Boy did I mess up! I put iTunes on a new laptop. As it turns out, I simply pointed it at copies of the music on a backup drive, since the “master” is my desktop machine. All worked well—iTunes played along just fine.
Until the power went out.
My network drive is not designed to turn itself back on after a power outage. That meant a trip to the basement to repower the network drive. Then I get this brainstorm. Why not allow iTunes to copy the music onto the laptop. So I let it do that. By the time I got things to work, I had not two, but four copies of every song in the library!
iTunes is no help when it comes to deleting duplicates. It merely shows them, and by holding keys down in a certain sequence, it shows exact duplicates, but leaves deleting up to the user: one by one by one by one….
So, I searched the Internet and found this tip. While looking at your library, Click on “View” and then “View Options.” From the pop-up screen, select “Date Added.” This puts a new column way at the very right, likely out of sight. Scroll your iTunes library sideways until you see this column. Sort by the column. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a great difference in times between when you recently imported and your older material. Simply select all the new ones and click delete. When the dialog box comes up, tell it to delete from library, not from disk. And there you are!
This won’t work if you imported a bunch of songs and then immediately import them again—you’ll have to be careful where you cut off the timeline!