Fast way to remove thousands of duplicates from iTunes?
September 5, 2007 6:23 PM   Subscribe

I totally messed up my iTunes library and have multiple copies of every song. Is there a faster way to de-duplicate than selecting them all by hand?

I keep my songs on an external drive, but for some reason iTunes wasn't reading them. I came up with the brilliant idea of re-adding the whole music folder to iTunes, and now I somehow have three versions of each song. This adds up to over 24,000 songs, so obviously selecting two of each and manually deleting them won't be much fun (not to mention, one of the deleted copies would be the one with the little "file not found" exclamation point, all of which have my play history and ratings).

Clearly I should have asked the easier question earlier (i.e., how do I get my iTunes library to read the files on the drive), but my own mistaken confidence has really ruined my library. Since I have a nice new 80gig iPod coming my way next week, I'd like to get this cleared up soon. Please help! I fully admit to being an idiot!
posted by leesh to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
iTunes Library updater will remove all the tracks with a little exclamation mark next to them. Its pretty simple to use if you set it up using this method.
posted by gergtreble at 6:31 PM on September 5, 2007

Just realized you DON'T want to remove the ones with the exclamation point as they have your ratings and play-counts. Sorry. Must read the question better.

I take it you have tried the built in "delete duplicates" option within itunes?
posted by gergtreble at 6:35 PM on September 5, 2007

If you haven't consolidated your library (which might recopy your songs again) you only have duplicate titles, not files (i.e. it's showing you the same file multiple times).

So you can delete your library (i.e. start from scratch) and then add all your music. I think you can go into your itunes folder and delete the library file. I've done that a couple of times over the years.
posted by sully75 at 6:37 PM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yeah, but it seems I have to delete them manually--it just shows the duplicate files. Unless I'm missing an actual delete option?

I don't want to lose the exclamation point ones, but I'll sacrifice them to get some semblance of normalcy back into the library, so thanks for the tip!
posted by leesh at 6:37 PM on September 5, 2007

Response by poster: Sully75, I can't believe I didn't consider that. I'm going to make sure my audiobooks and tv shows aren't affected and give it a go.
posted by leesh at 6:38 PM on September 5, 2007

Show Duplicates under View and some creative sorting might be of use.
posted by Toekneesan at 6:50 PM on September 5, 2007

Response by poster: OK, as a followup question, say that I thought I clicked "keep files" but now most of my album folders are gone. I've gone to the recycling bin, selected all, and clicked "restore" . . . but where are the files now? Can anyone help me from further screwing up my library? I am on the verge of being a sniveling mess here--seriously, I need my music and if I accidentally deleted it all out of laziness, I will really freak out.
posted by leesh at 7:08 PM on September 5, 2007

Response by poster: OK, disregard that last one. And all of this, really. I'm deleting this stuff by hand from now on.
posted by leesh at 7:14 PM on September 5, 2007

On a Mac, I've had pretty good success with Corral iTunes Dupes. There are additional solutions at Doug's AppleScripts for iTunes, including some Windows-based utilities that I haven't personally tested. Good luck!
posted by brad! at 7:16 PM on September 5, 2007

I would definitely recommend doing this by hand if you can -- I know that iTunes thinks that I have lots of duplicates that really aren't duplicates, but rather are alternate versions of the same song by the same artist.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 7:26 PM on September 5, 2007

Response by poster: So does anyone know if I can restore to the version of my library I had a couple hours ago? My files are all on my computer but not all of them have made it back into the library.

I'm on a PC using XP, so the Apple stuff won't be of much use. Thanks though.
posted by leesh at 7:29 PM on September 5, 2007

You could make a smart playlist based on "date added" if you added all these files today you could simply make a playlist that ONLY contains files added after yesterday. Then you could delete the songs within that playlist.

Or more simply you could order the songs by their "date added" then simply delete the newer ones?
posted by gergtreble at 8:00 PM on September 5, 2007

Heh - just did a similar stupid thing myself! Luckily, I remembered seeing this question.

Smart playlists won't cut it - you can't delete from a smart playlist, at least in the current OS X version.

In your main library you need to add the "Date Added" column to the window ("View" - "View Options"), sort on that, select all the latest ones, and delete. Resorting in your preferred order is left as an exercise for the reader.

(I wish Apple would be clearer about differentiating what "Add to Library", "Import", and "Consolidate Library" mean. Catches me every damn time...)
posted by Pinback at 6:25 AM on September 6, 2007

Response by poster: I wish I'd known about the option to add the "Date Added" column before I deleted my whole library. Ah well, I'm sure there will be a next time.

Thanks for the input, both of you!
posted by leesh at 6:32 AM on September 6, 2007

you can't delete from a smart playlist, at least in the current OS X version.

Hitting option-delete will delete tracks from playlists and smart playlists. Go ahead and try it—iTunes will pop up an 'are you sure?' dialog before deleting anything.
posted by sudama at 6:58 AM on November 28, 2007

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