Apps Guides iOS iTunes

How to fix the “app could not be found” error in iTunes

Daily Tip: How to fix
Getting an error that the app you want to install from iTunes can’t be installed on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad because it “could not be found” and wondering how to fix it? iTunes is a beast of a program and for all of its convenience it can be downright frustrating at times. But fear not, we suffer through these problems so you won’t have to. (Or at least so we can help you fix things faster). For some tips on finding your can’t be found apps in iTunes, follow on after the break!
I’ve had the “app could not be found” error in iTunes quite a bit lately, and there ended up being a few different causes and a few different things I had to do to fix it.
Most of it involved multiple library conflicts. For good or for ill, iTunes can have multiple libraries — one for music and one for videos, one for you and one for your spouse, one for general use and one for holiday fare, etc. It’s one of the ways Apple lets you organize your stuff. But it can go horribly wrong in a couple of ways.
And when it does, iTunes can’t figure out why an app that should be installed on your iPhone or iPad isn’t in the /Mobile Applications folder.

Remote library connection confusion

If you have a different configuration between desktop and laptop, and you sync Mac system preferences via MobileMe, you can get into a world of hurt. For example, my main media library is on a Drobo hanging off my desktop. My iPhone and iPad library is on the main boot drive of my laptop. Usually that means if I connect to one, the next time I connect to the other I’ll either connect to an empty library (on my desktop because there is no local library on the boot drive) or be told it can’t find the library (on my laptop, because there’s no Drobo connected). If, however, I’ve connected remotely to my Drobo from my laptop (to move files), then iTunes will open the Drobo library — over Wi-Fi — and try to sync my iPhone or iPad from that. Since not all apps were in both libraries, bingo. Missing apps.

Multiple local library collisions

iTunes can sometimes have different local libraries as well. For example, mine had /iTunes, iTunes/iTunes Media, and /iTunes/iTunes Music. When I launched iTunes, it would randomly connect to one of them and, again, because different libraries had different apps, errors would ensue.

How to fix it

Here’s what I did:
  1. Stopped syncing systems preferences with MobileMe. Yes, I lost some functionality, but I spared myself a lot of headaches. That fixed the remote library problem.
  2. Copied all files from /iTunes and /iTunes/iTunes Music to /iTunes/iTunes Media (not over-writing duplicates).
  3. Deleted /iTunes and /iTunes/iTunes Music
  4. Made sure I had /iTunes/iTunes Media selected as my library in iTunes
  5. Organized my iTunes Library
  6. (You should choose the iTunes Media option if you haven’t already. Captain Default!
  7. Re-downloaded any apps that still showed up as missing. You can sometimes tell which ones these are by the lack of artwork on the icon. Instead of the actual app icon, iTunes will show a black default icon.
  8. Relaxed and enjoyed
And that’s it. Buh-bye “app could not be found”, hello successful sync.
Have any other iTunes library tips? Let us know!