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My Biggest Complaint About iTunes: ! a.k.a. The Exclamation Point

If you’ve ever used iTunes for any length of time, you have had the dreaded exclamation point error. It is ridiculous and it should have been fixed in iTunes 2.0. Seriously, do the people who write this software ever use it?

In your iTunes music library, you’ll see some songs that have “!” next to them. If you try to play them it will say, “the song could not be used because the original file could not be found. Would you like to locate it?” Then, you can navigate to the file to match it to the song in the library.

If you have ONE OR TWO !’s this is no big deal. A few clicks fixes it.

If you have HUNDREDS of exclamation points, it is impossible. Do you actually want me to click to do this HUNDREDS of TIMES Apple? And I should point out, it is easy to have hundreds of exclamation points if you move your iTunes library, or add a hard drive, or have something crash, or clone a machine, or change a samba drive.

Please don’t waste your time posting a work-around to fix this, and don’t direct me to the same thing in the Apple Discussion Forums. I appreciate your help, but those workarounds often screw the whole library up and often result in even more !’s.

Rather than just complain. I am going to provide Apple with the solution to mybiggestcomplaint about iTunes. You can save us from exclamation point hell, by giving us a search function where I can tell iTunes to search the following folder(s) and than match up the missing songs to the original file. Seriously Apple, you have the technology to make Spotlight and a simple boolean will match the file names up. Why not save us all from this hair pulling? It’s completely unnecessary.

It’s not just me, either. Look at the iTunes Discussion Forum or search google. This drives everybody crazy. I love my iPods and iTunes generally works fine, but you’re killing us with this.

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257 Comments

  1. Same with other media players and Windows Movie Maker. Every time your move something, you have to relocate everything. It makes me mad!

  2. Advice.

    Don’t move you’re iTunes library, or it’ll **** up.

    If you do, just delete the iTunes Library file with iTunes shut and open iTunes again. And add the hole iTunes folder to your library.

    Easy enough.

  3. WOW. I just found something no one else has, to solve this DAMN “!” issue.

    My network share would drop, and itunes would reck my iphone playlist with exclamation points. Try this:
    Highlight the playlist. then go to FILE -> Export. Just save it as a TXT file.
    Presto, all ! are gone.

    Dan

  4. Dan! You are the MAN! Now, if I can just get my iPod to sync without the stupid !!! coming back. I’ll keep you posted! Thanks :)

  5. I just tried that and it didnt’ work for me.

  6. I’ve had this issue and may have a solution if you are using an Apple computer, provided that your songs are still in your iTunes library.

    In my case, I am using an external hard drive to store my iTunes library. Even though my songs are exactly where they should be, (for example, G:iTunes:Beatles:Abbey Road:Come Together), iTunes gives me the exclamation point because it can’t find some songs. I had my iTunes music folder directory set as G[external hard drive]:iTunes in iTunes…Preferences…Advanced…General. , but iTunes still couldn’t find the songs. It was like it wasn’t even looking in the directory I was telling it to look in. Very frustrating.

    If you are using iTunes on an Apple computer, hold down the Option key while launching iTunes. iTunes should then ask you to point it to your iTunes library. Choose the directory where the library is located and I think that iTunes should find all the songs that had exclamation points, provided that they were still in the library. You would think that this is what the iTunes…Preferences…Advanced…General…iTunes music library location setting should do every time it opens, but apparently not.

    I hope this helps at least one person.

  7. Thanks Jim, that worked like a charm on my Windows box!

    Windows users, just hold the Shift key while launching iTunes to bring up the library selection dialog.

  8. problem is, is that i moved folders around inside the main itunes folder (trying to reorganize for example putting the wav files and mp3 files of an artist in one folder instead of two separate folders or by deleting duplicates since I had two external hard drives each containg some of the same files) so I feel like I dont know what to do now…

  9. Jim, you’re a feakin’ genius, no more annoying exclamation marks, I can stop grinding my teeth at night.

  10. I am having the same issue but mine might be a little unique, so not sure if that is why the above dont seem to be working.

    I have 7000+ songs in my library. Every single one of them is listed twice. One works, the other doesnt (and has an exclamation point). I am not sure exactly WHY this happened, but it did, and I know when it did. I bought my wife a laptop, and she installed iTunes and it started “finding” all the music (across our network share). Strangely, her installation of iTunes even found all of the playlists that I had created on the primary computer.

    But I digress. She doesnt need iTunes on her laptop, so that part is an easy fix - we’ll remove it and use a different program for her to listen to the music across the network share.

    iTunes wont let me sort by the ! field, so I am at a loss as to what to do in order to remove these 7000+ !’s. I feel like I dont need to “relink” them to the original files - the other entries are there and work fine.

    Ideas?
    Thanks!

  11. Eureka!

    As soon as I cliked “Post Comment” I switched back over to iTunes, frustrated that I could not sort by the ! field.

    So I took a look at what other fields I could display, and added “Date added”. I sorted by that, and sure enough, I was able to scroll to the date/time that my wife’s iTunes had started to discover all these songs, and there they were 7273 exclamation points, all in a row. From there it was easy to delete them.

    I still dont understand what/why these 2 installations of iTunes did what they did, but ohh well, its working now!

    Thanks!

  12. awesome, we can bitch here and find solutions for our problems, i’m bookmarking this place.

  13. How do I sort on them…. I just want to know if I have them!!!! (Have just reorganized my whole Itunes) hehehe

  14. Heidy -

    Thats the thing - you cannot sort them. Next time you sync to your iPod, iTunes should tell you “could not sync the following 100 files” or something like that, and then all the !’s will appear (if they were not there already). My issue was more that every single song was listed twice, with one of them being invalid, so for me sorting by “Date Added” worked very well.

    But other times, you might reorganize some music, and create the same problem. Say you had a folder called “Blues”, and you decided to move all those songs by BB King, Albert King, etc., into your “My Music” folder. You have iTunes re-add them to your library, but now all those old songs are !’s. I think in that kind of case you would have to just sift through and delete them.

    I am sure there are better ways to manage these kinds of moves from within iTunes, and maybe someone else can elaborate on that - I despise iTunes for its many weaknesses and flaws - I only use it for syncing, and tend to use other apps/tools for anything else I want to do.

  15. I HATE WHEN THIS HAPPENS! exclamation points are appearing next to totally random songs in my library, and i have no idea why and/ or how to get rid of them! i’ve tried all the things people said on this forum but nothing’s working, anyone have any ideas?

  16. I have all of my songs on my external hd and a few days ago my itunes stopped recognizing the location.
    all of my many songs have the ever-frustrating “!”.
    i have changed the location of my library in preferences and changed it back with no success. i can find individual songs successfully but cannot solve en masse.
    i have tried all of the methods listed here. the ‘preferences>advanced’ way didnt change anything, it was still showing the correct location.
    the ‘open itunes>hold option’ didnt work as it said my external hd itunes folder was not recognizable as having an itunes library (or something along those lines).

    i have mac os x but have not updated my itunes lately (my safari freezes my g5 -yet another fun one to tackle).

    please, if anybody can help i will be forever grateful as my life has been virtually silent and frustrating.

  17. I am using a PowerBook 17″ with an external Apple keyboard. When trying to hold the “option” key to get itunes to ask for the library, I didn’t get anything. I then unplugged the keyboard and it worked with the internal keyboard.

    I’m really glad I found this post, those stupid exclamations were driving me !!!!!!! crazy. You’re going on my RSS feed.

    hope this helps someone.

  18. Oh, I also unplugged my iPod to make sure it wasn’t pulling bad info from there. Don’t know which worked but I no longer have the issue.

  19. I found a solution that worked for me where all the others failed. The downside is it takes a lot of disk space.

    1) Figure out where iTunes thinks your missing files are. you can do this by looking at the iTunes Music Library.xml file and find a song that has the ! next to it. Note the path.

    2) Copy your iTunes Music to the path it expects.

    3) Start iTunes and go to Advanced | Consolidate Library. This will copy music from the copy of the library to the real library.

    4) Repeat for every additional path it expects to find music.

    If you don’t have enough disk space for an entire copy of iTunes Music, try parts of your library instead.

  20. I held down shift on my PC and selected the .itl in the hopes of getting rid of my exclamation points, but now I’ve managed to revert iTunes back to an OLD library. I’m missing playlists and many albums. I can’t figure out how to get it back to the way it was.

    Please help!

  21. I have the same problem regarding my external hard drive. It doesn’t recognise the link anymore. I tried to hold shift on my laptop and it ask me if I can locate my library or create a new one. When I click on locate library and point it to my G external hard drive, I cannot click ok as it ask me more where to look, even if I open a specific song. How can I locate library to my whole Itune file in my external hard drive?

  22. OMG! I was up all last night frustrated about these stupid exclamation points. When I close out of Itunes and reopen it all the songs do not have exclamation points next to my songs, UNTIL I connect my IPOD with my USB. Then it shows the exclamation point next to all my songs. At one point all these songs were synced, until I decided to add one more song to my IPOD, now it deleted all these songs that WERE on my IPOD. Now I can’t get them back on there. I am so frustrated…can someone please help me….

  23. hey is there a way, after deleting your entire library accidentally, to recover the info from your iPod or am I out of luck.
    I ask this only because my whole cd case (over 200) cds were stolen and they aren’t on my iPod or computer anymore because my computer synced after I had to reboot my computer because there was a virus in the registry. Bad Huh? Trust me I know

    SO PLEASE IF YOU CAN, HELPPPPPPPPPP!

  24. if you’re using Mac OS, THE MOST AMAZING SCRIPT EVER WRITTEN:

    search GOOGLE for: super remove dead tracks

    click on the first link - DougsAppleScripts for iTunes

    Follow the instructions. Wizardry. FREE….Then give the guy 5 bucks. You’ll want to give him more than that, I promise.

  25. Jim!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    brilliant. All you have to do is hold down ctrl and alt when opening itunes. Problem solved! i dont even know how that works, but it did

  26. my husband and I are both having the same troubles listed by everyone here (!!!! from hell) PLUS….our itunes library is CLONING itself. It looks like this:
    itunes are playing of external HD just fine for days. Then suddenly the stupid !!! start showing up. I check my advanced preferences and nothing has changed, it still points to the HD. BUT….songs are missing, so I look inside the folder called “itunes music” and there is a folder called “itunes” and the music is in there. All of it. But I did not create that folder, and the same thing has happened on my husband’s laptop, and he is pointing the music source to his completely separate HD. So the same problem is occuring on both computers. So it’s not the computer, it’s not the HD, it’s the program. so has anyone else had the itunes music folder clone itself?

  27. To get rid of exclamation points for files that no longer exist, I selected every song in the library (CTRL + A) and selected Get Info > Change Info for All Selected Files.

    In the Info window, I changed the BPM to 1 (can be anything). After a few minutes, all files that were available had a BPM of 1, but the files that iTunes can’t find did not.

    If you then sort your library by BPM, all the exclamation mark files will be at the top of the list, ready to be deleted.

  28. I shared everyone’s frustrations about the exlamation points and just now solved the problem. I “consolidated” the library under the “advanced” tab. Apparently this allowed the I-Tunes gremlins to figure out that some of my music was on my external hard-drive. When I unplugged the external harddrive it couldn’t find those songs. I find I-tune “hel” totally useless. I hope this works for some of you. I’ve spent hours and hours on this problem! Good luck.

  29. Sorting by Add date was the fix I needed, I doubled my folder by dragging in from my external hard drive.
    Just got to say thanks for the suggestion… BRILLIANT!!

  30. Man I’m glad there’s a workaround for this (holding down the option key while iTunes starts). Every once in a while my network drive with my music disconnects and iTunes goes into exclamation point hell.

  31. SOLUTION

    I struggled with this problem several times after moving my library (140GB) from an external to an internal and all that over the years.

    A number of solutions have been proposed on various messages boards that you get when you google this problem - I have tried them all and none worked for my specific problem with the exclamation points.

    I just completely fixed my problem - this might not work for everyone.

    in Music/iTunes/ if you have been using iTunes for any length of time there will be a folder called Previous iTunes Libraries - DELETE this and restart iTunes - as long as you have (in iTunes prefs) the correct path listed for your actual iTunes music file library this should clear up the problem.

