[3 Ways] How to Restore Previous iTunes Library

Is your iTunes Library empty because of accidental deletion or unknown reasons? You may have no idea how to do with it. This post will tell you how to restore previous iTunes Library in 3 workable methods.

Demi by Demi Updated October 8, 2023
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Can I restore a previous iTunes Library?

I accidentally deleted my iTunes Library. Is it possible to restore it please?

- Question from Apple Community

iTunes has been a trusted companion for managing your media Library for years. However, sometimes, due to various reasons like accidental deletion, corruption, or a system upgrade, you might find yourself in a situation where you need to restore your previous iTunes Library.

restore itunes library

Fortunately, there are several methods to do this. In this article, we will explore three effective ways to restore your iTunes Library, catering to different scenarios.

Way 1. How to restore previous iTunes Library by rebuilding

You should know that every time you upgrade to a new version of iTunes, it will keep a copy of previous iTunes libraries. Therefore, you can manually rebuild iTunes Library to get it back. Here are detailed instructions on how to restore iTunes Library by rebuilding it.

Step 1. Quit iTunes. Go to the iTunes folder to find your iTunes Library file (iTunes Library.itl). Drag it to your desktop.
>> iTunes Library location:
• Window 10/8/7/Vista: /Users/username/My Music/iTunes
• Windows XP: /Documents and Settings/username/My Documents/My Music/iTunes
• Mac OS: Users/username/Music/iTunes

Step 2. Open Previous iTunes Libraries > Find and copy the latest iTunes Library file.

copy itunes library

Step 3. Back to the Music page, paste the file > Finally, rename the newly copied file to the iTunes Library.itl.

Way 2. How to restore previous iTunes Library from backup

It is a straightforward and normal way to restore previous iTunes Library from a backup, especially if you’ve moved iTunes Library to external drive. Here are steps of how to restore previous iTunes Library from backup.

For Mac users
Step 1. Quit iTunes. Open Finder on your Mac > Find the iTunes folder that you backed up in the external hard drive.

Step 2. Drag the iTunes folder from the external hard drive to whatever location you want to put it.

Step 3. Open your iTunes, simultaneously, holding down the Option.

Step 4. Finally, you will see a dialog like the picture shown below, click Choose Library.

click choose library

Step 5. Move to the new iTunes folder you just copied and locate the iTunes Library.itl > Click Choose. iTunes will be opened and your iTunes Library will be restored.

For Windows PC users:
Step 1. Quit iTunes. Open external hard drive and copy the whole folder of iTunes to any location on computer.

Step 2. Press Shift Key and open iTunes at the same time. iTunes would then tell you to import iTunes library.

restore itunes library

Step 3. Click Choose Library and locate the folder on computer. You could find a file named “iTunes Library.itl”. Open it to restore the entire iTunes library.

iTunes library itl

Way 3. [Fastest] How to restore iTunes Library on iPhone

If you have synced your iTunes Library to your iPhone, iPad or iPod, you can use FoneTool, a data transfer tool for iOS devices to bring the missing iTunes Library back to your PC, and then add music back to your iTunes Library.

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Now, download the freeware to your PC, and follow the steps below to restore iTunes Library from iPhone.

Step 1. Transfer music from iOS device to PC
• Launch FoneTool > Connect the iPhone to computer with USB > Click Phone Transfer > Mouse over to iPhone to PC and click Start Transfer.

go to transfer

• Click the plus icon to browse music on source iPhone > Select the songs you want to transfer to computer > Click OK to confirm.

choose songs

• Choose a storage path and adjust other settings from Transfer Settings > Click Start Transfer to start the process.

start transfer music

Step 2. Add music to iTunes Library
• Make sure you have the latest version of iTunes on your computer > Plug your iPhone to computer with USB.

• Click the phone icon > Click Summary > Uncheck the option “Automatically sync when this iPhone is connected” > Check the option “Manually manage music and videos” > Click Apply to confirm.

turn off automatically sync in itunes

• Click File option > Choose Add File to Library from the drop-down list to add music files to iTunes that you want to transfer to iPhone.

add file to library


No matter the reason for needing to know how to restore previous iTunes library, these three methods offer reliable solutions. You can rebuild your library manually, restore from a backup, or use a third-party tool like FoneTool for a speedy transfer. Choose the method that suits your needs and enjoy your media collection once again. Remember to regularly back up your iTunes library to prevent future data loss.

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