What to Do if iTunes Won't Open Because of a New iTunes Library

Don't panic: iTunes library errors are easily resolved with File Explorer.
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When performing a System Restore or installing software updates in Windows, the iTunes library can sometimes become corrupted, causing an issue with opening the application. If you have recently applied an iTunes update and are now getting an error message when trying to launch the program, stating that the program won’t open because the library was created by a newer version of iTunes, resolve the issue and save your iTunes data via Windows' File Explorer.

Press “Windows-E” to open File Explorer, and then browse to the C:\Users\Username\Music\iTunes folder location, replacing “Username” with your Windows username.

Right-click the “iTunes Library.itl” file and choose “Rename” from the context menu.

Change the file extension from “.itl” to “.old”. Note that if you've attempted an iTunes upgrade, your existing library is backed up and indexed by date in the Previous iTunes Libraries folder. Simply rename the most recent backup to “iTunes Library.old,” and then copy this file to the iTunes Music folder.

Launch iTunes. The program should open now.

Click the “Help” tab, and then click “Check for Updates.” The newest version of iTunes is downloaded to your computer and a new iTunes library is created. Close iTunes.

Right-click the new “iTunes Library.itl" file in the C:\Users\Username\Music\iTunes folder in File Explorer, and then click “Delete” to delete the new library.

Right-click the “iTunes Library.old” file, click “Rename,” and then replace the “.old” file extension with “.itl”.

Open iTunes. Your original library is now active.

  • Information provided in this article applies to iTunes 11. Instructions may vary slightly or significantly for other versions of the software.

Based in the live music capital of the world, Tammy Columbo continues to work in the information technology industry as she has done for more than 10 years. While living in Austin, Columbo has contributed to high profile projects for the State of Texas, Fortune 500 technology companies and various non-profit organizations. Columbo began writing professionally in 2009.