    The problem (I think) is caused because of all the old backups of libraries when the files would all have been in different locations (on an external for example - or when you have more albums from the same artist or whatever)

    hope this helps

  32. I’ve been struggling with this for months - I manage my music in seperate genre folders and drag/drop them into iTunes every once in a while after I’ve updated the tags - resulting in multiple duplicate records in iTunes..
    The “creation Date” method seems to work best for me, having just deleted over 2,000 entries in mere moments. I still had a few duplictes to clean up by hand, so am looking for another method.
    The BPM method could work, however, I’m in the process of populating that field. I’m looking at the other available fields.
    Sure wish I could find a good dupe finder / comparison tool for MP3s. Godfather seems teh best so far.

    Good luck, all!

  33. Heres a solution that works through the ‘rating’ field. İf you rate your files (I don’t) you will have to improvise with other fields. 1- Go to library - Music 2 - Select all 3- Get info 4 - Rate 1 star ( At this point the files with the broken links will not we rated. 5 - Sort on ‘Rating’. The files with the ! are all together now. 6 - Delete all unrated files. As a caution select ‘keep files on disk’ if your not sure what you are deleting.

  34. Thanks Tom L, well done. - BPM fix

  35. JIM IS A GOD! thank you. hold option(mac) shift(windows), point to your library file, voila.

  36. Problem #1
    a friend recently gave me an external hard drive of over 6,000 songs. Not knowing that itunes automatically downloads them, I copied them all to my itunes folder - now having at least 2 of each. ALL have !!!! So, I can’t listen to them unless I have the drive connected.

    Problem #2
    My previous library has somehow been converted to a Safari file. I can’t access any of that music at all.

    I’m using Windows XP.
    Would be BEYOND relieved if someone can help! Thanks!

  37. I play my music via a PSP. I am on a PC and I just changed the source of my itunes folder in Prefs–>Advanced and it worked.

  38. My Library is also on an external drive attached to my wireless network. Itunes never seems to remember where all the songs are and the option-click to open does not work. I am a mac user. Any thoughts?

    Thanks,

    Travis

  39. I recently re did my itunes library and got exclamation points on all songs that were purchased from a vendor other than itunes. Now I can’t even find them on my hard drive. But they are still listed on my itunes library.
    Any suggestion on how to reclaim these songs?

  40. I still haven’t solved my problems listed above. I think I’ve narrowed down the issue though.
    I was attempting to consolidate all the music on my computer by dragging it into my itunes folder. After that, my “itunes music folder,” which contained a large portion of my recently purchased and downloads became missing. All of the music I’m missing is still listed in my music/itunes, but the folders are empty. I know this strays from the exclamation thread, but I’m hoping one of you technically savvy folks will have an answer…

  41. Gee…it seems that the Apple folks aren’t quite as ‘user friendly’ as I am led to believe by my Mac buddies. This “!” issue with iTunes is ridiculous. And I’ve tried to hold down my SHIFT key on start-up. I do get the dialogue box, but it seems to want to force me into a FILE and not a FOLDER. It will not accept my folder name, and is looking for an iTunes file extension??? TOTALLY RIDICULOUS! My observation is that, in many ways, Apple is doing the same stupid crap that MicroSoft does. Dumb engineering…seemingly no field testing…or maybe the Apple people think the world revolves around their approach and syntax?? Bee… sounds like MicroSoft to me.

    Meanwhile, I will continue to try and figure out why my library is not being recognized as THE library, and find a fix without having to manually fix 4500 songs. I have a feeling that, by now somebody has written software to help.

    Maybe I’ll download the latest iTunes update, which usually screws something up, or gives me yet ANOTHER version of Quicktime….thus, the reason that I have not updated in a while.

    Let’s hope that AppleSoft gets it together with their music management software.

  42. Just updated from iTunes 7 to iTune 8 … Now 10% of x 1000’s tracks have the ! … Just GREAT! Friggin Apple … I HATE YOU!

  43. I have an epsecially hard problem i transfered all 300 of my songs from the windows music player BUT when it went to itunes it created from 2 to 8 copies of each song and it’s hell to create playlists, if anyone has a solution i will be very greatful. Thank you.

  44. One thing most people don’t know is all of your songs are stored as names such as “ABYZ” in your itunes Music folder and these actually stand for specific names to songs, for instance “ABYZ” could really be the file for “Hotel California.mp3″ The trick to getting rid of those damned ” ! ” points is to find this folder with all the songs named differently ( it will be a folder named Music that appears to be faded) and open it up and inside you will find other folders such as “F01″ “F002″ etc. These files are essentially your itunes library broken up into parts. All you have to do is copy all of these files into a separate folder and then IMPORT that file to your itunes library (by clicking on File then Add Folder to Library in itunes) and then volia the ” ! ” will be gone!

  45. THank you so much i couldn’t get album art work but now i can thanks ssssoooooo much dave :)

  46. In Windows, holding down the CTRL key while starting iTunes works! Thanks everyone.

  47. ok guys. it s cool to read so many guys who re having the same ****ing problem.

    my case:
    - windows xp
    - external hdd with folder “1. iPod music”

    -> imported all of them in itunes. -> have been busy 3 weeks cleaning music up and finding artwork and stuff like that.. everything was working perfectly.

    -> since today all “!’-zzzzzzz and it s making me dizzy.

    i tried many things already .. change in options held down shift.. but nah.

    the thing is that it would be easy to put back in but the only problem is that the original file where all the music was stored (1. ipod music) is the old version of my itunes library.. so if i do it again i lost 3 weeks of work again… so you guys can imagine it makes me sweat..

    oh did i mention i was talking about 45 gb music? wo guys pleazzzze if u can help me… please do so… if i start itunes up again the “!” are gone.but as soon as i try to play one the go to “!”

    i forgot to mention i put 2 new albums in itunes… but they were stored on the comp hdd..

  48. I have the ultimate solution: uninstall iTunes and install MacAmp.

    The most frustrating thing about iTunes for me is that you have to create playlists every single time you want to play some songs. The fact alone makes iTunes a joke.

    MacAmp allows you to play anything without having to constantly create playlists.

    Free yourself form the nightmare of iTunes now and install MacAmp.

  49. Max, do you have a suggestion for those on a pc?

  50. that would be WinAmp

  51. Earl was looking for a duplicate eliminator.

    Try doublekiller.exe

    You should find it with google.

    I think it’s shareware. It’s slick!

  52. yup like everyone my ipod music has a exclamation mark next to all my songs and its pissin me right off because it doesnt let me sync or listen to them ………. it sucks SOOOOOOOOOOOO bad please help !!!!!

  53. I have dups of everything in my music library–one live, attached to one or more playlist, one missing with ! (in a few cases there are more than 2 versions of a selection). Does anyone know if the latter are really taking up significant space? I’ve seemed to separate the wheat from chaff with the rating/bmp method recommended above, but if iTunes is wrong about the size of the library, I may just leave well enough alone, since my playlists don’t seem to be affected.

  54. I had the same exclamation problem, for weeks. I copied all music into “itunes/itunes music” folder. Then I went to file and “add folder to library”. I chose the itunes music folder and voila it worked like magic. No more exclamation marks… I hope that helps.

  55. I have to agree. I LOATHE, AND DESPISE ITUNES because of this extreme annoyance. Everyone comes to me to fix their mac and pc problems (I work in the field) and the first thing I tell people is, ditch itunes if at all possible. Only use it for application updates, other than that, use mediamonkey or some other software. This exclamation error has been around too long. You hear me apple? TOO LONG! ARRGGHHH

  56. My exclamation marks appeared because I had songs that weren’t saved in the itunes folders, just the library, but tbf my library was in my itunes folder. The laptop we have only just got didn’t have itunes so i installed it for free. Then I installed this service called ipod to computer transfer, because the music i wanted was on my ipod. So I figured out a way to do this for free. The music on my ipod was listed in the ipod to computer transfer program and i just clicked on the songs i didn’t have in my library and they were transfered to my library in an instant. But after a while, suddenly they just appeared next to these songs, and I don’t know whether to re-import these songs from the cd’s and rebuy some again off the itunes store or figure out another way. Can anyone help me with this? Henry

  57. Re-creating the iTunes Library file
    Follow these steps:

    Quit iTunes.
    Locate your iTunes folder.
    For Mac OS X the iTunes folder is stored in one of the following locations:
    /Users/[your username]/Music
    For Microsoft Windows XP and 2000 the iTunes folder is stored in:
    \Documents and Settings\[your username]\My Documents\My Music\
    For Microsoft Windows Vista the iTunes folder is stored in:
    \Users\[your username]\Music\
    Open your iTunes folder.
    Drag the iTunes Music Library.xml to the Desktop
    Drag the following file from your iTunes folder to the Trash:

    Mac OS X: “iTunes Library” (in versions of iTunes prior to 4.9 this was called “iTunes 4 Music Library”)
    Microsoft Windows: “iTunes Library.itl” (in versions of iTunes prior to 4.9 this was called “iTunes 4 Music Library.itl”)
    Open iTunes.
    From the File menu, choose Library > Import Playlist.
    Tip: Do not add any music into iTunes at this point.

    Navigate to the iTunes Music Library.xml file on the Desktop.
    Mac users: Click Choose.
    Windows users: Click Open.
    After re-creating your library, any devices that you sync with iTunes (Apple TV, iPod, etc) will see your iTunes library as a new library and will completely resync.”

    For steps to backup and restore playlists see “iTunes: How to backup and restore playlists. ”

    If your podcasts list in iTunes is empty after following these steps, see article HT2562.

    If the iTunes Music Library.xml file is not available, follow the “Add to library” steps in “iTunes: About the Add to Library, Import, and Convert functions” to add files back to the Library (because the iTunes Music Library.xml file is not available, playlists and other information will not be available).

  58. Sorry this doesn’t help me. Does any1 else know how to fix my problem? Henry

  59. Super Remove Dead Tracks v2.1 from Doug’s AppleScripts for ITunes, at http://dougscripts.com/itunes/scripts/ss.php?sp=removedeadsuper, did the trick for me.

  60. Jim, you rock! Thank you, thank you , thank you.

  61. Does anyone know how iTunes stores the “exclamation point”? There is no change to the library XML file after ‘fixing’ files with exclamation points, so it’s clearly not stored there.

  62. that ‘date added’ trick totally worked, thanks!

  63. am pulling my hair out now after to many hours on this issue.. Surely Apple must be able to sort this issue by now.

    My itunes library is 5+ yrs old now and therefore 10,000 songs, numerous podcasts, videos etc etc. not to mention loads of rating information, hundreds of playlists created from last played, rating, genre etc etc, therefore i cannot afford to loose all this valuable data attached to my itunes library. However recently half of my library appeared with exclamation marks all over it, though i cannot work out why as all the music files are in the location specified in preferences, path etc.

    It seems that itunes just wont bother looking at this path and syncing with whatever is there. Yeah fine i can add the whole itunes music folder again and it will import every song again so i go from 10,000 to 20,000 songs, i could deal with this with a dupe eliminator that are freelu available on the net but the new imports without the exclamation marks cleary dont have the historical data of play counts, last played ratings etc etc attached to them so its no different from deleting and starting again.

    I have tried all the options in this post and none of them deal with the simple issue of just look at the location that it listed in the preferences and search for the file u think is missing on mass!!!

    Its not rocket science so why havent Apple fixed this. !!!

    If anyone has got a solution for this or work around that doesnt involve completly writing off years of rating and creating playlists based on numerous historical data then i would be bery appreciative!!

  64. Uhh, I getting so mad with these !!!. I just bought a whole new computer and I want all my ratings and play counts on it. All my ratings/play counts are there but all my songs have !!!. I tried the holding shift when staring up itunes and I picked my library and the exclamation points went away but then when I pick a song to play it, it comes back :(

    I found a application that can transfer all my songs/play count/ratings from my ipod to itunes but the only problem is its $20 and I dont want to pay $20 dollars since im only going to use it once. Im still trying to fiugre this out, im so mad.

  65. Hey guys,

    just another trick that worked for me after weeks and weeks of googling, testing scripts without finding a solution:

    In my case, 800 songs where marked with an exclamation mark. I always thought, iTunes looses its connection to the files, because I’ve got and external drive, which is not always present (i.e. at work), which contains all if my Music. My assumption was, that iTunes saves the broken link in his library, when I was trying to play a song while it is not present. If I check the files with CMD + I, iTunes specifies the location as “not available” instead of displaying the original (but broken) path.

