How do you reset iTunes?

Resetting iTunes can help resolve issues with syncing your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, and is a quick and easy process. Here are the steps to reset iTunes on both Windows and Mac computers.

Why Reset iTunes?

There are a few common reasons you may want to reset iTunes:

  • You are having sync issues getting music, apps, or other content to transfer to your iOS device
  • iTunes is not recognizing your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch
  • Your iTunes library is corrupted or has missing files
  • You want to start with a clean iTunes installation

Resetting iTunes essentially cleans out the library database and starts fresh. This can resolve a lot of technical issues you may be having with syncing content or connecting iOS devices to your computer.

How to Reset iTunes on Windows

Here are the steps to reset iTunes on a Windows PC:

  1. Open iTunes on your computer, then quit iTunes.
  2. Press the Windows key + R to open the Run dialogue box.
  3. Type “%AppData%\Apple Computer\iTunes” and click OK. This will open your iTunes folder.
  4. Look for files named “iTunes Library.itl” and “iTunes Library.xml”. Delete both of these files.
  5. Go back to the iTunes folder, right click it, and click Properties.
  6. On the General tab, check the box for “Hidden” and click OK to hide the folder.
  7. Restart your computer.
  8. Launch iTunes again. It will create a new iTunes Library when opened.
  9. Choose whether to create a new library or use the default library. The default is essentially a blank slate.

That’s it! iTunes is now reset back to default settings on your Windows PC. You can sync your devices and add your media content back into the new iTunes library.

How to Reset iTunes on Mac

Here are the steps to reset iTunes on a Mac:

  1. Open iTunes then quit iTunes.
  2. Hold the Option key while clicking on the iTunes app icon to launch it again.
  3. This will prompt a dialog box to either create a new library or choose an existing library.
  4. Click Create Library and this will initialize a new empty iTunes library.

An alternative way is to reset iTunes via the terminal on Mac:

  1. Open the Terminal app on your Mac.
  2. Type: rm -rf ~/Music/iTunes
  3. Press Enter and this will delete the iTunes library.
  4. Launch iTunes again and it will create a new library.

Reset iTunes Without Losing Data

If you want to reset iTunes without losing your playlists, play counts, ratings, and other metadata in your library, there is a way to do this:

  1. Go to File menu > Library > Export Library.
  2. Save the XML file to your desktop or another location.
  3. Follow the steps above to reset iTunes fully.
  4. Go back to File > Library and choose Import Playlist to load your metadata back in.

This preserves all the iTunes Library data in an XML file, resets the library, and then imports the data back in so you have a clean slate but don’t lose all your saved playlist organizational work!

Troubleshooting iTunes Reset

Here are some common issues and fixes if you run into problems resetting iTunes:

Problem Solution
iTunes won’t launch after reset Restart your computer and launch again. Check for iTunes updates.
Sync still not working Update iOS device and cables. Disable antivirus temporarily.
Lost data Reimport iTunes XML library file that was exported.
Errors re-adding media Consolidate library to new folder location. Readd media folders.


Resetting iTunes is a quick and straightforward process on both Windows and Mac computers. This can resolve numerous issues with syncing iOS devices, library errors, and general iTunes issues. Be sure to backup your iTunes data with an XML export if you want to preserve playlists, play counts, and other metadata. Resetting iTunes gives you a fresh start while still keeping your iTunes music and other media in the new library.