How do I remove music files not used in iTunes?
January 10, 2009 7:48 PM   Subscribe

How can I delete music files that are no longer used in iTunes, but are still present on disk?

My wife has been using iTunes for awhile and is running out of disk space. While looking around, she realized she's been deleting songs from iTunes but they weren't being deleted from her hard disk. I've just confirmed that adding a song then deleting it only prompts to confirm the removal from the library, doesn't ask about deleting the file and doesn't actually delete the file.

So: How can these unused music files be found and deleted? Would simply checking the "Keep iTunes Music Folder Organized?" box work here?

I only found solutions for removing mass numbers of orphaned entries from iTunes (i.e. file gone but still listed in the library), but I need the reverse. As her library is rather large, doing this manually is unappealing. In addition, only iTunes-purchased music is in the "iTunes Music" directory; the remainder of MP3s and such are in two or three other directories from which files have been dragged into iTunes. Having to combine all the files into one directory (iTunes Music?) is an option if it'll help.

Much obliged from a MeFi newbie.
posted by fireoyster to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't used iTunes lately, but from memory:

Allow iTunes to scan everything on the disk, organize your library and copy everything to the library directory. Delete all other music (obviously, only filetypes iTunes works with; keep FLAC files, for instance) on the disk. There should be an option within iTunes to delete files from the disk (maybe a prompt asking whether the file should be deleted from the library or the library AND the disk?), so you and your wife will only need to delete every song you want to get rid of from the library and thus from the disk.

better answers in 3...2...1...
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:08 PM on January 10, 2009

If you allow iTunes to manage your library, itunes will automatically consolidate your library by copying everything to one location. (make sure you've chosen both "keep folder organzied" and "copy files to itunes folder when adding to library"). Thus, when itunes moves your files to "organize" them, only files actually part of your iTunes library would be moved to this new consolidated location. You can then delete any files remaining in your original location(s).

From that point on, when you try to delete a file from iTunes, it will ask if you'd like to also delete from the file from your disk.
posted by namewithoutwords at 8:08 PM on January 10, 2009

If you have "Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library" checked, whenever you import a file, it stays in its original location (e.g. your desktop), and a copy is created in the iTunes Music folder.

Therefore, if you follow namewithoutwords's advice, each time you import a track, you'll want to delete the original file (e.g. from your desktop), and keep only the copy in the iTunes Music folder.
posted by kidbritish at 8:55 PM on January 10, 2009

If you're on a Mac then iTunes Consolidator will find all the music in the iTunes directory that iTunes has lost track of. Then it'll let you add it back to iTunes or just trash it.

I'm sure a similar app exists for Windows.
posted by schwa at 9:07 PM on January 10, 2009 [2 favorites]

schwa, that's exactly what I seek. Hopefully someone knows of one for Windows, as my searches didn't bear fruit just now.

I will give the "keep folder organized" trick a try shortly if I can't come up with a Windows version of iTunes Consolidator.
posted by fireoyster at 10:40 PM on January 10, 2009

Windows Search will allow you to search for just music files. Choose the "Other" drop down menu and then choose music. It should find all of your music files.
posted by gfrobe at 12:32 AM on January 11, 2009

To be clear, "Keep iTunes folder organized" doesn't move anything ever, it only renames and retags stuff that's already in your music folder.

"Copy to music folder when adding" is the preference that will make an actual copy of the item you are adding (I put new music on my desktop, add it to iTunes (so it's copied), then delete from my desktop right away).

namewithoutwords had the right idea, above. The easiest solution is to:

a) set a new location for your itunes main folder (in preferences-->advanced)
b) choose "consolidate library" from the file-->library menu
c) EVERYTHING that iTunes knows about will be copied to the new location. Make sure you have enough disk space to do this. iTunes tells you how big your library is at the bottom of its main window.
d) now you can delete EVERYTHING from the original folder, and anywhere else (search for mp3's) except the new iTunes music location.
posted by Aquaman at 9:46 AM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you know your way around Python then this tool I just whipped up might help:

It's a python script to produce a list of missing files and/or files aren't in iTunes.

posted by schwa at 12:31 PM on January 11, 2009

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