    In an older post on this page somebody mentioned to take a look into the library XML file to determine, where iTunes *think* the file is. And: Bingo! Allthough iTunes don’t show a location in his frontend, the library file knows a path to the file.
    Now I realised, that while I was reorganising my iTunes files some months ago, a wrong, temporar Volume name glitched into iTunes. The 800 lost files were linked in a volume called “Audio_old”, but they were on “Audio” in the meantime.

    So, here ist the solution: If your problem is similiar to mine and you have got an amount of files with are in an intact (means unchanged) folder structure, but in an different root folder than iTunes think, you can simply build an symbolic link, so iTunes can locate all the music again. Now you can consolidate all your Music in the actual folder.

    In my case, I did the following:

    1. Check the XML file, where iTunes think, the files are. In the exmaple above, iTunes think, they are on a volume called “Audio_old”

    2. In the folder /Macintosh HD/Volumes, all the removale media is stored as a folder, if the media is present. If you have got a volume called “Audio” like me, you’ll find it in /Macintosh HD/Volumes/Audio.

    3. Now create a symbolic link which points to the new location and is called like the old one. Use Terminal, browse to /Macintosh HD/Volumes an type the following:

    ln - s ./Audio ./Audio_old

    Now, the OS has got a link to Audio whenever someone (iTunes) searches in Audio_old.

    The trick is to insert a link in the directory in which iTunes searches the root folder of ypur lost files. The link will work as a “fake” root folder for iTunes.

    Unfortunately you can’t change the old links by changing the XML file as noted before. The only way to get the “real” path for all files in your library is to consolidate, which means, iTunes will copy all your files into one location and will create the folder structure as it likes.
    But you can keep the symbolic link forever - that doesn’t hurt ;)

  66. I had a problem with loads of exclamation marks on my music tracks.
    ITunes didn’t let me play them and wanted me to find every track, one by one euch, bad idea Apple!

    I noticed they were all on my external hard drive, on which I have been keeping my vinyl conversions (as separate from CD derived mps’s).

    I looked at the xml file (iTunes Music Library.xml). Folder details were missing for the tracks with exclamation marks.

    After looking on the net, I realised simple editing of the xml file was useless because itunes just overwrites the xml file with info from the itl file (iTunes Library.itl), and editing the itl file was beyond my abilities. However after a lot of messing I came up with a work-around.

    This involved:
    - Changing the xml file to have the corrected folder details
    - Creating a dummy itl file
    - Launching itunes which read the corrected xml file.
    Hey presto exclamation marks are gone, music on an external drive is read normally and the metadata was kept.

    What I did in detail was

    Made backup copies of
    “iTunes Music Library.xml”
    “iTunes Library.itl”
    In a safe place in case things go wrong, definitely not for editing.

    And then in my iTunes folder:

    Opened “iTunes Music Library.xml” with wordpad

    I needed to prevent changes being made to the “ok” folder paths
    the “ok” folder paths all began
    Locationfile
    so I changed them to temporarily begin as
    Locationfile

    Appended the missing folder paths by replacing all
    Location
    with
    Locationfile://localhost/E:/Music/MP3 …etc

    Reverted the text for the “ok” folder paths by replacing
    Locationfile
    with
    Locationfile

    Saved “iTunes Music Library.xml”

    Deleted “iTunes Library.itl”

    Saved an empty file, “iTunes Library.itl” with worpad, setting file type to text document.

    Launched itunes
    itunes thought the itl file was damaged, renamed it “iTunes Library (Damaged).itl”, and rebuilt the itl file from the data in the xml file.
    I later deleted the bogus “iTunes Library (Damaged).itl”, hehe!

  67. Aw nuts, the post has HTML’d transforming meta keys into the text
    Locationfile.
    If anyone is interested the affected part of the post is reproduced below substituting “[” for “”:

    I needed to prevent changes being made to the “ok” folder paths
    the “ok” folder paths all began
    [key]Location[/key][string]file
    so I changed them to temporarily begin as
    [key]Location[/key][string_ok]file

    Appended the missing folder paths by replacing all
    [key]Location[/key][string]
    with
    [key]Location[/key][string]file://localhost/E:/Music/MP3 …etc

    Reverted the text for the “ok” folder paths by replacing
    [key]Location[/key][string_ok]file
    with
    [key]Location[/key][string]file

  68. I just selected all the songs in my music folder, then control click, then select get info, then chose artist etc, left the fields blank and pressed ok. It updated all my songs and got rid of all exclamation marks in my whole library in just a few minutes.

  69. Hey guys,
    I’m getting the same problem with the exlamation marks - it’s so annoying! I moved about 3000 songs from my laptop to an external hard drive to free up some space. Itunes keeps cropping up with exclamation marks next to really random songs (not all, maybe one in every five or something)..I thought from reading a bit on here that it was to do with having the songs in folders inside folders, so i copied and pasted the songs into one big folder and it still didn’t work. I’ve set itunes to search for my music on my hard drive but still no luck!!!! Please help! Thanks, Sarah

  70. A variation of Snerecks method got iTunes going for me again. I have my music on an NFS share which at night gets automatically unmounted by the automount daemon and then re-mounted once I access it again the next day. Unfortunately re-mounting it takes just long enough to make iTunes think a few files are missing every day, which after a few months amounted to over half my library!

    What I did:
    * Quit iTunes
    * Moved “iTunes Library” and “iTunes Music Library.xml” to another location
    * Started iTunes - Hey, no MP3’s!
    * Quit iTunes
    * Moved the files back
    * Started iTunes, and lo and behold, no exclamation marks and all tracks with their original meta-data

  71. Hi just did a complete re-hack of my itunes XML / ITL files.
    This is because with my external HD dying on me, I needed another external HD… which would be a back up for what was supposed to be a back up! And as the faulty drive was still under warranty I would end up with an additional drive letter… which is where all my MP3’s would be going for the time being. Yes, (sigh) I know it sounds strange but that’s how it is.
    First I backed up my ITL and XML files.
    Next I copied all my music from the faulty drive to the new (and bigger) external drive.
    Then I and disconnected my faulty drive.
    Next I assigned the drive letter for the new drive - this was necessary as I would be connecting and disconnecting drives, and as the itunes database expects fixed path info I needed to override XP’s automatic assignment of drive letters which could create problems.
    I did this via
    - right clicking on ‘My Computer’ and selecting ‘Manage’
    - Clicking on ‘Disk Management’ from the ‘Computer Management’ pop-up
    - at this point the top right hand part of the window listed my drives including external ones, by right clicking on the the appropriate drive I was given the option to ‘Change Drive Letter and Paths…’
    - hey presto drive letter assignation possible.

    I kept the folder structure with one change, I decided to modify path names to eliminate the space character, to make the XML file more friendly, if I needed to mess with it later.
    After modifying the relevant folder names on the new drive using Windows Explorer, I opened “iTunes Music Library.xml” in Wordpad and started work on the XML file.
    This involved a series of careful search and replaces. What I did was to look for the folder description - including the characters itunes uses in place of the ” ” (space character). Fortunately most of the affected info was in one area of the XML file.
    Having trawled through the file, I was ready to test…
    I saved it as an XML file, also made a back up copy of it, created an empty ITL file and launched.
    iTunes created an ITL file from the XML file no problem, it worked. No problem so far.
    On reflection this involved a considerable amount of editing text files, using search and replace, making backups and thinking through what I was doing.
    If you choose to do something like this, happy editing!

  72. Sir Jeff,

    I salute you!

  73. Jim, buddy. Whoever you are. You rule!!! Hold down CTRL and ALT while you are opening Itunes and viola!!!

    Thanks.

  74. This is just stupid, Apple. My files never move. The NAS device where the iTunes folder lives mounts automatically every time I boot my Mac. I always wait a few minutes after booting before I start iTunes. Without fail, iTunes “can’t find” somewhere between 60-150 of the files. They’re all still there. I can “Get Info” on each individually and the filename pops up, then dismiss the Info panel and voila! The xclamation mark goes away. I don’t lose anything except patience as I have to “fix” this every time I synch an iPod or AppleTV. Some songs always get exclamation marks. Some only seem to have the problem periodically, some have only had the problem one time. Most times, entire albums get the exclamation marks, but sometimes, it’s just some of the files in an album, and the others from the same album — which are on the same NAS device in the same folder — don’t have an exclamation mark.

    It’s annoying that we have to jump through hoops to fix this. It’s even omre annoying because there’s no way to make it work reliably or even find out why iTunes is putting those exclamation marks in there. And worst of all, there is no way to sort on the exclamation mark field, or to tell iTunes to get with the program and rescan its mistakes.

    For all the clever programming Apple has done over the years, this really sticks out as poor design and/or poor product testing.

    I guess we can just be glad that this isn’t Microsoft. It would be far worse, and your entire machine would become unusable if Microsoft were involved.

  75. Well I thought Apple stuff was supposed to be
    the greatest thing since sliced bread.It looks
    like Apple sucks as bad as Micro$oft.My wife
    has a Ipod and I have to put stuff on it for her
    and it is a pain.Sorry for the Apple bashing but
    it is frustrating to use.

  76. I cleaned up my Windows XP by moving files around and so on, i moved the iTunes folder into a new music folder that i called media just to make it easier (all my iTunes are from lime wire if that makes any difference?) i didnt think that anythink would go wrong but now i open itunes and all my songs have exclamation marks on them !! What do i do ??

  77. The BETA Version of MediaMonkey 3.1 (link is listed in http://www.mediamonkey.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=34522)

    has a NEW feature to copy your iPod back to your PC. This feature is called Auto-Organize.

    See this document to make your switch to MediaMonkey easier.

  78. Hi Dylan

    Probably easiest to delete and forget those entries, and use the menu option File | Add Folder to Library for wherever your music is stored. I don’t recommend manual editing of the XML file (even though I did it - see earlier posts).

  79. i love my ipod as well. but what i really hate is when i add a new folder to my libray, i have to search for every single song or video manually one by one. this is really a hassle. i wish there was a way to just find the new folder that was added and just copy all the songs to the play list i wanted. somebody help me, maybe its just me. i just got my ipod. so let me know if there is a solution for this.

  80. i had this problem big time, and was blaming itunes

    turns out, the real culprit was windows media player. it has some default settings to rename and relocate files.

    so everytime i opened WMP (even unrelated to any of my music files, like playing a voicemail msg), it went to work messing up all my other files, all unknown to me. and then sure enough, itunes no longer could find the files.

    so check your windows media player settings asap. at least for me, this was the source of continual corruption.

  81. no kidding. Ditto this exclamation problem is a drag.

  82. Nothing happens when I hold down CTRL (or CTRL and ALT) when starting iTunes.

    I moved ALL my music to a new external hard drive and now ALL my songs have exclamation points.

    A few years ago I found a quick fix to this (instead of “locating” 3,000 songs by hand). What is it???

  83. Exclamation points are shiite!! Nothing is working for me. Im at the end of this blog page. APPLE !! Help us you lazy ****ers.

  84. i sold my zune, to switch to i-pod,i love the i-pod technology. But i spent a hole day working on my music, the this **** pops up beside all my songs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I spent 230 dollars 4 this ****…..

  85. Hey, I plugged an ipod, with a different library, into my computer. I set it so I could manually add music to it, because I wanted to keep the music on it. But now, there are tons of exclamation points in its library and it won’t play them on the ipod even though they show up on there. Is there anything I can do?

  86. I can’t get over how difficult Apple has made something that should be so easy. People here are editing xml’s - copying this file from here to there - hold down this key for that and choose this.

    Apple should do exactly what the original poster stated “You can save us from exclamation point hell, by giving us a search function where I can tell iTunes to search the following folder(s) and than match up the missing songs to the original file.”

    I will be going back to my SIMPLE Sandisk mp3 player and throwing my nano in the trash. All I have to do to put songs in my little mp3 player is find them in Window Explorer and copy them to the Sandisk Drive. Wow, that was hard. And the next time someone tells me that Macs are easier I will laugh put my ear buds in and push play on my Sandisk player…

  87. When you add a playlist (m3u) to itunes, the xml file will only show path / folder details that were in the playlist file. So playlists without this info will lead to “!”. Presumably there are other causes too.

