How do you reset iTunes?

What is iTunes?

iTunes is a media player application developed by Apple. It allows users to organize and play their digital music and video files. iTunes also allows you to purchase, download, and manage media content from the iTunes Store. Resetting iTunes can help fix issues you may be having with the application and improve its performance.

When Should You Reset iTunes?

Here are some common reasons you may want to reset iTunes:

  • iTunes is running slow or freezing
  • You are having issues syncing your iPhone, iPad or iPod with iTunes
  • The iTunes library is corrupted or damaged
  • You want to clear old devices and downloads from iTunes
  • You are getting error messages in iTunes
  • Your iTunes preferences are messed up
  • You got a new computer and want to start fresh

Resetting iTunes essentially clears out old data, preferences and caches that may be causing problems. It allows you to start over with a clean slate.

Back Up iTunes Before Resetting

Before resetting iTunes, it is highly recommended to back up your iTunes library and preferences. This will allow you to restore your data afterwards if needed.

Here are ways to back up iTunes:

  • Back up music and media files: You can back up your iTunes media files by going to File > Library > Back Up to Disk and selecting a location.
  • Back up Playlists: Make sure playlists are copied over by going to File > Library > Export Playlist and saving the .xml files.
  • Back up iTunes Library: Go to Edit > Preferences > Advanced and check “Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library”. Then copy the iTunes Media folder to another location.
  • Back up iTunes Settings: Go to Edit > Preferences > General and check “Reset warnings” to back up your settings.

This will ensure you have copies of your important iTunes data and can restore after resetting.

Completely Reset iTunes on Windows

Here are the steps to completely reset iTunes on a Windows computer:

  1. Close iTunes if it is open.
  2. Navigate to the iTunes folder location on your computer. Typically this is found in your Music folder under C:\Users\[username]\Music
  3. Look for files named “iTunes Library.itl” and “iTunes Library.xml”. Delete both of these files.
  4. Open the Windows Control Panel and go to Programs > Uninstall a Program
  5. Find iTunes in the list of installed programs. Click on it and select Uninstall.
  6. Restart your computer after uninstalling.
  7. Reinstall latest version of iTunes from Apple’s website.
  8. Open newly installed iTunes. It will be completely reset with factory defaults.

This process will completely remove iTunes including your library, downloads, and playlists. Make sure you have backed them up first.

Reset iTunes Without Losing Data on Windows

If you want to reset iTunes on Windows without losing your iTunes library and playlists, follow these steps:

  1. Exit iTunes if it is open.
  2. Press Windows Key + R to open the Run dialogue box.
  3. Type “%AppData%\Apple Computer\iTunes” and click OK. This will open your iTunes settings folder.
  4. Delete the “iTunes Library.itl” file in this folder.
  5. Open Control Panel > Programs > Uninstall a Program.
  6. Uninstall iTunes components like Apple Software Update, Apple Mobile Device Support etc.
  7. Restart computer and launch iTunes. iTunes will be reset but your library and playlists will remain.

This more selective reset will clear caches, temporary files and iTunes settings without deleting your library and playlists. It can fix many common issues with iTunes.

Completely Reset iTunes on Mac

Here is how to completely reset iTunes including your library on a Mac:

  1. Quit iTunes if it is open.
  2. Open Finder and go to your Home folder > Music > iTunes.
  3. Move the iTunes Library.itl and iTunes Library.xml files to trash.
  4. Go to Applications folder and drag iTunes app to trash.
  5. Open Terminal app and type: sudo rm -rf ~/Music/iTunes to remove any leftover files.
  6. Empty Trash to completely remove files.
  7. Reinstall latest iTunes from Apple’s website.
  8. Launch newly installed iTunes app. It will be reset with blank library.

This completely erases iTunes and your library data. Make backups before proceeding.

Reset iTunes Without Losing Data on Mac

Follow these steps to reset iTunes on a Mac without losing your music library or playlists:

  1. Quit iTunes.
  2. Hold Option key and click iTunes icon in Dock. Select Quit.
  3. In Finder, open the iTunes folder located in your Music folder.
  4. Delete the iTunes Library.itl file.
  5. Go to your Home folder > Music and delete the iTunes folder.
  6. Relaunch iTunes app. iTunes will be reset but your library will be intact.

This will clear iTunes caches and restore settings without deleting your actual media library. It can fix problems with syncing and performance.

Reset iTunes on iPhone, iPad or iPod

You can also reset iTunes on your iOS devices like iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Here’s how:

  1. Open Settings app on your device.
  2. Tap General > Reset.
  3. Tap Reset Settings. This will reset all settings but won’t erase data.
  4. Alternately, tap Erase All Content and Settings to factory reset your device. You will lose your data.

Resetting your iOS device can resolve issues caused by faulty settings and caches related to iTunes syncing.

Common Problems After Resetting iTunes

Here are some common issues you may encounter after resetting iTunes and how to fix them:

Missing Media Files

If some of your media files are missing after resetting, restore them from your backup. Go to File > Library > Import Playlist to import your playlist backups. For media files, copy them back over from your backup location to the new iTunes Media folder.

Playlists Not Showing

If playlists are gone, import playlist XML files that you backed up from File > Library > Import Playlist.

Syncing Problems With iPhone/iPad

Go to your iOS device’s settings, tap General > Reset > Reset Network Settings to reset sync configurations. Then sync with iTunes again.

Error “iTunes Library Cannot Be Saved”

This occurs if the permissions on the iTunes Media folder have changed. Go to the folder, right click > Properties > Security and give your user account full permission. Then restart iTunes.

iTunes Keeps Freezing or Crashing

If iTunes continues having issues after resetting, uninstall it fully and reinstall the latest version. Update Windows or macOS to latest version if needed.


Resetting iTunes can quickly resolve common issues with syncing, library errors and performance lag. Follow the steps above to fully reset iTunes or selectively reset settings as needed without losing your iTunes content. Make sure your important library data is backed up before resetting iTunes. This will refresh iTunes and usually get it working smoothly again.