Is this possible to get iTunes to delete spanned media files like it does on non-spanned files ?

BZH Geek shared this question 9 years ago

Hi and thank you for your work on TuneSpan.

I am just starting using it and probably miss some key feature like this one so I figured I should just ask...

Usually on my non spanned media, I press Cmd+Delete with a file selected in iTunes and then I get a choice to put it in the trash or leave to there.

It seems like this is not possible with spanned media. This action just deletes the entry in iTunes but not the actual file. Is there a way to do just this ? Sure spanning files is really useful but having to manage them (find and delete watched TV shows for ex.) on a file level is kind of annoying.

Thanks for your time !

Comments (11)


Sadly, the simple answer to this is... No.

It is just the behavior of iTunes. When files are in the default media location, iTunes will manage them... it will rename the files and folders according to the tracks metadata, and can move the files to the trash if the track is removed from iTunes.

When files are not in the default media location (i.e. spanned) iTunes does not do either of these things. This is an issue I have been aware of, and want to document better, but it really doesn't technically have anything to do with TuneSpan, per se. If a user manually relocated their files, the same iTunes behavior would occur.

It is not exactly what you are asking... But, I believe that I could make TuneSpan do a better job of handling the situation in a future update, and will look into it further.

If a track is spanned and it has been removed from iTunes, TuneSpan could detect the situation and check if the files still exist in their span location. If so, TuneSpan could offer to trash these files. It would not be a real time action on TuneSpan's part, but it could do the checks and offer to clean up when the user next loads TuneSpan.

I am gonna mark this question as answered, because it is. If you would like to create a new problem topic requesting that TuneSpan does a better job dealing with this particular situation, I can keep that up-to-date with any progress I make. But as for getting iTunes to behave a different way, I just can't do that.

Thanks so much for getting in touch and for using TuneSpan!


The solution you talk about by making TuneSpan to be able to check for these "abandoned" files and then offer to trash them would solve the problem. That would be awesome and very efficient in my opinion.

To be honest, I thought this was already implemented and I just didn't find it !

TuneSpan looks so well thought that I really searched for it :)

Thanks for your thorough answer !


Thanks! I'll take that as a nice compliment!

Like I mentioned, this issue has been thought about, but it was just put on the back burner. Nobody has let me know that it was a notable annoyance until you, and that is really all it takes for me to focus on the problem. Also, the timing is right. I have been focusing on A LOT of under-the-hood improvements over 0.9.5 and 0.9.6 and I think TuneSpan is now in a really nice and solid state. So, these kinds of features are great additions for minor updates to the 0.9.6 versions.

I have started back into the code and laid some ground work for this feature to be able to detect "abandoned" spanned files. So, it will definitely be in the update, but I cannot yet give an estimate on when that will be out since I have other work to focus on as well.

Like all things that deal with trashing files, I want to take my time with this and make sure I do it right. I have been thinking about the off chance that some spanned track could be deleted from iTunes, but its file could could still be connected to another track in iTunes (i.e. if it were re-added from the span location and not copied back to the default media location). It would be very bad to accidentally trash a file that was still being used for a track in iTunes, so this is something I am going to need to check for. For each file TuneSpan sees as being "abandoned" I will need to check the whole library to make sure that same file isn't connected to another track. This may slow the checking process down a bit, especially depending on how many deleted tracks there are and how big the library is, etc. So, I will want to to take my time to do it right, and to try to make it as efficient and effective as it can be.

When I get farther along on the feature, I can get back in touch if you would be interested in helping to test it out before the official release.

Thanks so much!


Now I have a question that I could use another opinion on...

Firstly, TuneSpan only stores information in its own database for tracks that have been spanned, and continues to store information if the tracks are restored. So, TuneSpan will not be able to be aware of any deleted tracks that have never been spanned or restored, regardless of if they were in the default media location or not. A user may have already relocated their files manually out of the default media location, and the user will need to continue to manage those files manually unless they span or restore them, I think that is an acceptable limitation.

But, my question is about tracks that have been restored back to (or spanned into) the default media location. For whatever reason, a user could delete one of these tracks but choose not to delete the file and leave it in the default media location.

Should TuneSpan still offer to clean up files for deleted tracks that have been spanned or restored if they currently reside in the default media location? Or should TuneSpan assume that the user already chose to keep that file and not prompt the user to trash it (possibly being prompted again, once by iTunes and once by TuneSpan)?