  88. Thanks for the trick of closing out itunes and reopening it while holding the”option” button for my mac. I was not able to load my songs when it asked me to choose where my itunes library stored was but what I did was create a new itunes library. Then I went to File/add to library and located my folder where all my songs are stored in my external drive. Now they are loading as we speak and no more !!!!!!!!!!!! :) Thanks. Almost done loading wish me luck :)

  89. Jim, I want you! I want you now! I use windows. Just held down the shift key, as you said, and … presto! I hope that it holds through a sync. Thanx, Bonnie

  90. Jim, I did what you said (on a PC) and the exclamation marks went away but the original file still can’t be found, even though the “!” is gone. WTF????

  91. Well HELL. I tried some of the above and now every. single. song. I added to iTunes from a CD has a “!” next to it. If I bought it from iTunes store it is fine.

    What have I done, and how do I fix it? I can listen to these songs but I cannot move them into playlists, etc.

    ARGH

  92. This aggravates me to no end. Exclamation points will appear and disappear at complete random for me. Last time I used iTunes, nearly my whole library had been “cursed”. Once I opened iTunes today, I noticed one or two points, but last night’s plague was gone. As soon as I remedy the few that do have points, totally random songs in my library that were free of the exclamation point had obtained it. It isn’t an issue of reorganizing for me; it’s COMPLETELY ****ING RANDOM.

  93. I moved my music to a different external hard drive but iTunes would not let me access the songs and gave me a bunch of ! marks. I used Jim’s advice (above 2007, I think) and it worked great!! PC users can hold the “shift” key down while loading iTunes to choose the new location of your songs. Mac users can use “command.” Worked great! Thanks Jim!

  94. Lindy you DID IT! If anyone is having the external drive problem, where the links have not been broken, that simple quick solution above is A GOD SEND. I don’t know what made you think of it, but my life just got a whole lot better.

  95. Dave Steele- YOU are a genius. Deleting the “Previous Itunes Libraries” folder worked.

  96. there is an ! next to songs that i have even bought! I am very frustrated and don’t want to be screwed.

  97. UGHHH !
    my brother deleted my itunes and uploaded a newer version.
    when i connected my iPod there were no “!” but then i wanted to upload an audiobook they appeared and it deleted ALL of my songs from my iPod.
    then i tried the “holding the shift” and instead of getting rid of the “!” it deleted everything from my iTunes. EVERYTHING ! even the audiobook !
    im going crazyy here !

  98. Many people have problems when relocating folders or using external hard drives, however, iTunes 8, Windows version, flags songs with the exclamation point for no reason at all, i.e., with absolutely no changes or updates to the songs. All I did was sync my iPod and over 200 songs had exclamation points. I suspect it is a bug in iTunes where the .itl or .xml index files get corrupted. It is possible that it may be path/file lengths because I have a lot of long names (OK for iTunes, but maybe the iPod Touch is more restrictive). It is absolutely amazing that Apple cannot find the cause of this problem in their development labs and fix it.

  99. AN ACTUAL FIX FOR ME. OKAY…. I understand everyone’s frustration with this. It frustrated the hell out of me for a long time. But we’re going about it all wrong. SIMPLE RESOLUTION: Instead of trying to make iTunes do something that it is obviously not going to do, play nice with iTunes. iTunes is obviously not going to change its ways, so you must change yours. What the hell am I talking about? THIS:

    In Apple land, go to your iTunes folder that possesses the iTunes Library.xml file. Open the .xml file, which should bring up Text Edit. It doesn’t matter what opens the file, as long as you can search through it. In Apple, press Control-F to bring up the Find window. Type in the name of one of the artists whose files are missing. Click Find Next until you find the missing song. It will take you to the string that refers to one of that artist’s songs. Each string (song) is slightly separated from each other, so it is easy to see where each song ends. Towards the last couple lines of that string you’ll see a line that includes the word “Location.” On that line, it shows you where iTunes thinks that file is. If you know you still have the original music, all you have to do is copy the music folders to the location it gives you. IT’S THAT SIMPLE.

    Open up iTunes and try to play one of the missing songs. Presto!

    It worked for me and I hope it works for you. An example of the .XML string is listed below for your viewing pleasure.

    Track ID14283
    NameTravel
    ArtistThao
    Album ArtistThao
    AlbumWe Brave Bee Stings and All
    GenreAlternative
    KindMPEG audio file
    Size2990922
    Total Time107049
    Disc Number1
    Disc Count1
    Track Number10
    Date Modified2009-01-08T04:31:52Z
    Date Added2009-01-08T04:41:08Z
    Bit Rate220
    Sample Rate44100
    Artwork Count1
    Persistent ID509ADE4FC9C7B0CE
    Track TypeFile
    File Type1297106739
    File Creator1752133483
    (HERE’S WHERE THE LOCATION IS!!!!!) Locationfile://localhost/Users/JimMartin/Music/eMusic/Thao/We%20Brave%20Bee%20Stings%20and%20All/We%20Brave%20Bee%20Stings%20and%20All_Thao_10_Travel.mp3
    File Folder Count-1
    Library Folder Count-1

  100. So… I got a new computer, and I already had an external hard drive… I’ve consolidated my iTunes library onto my new computer, all the songs are there but everyone has an !! infront of it. If I double click the song will play, but if i set it to play a playlist or shuffle it will skip all !songs. I am using windows…please dont tell me I have to double click over 11,000 times!! :s

  101. Jimmy, I have no doubt your SIMPLE SOLUTION will work, but I am not going to do it over 250 times for the high volume of exclamation points. The recovery technique of deleting the .itl and having iTunes re-build the .xml works .. but why oh why can’t the geniuses at Apple fix a stupid software bug that corrupts their control files??

  102. oh my goshhhhh. i’ve been working on these !!!!! for hours…i’m tired, I’m frustrated, I’m getting soooo mad and I’m getting reallllly agitated I think I need XANAX…..:-

  103. Easily fixed……go to Control Panel>Add/Remove Programm>click on itunes>click the Change tab….then click the repair tab….go back onto Itunes and all of the exclamation marks should of dissapeard….if not all together try same process again..hey presto….

  104. Thanks, Titch, I’ll try that the next time it happens. If it works it’s fantastic, and means that the iTunes installation/repair can detect there is a corrupted index file and can rebuild it from the XML and/or other information (no more complicated repair procedures). Now, if Apple had just found and fixed the software problem that damages the index file(s), all this dissatisfaction and hours of wasted time could have been avoided.

    An iTunes 8.2 (Windows) update just arrived in the last 2 or 3 days, but I don’t know if anything has been done about our favorite problem.
    A

  105. i held down the shift button to bring up the “create a new” thing. it made itunes1. i found one of my songs under music / itunes / ipod games / itunes music /…this had all of my songs as i found. with a new library, itunes1, i did file / add folder to library. selected ipod games/ itunes and it found all my songs with no stupid !. problem solved.

  106. havent read all the comments here, so maybe someone else posted the same. I had the exclamation point problem on all my files in the library. I did an export like someone over here said. Didnt seem to do anything, still exclamation points all over. Tried to find a place to import with no luck. So i just synced my Iphone, and bang! Starts to copy all the “missing” music to my iphone, removing the exclamation points in the llibrary. Happy now! :)

  107. I was lucky enough to find software called “itunes rating saver” which worked when nothing else did. Contact the creator at sam.wood@gmail.com. Good luck!

  108. My friend gave me his old itouch and i wanted to put songs on my PC laptop anyways. So i downloaded iTunes 8.2.0 and jumpdrived (…?) my whole library on my desktop to my laptop. when i tried to sync my iTouch the “such and such cannot be found bla bla bla” has anyone had the same exact problem because im kinda looking but noone seems to have the same problem so if anyone has like a “iTunes for completely non tech savy people” solution please let me know

  109. Jim is correct, for me anyway.
    Hold down SHIFT as I start iTunes, then select the existing iTunes Library.itl file. FIXED!

  110. Click on the top song in the itunes library, hold down SHIFT, click on the last song, delete them. Then hook up your ipod and click transfer. It should work.

  111. Well I have tried just about everything on here. The hold the control button worked and so did several other suggestions worked. But when Iplugged in my ipod there those stupid !!!!!!! were again! Any suggestions?

  112. okay I am not some computer wiz and when i try to read what people are doing to solve their problem honestly most it just looks like giberish to me. I haven’t tried to change my itunes to different places and I have nooo idea what a hard drive is and stuff. What I can really use is an awesome person willing to break this down REALLY easy for me.

    I am in ! hell, I jsut want my music, and trust me any help would be GREATLY apreciated!!

    Please help

  113. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR I have been trying sll of these none of them work can there just be something simple 2 get the horrible ! of my songs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  114. JIM!

    That worked perfectly.
    I was dealing with the exact same external hard-drive issue as you.
    My infinte thanks.

  115. Oh boy I’ve got this !-problem too but I think it can’t be solved by the solutions above… I don’t let iTunes organize my music (I don’t trust it…) and until recently all worked well. But now I decided to move some files, group some songs together in new folders etc. - and suddenly iTunes loses track of SOME songs from an album. Just 2-3, the rest is still there. How freaky is that??
    What I’m looking for - is there a way to open/relink multiple files at one time, not just one by one? It’s very annoying since I have to go to the whole opendialog for every single song, one at the time.
    Thanks!

  116. Thank You Titch! You save hours off my life :-)

  117. I bought music off of a cheaper site and then saved it a file in my computer. I’m pretty itunes illiterate. I dragged this music to itunes…and SOMETIMES the damn exclamation marks show up! Sometimes I go off and back on and they are gone- sometimes I can play the music and sometimes I cannot GRRRRRRR

    a. First of all, WHY does this happen?
    b. Secondly, say I wanted to delete the files saved to the computer- they also delete on itunes. Is there any way to save the files on itunes (i.e. such as in burning a disc) so that they are SAVED to itunes and it doesn’t matter if they are existing elsewhere on my harddrive? Someone help please!

  118. What if I go to ‘Edit’-'Preferences’-'Advanced’-What if I click”Copy Files to Itunes Music Folder when Adding to Lybrary’. Will that help? I’m too scared to touch anything without an OK.

  119. Tom Lawton on July 27th, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Genius. That worked for me. Did it in duplicates.

  120. I have just transferred all my music from my destop computer to my new laptop, i removed all the songs that were originally on my iPod so i wouldnt have to worry about duplicates or anything else. Now i have my iPod plugged in to my laptop and all of the songs have the EXCLAMATION POINT in my library. It wont let me transfer any songs from my library to my iPod. Needless to say im very pissed off and would love some advice!

    Also i have a HP laptop, i know that would make a difference in the advice i get!

  121. I’ve had this problem many times. Everyone in my family has their ipod hooked up to my library. I tried everything on this list. Make sure your external hardrive is on (I discovered they go into sleep mode when left on) before you open itunes and my problems were solved. Hope I could help.
    Jessica

  122. JIMMM!!! you friggin AMAZING MAN!
    you saved my music life and many others aswell
    i freakin love you man!!!

  123. WAITTT! okay i did the ctrl and alt thinggy nad it worked but as soon as i clicked a damn song it alll came back someone pleaseeeee help me!!! email me at briannmelo@hotmail.com
    and pleasee be as simple nad easy as possible

  124. I’m glad to find several effective workarounds listed here. I tried one and it worked fine.

    Many thanks to everyone who discovered a unique workaround. And even more thanks and respect to the folks who have spent hours coding custom scripts to solve this stupid problem… and then freely sharing their work. Thank. You. So. Very. Much.

    Buy why — WHY — did I have to search out a F*C|

  125. Buy why — WHY — did I have to search out a F*C|

  126. (yet another try…)

    Buy why — WHY — did I have to search out a workaround?!?

    This problem has been much complained about for a LONG time — as in, YEARS.

    But what is Apple’s response? Nothing. Absolutely. Nothing.

    Unfixed stupidities such as these (flaws which should have been corrected pre-beta) are the very sort of things which cause me to seriously question why some people still think Apple is so great.

    I don’t understand the attraction.

    Really, the ONLY reason I use iTunes is because I received an iPhone as a gift. And, of course, the iPhone will ONLY work with iTunes. Ugh. (Please, if I’m wrong and there is another way, another program, tell me. Please. Pretty please. Let me be wrong. Show me I’m wrong. I’d love to be wrong.)

