Recovering deleted MP3s
January 17, 2019 12:29 PM   Subscribe

I tried to remove a big playlist full of my favorite songs off of my ipod to make some room and ended up accidentally deleting the songs from my itunes library entirely! (stupid "syncing"... isn't Apple supposed to be merciful to tech morons?) I suspect I have most of them on an old external hard drive but I'm not sure how to find them and I don't want to make another similar mistake. Can y'all walk me through this?

There were probably over 100 songs, and I don't remember the titles/artist for many of them (many were accumulated from the Internet over many years). It took me several months to realize what I had even done. So I can't just replace my library with the backup since I've made hundreds of changes and additions to itunes since that time.

I backed up my macbook (i think) before the accident. So there may be an itunes playlist file with the songs, but I don't know how to find and read this hypothetical file on the backup unit (called a G Drive). If possible I'd like to get a list of the songs so I can retrieve them, and (secondarily, if possible) read what folders the songs were in on my macbook itunes, so I can put them back in the various other playlists they were part of). Hopefully this will include the metadata, like how many times I've listened to the songs and such.
posted by dgaicun to Technology (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Playlist files are .m3u and are usually in your iTunes folder, sometimes inside a folder called Playlists. They are basic text files you can open in any text editor. Sometimes they will have the whole file path and sometimes just a local path.
posted by soelo at 1:06 PM on January 17, 2019

And not really relevant, but in case anybody wondered: When I select songs on my ipod, it gives a variously worded option like "remove song from ipod" or "delete song". I don't know why it changes phrases like this, but in the past the commands all did the same thing: removed the mp3 from the device. I've selected all these options before and never (i think) had the songs deleted from my actual computer. I don't remember what I did different this time (although it was the "delete", and I think it even gave me a "you sure?"), but when I synced the device to my macbook it also deleted the MP3s from my itunes library.

Since realizing my mistake I've only removed files from the ipod using itunes instead of from the device, which does not apparently include the same (dumb) risk.
posted by dgaicun at 1:14 PM on January 17, 2019

If the song is not in your library, it may still be on your computer. Either try searching for one of the titles you know is missing or use iTunes to "Add Folder to my Library" and select your iTunes folder. To stop this kind of annoyance, go into iTunes settings and uncheck the box that says "Let iTunes manage my music."
posted by soelo at 1:51 PM on January 17, 2019

I found the Username ---> Music --> iTunes folder, and in it are all the music folders by artist name, but there is no playlist folder.

Where is this information stored and how do I read it?
posted by dgaicun at 4:29 PM on January 17, 2019

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