My computer crashed and I lost everything. But, due to the awesomeness of Backblaze, I have all of my files and libraries and music, so nothing's lost. The problem is... all of my playlists that I've spent years tweaking, I don't want to lose them! I'm wondering where the file is within iTunes so that I can recover it.

Note that, whenever I search for this online, all the results I find are all about exporting the playlist and then importing it again. But since my computer crashed and I had to install everything anew on the new computer, I don't have the possibility to export the playlist from iTunes.

I'd love any pointers or help. Thank you!


  • What OS are you running iTunes on? Typically on Mac OS X - just restoring the entire iTunes folder in ~/Music will restore everything including media, playlists, ratings, and other metadata.
    – bmike
    Mar 10 '14 at 2:26

According to HT1660 playlist information is stored in

~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Library.itl

(and in ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music Library.xml but that is generated from the file above by iTunes and primarily there to give other applications access to your music library). If you restored your Music folder from the backup the file should have gotten restored as well.

  • iTunes folder contains a folder called "Previous iTunes Libraries" if your current lib is wrong, you may find the correct .itl file in there. May 17 '14 at 14:34

Far too late for this answer to be useful to the OP…

but the trick is, once you've copied your whole iTunes folder from your backup into its original location, to 'spoil' the iTunes Library.itl file, [with iTunes quit] then on next launch it will see the broken file & recreate it, restoring all your playlists.
You usually lose a few album covers, idk why, but they can be regained from
File > Library > Get Album Artwork.

You 'spoil' the itl file from Terminal.

  • First remove the old .itl from ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Library.itl
  • Open Terminal & enter this touch ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes\ Library.itl That will create an empty .itl file, broken enough for this.

  • 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, but should restore your old structure, intact.


Great information! Led me to a simple fix for Windows 7, Itunes v 12-something. I deleted the iTunes Library.itl file from my new installation, and copied in the newest one in my Previous iTunes Libraries from my backup. I deleted the date from the filename so it was once again called iTunes Library.itl, and iTunes displayed all my playlists as of the date of the last backup.

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