iTunes: ‘The file “iTunes Library.itl” cannot be read’ Fix

After upgrading Apple iTunes and restarting my computer, I received a strange error message when starting the application:

The file “iTunes Library.itl” cannot be read because it was created by a newer version of iTunes.

I have had problems with the iTunes Library.itl file in the past. This one is strange because I was fully upgraded to the newest version of iTunes, yet still got this error. To solve the issue, I had to do the following steps.

Note: You will have to rebuild your iTunes library after performing these steps. All ratings, playlists, etc will be lost. The media files you own should still be available on your hard drive though.

  1. Navigate to where the iTunes Library.itl file is located.
    • OS X – /Users/username/Music
    • Windows XP – C:\Documents and Settings\username\My Documents\My Music
    • Windows Vista – C:\Users\username\Music
    • Windows 8 or 7 – C:\Users\username\My Music
  2. Delete the iTunes Library file.
  3. Start iTunes. Your music database will now be blank, but your music files should still be available in the iTunes Music folder located in one of the locations noted above.
  4. Drag and drop the iTunes Music folder and any other folders that contain your music files to the iTunes application window. iTunes should then take some time to rebuild the database of music.

This fix may not make you completely happy since there is some loss of data, but it’s the only solution I could find for myself.


  1. Robert says

    Many many thanks! Your suggestion worked for me and saved me for getting mad.

  2. Savvannis says

    I’ve gone so far as to uninstall iTunes, remove all traces of the program from the registry, delete the .itl file, delete the iTunes folder from my music folder, reboot, reinstall iTunes, and STILL get this message. I’ve done a search on ALL hard drives on my computer for the .itl file and it shows that there are none, and yet I still get this error. Suggestions?

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