It can be very frustrating when you open iTunes and find that your carefully curated playlists have suddenly vanished. Playlists disappearing in iTunes is a common problem that many users have experienced. The good news is that in most cases, the playlists are not actually gone forever – there are several troubleshooting steps you can take to try and recover them. Here are some quick answers to common questions about missing iTunes playlists, and details on how to get your music back.
Why did my playlists disappear from iTunes?
Some common reasons playlists may disappear from iTunes include:
- Syncing issues with iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch
- Updates to iOS, iTunes or macOS causing corruption
- Hard drive errors
- Accidental deletion
- Corrupt iTunes library file
Can I get my iTunes playlists back?
In most cases, yes you can recover missing iTunes playlists. Potential solutions include:
- Restore from a backup
- Use playlist recovery software
- Re-add the songs to new playlists
Why do iTunes playlists disappear?
iTunes playlists may disappear for a variety of technical reasons:
- Syncing errors with iPhone/iPad
- Connectivity issues between devices
- iTunes library corruption
- Bugs from software updates
- Accidental user deletion
The most common playlists issues stem from syncing and connectivity between iTunes and iOS devices. Corruption in the iTunes library database can also lead to missing playlists.
Troubleshooting Missing iTunes Playlists
If your playlists have disappeared from iTunes on your computer, don’t panic. Here are some steps you can take to try and restore your playlist data:
Check iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch
One of the most common reasons for playlists disappearing from iTunes is syncing errors with your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. When you sync your iOS device, it copies your iTunes playlists for use offline. If a sync gets interrupted, playlists can vanish from iTunes but still be present on your device.
To check, connect your iPhone/iPad/iPod to your computer, open iTunes and go to the device’s summary page. Look under Playlists to see if your missing playlists are still listed there. If so, you can drag them back into iTunes to restore them on your computer.
Restore iTunes Library from Backup
iTunes creates backups of your library database on a regular basis. You may be able to restore your iTunes library and playlists from a previous backup.
To restore your iTunes library from backup:
1. Quit iTunes
2. Locate your iTunes backup files. These are usually found in (on Windows) Documents>My Music>iTunes or (on Mac) Users>Music>iTunes
3. Copy the most recent iTunes Library.itl and iTunes Library.xml files to your desktop
4. Restart iTunes while holding Shift and click “Yes” to use the copied backup files
5. iTunes will load the backup and hopefully restore your missing playlists!
Use Playlist Recovery Software
If restoring from a backup doesn’t bring back your disappeared iTunes playlists, your next option is to use dedicated iTunes recovery software.
These tools are designed to scan your iTunes library for missing or corrupted data and recover your playlists. Some top iTunes playlist recovery apps include:
- iMyFone TunesFix
- iMyFone TunesMate
- DigiDNA iMazing
- Fonelab iPhone Data Recovery
Follow the instructions for your selected software to scan your iTunes library and restore missing playlist information. This should help recover any playlists that have disappeared.
Manually Recreate Playlists
If you can’t restore your playlists from a backup or recovery tool, the nuclear option is to manually recreate them by re-adding songs. This can be tedious for large playlists, but is an option if nothing else has worked.
To manually restore playlists in iTunes:
1. Make a list of all the playlists that are missing and the songs they contained.
2. Create a new playlist in iTunes for each vanished one and title it the same.
3. Search for each song in your library and drag it into the appropriate playlist to recreate your list.
While manual recreation takes effort, it will restore missing playlists if you can recall the song details.
How to Avoid iTunes Playlists Disappearing
To avoid playlists unexpectedly disappearing from iTunes in the future, here are some prevention tips:
Update iTunes and iOS Software
Make sure to keep your iTunes installation and iOS devices up to date. Software updates often fix bugs and issues that can cause problems with playlists syncing and stability. Update iTunes and your iPhone/iPad/iPod regularly.
Safely Eject iPhone/iPad Before Disconnecting
Never disconnect your iOS device from your computer without properly ejecting it first. To safely eject, click the eject symbol next to the device name in iTunes. This ensures syncing completes properly.
Backup iTunes Library Frequently
Consistently back up your iTunes library and playlists. iTunes can automatically copy your library to a set backup location. Or you can manually back up iTunes data to external drives.
Use Stable Playlists Format
Avoid the automatic playlists format as these can sometimes have issues. Stick with standard playlists in iTunes for maximum stability.
Repair Corrupt iTunes Library
If your iTunes library becomes corrupted, you may be able to repair it in iTunes > Preferences > Advanced and selecting “Repair Database”. This can fix errors that lead to disappearing playlists.
While playlist issues can definitely be annoying, in most cases you can recover disappeared iTunes playlists using one of the methods above. Restoring from backup, using recovery tools or manual recreation will typically get your playlists back intact. Be sure to take preventative steps like updating software, ejecting devices properly and backing up to avoid playlists vanishing again. With a little work, your iTunes playlist collection will be restored and provide listening enjoyment once again.
|Reason for Disappearing Playlists||Solution|
|Syncing errors with iPhone/iPad/iPod||Check device summary in iTunes for playlists and restore|
|iTunes library corruption||Restore iTunes library from backup files|
|Accidental deletion||Use playlist recovery software|
|Software bugs||Update iTunes and iOS software|
|Unable to recover playlists||Manually recreate playlists|
- Update iTunes and iOS regularly
- Safely eject iOS devices before disconnecting
- Backup iTunes library often
- Use standard playlists format
- Repair corrupt iTunes library