How to Fix Your iTunes Library

Geek!This is Filip Cederberg’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Most people today have really unorganized music collections. Either the artist names, song titles or albums are misspelled or they’re wrong or missing altogether. Most people would probably say “Oh that’s easy to fix just use this tool and it should go smoothly”, although most of the times, these “tools” cost money and I for one don’t want to spend cash just for my music to look good.

What most people don’t realize is that iTunes itself is quite a powerful tool for editing ID3-tags. Just right-click on the song you want to edit and press “view info”. A window comes up where you can edit song title, artist, album artist, album, album art and so on. This is just for editing ID3-tags though. For looking up missing artists, albums and song titles I use the most powerful thing known to man, the Internet. If there are lyrics in the song, listen to the lyrics and google them. Usually, you will find your missing info but sometimes, there are multiple choices. For this, I use YouTube. Search for one of the songs and see if it is the same as the one you have, if it is then just put in the info in the song info in iTunes and go on to the next song. If not, just keep searching youtube for the other alternatives.

Sometimes you have a purely instrumental song with no lyrics. These are tricky to figure out but there are methods. Try Midomi.com, this is a website that lets you search songs by humming them. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that well but just try again a couple of times and you should get results. If not, your only chance is asking your friends.

If you have multiple songs that need the same info changed you just highlight all the songs and do the same as you did with the individual songs. This method is great for speed but remember: when you change artist name or song title, all the songs’ info change. So don’t mess up.

For album art (iTunes has both cover flow and the grid view to encourage adding artwork to your songs, these alternate viewing methods can be quite nice), just use Google or another search engine with image searching. If you have a famous CD you want to add artwork to, it will be easy to find big enough pictures (try to aim for 300×300 at least), smaller pictures will not look good in iTunes so unless you have the CD and a scanner, just leave the artwork alone; a grey note I nicer than a distorted mash of pixels. When you are done with all these steps you should have a nice look on your library and browsing for music will be much easier.

This process is very time consuming, especially if you have a large collection, so do this at regular intervals and don’t do so much at once. As previously stated, there are tools to fix your music library faster, but these often cost money and are not very accurate. Using iTunes inbuilt ID3-tag editor is a great way to ensure that all the songs have correct information and you will get to know your music more during the process. Try to have as much fun as possible as it can easily become tedious after only a little while. Maybe you can turn it into a game or something like that.

If anybody knows of a good, free tool for fixing your library, please tell me about it. This is just the most effective way to do it I know of so far.