How to Downgrade iTunes and Fix the “iTunes Library.itl” Cannot Be Read Error

By , Sep 21, 2011

So, you downloaded and installed the iTunes beta for iTunes Match without first thinking about the consequences. No sweat.

If you’ve since tried to downgrade your iTunes beta back to a publicly released version of iTunes, resulting in the horrible ‘”iTunes Library.itl” cannot be read because it was created by a newer version of iTunes’ error message, don’t succumb to tears just yet; we’ve got a fix that might just work.

Save the precious iTunes library that you’ve spent hours upon hours massaging to perfection, and tune in to the following video tutorial…

How to Downgrade iTunes and Save Your iTunes Library

Step 1: Uninstall new version of iTunes, and install previous version.

Step 2: Navigate to your Home folder and go to the Music/iTunes/ primary folder.

Step 3: Locate ‘iTunes Library.itl’, and rename it to ‘iTunes Library.old’.

Step 4: Navigate to the ‘Previous iTunes Libraries’ folder, and locate the most recent library file, e.g. ‘iTunes Library 2011-09-21′. This is the most recent backup of your iTunes library file. [Note: if you've used the new version of iTunes for some time, you may need to use an older backup file. Try the most recent first, and if it doesn't work, try the second most recent, etc.]

Step 5: Copy the most recent backup of your iTunes library file, and paste it in the Music/iTunes primary folder. Next, rename the backup file to ‘iTunes Library.itl’.

Step 6: Open iTunes, and your library should be back to normal prior to the iTunes upgrade.

If you’re considering downgrading your copy of iTunes, I highly advise you to watch the video to see how simple this is. Always be sure to back up any files you modify.

Was this able to help you? If so, please let me know in the comments section below.

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  • topsy

    Hey Jeff, noticed in all your videos, you only demonstrate with Mac. Not everyone has Mac. We the PC users will be delighted if you also do same on PC thanks Jeff.

    • http://www.idownloadblog.com Jeff

      topsy. Sorry, I understand where you’re coming from. I just don’t have enough time to do both. It’s pretty much the same concept for both mac and pc besides a few location differences though.

  • Dylan

    Wouldn’t it be a better idea (if you got some new stuff on the new version) to just delete the .itl file and drag and drop all of your content to itunes?

    • http://www.idownloadblog.com Jeff

      That means iTunes would have to reindex everything. I believe this is the safest way, just going by previous experiences. I’ve tried it your way before, and I had some issues. Either way should technically work, but I believe this will be much easier.

  • Massie

    I actually keep an extra copy of my .itl and .xml files from iTunes for exactly this reason…losing my library once was all the lesson I needed.

  • Marit

    Gaah, thank you! :) This saved me.

  • http://twitter.com/emma_backs Emma

    Thank you so much for the help, I almost got a heart attack when I got the error message. Now it works perfectly! From now on I will try to back up my library if anything happens, but I wonder if I can manually create a new .itl file? Just like the ones “Itunes Library 2012-xx-xx.itl” in the “Previous iTunes Libraries” folder. I only managed to make a .xml file of my library but iTunes support says that the .xml file doesn’t contain all the information about my library?

  • Neto

    It work perfect, thanks!!!

  • fedup

    Why are there problems everytime you download a new version of itunes!?Don’t the software developers from apple test their software before they put it out for download?Or is it apple saying they dont give a crap about the consumer especially when itunes is free?

  • http://www.facebook.com/elfpix Emily L. Ferguson

    This looks like it might help me but I have a couple other wrinkles. All my music files are in my Previous iTunes Libraries folder. They’ve been there for quite a while and I have no idea of why, but there they are. Also I have no xml files at all.

    If I move the most recent .itl file up into the iTunes folder, will it direct iTunes to the music files in the Previous iTunes Libraries folder? Or should I move all the music files into the iTunes Music folder where they actually belong?

    Also, i reinstalled iTunes 10 and launched it, and it created an entire iTunes Library folder with xml and itl files. Should I discard that folder or reinstall iTunes 10?

  • Aya

    I did this when I downgraded, 11 to 10.6.3. I have windows vista. I fixed this problem. Then, I lost my whole library when I tried to open it. I have all my music backed up, but the play counts and playlists and such are all gone now. HELPPPPP.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Maximiize Max Lafontaine

    I deleted my Library thinking that was the only way but now I can’t open itunes at all cause I still get that fucking error…

  • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.bergier Steeve Bergier

    Got my old 10.7 iTunes back! Thank you! Do you know why a “An unknown error occurred (-42408).” appears when I open my iTunes now? I just click ok and iTunes works fine but it’s a bit annoying. Peace

  • Hollow Hollowed

    I have a huge issue!

    I installed iTunes 11 too, and then uninstalled it to revert back to iTunes 10.

    I followed this tutorial and It opens fine, but my music has disappeared.

    I opened the ‘current library’ file and it put like 50 songs in iTunes out of original 3000!

    I tried to open one of my previous library files, the most recent, but because it’s an .itl file rather than a .xml, iTunes wont accept it as an exported library file… I need help, my whole library was the way I wanted it after years…