    If you don’t have an iPhone, then the answer is simple…

    ULTIMATE SOLUTION — :: — REMOVE iTUNES

  127. Amen to that, Matt!! You are so right……

  128. i have a windows/toshiba laptop, and one of the newer ipods- the yellow one =) but i have the same damn problema!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Help ME! iv had this ipod since they first came out and barly used it because of this problem.
    one day i was adding songs to my itunes library. i added like 10 songs which i had done before. (iv had ipods before and never a problem like this) it was a new ipod so i only had like 100 songs on it. when i synced it though, only about 30 songs went on my ipod. The others all had the !!!!!! next to then. Even songs that i have had on there for a long time were taken off and would not go back on my ipod. Some of the songs were then copied/doubled and placed right under the original ones on my library.
    i am soo confused. nothing works so far. and i miss being able to listen to what little music i had on my ipod=(
    please help!

  129. Oh Yeah!!!!! i forgot to mention………………
    it says i have 88 errors…………
    WTF
    but i can still listen to the songs on my laptop and the like 30 on my iopd…
    i has also erased all photos i had on my ipod but kept the cover art.
    ….weird…
    Help!

  130. this makes me really upset because i sit their take my time and down load all my music id say about 5 hours worth to find out that ituse doest wanna play it. its a major inconvenice!!! i have been with i tunes for about a year know and ive spent alot of money on your companys product. and its a waste of time and money. your raising the songs money and its not enen worth it. like i am really pod right now. thats like 250 sown the damn drain not to mention the high cost of the actual product. !! IN STEAD OF EVERY YEAR MAKING A NEW DAM POD HOW ABOUT YOU WORK ON THESE ISSUES FIRST FINE TUNE THEM PLEASE. ITS NOT FAIR FOR ME PAYING ALL THIS MONEY FOR MUSCI AN DTHEN NOT BEING ABLE TO LISTEN TO IT, THIS IS RIDICOULUS.!!!! AND IM SICK OF IT. DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO SWITCH OVER TO ZUNE??? SERIOSLY. THIS IS CRAZY IDK IF YOU GUYS READ THIS BUT I AM REALLY FUSTRATED AND BASICCAL I JUST WANT WHAT I PAID FOR.!!!!

  131. I followed some of your suggestions and finally scored by pressing CTRL while opening itunes - all the exclamation points gone! Finally!!

  132. OK so … it just shows how easily we (or maybe just I) can overlook stuff that’s right infront of our faces!

    I tried all the previous suggestions with no luck then just happened to go back to the music locations folder (edit > preferences > [advanced tab] itunes music folder location, which previously had been set to “… / music folder” (which I think itunes must have created itself) and changed to the directory in which all my music is stored on my external drive. It doesn’t seem to matter how many sub-directories you have.

    What an idiot but it’s nice to see all those exclamation marks disappear one by one!

    Good luck to all!

    Richard

  133. Tonight I am sad. After hours of search, I have concluded the best and only reliable way to fix this *@&!! issue is to create a new library - to delete the iTunes.itl and .xml files and drag my big music folder into iTunes once again.

    How sad is this:
    30,000 + files, 250GB, 12-24 hours just for iTunes to process, assuming no dialogues, etc. pause the process, and I will loose all play counts and star ratings of the past 4 years.

    To those new to the issue I recommend:
    1) know the file structure (folder names, hierarchy, etc.) you want *ahead* of time 2) If you need to relocate your library (say to an external drive) read carefully from Apple and others on “how to move iTunes library” 3) Always back up the recent iTunes.itl and iTunes.xml files (veiw date/time stamp to ensure it is current)

    Here are the options I have found:
    (most are in this thread, which is absolutely the best on this topic - and y’all are sooooo kind to one another :) Hopefully this will save you the hours I have spent googling and just reading this very thread!

    1) Rebuild the library
    PRO: can drag multiple folders from multiple drives into iTunes]
    CON: will lose play counts, loose star rating; takes time, tech understanding

    2) CNTRL and/or SHIFT + open iTunes [Windows] or
    Apple Option + open iTunes [Mac]
    PRO: forces iTunes to rebuild the library files
    CON: Original issues, especially if transient issues such as sleeping external HD, or re-connecting different iPods, may manifest again

    3) Manually Edit XML file (and must delete .itl)
    PRO: very detailed control, should keep play counts, star ratings
    CON: not reasonable for large number of issues, requires fairly high tech ability

    4) Manually search the XML file, read missing files’ paths, and place them in the expected directories.
    PRO: Should work like a charm
    CON: Not efficient, requires techie skills. May not be the directory where you want the files.

    5) Use thrid-party app [only found two]

    5a) ITLU or Itunes Library Updater
    PRO: Worked fantastic, but still didn’t keep play counts, stars
    CON: Stopped working around version 6 AFAI can tell

    5b) AnioSoft iTunes Assistant
    PRO: Current software, appears to be supported. free trial version
    CON: failed against my version 9 iTunes update w/ XML parsing error (i.e. didn’t read iTunes.xml file correclty). Also costs money for full license.

    6) Sort by “Date Added”
    PRO: Incredibly simple
    CON: only works if missing files are all old and not sporadic through time; will loose play counts and stars

    7) Select All files and set BPM or some other field to a dummy value. Only valid files will be updated (missing files cannot be). Then sort by that value. Should be able to group and shift select missing files then delete.
    PRO: Fairly simple, bridges missing file entries over time (i.e. does not matter when)
    CON: May take large amounts of time to mass update valid files depending on library size. And, of course, loses counts and stars

    Good luck everyone….

  134. …And LMK if there is anything better out there!

  135. Now see, my situation is a bit more complicated. Or maybe I’m just daft. The songs I added just recently work when played from my iTunes library or the Purchased playlist, but when I put them on my iPod itself, THAT’S when the ! showed up. It’s really a big mess for me, because I just use my computer to store the music, not play it.

    Any ideas?

  136. Samn, is your library on an external HD? Does the whole think get the dreaded “!” or is it just a subset of songs you put on your iPod that do this? Do you manually synch?

  137. Hey, has anyone tried Songbird (open source iTunes like MP3 player/library manager?) It has a function to automatically watch folders and a different function to update iTunes. Potentially could solve the problem in this thread….I’ll post updates, but anyone know?

  138. Apple is supposed to have made things easy. That’s what they claim is their uniqueness - making it easy for people. But I don’t see that. And, Increasingly, Mac users behave like some sort of exclusive enclave delighting themselves in the confusion of the masses. Somewhat like the delight UNIX users used to feel in lesser beings confounded by GUI. And, to tell you the truth, I can’t understand why the F* some of you post here cannot write it in plain English so people can really comprehend you. If you DO NOT want people to understand you why the F* do you have to come here and post anyway? There is no point in “showing off” your prowess here, right? Why do you waste your time? Just wondering….

  139. On a MBP here enabled home sharing then got on the other comp and enabled home sharing on it not realizing my external that had the entire itunes library was not plugged in…. it ! the entire music library doing option and clicking itunes worked i just hit quit and then relaunched itunes again and all was well

  140. Here’s the very simple solution an iWiz friend found for me for “original file could not be found…”:

    go to “Preferences” (which is under the “Edit” pulldown in Windows)

    then “Advanced” tab

    you’ll see “iTunes media folder location”. In the box below it is the path where iTunes is looking for your music files. Mine was set to MyMusic/iTunes/iTunesMedia, but my music was in MyMusic/iTunes/iTunesMusic.

    Make sure you know where your music is then change the path in the box.

    hit “Okay”

    My 3500 songs were good to go.

    Thanks to Brian Baker, the “iWiz”.

  141. Hey Mike Aiello!
    You are a saver men!.. Thanks to you and to your iwiz kid pal, i was able to restore my 65GB library which went haywire after i installed windows 7

    Thanks man…you just made my day!!!

  142. So, i deleted the songs out of the downloader i use. (ie: limewire, kazzaa etc.) and all these “!” popped up.. I restored them into the music downloader and it worked! Im so happy now!

    Hope this helps

  143. HELP!!! Purchased a new HP desktop and tired to transfer my itunes library from my old laptop. My entire library was on my ipod, but when I went to snyc it to my new computer only the itunes purchased music appeared (43 songs out of 500+ on my ipod). Plugged my ipod back into my old laptop and only 270 of the songs in my library are now appearing on my ipod — the rest have the horrible !!!!! After 2+ hours on the phone with itunes support . . . no progress. The majority of my itunes library was uploaded from CDs or through windows media into itunes.
    So, what’s the best fix? Has anyone purchased software to help with the transfer of an itunes library from one computer to another? If so, what’s worked? I’m reluctant take any further steps without knowing that I won’t make the situation worse. I’m a little tech-challenged, so I need simple to follow advice.
    I’m not so happy with Apple at the moment . . . they certainly don’t make this an easy process!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  144. I have the exact same complaint. I was sharing my library when my external HD wasn’t plugged and now I have thousands of !!!!’s in my iTunes. Ugh

  145. For the songs that have !, I tried locating the file for some of them and I can’t find them on my computer! I tried using some of the solutions that people posted that hepled others, but they didn’t work. I use SoundsBox to get my songs..help?

  146. The shift on the itunes shortcut works! Thanks Jim!

  147. I have spent hours locating over hundreds of songs to my hard-drive to get rid of the ridiculous exclamation point. I have relocated every single song after so many hours. About a month later most of the exlamation points have popped back up again. What do I do? Does Apple not have a way to fix this stupid problem? This is bull s*** Apple can do better and they need to fix this problem.

  148. This happens to me all the time as well
    i’ve had to fix it a few times and i’ve had enough. This IS ridiculous. words can’t describe what i wanna say to apple right now. and there are words i shouldnt say. lets leave it at that

  149. Well first of all…
    what the heck is an external hard drive or an xml file???
    I’m only a teenager. I have no idea what the heck those are. I have tried all the solutions i can understand and nothing seems to work.

    I am in dire need of help. like soon!! Just like Cade said, no words describe what i want to say to the stupid, lazy Apple workers.

  150. i just deleted my limewire to install limewire pro and now all 2,000 songs on my itunes have an exclamation point next to them and the only songs that play are the ones i recently downloaded on limewire pro please help me i dont know wat to do and i dont wanna lose all 2,000 songs

  151. Holding the shift key worked for me.
    I’m so glad, I was not about to get 447 songs over again.

    Thank you bunches!!

  152. After two years of playing my itunes library just fine, now the *#*#* exclamation point comes up also, and the only songs that will play are the ones bought from itunes store, and even a half dozen of those won’t..I have never backed up the library and don’t understand where itunes stores my 2000 song library. All comments relating to “the files have been deleted or moved etc” isn’t helpful (how or who is deleting, or moving them?) When you click on song info, it still knows the file size, file type,song length, etc…but where the hell is it? When itunes application loses material that can’t be replaced, isn’t that a case for class action? After all, it “grabs” all cd’s that are loaded, and by default, puts them in the itunes library.

  153. My problem :
    I went into the itunes folder and reorganized songs and put them into seperate folders depending on the artist and now i have the damn “!” on SO MANY songs ! :\ i tried the thing Jim said and it didn`t work . can anyone help me plzzzzzzzzz :( this is so frustrating !

  154. Jennifer,

    See my post above from Oct. 20th.

    iTunes looks for ONE folder where the songs are located, so if your seperate artist folders are sub-folders under one common master folder you have specify the path down to that master folder. If your artist sub-folders are not under one common folder you’ll have to place them there.

  155. Depends on how much work you want to put into it.
    If you want to keep the meta data you could change the folder data in the xml file, create an empty itl file thus forcing iTunes to populate the itl file when it next loads - as per Snereck’s earlier post.

    Alternatively you can forget the meta data, delete the “!”’s from your library and re-import your moved songs folder by folder. (File/Add Folder to Library)

    One of the options in this forum is bound to do the trick.
    Ah, joy of iTunes!

  156. I am not a computer whiz. I cannot play my downloaded itunes songs on my computer because of all the exclaimation marks. It gets me angry and frustrated. I do not know how to fix the problem. Hundreds of exclaimation marks that keep changing. Apple, there are many of us out there who would not get another ipod because of this problem.

  157. Okay! So I figured out a way that helped me and could probably help a lot of people. I have a windows 2000 computer so its maybe similar for others. I posted a post (lol) earlier when i was having trouble and i e-mailed support help from iTunes and they just practically saved my life. Now this process can be very time consuming, but if you just have a couple exclamation point songs or like 20 or 30 it’s best, otherwise….you’ll be wasting your time. Okay so here are the step by step instructions:

    1. Click on the start menu and click on the search button on the right column.
    2. When that comes up, click on “all files and folders”. Then in the “All or part of the file name” box, type in either:
    .m4p, .m4v, .m4b, .mp4, .m4r, .m4a, .ipa, ipg, .ite, or .itlp

    note:im pretty sure the .m4p and m4a are songs, .m4v is videos, and m4b is pictures….im not completely sure though.

