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Fixing the iTunes Exclamation Point


From time to time--especially if you've recently moved your iTunes library to a new computer or copied songs from another computer or iPod--you'll see an exclamation point next to songs in iTunes. When you try to play those songs, nothing happens or you get an error. The question is, of course, what's going on and how do you fix it?

The exclamation point appears next to a song when iTunes doesn't know where to find that song. Every song in your iTunes library is stored on your computer somewhere (most often in the iTunes Music Library folder, but that can change depending on how you do things) and iTunes needs to know where the song is located on your hard drive to play it.

Some of the most common causes of iTunes losing track of the song are moving the file, deleting it from outside iTunes, or moving your entire iTunes library.

With One or Two Songs

To fix this for just a couple of songs, you have to tell iTunes where the song has moved to. Do this by:

  • Double-clicking the song, or single clicking the exclamation point
  • A pop-up errors should appear that reads "The song could not be used because the original file could not be found." It should offer you the option to find the file. Choose that.
  • Browse through your hard drive until you locate the missing song and iTunes adds it back.

If you've correctly located the song, the exclamation point should disappear and it should play without problem.

With Many Songs

If the exclamation point has appeared for many of your songs, finding each one may take more time than you want to spend. In this case, the problem can often be solved by organizing/consolidating your iTunes library (which word is used depends on your version of iTunes).

To do this, go to the File menu, choose Library, and then choose Organize (or consolidate) Library. In most cases, if the song is still on your hard drive, this can fix the problem.

With iTunes Libraries on External Hard Drives

If your entire iTunes library is on an external hard drive, the link between the songs and iTunes can be lost from time to time, especially after the hard drive has been unplugged.

To re-establish the link between iTunes and your library, choose Preferences -> Advanced and then click "Change" next to the iTunes Media folder location section. Browse through your computer to your external hard drive and locate the folder there. Then click "OK" at the bottom of the Preferences window and you should be able to listen to your music again.

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