in Apps, Mac OS X

Reverting your library from a beta of iTunes

As an iPhone and iPad developer, Apple often present you with beta versions to install which sometimes require you to also install a beta version of iTunes. Of course the contents of these beta versions are under strict non-disclosure agreements but the process of rolling back isn’t so I’ll quickly explain how to do it…

When you installed the beta, it will upgrade your iTunes library database but if you try to downgrade back to the old version at a later date you’ll be presented with an error message saying that iTunes cannot read your library.

Don’t panic! The beta version has just moved your library database to a backup folder and with a simple drag and drop you can have your old library database up and running again. Your old database should be found in ~/Music/iTunes/Previous iTunes Libraries dated with when you upgraded. Just drag that back into ~/Music/iTunes renaming it to iTunes Library.itl (you’ll probably need to delete the existing iTunes Library.itl file too as that belonged to the beta version and you just uninstalled that).

That’s all you need to do to get your old iTunes library working again. Just before you begin make sure you back up everything!

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  1. You are awesome. Thank you for writing about this! I was holding back on installing the beta despite my need to develop for iOS5 because I didn’t want it to touch my iTunes library.

    Question: How much do you know about the logistics of backing up, moving, merging, and possibly splitting iTunes libraries? I have an iTunes library on one machine from which I would like mostly everything (except 50% of the music I don’t listen to anymore) including the Apps, the iPhone backups, etc. I have a second iTunes library that doesnt sync with my iPhone but I would like all the rest of the media in that. I want to merge the two (which discarding the music I don’t want anymore) and put them on one machine. I would then upgrade to a beta iTunes library and hopefully as you described above still have the ability to roll back to a stable version.

    • The quickest route Ankur would probably be to drag in your music to the other library containing the backups. Be careful with your iPhone backups. I haven’t played around with restoring a backup from a downgraded iTunes so your milage may vary.