    3. If you find lots of songs listed on there after the search, then make sure your iTunes is open to the library.
    4. click and highlight a song in the search window. Click and drag that song over into the correct icon (iTunes library - music, videos, etc…).
    5. From there you can delete the song that has the exclamation point and you’ll be left with a song that will play! :)
    6. Repeat this long process until you have no more exclamation points.

    This worked for me and hopefully it works for you. Like I said, it’s a long and tedious process, but in the end you get your songs back.
    Good Luck

    Here’s the link btw: http://support.apple.com/kb/TS1408

    ~Lauren :)

  158. p.s. hopefully that makes sense (my explanation above). If it’s unclear to you, leave a comment and i’ll be happy to answer :)

  159. Posted this on macrumors last night–no response, thought I’d try here also:

    Wife has a small iTunes library on her XP laptop. No other reason for us to take two laptops with us on trip, so I moved her library to a thumb drive, in the hope that she could update/sync her Nano on my MBP while traveling. I’ve moved iTunes libraries successfully many times before, more or less following the excellent tutorial by Gina Trapani on Lifehacker. Library was moved over without any problem. It can be accessed with no problem on the XP laptop.

    Things went sideways when I tried to access the library on my MBP, though. Held down option, chose the library on the thumb drive, and every last song/podcast/whatever was “exclamation-point-ed”. Went through the whole “Would you like to locate this file?” dialog. Located a couple of songs successfully; but I can’t do this by hand for 600 songs and some ungodly number of podcasts. Is there a script or something that I need to run?

  160. One of the last solutions worked for me:

    Edit
    Preferences
    Advanced
    you’ll see the box at the top: iTunes Media folder location
    to the right are two boxes: Change and Reset

    I hit Reset, it corrected the file path to end at /itunes music, then it processed through every single song, I guess updating.

    Restoring my iPod right now.

  161. okay so i saved the file as TXT now what? i still have those crazy exclamation marks

  162. i have the same problem i just cant get rid of these damn exclamation marks!! its pissing me off to the max-____- but the problem is limewire deleted all my songs and my songs are nowhere to be found. all i have left is my library on itunes that wont play! what do i do?? =/

  163. My Turn!!!! I am struggling with this issue on 6,500 songs using windows 7..bought a few songs and ….Bam!! I have copied the files into the C Drive from the external drive in hopes this helps….I really think this is an easy fix from Apple but not enought noise has been made about it…my 2 Pesos..

  164. what if i download itunes again? plz plz help me ima go mental if i have to download 400 songs again!!!!!!

  165. Erin,
    Try the recommendation from Jim almost exactly a year ago…It just worked for me….For the most part. it set up a temp file but the music is playing end they are mostly gone from what i see..

  166. I tried the fix that Jim recommended, trouble is that when I try to play any of the music that previously had the damn exclamation mark,the exclamation mark re-appears, with the same advice, “the song could not be used because the original file could not be found. Would you like to locate it?” The file then can not be located.

    I had intended to get a new computer this year, it would probably have been an apple, but now i hate apple so much i will probably get rid of my ipod and replace it with a clone that is made in China. The clone must be better that the crap that apple has, and has not bothered to fix, nor advise that they are working on a fix.

  167. yah it didnt work for me either my music files are gone for all i know its nowhere on my computer + i restored my ipod nano so i guess no freakin hope?! …seriously apple can kiss my ass!

  168. 10+ hours trying to get things back to how they were….

  169. so what if my music files are not on my computer & i only have my library anyone help me?? + i found this and it might work for some of you just tell me how it goes:) …iTunes flings these exclamation marks around when it believes it can’t find the file associated with the entry in the iTunes library. It’s possible that the files really are missing - and if they are you can use something like Doug Adams’ free Super Remove Dead Tracks AppleScript to remove these false entries. But it’s just as possible that the tracks exist but iTunes can’t find them.

    For example, if you’ve moved your iTunes library to another drive and failed to mount that drive before launching iTunes, iTunes will give you a mean mess of grief about the existence of your tracks.

    In such cases, you need to mount the drive, go to iTunes’ preferences, click the Advanced tab, and in the General tab, click the Change button and navigate to the location of your iTunes library on the external drive.

    (This is necessary because iTunes likely reverted to the default location of the iTunes Music folder, which would be inside your user folder’s Music folder.)

    But suppose iTunes is simply confused. You have a couple of options. The first is to double-click on an exclaimed track. iTunes will prompt you to find it. Navigate to it and click the necessary button to tell iTunes you’ve found it. With luck, that will straighten iTunes out so that it knows where to find all your tracks.

    If that doesn’t work, move to that General tab within the Advanced tab in iTunes’ preferences and make sure the location for your iTunes library is correct. If so, close the Preferences window and choose Advanced, Consolidate Library. This tells iTunes to put all its music in the iTunes library location specified in the General area of the Advanced tab. In the case cited above, the music is already there, this may just give iTunes the kick in the head it needs to recognize it.

    No? The following works, but you’ll lose your playcounts and ratings. Choose File, Export Library. This exports your iTunes library database as an xml file. Select everything in your iTunes music library and press the Delete key. DON’T DELETE THE FILES THEMSELVES WHEN ITUNES MAKES THAT OFFER. You’re just clearing out the entries in the library. Quit iTunes.

    Navigate to the iTunes folder inside your user folder and move the iTunes Music Library.xml and iTunes Library files to the Desktop for safe keeping. Launch iTunes and you’ll find that its library is empty. Choose File , Add to Library, navigate to the location of your music files, select the folder that houses all your music folders, and click Choose. If you have a lot of tracks, go get a cup of coffee while iTunes adds the tracks to the iTunes Library.

    When that’s done, choose File, Import. Navigate to the Library.xml file you exported before and click Choose. Again, this may take awhile. Once the file has been imported, your playlists will return, but, as I mentioned, not your playcounts or ratings.

  170. i havent read all the comments so im not sure if anyone has suggested this yet but when you first download itunes theres an option i cant remember exactly what it says but it asks if you want songs to automatically stay in the itunes folder or if you wanna move automatically move them around (sorry i dont knw exactly what it says but something along those lines) pick the right option and you’ll never see the exclamation mark again i’ve never had a problem with it hope that helps!

  171. Amen Brother! I am in the process of doing this. Would it work to delete the program and reinstall it. Seems to me it would take less time to do this then look every damn song up!

  172. well the problem is i think that once itunes is installed the option wont come up again..like i uninstalled my itunes so i can get you the exact wording of the options and i re installed it but it didnt come upp soo im sorry i dont knw but i picked the right option and im fine sorry x0x

  173. maybe i was wrong coz now my itunes is messed up. sorry everybody i guess i was wrong

  174. okk i dont have a way to fix all the songs that are already in ur itunes that have an exclamation mark i guess you just have to locate them one by one but ive got a way to get rid of it for all the new songs you add to itunes

    Edit> Preferences> Advanced> Make sure the “Copy files to itunes media folder when adding to library” option is ticked

    so from now on any new songs you added to itunes that are moved around and renamed will work and you wont see the exclamation mark again :)

  175. THANK YOU. This too is my biggest compliant about iTunes and I have absolutely no idea why something so seamingly simple hasn’t been fixed - immediately when it was discovered - or up until now. This is ridiculous. I’m equally disappointed - disgusted - by support pointing me to that worthless solution on their site!

  176. JIM I LOVE YOU MATE!!!

  177. Okay, I am having the exclamation point thing too. I have tried the above things…control Alt when I launch, shift when I launch, and repair
    My deal is this: When I open my Itunes library the ! points are not there, when I click to play I get that damn message to locate the file but I can’t find it then I have ! Also, I can’t even drag and drop a song into a playlist, as soon as I do the damn ! shows up. I have tried to reset under the advanced/general tab too. Suggestions please?

  178. Alright a lot of my songs seem to be in protected wma format. How do I fix that?

    Also I agree with the post. Apple needs to fix the “!” issue b/c it’s a real pain-in-the-ass.

  179. gheezus this problem has been around for EONS and apple still hasn’t fixed it with all of its updates to itunes. WHY???

  180. Hi all!!

    I’ve also had the “!!” problem and the solutions that the others have, did not work for me. Although my solution does take a little more time, I feel it is the safest way to do it.

    My problem was, that I moved some of my files and then my itunes couldn’t locate some of the songs.

    So when you go into , go to , then , and . In there is a file that says .

    I then checked which songs had the “!” and added them all into the file (added them from the files/folders that the stupid itunes application couldn’t find). After I added all of them I went into itunes, typed in the artist for example nickleback - dark horse. There would be doubles of everything now, so I just deleted all the songs with “!” next to it.

    I know it’s lenghty, but hey, at least I sleep sound at night!!

  181. So when you go into *My documents*, then *My Music*, and then *iTunes*, and *iTunes media*. In there is a folder called *Automatically add to itunes*.

  182. ok, someone please help me!!!
    ive got the ! problem too. ok, heres how it started:
    First i downloaded a movie from limewire that took allllll night and so in the morning i was relieved that it was done loading. i was so excited to put it on my ipod but when i tryed to drag it into my ipod it wouldnt let me. it said “blablabla cannot be put onto this ipod because it cannot be played on this ipod”
    That was really annoying and idk if that had anything to do with the ! points, but its when they started happening.
    …then i think i accidentally clicked “transfer purchases” and the little ! points went only on the songs and videos ive purchases. do i took my ipod out and i played my music like normal and then i put it back into the computer and idk what i was thinking, but i clicked “transfer purchases” again. and when i did that, (idk exactly what i did sorry) whenever i click on a song from my ipods library, they wont play and the ! comes up on the left. (i mean only when my ipod is in. all the regular songs in LIBRARY will play but on ‘Stina’s Ipod’ wont.)
    Now my songs wont play on my ipod. i can scroll through everything just fine, but when i click on a song, it freezes. ive restarted it a million times and nothing works! i know this is really long and but can someone help me please!!

  183. Oh, and also, is there a way to get rid of the ! points and be able to play all your music again without losing your play count, ratings, album art ect..?

    Thanks!

  184. just find your i tunes folder and drag it to the itunes program while its open!!!!!!!

  185. k my itunes is exsesivly stressing me and im ready to kill it. so i was making a folder of music to put on my phone and i was just dragging my songs i wanted into the folder whne i should have been copying so once i relized my mistake i started copying them, i went to itunes and all the songs i dragged had ! next to it. so i clicked locate when i tried to play it and the warning came up butthe song wasnt in that folder so i decided i would copy every song from my phone music file into my itunes music file hoping that would work. well my songs are in the itunes music folder but still whenever i go to the songs and try to play them that stupid warning ccomes up so i decided to move all the songs from my phone music file into my itunes music folder just cause maybe that would work well no it doesnt it just makes me want to kill my computer. anyway if just one person know how i can fix this i will forever be greatfulll :) so pleasseee i want my music back pleasse help

    thanks
    Alex

  186. GGGGGGRRRRRRR!!!!!!!
    i am so effin frustrated with itunes and my ipod. i tryed to sync and from then on everything went to hell!!!!!! first i tryed to sync cuz for sum stupid reason my songs werent in my ipod right so i thought i wud just sync again but it didnt work so i got on the internet to c if i cud fix my problems well that didnt work either. i finally had to restore my ipod to its original settings, bummer ya i kno but it had worked for my sisters ipod so i tryed it thinking my problem wud b over. but instead i ended up losing all my pix, videos, and all my other info on my ipod!!!!!!!!! AND FOR WHAT, NOTHING!!!!!!!!! ive been up all night trying to fix it and nothing is working then these stupid effin “!” are on all 466 songs i DONT want to delete them and start ALL OVR. PPPPPPLLLLLLLZZZZZZZ PLZ PLZ SOMEONE HELP ME IM DESPERATE………

  187. So if you go to your iTunes directory and open “iTunes Music Library.xml” (first copy the file to make a back up incase something breaks) then open file in an editor (Notepad or SimpleText)

    You will first search and replace “File Folder Count5″ with “File Folder Count-1″
    then search and replace “Library Folder Count1″ with “Library Folder Count-1″ with a simple search and replace restart itunes and all of your files will be back to normal.

