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How do I stop iTunes from stealing my files?


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More than 7,000 tracks have been uploaded/matched to iCloud and are no longer physically on my iMac. Vast majority of those were CDs ripped to Apple Lossless, or Bandcamp files downloaded in Apple Lossless, etc -- they were lossless. Is there a way to get them back w/o the files downloading at AAC 256?

I subscribe to Apple Music. Sync is turned on. I know that means I can stream my library across all my devices. But why are the original physical files moved off my computer?

To be clear, I am not deleting the original files after iTunes/AM uploads or matches them. Apple is doing that. Checking "get info" file tab shows the track is in the cloud, not on my computer. 

How do I prevent this from happening? Why is it happening? I checked Time Machine a week previous, and all of the original files were backed up. I did update Big Sur since that backup; could that be the culprit? 

I have already restored the original files from the backup -- all of the files in iTunes/iTunes Media/Music path, as well as the Music folder that has a .musiclibrary file. Is that different from the iTunes library files? 

But of course, iTunes is not showing all those restored files, it still thinks the library database is the old one. How do I get iTunes to recognize the original library? If I create a new library with the restored files, I'll lose all the metadata including playlists, right? 

All help/suggestions welcome. Thx.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

While iTunes has its issues (boy howdy), I can’t say I’ve ever had the experience of it “stealing files.” The Music app (since you mentioned Big Sur, I suspect that’s what you’re using, not iTunes?) will copy files into your chosen “Music Media” folder if you have that option set in the “Files” tab of the application’s Preferences. It should never delete files. When Apple Music and iTunes Match first rolled out, there were evidently bugs that could cause it to do so, but I haven’t ever run into them, nor have I heard about those stories for years. So, it’s pretty hard for me to take a guess as to what’s going on.

 

For what it’s worth, this is what I would do to restore your library and choose settings I consider to be the “safest” with iTunes if you want to minimize any possibility of it mucking about with your files:

  • In the General Preferences tab, uncheck “Automatic Downloads” and (at least at first) “Sync Library”.
  • In the Files tab, uncheck “Keep Music Media folder organized” and “Copy Files to Music Media folder when adding to library”.
  • Start a new iTunes Library. You can save it in your Music folder. This is not the folder where you’re actually keeping your music.
  • Select File > Add to Library… and select the folder you are actually keeping your music in.
  • After iTunes is finished doing indexing and updating and whatever it does, turn on “Sync Library” if you wish.

I did this quite recently in an attempt to move back from Audirvana to iTunes, and so far it’s been fine. And,

 

On 5/24/2021 at 7:20 AM, Elgibby1 said:

If I create a new library with the restored files, I'll lose all the metadata including playlists, right?

 

For the playlists, it depends on whether they’ve already been synced to the cloud. If they have been, then they’ll probably be restored; mine were.

 

Also, continue to keep good backups. :)

Life was so much cheaper when I couldn't hear a difference between these things.

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On 6/10/2021 at 5:12 PM, ChipotleCoyote said:
  • In the General Preferences tab, uncheck “Automatic Downloads” and (at least at first) “Sync Library”.
  • In the Files tab, uncheck “Keep Music Media folder organized” and “Copy Files to Music Media folder when adding to library”.
  • Start a new iTunes Library. You can save it in your Music folder. This is not the folder where you’re actually keeping your music.
  • Select File > Add to Library… and select the folder you are actually keeping your music in.
  • After iTunes is finished doing indexing and updating and whatever it does, turn on “Sync Library” if you wish.

 

Hey Coyote, thx for the response. We've been traveling or I would have responded sooner. 

 

So, I used Time Machine and went back a week to when the missing files existed, and restored the Music Media folder. I unchecked 'sync' as soon as I did that.

 

Re: your suggestions, I'm not sure I'm following bullets 3 and 4 about starting a new library (I don't see an option to do that)  and selecting file/add to library. In fact, I don't see a File > Add to Library option. 

 

I'm running Music version 1.1.4.110 on Big Sur 11.3.1. 

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To create a new library:

 

 

Go to your Applications Folder

 

Press and Hold the Option button, on the keyboard

 

Double click the Music app.

 

On the pop-up menu, click Create Library

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Coke is correct about the new library creation -- the option is only available when you start Music by holding down Option. I should have remembered to mention that because it's pretty obscure. (I think it's in a help file somewhere.)

 

I just double checked on my Mac, which is also running Music on Big Sur. The Add to Library command seems to only appear when you've unchecked the "Copy files to Music Media folder when adding to library" option in preferences.

Life was so much cheaper when I couldn't hear a difference between these things.

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