General Question

Spargett's avatar

Why does iTunes create duplicate files when I drag and drop MP3's?

Asked by Spargett (5395points) January 21st, 2008

If I create a playlist and drop a collection of MP3’s into it, it creates two copies of each song added. Is there a workaround for this?

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15 Answers

adamandshauna's avatar

Does this happen when you drag a song from your library into a new playlist or when you drag a song from outside iTunes and drop it in? If you have “Copy files to iTunes music folder when adding to library” checked in the Advanced tab in the Preferences window, it will always make a new copy in you iTunes folder for you. Otherwise, I haven’t been able to duplicate the problem by dragging a song from my library into a new playlist with the current version of iTunes.

jrpowell's avatar

I get something similar.. If I have a folder of mp3’s and drag the folder to the iTunes icon on the dock it makes two entries in the library for each song.

*I have iTunes set to manage my music folder and I know it copies and arranges them in my Music folder.
*It is making two copies of the actual mp3 file in my music folder. While leaving the original files alone. I usually drag the folder from my Desktop.
*I use OS X (10.4.11) and iTunes 7.6… But it has been doing this for the last year+.

sndfreQ's avatar

I agree with all the advice above. The key to managing files with iTunes is understanding that iTunes keeps track of where your media is located via the iTunes Music Library. If you don’t want the detailed explanation just click on the following links:

Consolidating media in iTunes for Mac

Consolidating media in iTunes for Windows

NOTE: You can choose manually MOVE your existing media (i.e. .mp3s) to the new directory versus having iTunes copy the media, by unchecking the “Copy files to iTunes Music Folder when adding to library” function prior to consolidating the library, then after iTunes is done consolidating, you can manually move your media to this new directory/folder. This may be desirable especially if you want to maintain your original file formats or if you don’t need iTunes to copy existing media.

In addition, the latest version, 7.6, allows multiple iTunes Music Library files to be created; this option is made available via a plug-in (shareware) called MultiTunes 1.3 that lets you switch between multiple iTunes libraries from within iTunes itself; this allows users to store media in multiple locations simultaneously (i.e. multiple hard drives)

And now if you want to read my explanation of ‘what’s happening’ based on your description and question (can’t help the teacher in me speaking here), read on:

The iTML is an XML file (database file) that tells the iTunes application where all your linked content is (whether in the documents folder of your C drive on PC or the Macintosh HD:users:username:Music folder on the Mac). To the detriment of most users (advanced or even the uninitiated), the default settings in iTunes only serve to ‘centralize’ media in the iTunes folder on the C drive or the default drive (including copying/duplicating your media), in order to maintain data in a single location. iTunes does this by automatically copying any media dragged into its main window, and in addition, placing that copy in AAC (Advanced Audio Codec) format-Apple’s default format for audio-in the iTunes Music folder on your C drive.

The result is that any when any audio media, be it .mp3, audio CD, etc. is ‘dragged and dropped’ or otherwise loaded into iTunes, iTunes will faithfully execute this default importing instructions-copy that media (ripping) into the C drive, in AAC format. The problem with this is, most ‘power’ users who manage large libraries eventually end up filling up their C drive with media (esp. in the case of movie files), and in AAC format no less.

So the issues to rectify become:
1. “telling iTunes” where you want your media to live (e.g. an external or second hard drive), and
2. changing the default importing behavior so that iTunes doesn’t automatically duplicate/replicate your media to the C drive and re-arrange it by its default directory structure (Artist/Album/Track), and
3. specifying the desired audio format (.mp3, AAC, lossless audio, WAV, etc.)

On the Mac, most, if not all settings for the application (in this case iTunes) are found in the Application menu (iTunes Menu); On Windows PC, it can be found in Edit Menu/Preferences. The two links at the top of this post allow you to configure these settings by consolidating your media to the desired directory (e.g. an external hard drive). Once this is complete, you can delete any duplicates in other folders/drives, as this will be the new directory.

jrpowell's avatar

@sndfreQ… When I add music from my desktop (by dragging a mp3 onto the iTunes icon in the Dock) I end up with three files. The original and two copied by iTunes. I know iTunes is making a copy to put in my Music folder, but why is it making two copies of the actual mp3 file in my music folder? This shows up as two identical entries in my Library. And neither of those point to the original files on my Desktop (If I do a Reveal in Finder). The two point to the copies iTunes made in my Music folder.

sndfreQ's avatar

@johnpowell: The extent/severity of the problem you’re having with iTunes is uncertain to me; Have you tried upgrading and re-installing iTunes to the latest version?

Also, from the sounds of it, if you’ve already made the proper settings in the preferences, it may be possible that you have a corrupted iTunes Music Library file. My advice in troubleshooting this would be to make a copy of that iTunes Music Library file (XML file in the iTunes Folder), then delete it. Make a copy/backup of ALL your media (the media in your iTunes Music Folder), then relaunch iTunes and try importing files. Then see if the problem still exists.

Warning: this is the ‘Nuclear’ option and will cause your entire library in iTunes to be wiped out! Back up all your music and media before proceeding!