  188. Same problem. I haven’t done anything cute to my music. It sits quietly every day on the same damn NAS for months. Sonos can see and play them just fine. I close and reopen iTunes a couple of times and the ‘!’ are gone. Makes absolutely no sense and is a PITA.

    This is my first Mac and everything is super smooth and perfect but iTunes just plain sucks. It’s the 800lb gorilla that doesn’t do anything well.

  189. Followed William’s suggestion:

    “I had the same exclamation problem, for weeks. I copied all music into “itunes/itunes music” folder. Then I went to file and “add folder to library”. I chose the itunes music folder and voila it worked like magic. No more exclamation marks… I hope that helps.”

    IT WORKED! Caused some duplication of files, but deleting the duplicated files took alot less time than having to update the info for each file. Best of luck to everyone!

  190. hello everybody! I’ve seriously tried almost everyone’s ways of getting rid of that exclamation point thing on itunes. but nothing seems to help/work. it all started when I just dragged all my stuff from itunes onto my external hard drive. then the next time I tried playing itunes some songs got the “!” and later on turned out to be allll my 3000+ songs plus the movies. and Ive been trying to fix this problem for many many hours now. and I dont know much about this itunes stuff either(except for download, play, and etc).. its very frustrating and tiring to constantly try and figure out. someone help me? please? =T

  191. I renamed my music folder and that caused the exclamation marks for me. Any change at all to your music folder will cause this. If you move it or any change. I put it back the way it was and now all is well.

  192. I have had this problem for a long time, and finally I found a good solution:

    http://paulmayne.org/blog/2007/11/how-to-remove-broken-or-dead-tracks-from-itunes/

    I hope this helps.

  193. Jeff’s post of January 26th, 2008 worked brilliantly, you’re my new favourite person - so simple too - sort by date added and delete as appropriate - love it!

  194. I agree!

    iTunes sucks in some very basic ways!

  195. Okay, so i have an ipod, and everytime i download music from a music sharing website, it goes staright to itunes.and when i try to sync it, it shows the damn exclamation mark near the damn song!
    WTF?

  196. I just followed Jim’s suggestion about the exclamation points in itunes. It worked! I have a Russound Media Server and must constantly toggle between my music. Of course, all of the media servers’ content showed an (!). By holding down the control button while launching itunes, I erased all of the confounding (!)’s. Yes!! Thanks so much for this suggestion.

  197. First thanks to all who have contributed solutions to this problem. That said I’ve tried at least 5 or 6 of the posted solutions and none of them worked for me. My situation is I’m trying to transfer all of my music over to a new PC. All of my original raw source files were located on an external drive (E) that I had attached to my old PC. Based on iTune instructions it sounded like the move would be as easy as downloading iTunes and then replacing the entire newly created iTunes folder in “my music” folder with the iTunes folder I had on the (E) drive. BTW what was the (E) drive on my old machine became the (I) drive when I connected to my new PC. Anyhow, I replaced the new iTunes folder with the previous one, restarted iTunes and sure enough it looked just like nothing ever happened. All songs, playlists, titles, artists, etc. were all there. Then I tried to play one song and received the infamous “can’t locate source file” message. Each and every song (4,000) is in this condition. Having to drop all of these songs in a new library is one thing but when I originally put the songs in my library I spent countless hours manually typing in song, names, artist names and generes. Thinking this could be a problem before I started the transfer I also copied all of the original source file folders in to “my music” on my new PC thinking it may help avoid this type of problem but with a much larger C drive now I primarily wanted to get all of my source files on the C drive and use my external drive just for back up functions. Would love to hear from anyone in a similar situation that may have figured this out. Thanks!

  198. I have the !’s everywhere but none of these are working for me either…I have looked in itunes folder and it has the Artist, Album, but no songs!!! I have searched my computer everywhere and cannot find them. How could they just disappear? I didn’t do anything new to my computer and all it’s ever used for is email, word processing, and music thru itunes. Any suggestions?

  199. The date-added trick worked like a charm. Thank you so so so much! My life is so much better/aesthetically pleasing now.

  200. after two weeks of trying everything to move my itunes playlist to a jumpdrive (for my vehicle) I am soooooo frustrated… I even went as far to click every fricken song and locate it in my shared folders… after spending a whole fricken saturday doing this (I have over 3000 songs - 6 years worth of music) I thought I had it figured out and was extremely happy with myself… my husband said “is it going to work now” just as he said that it was uploading my playlist, it STOPPED and said that “could not locate” grrrr…. I gave up and decided to do the xml itunes library thing… now… if you happened to be anal about making sure you have all the album covers like I was… then you definitely do not want to go this way… years and years of getting my covers… is gone to the the fricken sh—!!!! I am soooo upset.. this has taken me years to gather all the covers and ratings, playlists gone.. the PRO about this is at least your songs are saved… it thats worth anything!!

  201. I just lost 206 of my songs, because of those damn things, I’m here crying my eyes out, music is a big part of my life and now I may not get all my songs back I wish I had known what to at least try to see if it worked, it’s gonna be a long time before I have everything back, Thanks a lot Apple, this took me long enough the first time, all I wanted to do was a couple of new songs and more half of them had that stupid !.

  202. Richard Cripps is right.

  203. Ok I read a bunch of your posts from the problems with the ! in the itunes library, and I think I figured out a simple fix for those of us who store music in an extenal drive. For starters I deleted my old itunes folder out of my music storage on the external. Then I opened up itunes, which now had nothing on it at all, as if opening it for the first time. Went to add folders and simply copied and pasted my external drives music folder into the blank space and it started put them all back into my itunes library. The only kinks with this, is you lose all your playists and it takes a while for everything to transfer, but no more of the stupid !!!!!!!!

  204. “I just lost 206 of my songs, because of those damn things, I’m here crying my eyes out, music is a big part of my life and now I may not get all my songs back I”

    you should have made a backup, dumbass.

  205. To: Jim on January 6th, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Thanks a million. My whole library had exclamation points. No longer.

  206. Cool! This was driving me crazy and the solution that worked for me was:

    > All you have to do is hold down ctrl and alt when opening itunes.
    > Problem solved! i dont even know how that works, but it did

    It was like magic. This key combination opens iTunes in “safe mode” and somehow all the exclamation points are gone and I can play all the songs. (yes i had to do this just. I can open itunes normally now)
    IThis was happening on my Mac Mini (I am using a windows keyboard)

    I keep my library on a NAS drive. And every once in a while *all* my songs were getting the dreaded exclamation point.
    Now I am happy

  207. opening up itues on windows while holding down cntl alt really works. I am so excited, this saved me hours of locating songs one by one! Whoever suggested that Thanks you so much!!

  208. Ok so all the songs worked fine till my ipod got messed up and i had to restore..now everyone single song almost has a ! next to it!!!!I want my songs!!!!I sont want to have to download them all again!! Help me???

  209. Ok

    So my situation is the following,

    Every time I want to listen to a song the exclamation point appears in the song and it won’t let me play it. I have tried everything but nothing! And I even went to the apple store and they could not helped me.

    I need help!!! I have a mac and I do not know what to do!!!

  210. Have read the above. Afraid to experiment, though. Had all songs on school district server, but was asked to move them to an external HD. Bought Ext HD and copied all over. Opened Itunes and did the Edit Preferences Advanced and Change to new path to the new HD.
    Deleted all off the district server, and now Itunes will now look at the new HD. Still tries to find the old server location, and I get the ! ’s.
    Solution for an overworked under IT supported teacher?

  211. TITCH I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!
    i love justin bieber just so you know
    thanx save me
    xx

  212. Half my music is on an external drive, the other half is in a folder on my desktop. Everytime my external gets bumped I get the !s. I used to just click on each file to play, but today i had the entire library go to !s. I deleted the “Previous iTunes Libraries” folder and restarted iTunes. Everything was as desired.

  213. Well said. I hate iTunes’ stupid exclamation point. What the frig Apple?? It’s an easy fix! I wish there was an option to not automatically flag songs as missing. I store my songs on an external drive which I frequently shut off when I’m not using. If I accidentally leave iTunes on or start iTunes before realizing the drive isn’t on, iTunes will mark a bunch of songs as missing and they’ll just stay that way until I manually click to play EACH of them. Come on. Really?? You’re killing us!

    See? This is EXACTLY why I hate Apple. React! Your people are speaking! Listen up! You close all sort of doors and force people to live within a set of constraints and then you won’t accommodate an outcry? What the frig?! Wake up and smell the apple crisp!

  214. HELP!!!!! I have tried several things from here, but can not fix my ! problem. For no reason at all, yesterday this problem started. It was for all songs as you clicked on them either in my libray or in my folders, saying it could not locate file. Desperate, I hooked up one of my ipods, and it has fixed up the songs that were on the ipod in my library so that they now play, but not all the other songs. Still can’t play them :-(. I simply work off my itunes library … I don’t export/use a second pc/use a hardrive. SOMEONE PLEASE HEEEELP!! Thanks :-D

  215. Yes, Apple computer company is G R E A T, however, they are also the designers of the most FRUSTRATING software in the software business, a simple search on google will confirm. That is why we get so much work and business fixing up and helping people with Apple software problems, it is a great revenue creation tool, so, thanks APPLE for the bucks and biz! If Apple software is broken, we have the software that will fix it or replace it, including, automated external and internal drive searching and scanning and repairing, Apple work-arounds, Custom Software that replaces Apple computer software all together, and, removes the Apple requirement of using Apple in the first place! I guess we are just taking a big bite out of the big Apple and it tastes very sweet !!!

  216. I just need to give a BIG thank you for the OPTION itunes start.

    I’ve dealt with this issue for a LONG time.

    I’ve google searched around to find a solution and could NEVER find one.

    My only solution was to load a backup via time machine — fine unless I didn’t notice the polluted itunes directory for a few days and I’d lose other stuff / apps I did.

    This option click worked PERFECTLY. I’m f’ing amazed..

    I’ve asked MANY people about this and NEVER got an answer..

    Bless you.

  217. Dated added - GENIUS. Apple is too slick for me :(

  218. Hi Eric. Could you please let me know what you mean by “options”. I am still trying to fix my library and restore it :-(

  219. hey i used the option way (but i used shift cuz i have a PC) and it gets ride of those stupid “!” but everytime i click a song, it comes back anyways.

    can anyone help with that part? thank you (:

  220. All of these are great but.. Can someone solve mine please..? Here’s the deal:

    I had a old computer in which my itunes and all songs were.Now my mom decides to delete random things to make space on her computer. Now I had those songs on my Ipod so I was okay with it. Now is when I get fustrated, I downloaded Itunes onto another laptop and got all my songs into Itunes only! I didn’t put in some other file, I directly downloaded them from my ipod straight to Itunes.

    Now after that was done I was looking for some videos I can put on my Ipod. When I found one, it was in the Itunes library but not downloading onto my ipod. So I started pressing some buttons thinking it’ll sync soon enough. But now ALLL of my songs have a ‘!’ next to them and only 3 sample songs are on my ipod..

    Have I lost all of my songs? If not how can I recover them? please tell me! :’(

  221. I tried the “consolidate files” approach on my PC and it worked perfectly. It was a lot of work, though. First I had to remove the dupes (can be done through the library option on the File tab), then reinstall selected tunes on my iPod. But - it worked.

  222. I FIXED IT. If you uninstall iTunes, that doesn’t eliminate the exclamation points by itself. There is another iTunes folder that contains some sort of library index. Uninstalling DOES NOT remove that folder for some twisted reason. Uninstall the program, then search for and delete the other iTunes folder. Reinstall. You will lose your playlists, but all the music is still there. Its worth it.

  223. OMG THANK YOU!!!!!

    for everyone who has the !’s here is the solution that fixes mostly everything.
    hold down **** when opening itunes then there will be a box and an option is to”create new library” click that then go to your itunes-itunes music and open that.
    the files will then be re-uploaded to your library and the !’s are gone!!!!!
    i did although loose the songs i recently uploaded but hey at least i still got the 1000 songs i had before back eh?

  224. oh i meant to say hold down SHIFT key but i left out the f so it said **** my b my b.