I will keep thinking about this situation, but it would be great to have another opinion on it.


Ha, good one !

I would really go with a let the user choose attitude here. Say, just a simple dialog box asking what to do with the file and this option to "manage" abandoned files as an advanced property toggle not a default behavior.

I would use it this way and IMO, users wanting to do this have to be aware of consequences so making it an option seems right and then a message prompting for a user choice at the precise moment the choice is meaningful is probably the good way to remind users about the things they are doing with their media

Just my 2 cts...


Thanks, that all makes sense. I think I will be making the option on by default though, so it will be opt out. I think that makes sense because most people will not want stray files, and I think that most people do not fiddle with advanced preferences to look for this option and turn it on. So, it will be on and users can turn it off if they want.

I have am working on the code now, and am collecting the files that need to be trashed and making sure that they are not still linked to any other tracks in the library, which is working and performs really quickly with my test set right now.

The thing that I am thinking about now is whether this should really be just one global option to either always offer to trash files for deleted tracks or not (that option will still exist, but maybe it should be even more granular as well)... what if there is one particular file that a user does not want to trash, but wants to trash the rest. This goes against simplest way that I could make this which would be one offering and TuneSpan would trash all or none.

It will be more code and more hassle, but I think it could be good to show the whole list of files that can be trashed and have checkboxes next to them so the user can uncheck a file and not trash that particular one. If one file is not selected to be trashed, TuneSpan will never offer to trash that file again. So information would need to be stored in the prefs for what the user has selected to not trash. I think giving that flexibility makes sense, but it is just more work for me, and a much more custom prompt.

Do you think that makes sense? Or am I going too far with it?


Allright, where do I start...

First, putting it as a default option is opening gates to a flood of disappointed users who just messed up their files not knowing they just could do something wrong. That is a dev / user support choice so it's yours. I think that people like me who are wondering about such an option are the people always looking for advanced settings... i.e. geeks. That is just my opinion though.

Then on the how to let the user validate the changes, the check list idea is great and eliminates most unwanted actions from happening. Flexible, meaningful and user driven so yes, to me it's a very good option. I have no clue how difficult it is to code it though but I already like it.

I already left some spanned files lost there while deleted from iTunes just to be ready to test your new stuff :)

Yeah call me a geek or a nerd or whatever... ;)


So I have started the interface for the checklist of the deleted tracks and have it filled out with real info from my library. So that is definitely what I'm going with. Thank you for the feedback on that. Now I just need to actually trash files, etc. Not too hard, should probably have it functioning this week.

I will let you know when it is ready to test, and definitely appreciate all the help in testing that I can get. So, thank you for that.

About the option being default or not, I will keep thinking about it. The alert sheet will make it very obvious what is going to happen, and I will probably have an extra verification sheet just to be doubly clear after the tracks are selected.

I think of it as being the default behavior that one would expect from iTunes (as you expected, and other users have brought up the issue as well) and therefore should be default option of TuneSpan. I will do my best to make it very clear and make it very easy to never show the prompt again (being able to be turned back on in the prefs) if it is not the behavior that the user wants.

I will keep thinking about it, but I also feel that if I am going to take the time to do it, and to try my best to do it right, it should be something that I am comfortable with presenting to all users as an intuitive feature. If it isn't as good as it can be, users like you will get back to me with ideas and suggestions, which is a big part of the reason TuneSpan is in the state it is now and something that I truly appreciate. So, I want people to be exposed to it so that they can help make it better.

Anyway, that's my current thought process behind the decision. I will keep thinking about it, and I'm gonna sleep on it now. I'm gonna get back into coding this feature tomorrow and will keep considering the possibilities.


Hey, I am slow but surely hacking away at this feature. I would like to send you a screenshot of what I have so far for the interface to see if you have any ideas or suggestions... would you mind emailing me at "pico (at)" so that I could send you the screenshot?


email sent :)


Without further ado... :-)

...TuneSpan 0.9.7 beta has been released, which features the ability to detect stray files for spanned tracks deleted from iTunes. You can have TuneSpan trash these files, or leave them alone.

More information in the updated TuneSpan Help.

Thanks so much to BZH Geek for the inspiration and input on this feature!