With the new iTunes 11 the imperative to clean up your music library is even more than it was before. Not only is album art more than necessary now but misspelt artists and albums are painfully obvious in the new grid layout, which is BEAUTIFUL when done right. This is for those of you who care. Here are 5 tips to get you on your way to a wonderful iTunes library.
1 – Keep your library organised
For those of you have your music all over your computer it’s time to get it all in one place and let iTunes organise it for you. This will make looking for files and transferring them in the future much easier.
For most people this will already be happening because this is iTunes default settings but if not, it is easily done. To save all the music you transfer (or drag and drop) into iTunes organised and in your main iTunes Media folder go into iTunes > Preferences > Advanced and check the boxes ‘Keep iTunes Media folder organised and ‘Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library.’ This means, for example, that when you have music on a pen drive you can drag and drop it into iTunes and iTunes will make a copy of it in the iTunes Media folder automatically.
To sort out your existing library we’re going to ask iTunes to copy all the music you have into your iTunes media folder and organise it. This is called ‘Consolidating’ your library. To do this go to File > Library > Organise Library. A dialogue box will pop up asking you what you want to do, check both boxes. This will now take some time and after it’s done you will be able to delete all the music that is not located in your iTunes media folder.
This should also sort out the problem of ‘missing files’ if you have any.
2 – Delete your Duplicates
iTunes has a nice little feature where it will show you tracks with the same name so you can delete your duplicates. Select view > Show Duplicate Items to make this happen and start deleting. (Just a tip for those of you who don’t know – you can delete items from your iTunes library without deleting them from your computer. That’s why iTunes will ask you when you’re deleting something if you want to move it to the trash) For many people, like myself, this is not useful because you have multiple albums of one artist which feature the same songs. So doing this just reminds you how annoying that is but at the same time you don’t want to have incomplete albums – dilemma, I know. Anyway lets move on.
3 – Name your tracks
If you want your library to look wonderful you need to name your tracks and fill in the meta data properly (eg. album, artist, album artist, track numbers etc..). iTunes does have a ‘Get Track Names’ feature but unfortunately it is only designed to do this for CDs that you have imported into your library. There are a couple of ways to do this. The fastest way is to use software, there are many available but most of the good ones you have to pay for. I found this one: https://www.rinsemymusic.com/ that seems to do a pretty good job. I downloaded it and it worked well browsing through my library finding missing file information. It has a paid version but I can’t figure out what more that offers. Anyway this will do everything for you it seems.
If you’re weary of downloading some random piece of software onto your computer then here are some tips to get the process moving faster when you do it manually. You can change the information of multiple songs at the same time. Select them, right click and press ‘Get Info’.
You can also, when looking at all your songs, sort them by artist for example and at the bottom or top you should find all the tracks without an artist. That applies to any information so you can sort by album to find the tracks without albums, sort by track name to find the ones without names. This helps to find all the problematic messy tracks at the same time. Good practice is to fill in the meta data of your tracks as and when you put them into your library.
4 – Get your Album Art
Album art is my favourite thing about iTunes 11. They have introduced this new gimicky feature where when you click on an album it displays the songs using the colour scheme of the album art. Useless but wonderful.
If for no other reason, you must have album art for this feature. If you have downloaded the Rinse software (https://www.rinsemymusic.com/) that I referred to above it seems that it can get the artwork for you. iTunes will actually do this for you as well (to the best of its ability). Go to File > Library > Get Album Artwork and it will work its magic in the background. Of course it will not fetch the artwork for everything in your library so for the odd ones out you can do a simple copy paste – its actually easier than you think. Go to google images, type in the name of the album, right click and copy the image. Then go back to iTunes in albums view and right click on the album without art. Select get info and click on the white box under where it says ‘artwork’ and press command-V (the shortcut for paste). Not so hard.
5 – Sorting different kinds of media (for the fussy)
I have some different things in my library and I have seen people who keep different kinds of audio in their library. For example I used to record my lectures and all that audio is in my iTunes. I have also seen people who have yoga tutorials on their computer. I find it really frustrating that these things can be found under Music in my iTunes so I have labelled them as a different kind of media. For example my lectures have become part of the iTunes U section and I advised the person with the yoga tutorials to label them as podcasts for example.
It’s not difficult to do this. When you click Get Info to change the information for tracks there is an option tab which enables you to change a number of different things including Media Kind.
Another great part of this options section is the ‘part of a compilation’ tag. This is something I find really useful because I am a big believer in whole albums. I hate in iTunes when you’re browsing through your iTunes library and you you have an artist or album with only one song. This can happen for different reasons; for example when you have a mixed CD or when you have an album where many of the tracks have featured artist (eg. hip hop/rap albums have this a lot like Jay-Z ft. Kanye West, Jay-Z ft. Beyonce etc..). This annoys me to no end. What iTunes allows you to do is tell it that an album is a compilation so that all the different artists aren’t displayed individually when you’re browsing through your library but rather in a separate section called ‘compilations’. Sometimes I even create my own mixed Albums to get rid of one hit wonders (that I can’t resist having) appearing in my main library, I even make up an album cover for them sometimes.
I hope this helps, please feel free to comment and ask questions.