Restoring a Previous Version of Your iTunes Library

Restoring a Previous Version of Your iTunes Library

I recently received an e-mail from a user who had installed a newer version of iTunes, but then went back to the previous version. When they started the previous version they received an error on the screen related to the “ITunes Library.itl” file. This error prevented iTunes from launching.

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I did some research into the issue and managed to find an easy solution to the problem. After describing the steps to correct the problem, the user informed me that iTunes was once again working. In this post I’ll describe the solution.

Restoring Your ITunes Library File

If you decide to revert back to a previous version of iTunes, you may receive the following error:


ITunes Library.itl cannot be read because it was created by a newer version of iTunes.

This error prevents iTunes from launching. The library file was modified to work with the newer iTunes version, so it is no longer compatible with the previous version. The good news, however, is that Apple does backup the iTunes library file into a subdirectory that you can use to revert back to the previous version.

To recover a previous version of the iTunes Library.itl file, use the following steps:

  1. Open up your My Documents\My Music folder.
  2. We will first backup the current version. Rename iTunes Library.itl to something like iTunes Library.itl.bak.
  3. Go into the My Documents\My Music\Previous iTunes Libraries folder.
  4. You may see several files that start with iTunes Library and have a date included in the name. Copy the newest file in the folder.
  5. Go back to the My Documents\My Music and paste the file from the previous step.
  6. Rename the new copied file to iTunes Library.itl.

Your library should now be restored to the previous version of iTunes, and you should no longer receive the message.

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87 Responses to “Restoring a Previous Version of Your iTunes Library”

  1. henryedw says:

    That’s nice. Thanks for your post. When sometimes I update my iTunes and it takes all my data gone and I cannot find the iTunes library. So I have to use 3rd party software called FonePaw iOS Transfer to restore the iTunes library and backup my data by the way. It’s convenient to restore the iTunes library.

  2. Sheryl R says:

    Thank you soooo much for this! I was trying to replace my lost playlists (due to their latest update!) item by item and the time needed to restore my playlists was prohibitive. You seriously saved me so much time and aggravation. Thank you!!

  3. Anne says:

    Hi I mistakenly reverted my i pod to delete ‘manage music manually’ and most of my songs have disappeared – can you help please? I clicked the above button as I couldn’t find the sync button after importing a cd – tried restoring pc to an earlier date but the music is still not there – I owuld be very grateful if you could help at all please? thank you

  4. sachin says:

    thanx you saved hell of time , thanx a lot 🙂

  5. cha says:

    how can i install the previous version of itunes? I need to install 10.2 version. Pls help me.

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