iTunes is hiding something from me!


macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 31, 2003
I've always prided myself on having a smart, well organized iTunes library. I have it set to "Keep iTunes Music folder organized", and all my music is found in that folder. Every time I delete songs (extremely frequently, as I am constantly listening to songs that I've never heard before), I always hit "Yes" when it asks me to move them to the trash.

Here's the problem--while trying to free up space on my hard drive, I noticed that my iTunes music folder clocks in at 55.75 GB, while iTunes notes my library to be 39.58 GB.

Does anyone have an idea as to what went wrong? Could it be that iTunes didn't always put those songs in the trash when I told it to?

More importantly, what can I do to get that space back? My first hunch was to drag the "iTunes Music" folder onto my library, so that (hopefully) any songs that are in the Finder but not in iTunes would show up again, so I could delete them. Could that work?

An easier method would be to simply select all the 5 star songs in iTunes and drag them to a folder in the finder, repeat for each level of ranking, delete the 55 GB folder and let iTunes create a new iTunes music library, and then drag each rating level into the fresh library. The problem here is that iTunes seems to contain a limit on how many songs you can export using drag and drop. With a collection of my size, it would take forever.

P.S. If I need to completely re-do my iTunes Music library, know that I don't need any playlists saved, but I do need ratings saved.

P.P.S. Could it have something to do with using the "Consolidate Library" command?

If anyone has a good solution, I would be extremely grateful.



macrumors 6502a
May 13, 2003
Tucson, AZ
Are you sure that you've selected the option that tells iTunes to move your songs into the Trash when you delete them? If this option is not toggled, iTunes will remove the song from your iTunes library, but not delete it on the disk (it'll still be there if you nav to it in the Finder).


Moderator emeritus
Mar 10, 2004
Bergen, Norway
My iTunes tells me I got 33.12 GB music, while get info on my iTunes Music Folder tells me it's 33.21 GB... close enough (maybe I've forgot to really delete a couple of songs...)

When you get the "Do you really want to delete the music?"-question upon deleting tracks from the library (deleting from Playlists are possible, but you'll heve to hold down the alt key - I think it was), do you actually click the button that says "Yes, throw them into trash"-is (or press the 'y' key)? Or, do you hit the Enter or Return and assume that they'll be deleted? Pressing Enter/Return will not throw the files into trash, just remove it from the iTunes library, and the files will remain in your iTunes Music Folder.

I also have a weak suspicion that you'll have to have the option for "Let iTunes organize my songs" checked if iTunes are to be able to throw the songs into trash when you delete them from your library... but I'm not sure...

Did any of this make sense?


macrumors 68020
Jan 23, 2005
If you have an iPod, you COULD just delete all your songs (that are not purchased from the music store) and then rip all the songs off your iPod...

if you have more songs than your iPod could handle, you can delete all the songs from iTunes, but dont send them to the trash, then import ALL the songs and delete the ones you don't want...


macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 31, 2003
Got it!

Thank you all for your suggestions!

It just hit me--the issue is how I've been backing up my iTunes library.

I used a Unix utility called psync to create a backup on an external drive. I thought that each time I ran it, it would note the files that had disappeared from my source library and delete them from the backup. Instead, it had not deleted anything.

When I gave my system a fresh OS and stuck my backed-up iTunes library into my home folder, it included all the deleted songs (in the finder, not in iTunes).

If anyone is looking to fix a similar situation, it was solved by dragging and dropping the folder "/Users/ethan/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music" into my iTunes library. All the deleted files showed up, I selected everything I had just added, and pressing the delete key prompted the "Move these to trash?" message.

All's well, just saved a cool 15GB of space!



macrumors 65816
Mar 3, 2004
Canada's South Coast

Wow, that's weird. I just checked mine and they both agree (15.69 & 15.69). But not too long ago I was browsing through my iTunes Library with the Finder and I discovered a "mystery" directory. It was simply called "Unknown" and it was sandwiched in alphabetically between Uncle Kracker and Van Halen. I looked inside "Unknown" and it had a dozen or so .mp3's that I had imported six months ago but as far as I know had never made it into my library. I don't remember deleting them or even seeing them before. So I re-imported them doing a drag-and-drop from Finder and they were playable and everything was fine. I realize you'd need thousands of such "lost" songs to account for your 15+ GB difference but this might be a place to start???

EDIT -- Oh, disregard, I see my message was filed simultaneously with the one above. Glad you've solved your problem!
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