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Dead iTunes tracks fix

Ever had a bunch of music files in iTunes that you decided to move to somewhere else and you end up with the ! in front of the filename since iTunes can’t find it?  Well here’s an easier way to delete them than manually selecting each one and deleting it.  Maybe someday the software engineers who develop iTunes will figure out how to allow you to sort by the ! column, but until then… 

  1. Make a smart playlist called “All Files” with this rule: “Artist” is not “123456789” (or any nonsense name that won’t be in your library).
  2. Make a static playlist called “All Live Files”.
  3. Make a smart playlist called “Missing Files” with these rules: Match all of the following rules, Playlist is “All Files”, Playlist is not “All Live Files”
  4. Select all the files from “All Files” and drag them into “All Live Files”. The dead files marked (!) will not copy over.
  5. “Missing Files” will contain all of your dead files. Select all and delete. Voila, a nice clean iTunes library. A few more steps are needed since iTunes 7.4.3 doesn’t appear to let you delete anything from a smart playlist.
  6. Make another static playlist called “Dead Files”.
  7. Select all, right-click and choose “Add to playlist” and choose the “Dead Files” static playlist.  Why don’t I have you drag them from the “Missing Files” smart playlist to the “Dead Files” static playlist?  iTunes won’t let you, but for some reason you can do it by right-clicking on them and sending them to the playlist.  Kudos to the Itunes software engineers on that one.
  8. Select all the files in the “Dead Files” and delete.  Now you have the nice clean iTunes library.

I have these four playlists in their own folder. Whenever I gather more than a couple dead tracks for whatever reason, I delete all the tracks in “All Live Files” and repeat steps 4 through 8.

Not as nice as the much needed “Sort by (!)” feature but it works like a charm and it’s pretty simple.

Steps 1-5 taken from an anonymous comment on and updated with steps 6-8.

UPDATE 1/16/08
I’m not sure when exactly this was implemented, but as of iTunes 7.6 you can now sort by the (!) column. Now you can manage your dead iTunes tracks without so much hassle.