How to Fix iTunes “Original File Cannot Be Found” Error

This post will tell you the reasons that caused the iTunes error “original file could not be found” and provide 4 effective solutions to fix the issue.


By Dylan / Updated on June 4, 2024

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iTunes can help you to move music songs from iTunes to computer folder for playing, managing. but sometimes, iTunes fails to locate your music files when you perform this operation, it usually gives an error message saying the original file could not be found. If you see an exclamation point next to a song in iTunes and try playing the song, this error will be displayed.

ITunes Original File Could Be Found Error

Why iTunes original file cannot be found? How to fix it? If you are also encountering this error, just keep reading on it to find out the cause of the error, and acquire solutions to solve this problem.

Why Can’t iTunes Locate Original File?

There are several possible reasons for this error. Such as the music file has been moved from its original default location, the music file didn’t store in the Music folder at all, or the music file has been deleted accidentally. Sometimes, other media applications may have moved the file without telling you, it will also cause the error.

In all, if iTunes can’t locate music files from the default iTunes Media location, the error will appear. After Knowing the reasons caused this issue, we can move to the next part about how to fix iTunes error “original file could not be found”.

✍Tip: If you want to check the default iTunes files folder, you can navigate to:

In the Music app: Home/Music

In iTunes on Mac: Home/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media

In iTunes on Windows 10: Music/iTunes/iTunes Media

How to Fix iTunes “Original File Could Not Be Found” Error

In this part, we will show you the solutions to fix the iTunes error “Original File Could Not Be Found” in detail, you can refer to the guide to have a try.

Solution 1. Locate The File Manually

If you are receiving this error on one or two songs when playing music via iTunes, locate songs manually is suitable for you on this occasion. Here, you can do this by referring to the steps:

Step 1. Double-click the song name with an exclamation mark next to it. iTunes displays an error “the original file could not be found”. In that pop-up window, click Locate.

Step 2. Browse the computer's hard drive until you find the song position. If yes, double-click the song (or click the Open button).

Step 3. iTunes message will be prompt again and you need to tap on Find Files.

Step 4. iTunes will find additional files or notice that it cannot find any more files. After that, move forward

Step 5. Try playing the song again. If the song is played, the exclamation mark will disappear.

✍Tips: This solution does not move the location of the music file but only updates the location of the music file. So it is more suitable only when an individual music file is missing in iTunes.

Solution 2. Consolidating iTunes Library

If there are exclamation signs on many songs, you can consolidate your iTunes library rather than trying to locate every song. It will scan your system hard drive for songs and then, it will automatically move songs to their correct location, which is the iTunes music folder.

To consolidate your music in iTunes, complete the following steps:

Step 1. Open iTunes on your computer. From the iTunes menu bar, choose File > Library > Organize Library.

Step 2. Select Consolidate files. Then click OK.

Consolidate Files

Step 3. After checked the option, you can try to play a song and see if the issue iTunes original file cannot be found exists still.

✍Tips: This solution also can apply to fix the iPhone cannot sync error 54 issue when using iTunes, and help to transfer the whole iTunes library.

Solution 3. Re-establish Link between iTunes And Music File Location

If your iTunes library is not on the system hard drive, but on the external hard drive. This might be the case that the link between iTunes and music file location is lost. Thus, you need to re-establish the link to fix iTunes original file cannot be found issue. Below are steps you can follow:

Step 1. Open iTunes on your computer. Click on iTunes tab (on Mac) or click on the Edit tab (on Windows PC)

Step 2. Next, click on the Preferences option, then click on the Advanced.

Step 3. Click on the Change button in the section “iTunes Media folder location”.

Advanced Preferences

Step 4. Browse and select the iTunes Media folder on the external hard drive, and then click Select Folder.

Step 5. Finally, open it and click OK. iTunes will now locate your files, and you should be able to listen to your music normally again.

✍Tips: When you want to move or backup iTunes library to the external hard drive, or flash drive, computer folder, you can refer to this method to make it easy.

Solution 4. Keep iTunes Media Folder Organized

If the problem that iTunes original file cannot be found you are facing get fixed, then you can prevent the error iTunes says original file cannot be found from happening again by checking iTunes Media Folder Organized option in iTunes.

Step 1. Open iTunes on your computer. Click on iTunes tab (on Mac) or click on Edit tab (on Windows PC)

Step 2. Next, click on the Preferences option, then click Advanced.

Step 3. Check the option Keep iTunes Media Folder Organized, then click OK button.

Easy Way to Back up Music Files on iPhone

Although using iTunes to listen to music is very convenient for iPhone users, iTunes always comes up with many minor bugs, such as failing to locate the original file, cannot read the contents of iPhone, crushing or freezing accidentally, etc. These errors will make trouble and affect us a lot.

Choose Songs

FoneTool is a professional backup&transfer tool you need now. It could backup the entire music library to computer and help you transfer files from PC to iPhone as well. You can find more advantages about it from the below.

✌ View music files on iPhone and backup the entire music library or the favorite ones to PC.

✌ Backup and transfer all the songs at an amazing speed, including purchased and non-purchased songs.

✌ Transfer songs from iPhone backup to another device including iPad or iPod Touch.

✌ Support almost all iPhone/iPad/iPod touch models and the latest iOS 17/16/15.

You can download FoneTool free on your Windows computer to back up your music.

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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FAQs About “iTunes Original File Cannot Be Found Error”

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about “iTunes original file cannot be found”:

Q1: Will re-importing the media files fix the "Original file cannot be found" error in iTunes?

Yes, re-importing the missing media files into iTunes is often an effective solution to resolve this error. It allows iTunes to create new references to the media files and update their locations.

Q2: Does the "Original file cannot be found" error affect my iTunes library permanently?

The error doesn't permanently affect your iTunes library. You can usually resolve it by locating the missing files or re-importing them into iTunes.

Q3: Is there a way to automate the process of fixing the "Original file cannot be found" error in iTunes?

While there isn't a built-in feature in iTunes for automating this process, you can use third-party software or scripts to help identify and update missing file references in your iTunes library.


That’s all on how to fix iTunes original file cannot be found. We hope that our guide helps you to come out of the issue and you can play songs on iTunes without any trouble.

And if you want to back up your music files, FoneTool would let you have more flexible choices. It would be very helpful if you want an easy way to backup music files and transfer music from iPhone to iPad.

Dylan · Editor
Dylan is an editor of mobile backup software. He likes to share the latest news about iPhone and iOS, write useful tips, and give solutions to help people solve all kinds of issues.