how to rebuild itunes library on external hard drives on restored iMac

Gethin Sanger shared this question 6 years ago


I've recently had to restore my iMac.

My iTunes library is spanned over two external hard drives complete with .itl and .xml files.

My library shows up in tunespan, can I get tunespan to organise my iTunes so that I can access the media while keeping it on the hard drives?

I know that I'm overcomplicating things, but any help would be appreciated!

Replies (4)


Thanks for getting in touch. I think I can help you, but I'll need some more specific information about your setup.

First off, how exactly did you do you restoration process of your data back onto the iMac?

Also, where are your ITL and XML file located? On the internal drive of the iMac, or on one of these external drives?

Have you launched iTunes yet? Does it load the correct library, and does it find any of your media files?

Did you originally use TuneSpan before to split your media between these two drives, or was that done manually before TuneSpan?

I think that should be enough to get started, but I may have some more questions before I can offer advice on how to proceed.


Hi Pico,

Thank you for your response.

OK, where to begin!!

Extremely slow Mac forced me to restore to factory settings (albeit El Capitan) (not from time machine as I felt I wanted a clean start!)

I was using Tunespan beforehand and my whole library is stored on two external hard drives.

The two drives are called "itunes" and "itunes2".

The .itl and .xml files are located on the drive "itunes".

"itunes2" is the span location.

After reinstalling tunespan I was able to use the .itl or .xml (I can't remember which!) to recover the library within tunespan - and this is correct.

iTunes didn't seen to acknowledge the library files from the "itunes" hard drive.



I decided to drag the files from the hard drives into iTunes! (I did copy the original .itl file from "itunes" to my desktop)

Unfortunately and predictably (with hindsight) iTunes represented the "itunes" items perfectly.

The "itunes2" drive however, iTunes then started to copy the files onto the "itunes" drive until it ran out of room.

At this stage, when prompted, I cancelled the import.

Then I closed iTunes, disconnected the external hds and deauthorized my computer. After that I deleted all content from my iTunes.

So now,

All of my iTunes files are on the external hard drives and Tunespan represents them correctly.

Some of the files from "itunes2" are now duplicated on "itunes"

iTunes is currently empty and I'm yet to reautherize it.

I would like if possible:

For the media represented in Tunespan to show up in iTunes and for the duplicate files in the "itunes" drive to be deleted.

I apologise if this could be better worded, any help will be greatly appreciated!

Many Thanks,



I belive I understand the situation.

Do you have a backup of the original iTunes Library file? Specifically the ITL, that's the true iTunes Library. The XML is a readonly copy made by iTunes for 3rd party app (like TuneSpan) to read.

Also, how many files are we talking? How many tracks did you have in iTunes?

It may help if you wouldn't mind emailing me your XML file (if you have a copy of the original one before deleting everything in iTunes, that XML would be empty as well) so that I could see better what we are dealing with.


There's quite a lot.

about 20,000 audio tracks, 500 movies, 2,300 tv episodes.

I've attached the xml file, it's either the original, or the one that created duplicate files.

I have the original itl file copied onto my desktop.



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