How to Clear Out Your iTunes Library

Picture this: You’ve got your iTunes pulled up while you’re working or doing household chores. (You prefer using iTunes to paid services like Apple Music or Spotify, anyway.) As you work, you notice that the songs are skipping. They aren’t fading into one another properly.

You figure, no worries, and hit the Skip button. Now everyone knows all about your edgy teen self’s music taste. You try skipping again, only to land on something laden with enough profanity to make a sailor blush.

Your iTunes library needs a serious cleaning. Not just to reflect your changing tastes, but to get rid of junk files that have taken up residence there. So, how do you clean out your iTunes? Here’s what you need to know.

What Would You Want to Remove from Your iTunes Library?

First, let’s discuss what files you might want to remove from your iTunes Library. The answers might prove more diverse than you think! Some examples of things that might need to be cleared out from your iTunes include:

Duplicated Files

Duplicated files in your iTunes can result from a few different things. Errors during the synching or uploading process are by far the most common source of duplicate files.

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However, this can also occur when you download two different file extensions of the same music for quality purposes. For example, if you burned yourself a CD of some of your old iTunes songs and needed the larger files for that, but now can use the smaller versions for standard listening.

Playlists That No Longer Serve a Purpose

Sit down and think about it. Do you really need that romantic playlist you made three exes ago? Your angry teen mood booster? Your clubbing music list, when you haven’t even wanted to go clubbing in three years?

If you don’t use the playlist on the regular, it’s better to get rid of it. Or, at the very least, trim out the songs you don’t like from the list. You can do this without losing permanent access to the file.

Podcasts, Audio Books, Movies, and Videos You’re Done With

You got an iTunes gift card and used it to download some TV episodes or movies you’ve been wanting to see. Now, you’ve no desire to see them again, and they’re eating hundreds of megabytes of space, especially if downloaded in HD or 4K. It’s time to clear out that old watch history.

This also applies to non-music audio files like podcasts or audiobooks. If you’re done with it, there’s no need to keep it around when you could be adding new elements to your library.

Old Songs You No Longer Like or Want

Of course, the most obvious files you’ll want to remove from your iTunes are song files that you no longer enjoy or want. Maybe your favorite artist got involved with controversy. Perhaps certain artists or songs make you think of bad places and times in your life that it’s better not to recall.

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Or maybe your music tastes simply evolved as you got older. Whatever your motivation, you need these songs gone as soon as possible. Now, how do you do this?

How to Remove Files from iTunes: Windows

First, let’s discuss the steps to remove files from your iTunes library on Windows. While using iTunes on Windows isn’t as common now as it once was, there are still plenty who work with this platform. So, in order to remove unwanted files from your iTunes Library, you need to:

  • Enter the iTunes app on your PC
  • Click on MusicMovies, or TV Shows from the pop-up menu in the top-left
  • Click on Library
  • Find the item that you want to delete
  • Click the item to select it, then hit the Delete key

After this, a pop-up should follow asking whether you want to “Keep File” or “Remove to Recycle Bin”. If you select Keep File, the file will be deleted from your iTunes library but kept on your computer. If you select Remove to Recycle Bin, it will be sent to the Recycle Bin. When you next decide to empty your bin, it will be gone forever.

How to Remove Files from iTunes: Mac

Managing your iTunes library is much easier in the platform where it was created natively. (Though MacOS can, at times, prove tricky to navigate if you’re not used to working with it.) If you want to learn how to remove duplicate files from your Mac-based iTunes, our partners at MacPaw have an exceptional guide about removing itunes junk on their blog. Give it a read for more information!

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What If the Files Don’t Delete Properly?

If you’ve gone through the steps to try and delete the files you no longer want from your iTunes library and they aren’t going away, don’t panic.

First, check your Smart Playlists. These are playlists with a certain set of rules applied to them. (For instance, only play songs by certain artists, or from a certain album, etc.) If you selected any of these playlists to have Live Updating turned on, that can cause errors. Make sure to turn that function off before you start trying to delete the files.

In general, you should also make sure that any and all synchronizing functions are turned off when you want to start cleaning your song library. If you don’t and happen to turn on or log into another device that reflects the unedited version of your library, the system may try to put the files you’ve deleted right back on there.

That would completely defeat the purpose of clearing out your iTunes library, right?

Looking for More Handy iTunes Tips?

Figuring out how to delete files from your iTunes library can be tricky. Navigating iTunes, in general, can feel like it requires a manual all its own.

Have you been feeling lost looking at iTunes’ constantly updating interface? Do you need more tips and tricks to help you become an iTunes pro? If so, then check out our blog. We update regularly with home helpful tech content like this!

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