On your Way to iTunes Perfection

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.

itunes media folder

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.

itunes preferences

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.

itunes organise

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: 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.

itunes rinse

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’.

iTunes 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.

iTunes album art

If for no other reason, you must have album art for this feature. If you have downloaded the Rinse software ( 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.

iTunes album art 1

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.

itunes U

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.

iTunes get info options

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.

itunes compilations

I hope this helps, please feel free to comment and ask questions.


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

28th October 2013 at 4:16 pm


so i did the consolidating step, and then it looked like nothing happened, as if my library had already been consolidated. I looked in my itunes folder and it looks like a lot of my stuff is already there, but I can’t be sure if it all is. i’m desperate to free up space on my computer, and want to delete all the random music files i have everywhere, but how do i know for sure that I won’t be deleting some stuff for sure?

28th October 2013 at 5:28 pm
– In reply to: newlandsa

Hi there,
An easiest way to check if everything is there is to go to your iTunes music/media folder in the finder right click and wait for the information to display the size of the folder. Then go back to your iTunes and see the size of your music library, it will tell you at the bottom of the window in the ‘status bar’ (if you can’t see this status bar you might have to go to view in the menu and click ‘show status bar.’These should more or less match up. The iTunes folder in the finder will usually be bigger in size because if you allowed iTunes to organise your files it will also contain subfolders with your podcasts, movies, iTunes U files, apps etc…

As a last measure you can also delete the rest of the music but keep it in the trash. You can delete it permanently after a couple of weeks to make sure you can access all your music.

28th October 2013 at 4:39 pm

Thanks, really helpful, especially with the quick way to add album artwork when the iTunes database doesn’t have it – disappointingly often.

You did mention other media in this post and how to deal with them, but I have been having issues with audiobooks: When you download audiobooks from an actual CD you can “join CD Tracks” in the process of importing to make all the roughly 3 – 4 minute tracks on each disc into one much longer track that represents a whole disc. This is much easier for labeling as, on an iPod or iPhone, screen space is limited and having a whole lot of little tracks takes up screen space and much scrolling ensues.

I have a few audiobooks downloaded (admittedly illegally) that are obviously from discs as they are also full of short tracks, but since I am not importing them from CD, I can’t join the tracks. Do you know of a way to do this?


28th October 2013 at 5:51 pm
– In reply to: Gabriel

Hi Gabriel,
I have found a kind of solution, it involves you downloading some software. A lot of people seem to be using a program called join together to achieve what you’re describing. You have to download the software and Apple Quicktime 7 for it to work. I downloaded it and it worked pretty well for me. It adds the new file to iTunes automatically the only annoying thing is that you have to manually delete the old files. I found a blog post which explains step by step how to use it in the context of audiobooks.

29th October 2013 at 6:43 am
– In reply to: chikaboo

Thanks so much, Natasha, will give it a go!

29th October 2013 at 6:28 pm

This is really helpful. Especially point five. I record all my lectures at uni, and the filling system inbuilt in the voice memo app is not very good. Regarding that, the quality of my recordings is not great since keep my phone next to me and the lecturer is so far away. Can i do anything about that?

29th October 2013 at 6:43 pm
– In reply to: Jack

Hi Jack,
I have had this problem too. In the options tab of the get info box in iTunes I change the equalizer preset to vocal booster. That usually works for me.

29th October 2013 at 6:47 pm

thanks, it worked. Great blog by the way

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