"Media files are missing"

  • Live Versions: 6-10
  • Operating System: All

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Here are the most common reasons you might get a "Media Files are missing" error message:

  1. The "Collect all and Save" option was used but the samples were stored in a location to which Live does not have full access (MacOS Catalina).
  2. The media files have been deleted or moved.
  3. If using cloud backup, the media files may have been deleted locally.
  4. The media files are located on an external hard-drive which is currently not connected or has changed name/letter assignment.
  5. The Project has been transferred to another computer without collecting the samples first.
  6. Samples have been collected using "Collect all and Save" but the project is nested within another Project folder or within the User Library.
  7. Core Library content differences between different versions of Live

1. The "Collect all and Save" option was used but the samples were stored in a location to which Live does not have full access (MacOS Catalina).

On Catalina, Live needs permission to access most of the locations on your computer. You may have noticed a window pop up asking for permission, but in case you denied it, you can still allow disk access in System Preferences under Security & Privacy -> Privacy:

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In order to make changes in System Preferences, you can unlock the icon in the left corner, which requires your password, and then add Live as an allowed App with the + icon. Then close the lock again and restart Live to apply the changes.

2. The media files have been moved or deleted.

If you've moved the files they can be located and replaced using the File Manager. See detailed instructions here: How to locate and replace missing media files.

If the files were deleted accidentally, check Recycling Bin (Windows)/ Trash (Mac) in case they are still there.

3. If using cloud backup, the media files may have been deleted locally.

Some cloud backup services may delete local files and only keep a copy in the cloud.

iCloud Optimized Storage: The Optimized Storage feature in iCloud Drive deletes older files from the Desktop and Documents folders when storage is low, which includes Live documents and media files if you have saved them there. If you have saved media files or Live documents to either of these folders and if they get deleted automatically then Live will not be able to locate the missing media files.

There are a few ways around this:

  1. Re-download the deleted files from iCloud Drive, then turn off Optimized Storage
  2. Re-download the deleted files from iCloud Drive, then move them to your Music folder (or any location other than Desktop or Documents)
  3. Re-download the deleted files from iCloud Drive, then turn off Desktop and Documents from iCloud drive

OneDrive Files on Demand: The Files on Demand feature in OneDrive stores references to files on your computer, while the actual file itself resides in the cloud. Media files need to be located locally on your computer in order for Live to find them. Make sure that "Always keep on device" is selected, to store the media file locally at all times.

See our full guide on Cloud Storage Best Practices for more details.

4. The media files are located on an external hard-drive which is currently not connected, or has changed name/letter assignment.

Connect the external drive and power it on, the missing files should then appear.

If the name or letter assignment has changed, or the files have been moved on the external drive, you can locate and replace the missing media files using these instructions.

5. The Project has been transferred to another computer without collecting the samples first.

Live refers to a media file's location when used in a Set. In order to copy media files into the Project folder, you can select "Collect all and Save" from the file menu. See our full guide on transferring projects to another computer or user.

6. Samples have been collected using "Collect all and Save" but the project is nested within another Project folder or within the User Library.

If a Live Set is saved in a Project folder that has multiple sets, only one 'Ableton Project info' subfolder is created for all Sets, which can cause issues when saving samples. Likewise if a Set is saved in the User Library that already contains a subfolder called 'Ableton Project Info'. 

  1. Use the 'Save Live Set As…' command from the File menu to save the set into a new location that is NOT in an existing Project or the User Library. This will create a new Project folder for the set.
  2. Then use 'Collect All and Save' from the File menu to copy the media files used by the set into the new Project folder.

7. Core Library content differences between different versions of Live

The Core Library content is different between Live Lite/Intro and Standard/Suite, likewise each new major release version of Live has new Core Library content. If you've upgraded and have uninstalled the previous Live version, you might be missing files in your existing projects. Here's how to restore the missing content.

Further Reading

How to locate and replace missing media files