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.

  • 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.

    • 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.

    • AAA

      Aaye LMAO. Windows / PC battle still continues even after that ad. It’s just a simple task of renaming a file. Tomorrow, some Ubuntu user is going to say the same thing! 😀

  • 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?

    • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Hitachi2021

    Thanks, worked great!

  • jz100

    This is just another example of what a Joke Apple is for a company to pull crap like this.

  • pacman7293

    This isn’t really a fix. You are just depending on Apple. Needs to be something where you actually convert a “newer” version of the library BACK to the “old” version.

  • My iTunes library is missing its ‘Previous iTunes Libraries’ folder. Perhaps this is because the very large majority of our files are stored on an external drive? How can I get this folder back? Thoughts?

  • mona

    how do you know what your old version was? i upgraded and have no idea what the previous version was.

  • Jennitrc

    I can open itunes now thank you for the help, but why is my itunes always loging everytime when i plug in my phone. It happens all the time, i can’t click anything. Please need your help 🙂

  • TimCraig

    Thank you for this. I did it on Windows 10 and iTunes works perfectly again.

  • Michael Edwards

    Was able to downgrade from ITunes 12.7 with this. Thanks

  • hkiphone

    Thank you for this lifesaver! I still use a 1st gen iPad Mini for transferring video clips to it via VLC in the iTunes App section, as well as e-comics and ebooks. Without 12.6, I wouldn’t have a clue how to do it!
    I don’t mind progression, but to assume that everyone would copy things over via the app’s wifi receiver mode is really backwards. What about releasing an iOS App specifically for backing up and transferring media?!?!


    thanks! helped me a lot! apple just removed the app store on itunes!

    • Sir Achitophel

      Apple has finally lost me permanently. Life’s too short to put up with these abortions of apps and OS’s. They are an abombination in the sight of all mankind. That’s it – FINISHED!

  • Niel Aclag

    thanks. it still works [2017] 😀

  • Paris Congress

    All I did was delete the .itl file and the problem was fixed

    • Brian B.

      I don’t think it’s quite that simple but it is pretty simple. What worked for me is skipping Step 1 and completing Steps 2 through 6 above (as written as of 1/23/2018). This logically made sense to me because it is NOT my iTunes version that is too new just the library file that was created when I copied my iTunes folder to an external hard drive and then plugged that in to use on a computer using a newer version of iTunes (i.e. it appears only the library file that was created at that time is unable to be opened by my older version of iTunes).

      If I lost you above don’t worry. Just follow Steps 2 – 6 above. However, do NOT delete iTunes Library.itl or name it .old (Step 3), just cut and paste outside of your iTunes folder (e.g. save it on your Desktop) — this is just for the purpose of backing it up if these steps don’t work for you. Then follow the remaining steps. Note that for Step 5 you are pasting the file exactly where you had removed the previous one. This worked for me.