iTunes Library XML File Missing? Here’s How to Create One

May 23, 2018 - 2 Comments

How to fix a missing iTunes Library XML file

The latest versions of iTunes no longer default to creating an iTunes Library XML file, which was an iTunes file that allowed various other apps to interact easily with an iTunes library, and could also serve as a basis for rebuilding an iTunes library if that were ever needed.

Despite “iTunes Music Library.xml” files no longer being created in iTunes on Mac OS or Windows by default, you can actually still generate an iTunes Library XML file if it is needed by another app or for some other purpose.

Read on to learn how to create an iTunes Music Library.xml file in the latest versions of iTunes for MacOS or Windows.

How to Create an iTunes Library XML File on Mac or Windows

This process is the same on iTunes for the media player software in both Mac OS and Windows:

  1. Open iTunes on the computer if you haven’t done so already
  2. Pull down the “iTunes” menu and choose “Preferences” to open iTunes preferences
  3. Go to the “Advanced” tab in iTunes preferences
  4. Check the box next to “Share iTunes Library XML with other applications”
  5. How to set iTunes to create iTunes Library XML file

  6. Click “OK” to accept your changes

Simply setting that preference option should cause iTunes to generate an iTunes Music Library.XML file, which will appear in the default iTunes library directory on the Mac or Windows PC (the default will apply unless you moved the iTunes library manually to another location) as a file named “iTunes Library.xml” along with the various media folders and “iTunes Library.itl” files.

On a Mac, that iTunes Music Library.xml file would be located in:

~/Music/iTunes/

And in Windows, the iTunes Music Library.xml file would be found at:

C:\Users\YOUR-USER-NAME\My Music\iTunes\

The filename in both operating systems is “iTunes Music Library.xml”

What is iTunes Library XML file? Why does it matter?

The iTunes Library XML file is basically a file that stores iTunes library information in a broadly readable XML file format, making it compatible with other apps for easier importing of media, and management of iTunes library data. Newer versions of iTunes no longer default to creating that XML file, and Apple says the file is not necessary for compatibility with some new apps interacting with iTunes. Presumably those apps now rely on the “iTunes Library.itl” file instead.

Apple describes the iTunes Library.xml file as follows:

The iTunes Library.xml file contains some, but not all, of the same information that’s stored in the iTunes Library.itl file. The purpose of the iTunes Library.xml file is to make your music and playlists available to other applications on your computer, such as iPhoto, Garageband, iMovie, and third-party software, in OS X Mountain Lion and earlier. These applications use this file to make it easier for you to add music from your iTunes library to your projects.

By default, iTunes 12.2 and later doesn’t create an iTunes Library.xml.

Thus, if you need that XML file and you’re on a newer version of iTunes, or you are using an older version of system software, or managing libraries with an older version of iTunes, or you are using an app that requires the iTunes Library.xml file for whatever reason, you will need to generate one yourself by toggling that setting switch within iTunes preferences.

Most users won’t need to toggle this setting, or have anything to do with the iTunes Library XML file in general, though some people running prior software may have come across the file at some point when troubleshooting a problem like fixing a disappeared iTunes playlist or attempting to rebuild an iTunes music and media library, or even backing up or migrating a library to a different location.

If you happen to browse through the iTunes Music Library XML file and find it incomplete, it’s possible that some music was either not found, not contained within the library, it was played in iTunes without adding it to the iTunes Library, or that some other issue occurred with the reference music data.

Do you know of any particularly helpful or relevant tips relating to the iTunes Library.xml file? Do you know of another approach to generating a missing iTunes Library.xml file? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iTunes, Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

2 Comments

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  1. DJMrTim says:

    Yet another reason I’m happy I found a way to run iTunes 10.7 on the latest OSX for my real music library

  2. Di Keller says:

    iTunes is a heaving mess !!

    Half the info disappears as soon as you import to iTunes. :(

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