If the problem still persists even in this new ‘wiped’ iTunes window, then the problem may be in software versus a corrupted iTML file.

Then, after re-installing iTunes, try making the settings described above, then quit iTunes, and drag and drop the copy of the original iTunes Music Library into the iTunes folder. Do the same thing with the music media (move back to the music folder).

Another nugget of advice: you should move files from the desktop to wherever you store your media (e.g. external hard drive/iTunes music folder) before dragging them into iTunes or onto the iTunes icon.

All else fails, you can re-install iTunes, then after configuring, re-import all of your media; this is a worst-case scenario, and doing this method will cause a loss of all the metadata (tags) for your files. You would have to also rebuild all of your playlist. That is basically the “nuclear” option.

But as I mentioned earlier, even if you re-install iTunes, you can re-copy your original iTML file back into the iTunes folder after setup, and you would see all your files reappear in iTunes.

Last thing: you may want to consult the Apple support page and do some basic queries in the search feature or lookup the FAQs for iTunes; there may be others in that support forum having the same problem.

Keep us posted on your findings…I’m interested to find out what’s happening too.

PupnTaco's avatar

are these individual mp3s or are you adding a batch of files which may include an m3u playlist?

Adding a playlist to an existing playlist will create duplicate songs.

bluemukaki's avatar

m3u files will add all the mp3 files, so if you select that and the others then you will add them twice.

elstempo's avatar

I was having the exact same issue happen – solution was that the folder I was dragging in had two playlist files, causing iTunes to create a total of three copies of each file. Annoying, but thankfully, preventable. Thanks!

unared's avatar

sorry, what does ‘two playlist files’ mean.

I also have itunes creating 3 copies of each. I’m importing everything from file/add folder to library and the media is coming from one itunes folder where there is only one copy of each file????

Lots of the files (tunes) are being converted from wma to mp3


sndfreQ's avatar

@unared: “two playlist files”: I think he’s referring to the .lib master file, which is the data that allows iTunes to list all the songs, playlists, and settings for each song in the iTunes window.

iTunes will not import wma, and will automatically convert and copy to new files, in whatever format iTunes is set to.

To avoid duplicate files or files being moved do the following: In Settings go to: Advanced/General Tab, and un-check the box “Keep iTunes Music Folder Organized” or iTunes will move your files into its own directory structure). Also, un-check the box labeled “Copy files to iTunes folder when adding to library” if you want to avoid duplicate files.

Lastly, when importing files, you can select the format under Settings/Advanced/Importing tab; the default is AAC (Advanced Audio Codec, Apple’s proprietary codec based on MPEG-4 standard (H.264 audio). Some folks prefer using .mp3 as to avoid mixing formats when importing new files into their existing library, and also to make all files compatible with other players (other than iPod) if you want to copy files onto a non-Apple PMP.

bigdee's avatar

Hi, I have a 40 music folder and an 18 gig one, but when I import them into itunes I end up with only 43?

Any help would be great

Thanks D

Respectminds's avatar

I created some m3u playlists, which I thought were just a list of pointers to files… I dropped the m3u file into a blank itunes playlist… i am not sure why but some of the entries have a new Date Added and some do not… the ones that do, appear as duplicate entries in the itunes list but each one points to the same file… very weird… i know i do have duplicates so this just adds to my issues… I am using windows vista, mp3tag, itunes… Any help is greatly appreciated, Be Safe!

danwalker77's avatar

Re the issue with Itunes creating 2 new files when you import or ‘drag’ files into itunes – I worked this one out this morning.. It was down to some downloaded albums coming with an M3U playlist along with the actual files! – This seems to cause iTunes to create 2 copies of the tracks!! Apple have different ways of thinking at times- that’s for sure! DAN

gtarzzz's avatar

I had the same problem with the m3u.

Make sure there are no m3u files in the folders you import

stevenbennett5's avatar

A few questions….

- i copied my whole itunes folder with all my music in to an external drive then to a new computer only to find some songs appeared 2 or 3 times. Why? Is it to do with the way they were imported? Is it better to sort the problem out on my old computer (move files, organise files, delete some?) or to somehow do it on my new library? bearing in mind i don’t want to have to delete 3000 links, only to find that the same thing happens when i move the library to another new computer in a couple of years

- how do i get rid of the duplicates? are they in my folder twice, or linked twice? some people have mentioned different files types that came with the original (m3u’s have been mentioned – what are these?). Clearly the duplicates has something to do with the import method and/or the way my itunes folder is organised. So…

- what’s the best way for itunes to be organised or what option should i choose to organise it for me? I’ve had a library for years and years so i have various file formats and have imported different files in various ways (drag and drop), from CD’s, converted some mp3 to AAC, and dumped some files randomly into the itunes music folder.

- and leading on from the last question; what’s best practice for (or the best way to) import random songs from a memory stick? i.e. that will keep the library organised? do i place it in a artist folder in itunes or should it do it for me? It’s, it’s, it’s all very confusing!!!!!

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