  225. HELP!!! I did that (above, witht he SHIFT key, and created a new Libray, but have lost ALL songs now and have an empty libray. What do you mean by “then go to your itunes-itunes music and open that.the files will then be re-uploaded to your library and the !’s are gone!!!!!”. I cna’t work out how to re-upload?? Help!!!!! I have a new but empty libray :-(

  226. ahh okay thats waht happened to me! hold down the shift key to get the message again then all you need to do is go to your documents and then then to “my music ” then “itunes” thne “itunes music” then open that file and all ur music should re-upload !

  227. YAY!!!!! IT WORKED!!!!! OMG I am so excited. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! Once it opened and i created a new library it asked me if I wanted to transfer my old library across …. and it was all there!!!! Thank you soooo much!! :-)

  228. Someone Please help me! I’ve been going at this for 3 days!! Here’s what happened. I connected my ipod nano to another computer and tried to download sum of my songs on it for a friend. It would not let me transfer them or copy, nothing. So I ejected the ipod and ever since it will not play the songs that is on it. So, I added sum new songs on it and it plays them just not my old ones. When I connect it to Itunes I get those damn ! points next to my old songs and they wont play there either. I tried making a new playlist by selecting all songs and only the songs that I recently added copied over there. What do I do to fix it? I have over 3000 songs, I don’t wont to restore my ipod and lose all of them. Please help!! :(

  229. Ok…I tried holding the shift key down and it copied just the ones I recently uploaded….All the original ones did not come up….No What do I do?.?.?

  230. Can someone explain to me wht when I import my cd’s I still get the damn exclamation point????????????????? It is driving crazy!!! How many times do I need to load all of my freaakin cd’s? I am so sick of this crap.
    Please help, anyone.

  231. THANK YOU so MUCH!!!!

    using a PC, I double clicked on ITUNES, then held down CONTRL and ALT while the program opened. ALL ‘!!!!!!!” are gone now. I have 10,000 songs in ITUNES and half of them suddenly had random exclamation points. I do use an external drive as well. I spent HOURS yesterday tracing songs one by one (which were all exactly where they were supposed to be). Crazy. But thanks for that fix!

  232. Yea complete bull**** ****in fix this u ****tards i have like 200 ! and i can tell u this u bitch itunes im getting close to say **** off bitches and going to zune and then we’ll see whose bitching and yea ****en fix it or i’ll ****en **** u ooh and yea thats’ a piece a **** 129 or 139 wutever the **** it is is bull**** for 1 ****en song wut happened to 99 cents bitches ————————-****ing pissed itunes bitch

  233. Tanner, this is an open forum, so dont hide your feelings, tell us what you really think.

  234. thanks Dan!!! yay! no more “!”

  235. i hate locating files, itunes is starting to piss me the **** off. what about auto-locate button?

  236. I moved the folder that contains all my several thousands of music or that I upgraded (again) the iTune and got the same ! problem (again!). I deleted all several thousands of music from iTune library and imported the whole folder that contains the whole music files into iTune and it seems it’s OK.

  237. Probably shouldn’t follow any of the above advice if you have playlists set up; you will LOSE them and your heart will be broken.

  238. I have tried several of the ideas to fix the !!!! but none are working (short of locating each song at a time) seems a bit odd that this has been a thread for years and apple does not have a simple fix.I use a PC……anyone have any other ideas? What if I delete Itunes from my computer and then re-enstall it, will it find them then???

  239. Now I’m screwed, I tried the above SHIFT key thing and now it can not find any of my music. Why is this so hard. What do I do now?

  240. i KNOWWW its so infuriating,
    plus when i tried to locate them, they are in NONE OF MY FOLDERS!!!!!!
    Itunes DELETED THEM
    yes
    and only my favorite songs, like 200 songs, only my faves
    why?!?!?!?!?! >:(

  241. I am ready to throw myself offa a cliff
    Like seriously, itunes, u ruined my life.
    I had the lost songs on a family member’s iPod, but i had recently downloaded some new songs that this family member didnt really listen to, she doesnt like that kind of muzik.
    i plugged in her ipod.
    Itunes immediately, without giviing me an option started putting ALL OF ITS MUSIC onto the ipod. it wouldnt even let me cancel it.
    so i downloaded a program which was free called pod to pc, it was supposed to put your lost music from ur ipod to ur pc, well, it was almost ready, it was almost perfect when it said “you have to purchase ________ to continue”
    all of that crap for nuffin
    seriously
    now my family member will spaz
    and do the ‘i told u so’
    itunes
    u mutha ****er
    i hate u
    stupid
    apple
    >:(
    i hate u
    goodbye

  242. I dont know if this question belongs here, but please help me! I had my music organized in my PC (Windows) and since i started using i tunes it changed all my music files and file’s names to FHTR WTZG instead of their original names, the problem is that i need my old organization of files because my car doesnt understand the file names that i tunes assigned to my music…how can i go back?

  243. Thank You sooooooooooooooooooooooo much, Jim ! It worked!!!

  244. ok..i had the ! when i bought 6 new songs and then put them into new playlists and when i tried to play them a ! showed up and they just simply wouldnt play..i deleted them from my playlist AND my music library and then readded them one at a time and they worked fine

  245. I think I’ve solved it. My laptop has itunes on it which I sync to my ipod. I also have an external hard drive which was called F on a previous computer but now it’s called D !
    My itunes has been showing the exclamation mark alongside most of my 4000 songs. Horror. I had a look at where the files are located by clicking ‘get info’ and then opened ‘my computer to find these files. The files which do play have a different location. I opened that location via ‘my computer’ So now I have two screens open with my files in. I tried drag-drop from one to the other and lo. the songs from an album appeared in itunes window without ! marks. Of course the songs were duplicated so I had to delete them individually. So then I tried deleting a whole album with the ! s in itunes window, then drag drop in the ‘my computer’ windows and it worked/ So now I have to delete all ! songs and drag drop all files from one window to another. You can select lots at once using shift. Try it and let me know if it solves it for you.

  246. Apple you have got to be kidding. How can the 2nd biggest computer co in the whole universe allow such a stupid, avoidable screw up as those stupid ! marks. On second thoughts maybe that’s why you’re the 2nd biggest computer co in the universe. For those who know how to fix these things its hard enough. For others who just want to do the basics, like listen to your music, its IMPOSSIBLE. And with thousands of songs that now have an ! mark, gimme a break. Cant one of the people you pay, make finding the file where the damn thing is hiding , a bit more findable. Ticked off ? you bet.

  247. **** itunes. my external randomly puts up new drive letters and itunes can’t simply update it itself like foobar can. but foobar can’t load my ipod. so wtf. ****ing America

  248. It is indeed quite annoying and I updated “!” files/folders now several times by first deleting from iTunes and then adding on via “automatically adding to iTunes” (very annoying and time taking). This did not solve the issue, very frustrating, the problem came up again.
    The issue I noticed is the following: not to all but apparently always the same music files that come up again with a “!”:
    - When copied into the iTunes, the data are detailed in the Explorer as “track_songname.mp3”.
    - Soon afterwards and not sure why, within exactly the same folder and of course without any manipulation, in Explorer the data changed into “interpret-track-songname.mp3”.
    I believe therefore iTunes cannot find the data anymore.
    When I click within iTunes one title with an “!” it can be re-linked to the iTunes library, then this song is without the “!” and back again in a format “track songname.mp3”, but this does not help: this file will change again into “interpret-track-songname.mp3” (after a couple of days, reason unknown…). And again: without any manipulation. And also guess what: the “!” appears: Again “(!!!!!!)”…

    This “****”, sorry, “Shift or and/or Ctrl and/or Alt” solution helps to find a lost library, OK, but not the root of sudden changes to data names.

    Is this now iTunes or possibly Windows7 that creates this “!” issue by modifying the data name?
    Please help!

  249. I am depressed, I was syncing my ipod touch and then… I DONT F**KING KNOW ITS ALL GONE GAY

    !

    I HATE THE DAMN THING.

    Anyways, it all has the question mark, I tried so much stuff Im on windows 7 I don’t know the folder which holds my itunes stuff, I can’t find the itunes xml thing and the shift thing dosen’t work for my either.

    Please help

  250. I’m so happy to have landed on this site. Unfortunately, none of the advice worked in my situation.
    I do want to say, out of all the exclamation points I have on my iTunes songs, ALL of them came from songs downloaded from emusic.com, and only that site. Not sure if there is a connection, but I bet there is. That site frankly sucks, the quality of their music is horrible, and thankfully, it has been no great loss to lose those ! songs (I was not able to retrieve any of them) I did lose The Pixies songs I downloaded from them, but oh well. I’ll go to iTunes I guess.

  251. I basically have the exclamation point on everything that I didn’t purchase from Apple…or transfer in directly from a CD. I figured Apple is trying to lose files that you have downloaded from a sharing site or something?? But actually several MP3 files that were made by my guitar teacher etc were also given the ! mark for example…and no way to find where anything is. Why does their search option send you into some crazy temporary internet file location on the hard drive - where no music files are located?? There should be a class action suit against these_ _ _ _ heads. They advertise ITunes as an all purpose Media and MP3 player that will play other files other than Apple purchases or CD copies. Are they now becoming the government - taking over files on your computer? This is pure crap. We need an alternative to I-Tunes. I am going to make a complaint to the Attorney Generals Office — please do the same in your State. Can anybody please post a good direct number into these _ _ _ holes at Apple. Has anybody got a direct response from them. Then everyone should call….flood the phone lines. Go into their Apple strores and make a big stink - scream at a few people… please. This is absolutely intentional on their behalf…likely their small print covers their behinds here too. Apple bugs the crap out of you to upgrade…then as soon as you relent… they hack further into your files to try and make more money. This last idiot that says after losing non Apple downloads “oh well. I’ll go to iTunes I guess.” should be shot…that’s just what they want you to do….you must work for them…and think we are stupid. Anybody in the vicinity of their offices please stand outside the door with a huge ! sign… they should not be able to get away with this!!!!!!! How many hours are being lost trying to figure this out…how many dollars have been lost. Come on Job’s cut us a break. These things don’t just show up by mistake…fix it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! now.

  252. To me, this now happens with all the APPS - drives me NUTS !!!

  253. BTW, Holding Ctrl+Alt during iTunes start helps nothing - as soon as you click on any app, it instantly gets an exclamation mark again.

  254. Jay B -

    Great idea with the “!” signs! Reminds of the guy who organized all the vuvuzelas to go play outside BPs headquarters. While we are at it, lets also arrange to have a huge billboard setup in the Microsoft parking lot. We’ll paint it blue, and scribble meaningless white letters all over it.

  255. To all in the States if this helps, go for it…!!!
    What might help is a time-taking procedure I finally made to get this ****ing issue of !!!!!!!!! sorted, hopefully finally, until now no further ! appeared. It might be worth noting that my music files come from several sources (iTunes purchases, CD, downloads…).
    Procedure:
    1. Open iTunes and press “CTRL+A” to mark all files
    2. Click right and choose “Information”
    3. Do not change anything in the popup; just press “OK”
    -> This procedure will highlight ALL “!” issues
    Now the/your nightmare starts:
    1. Click on the first “!” issue
    2. A popup asks you to find the file missing. Good news: I had the luck that after choosing “search?!?” button (can’t remember the precise wording; in addition in German…) the CORRECT folder with the music file opened (remember: my issue is that a “track_songname.mp3” suddenly changed to “interpret-track-songname.mp3”)
    3. Click on the changed file name to relocate iTunes to the correct file.
    4. Repeat this for EACH title with “!” in the SAME album/file/folder
    4. IMPORTANT: if you (iTunes) filed albums in simple folders (so not all music in just ONE file/folder) the following is of help to reduce the pain:
    -> after you re-located one file/folder/album issue, CLOSE iTunes, then RE-OPEN iTunes. If you do not remember the next “!” problem do step 1. to 3. again… Click on the next “!” issue
    ADVANTAGE: only by closing iTunes the NEXT correct folder within iTunes opens. THIS does not happen when iTunes remains open, here you are stuck in the first folder and therefore will need to find the right folder…

    For me it helped so far and I cross my fingers that I never see any “!” within iTunes again!!!!
    IK+

  256. If you do not remember the next “!” problem do step 1. to 3. again…:
    Procedure:
    1. Open iTunes and press “CTRL+A” to mark all files
    2. Click right and choose “Information”
    3. Do not change anything in the popup; just press “OK”
    -> This procedure will highlight ALL “!” issues

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