remove broken song links in iTunes

So someone asks you to play some music, and you click on the perfect itunes songs and iTunes says it can’t find the file. It helpfully puts a little exclamation point next to the mp3 and tells you it can’t find the file, but then doesn’t let you do anything else with it. Do you want to search for it? No. You want it to play music. You don’t want to ‘consolidate library’ because you like where your mp3s are and you don’t want apple managing everything you do. You can’t click on the exclamation point column to sort by ghost links, and you can’t find them all and delete them. What do you do?

For mac, you use Super Find Dead Tracks. It’s an applescript that gets rid of those exclamation point files. You put it in home > library > iTunes > Scripts . If Scripts doesn’t exist you create it. Then it appears as a menu item in a new script icon folder:

Super Remove Dead Tracks Menu Item

Then you wait a little bit and it gives you a dialog when it’s finished. Then you give the guy money or link to him on your blog (thanks dude).

If you’re on PC, you use Itunes Library Updater 2.0.

How I found this / Realized it was a Problem
First I talked to Maeve (my g/f) if she knew the best way to do this. She thought about it and would consolidate her library manually by searching for mp3s, dragging them to the itunes folder, deleting the library and rebuilding it from scratch. This is not a bad idea, it’s taking control of your library and not leaving it up to apple to organize your music. That way you know what you have and if you’ve missed any mp3s. I just wondered if this was a slower way to do it; looking online later people have said having apple reimport all your music can take hours.

On a side note, I think Maeve is less lazy than I am–I would have a computer clean my room and navigate me around if it could. She is generally better at organizing files, and rates her music, meaning iTunes is going to reward her for the manual effort she puts into her library. I on the other hand think about iTune’s lack of functionality, and think “this is stupid” and “there has to be a way to do this.” Generally speaking with computers, if you think these things, chances are you’re right, lots of people think this and have come up with ways of fixing it. It’s a competitive market, so if there’s something the program is really lacking, chances are the competing software does what you’re thinking of and you may be using the wrong program.
Anyway, first I googled “itunes consolidate library not found” (without quotes), which are two literal phrases from itunes error messages. I didn’t know what to call this concept (broken links? ghost files? empty references?) so I tried using language found in the errors and features itunes gives you: the menu item “Advanced > Consolidate Library”, and “The Original Song File Could Not Be Found.” My attempt was to tell google I’m looking for an advanced feature of iTunes relating to organizing my library (like “consolidate library”) but that I’m having a problem “not found”. With this phrase, I found a document called “iTunes Problems (Quarter Life Crisis).” This article wasn’t too helpful and neither were my search engine results pages, but on that page I did find someone who referred to these items in my problem as “lost links”. I tried a new google search for “itunes broken links” thinking I’d get better results. I did, the first link was a digg article that linked to a PC app that addressed the problem.

Being on a mac, I wasn’t done yet, though I have a PC so that app will be helpful in the future. The digg comments and the article mention apple scripts that can do the same thing, but don’t link to it. So on the mac I know there’s an apple script out there that will fix this. Going back to the same search engine results page (SERP) I click on the second link which describes my problem. This person calls the broken files “ghosts”. Addendum–for some reason experts exchange now is hiding the solution from me and trying to charge me to view it–but when I went to this page before, I saw the solution and found two scripts pages that both had very helpful looking itunes scripts, one of which had the super find dead tracks app I needed.
Why am I explaining what I googled? While lots of people have already figured this out, and it doesn’t take a genius to know how to use google, I do see people not knowing how to use google well. They’ll ask me computer questions that they could easily google the answer for. This is an explanation of how to do it in a more general sense. I’m also interested in the problem solving process and what it can teach us about solving other problems. I think if we had more people writing about their problems, describing how they thought about them, posting the solutions, and tagging their solution with other keywords people could use to find them, we could evolve and learn faster as a group than we can by ourselves with the whole ‘figure it out for yourself’ mentality. Anyone want to comment or join in? If you have a problem you’d like to write about solving please email me at jordan at

3 Responses to “remove broken song links in iTunes”

  1. on 25 Sep 2006 at 8:24 pm calebio

    I’m beginning to dislike iTunes. My oldest problem with it is the Find Duplicate Songs menu item. It searches only the song title, retrieving versions of the same song that are on different albums and of different lengths. There’s also no way to sort the results into two lists of names, which would make deletion of one of the two sets simple. instead i’m forced to apple-click every other song.

    A google search turns up a script at the same location your Super Find script comes from ( It appears to be an outdated utility, though.

  2. on 26 Sep 2006 at 9:36 am jordan314

    I too recently tried corral itunes dupes from It’s a little better at matching duplicate songs and can put them in a playlist for you, but I have the same complaint, that both it and the apple function list them in pairs and expect you to go through them manually. I too had to apple-click my way through a bunch of dupes because neither function would let you select only the duplicates.

  3. on 07 Apr 2009 at 1:11 pm ekse

    Thanks for the thorough description! It helped my get rid of all those dead files i had produced when deleting duplicates with a little python script i had written:

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