '13 at 21:09
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    "Deleting is not allowed from a smart playlist." Actually, it is! Select the song(s) to delete, and hit Option+Delete. You'll get the normal confirmation message asking if you want to move things to the Trash, etc. – John Rose Sep 9 '13 at 15:01

This worked for me:

  1. Make a static playlist called “All Live Files” and copy/add your entire library into it. (You can drag the songs from the Music item in iTunes)
  2. Make a smart playlist called “Missing Files” with the rules set as ‘Playlist’ ‘is’ ‘Music’ and another rule set as ‘Playlist’ ‘is not’ ‘All Live Files’
  3. The broken songs will not transfer and “Missing Files” will contain all those broken songs.

Once you have this playlist of broken songs, you probably want to delete them by using Option + Delete.

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    This doesn't work for me... the dead files were quite happy to live on the static playlist. – TomXP411 Sep 3 '16 at 0:19
  • This worked for me. I have added this iTunes on the Mac OS Seira 10 and iTunes version – TheBlackBenzKid Jun 18 '17 at 7:58

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