How to Manage your MP3 Files and Tags

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Monit wrote: “This is a Top 5 list on how to fix up a messy music library. Maybe it’s just the organization freak in me, but I can’t stand it when I see a bunch of music files with missing or inaccurate tags that are tossed all over the place. Personally, all of my songs are MP3s, but some of these programs will work with other formats as well.”

  • Fix Those Tags This is probably the most useful thing you can do for a messy music library. Having inaccurate or missing ID3 tag info makes it difficult to find your music on your computer, and especially on portable devices. This is the case when dealing with large libraries. A great program that I use is MP3Tag. It processes information very quickly, and has a bunch of small tools to fix file tags. When you first start the program, you can use the “Filename to Tag” feature, which automatically grabs information from the filename and throws it into the Artist and Title tags. Once this is done, the rest is pretty simple. You can either manually enter the rest of the tags, or let a program such as Music Brainz or Windows Media Player (Options>Libray>Retrieve Additional Info from the Internet) fill in the proper Album, Year, Track, Genre and Composer fields. MusicBrainz is available for the Mac, and I hear EasyTag is another great tag fixer.
  • Normalize the Volume How many times have you been listening to a song at full blast because it was really quiet, only to have your ears shattered to pieces when the next track is cued up? To avoid this, use a program like MP3Gain to normalize the volume of your songs. Keep in mind that some artists like to have certain songs on their albums louder than others, so consider using Album Gain to hold those differences, while still keeping the volume of all tracks around the same. If you don`t really share your music, pick a volume that you’re comfortable with. MP3Gain defaults to 89 decibles, but I prefer my music to be normalized at 92db because they still don’t clip from distortion, and they’re closer to the 95db most retails CDs are recorded at (plus your friends will probably be less annoyed if you decide to share some songs).
  • Add album art Most modern Operating Systems and MP3 players have the ability to view album art. This makes finding your music very easy, and you’ll just enjoy your music a lot more. iTunes and Windows Media Player can both add album art to tracks automatically. Personally, I just go on Amazon, and use the high resolution album art they supply.
  • Store the files properly Be sure to store your music in some sort of organized folder structure. As your library grows, you’ll thank yourself later. Personally, I have all my music stored in my music folder (surprising?). I then have about 5 different genre folders where I store my music. As far as file naming goes, I stick to the standard “Artist – Title.mp3” that most people use. I already have track numbers stored in the files, and let my media players handle that.
  • Fix Up Files as you download them Once you’ve fixed up your library (which may take a few days), keep your music organized as you buy or download it. The nice thing about buying your music online is the fact that it’s already properly tagged. That`s not a huge issue though, as it’s very easy to fix up songs if they’re on CD or from a music blog. This step is really important as it’s much easier to fix 4 or 5 tracks at once, compared to a couple hundred.


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33 thoughts on “How to Manage your MP3 Files and Tags”

  1. Ugh… some of my mp3s like to change their album info to random albums I’ve never heard of, then when I fix it using MediaMonkey, it doesn’t always change on my Zune T_T
    mp3tag sounds like a good program I’m going to try

  2. I have a lot cassette tapes left (my own stuff on them), though when I have time I will convert them to digital format. Though I have one commerical one left. I also have a lot video tapes, but I’m almost finish converting them.

  3. *All* you need is the MusicBrainz service to analyze, tag and rename your files – automagically.

    Either Jaikoz for Mac or Picard for Windows.

  4. Great tips. I have been meaning to go through my music archive for awhile now and do this. I have too many “new folders” and files called “track 1” from where I ripped a CD and never named each track. If you keep it maintained, it is not a problem, but if you let it go for a year or so, it becomes a headache.

  5. I am 12, and i am a music FANATIC. i have 3 LP’s, and a small collection of tapes, mostly, i keep all of my music om Mp3s on an external hard drive, and i got it all legaly, i had a HUGE collection of CDs that i ripped. i am also a fan of rapsody, but i reallly hate that service. i prefer pandora to anything else.

  6. – Go and search for the UberRip standard
    – Rip your files to LAME -presetstandard. 192Kb VBR
    – If you have the disk space, rip to lossless and then convert to 192 VBR
    – Don’t use folders based on genre. This works for me
    mymusic/artist/album/[nr] – [title].mp3 where [nr] is 2 digits eg 01

  7. hey, has anyone see MuxTape . com yet? Upload a mixetape online for free. Its only a couple days old and all over Tumblr.

  8. I use MediaMonkey to fix up my MP3 tags, but you have to manually fix the album year if you want it to show on Winamp. The upside is that finding album art is relatively easy with it: it picks up the image from Plus, instead of saving to the folder as a hidden file, it actually injects the art on the MP3 file.

  9. I use Media Monkey to keep my collection in order. There is a free version and a paid version which offers a bit more, but the free version is great. Media Monkey has a feature to fill in the missing info through Amazon links including pictures, album, title, year, etc.

  10. If someone wants to pass it along to Chris, the Black Metal sub-genre of Heavy Metal is alive only due to cassettes. Most Black Metal artists still release their music via cassette, especially in Eastern Europe and America.

  11. I have ripped a bunch of my cd’s to digital but before I had the internet I had to manually tag each file. Many programs nowadays when you rip cd’s can access a database and automatically add the tags when it save the file. I have found that is a much better way than to go through and tag each file after it has been saved. One of the programs I use is the paid for version of Cowon Jet Audio it has many features that help in the way I do stuff. One of the is a good video converter with all the settings I can change, another is the ability to rip cd’s and save them directly to mp3’s with all tag information in it.

  12. use a program called TheGodFather to rename by tags or to rename all tags, delete duplications and more. and then use a program called Rename to batch rename mp3 files in dos

  13. I use an MP3 tagger called Mp3bookhelper. I think it was originally designed for mp3 audio books, but it’s great for changing tags on massive numbers of files. For example if you have a folder of mp3 from, say, dire straits, but not all of them are labeled correctly you can do a mass change, and label them all simultaneously. Also if the title, artist, or album are part of the file name you can use a mask to extract that info and insert it into the correct place in the tag, and vice versa. Altogether very useful.

  14. I was looking for a program to normalize the volume. Never could find one.

    Thanks for linking MP3Gain, Chris.

  15. Oh man, I’m so glad for the person who sent this top 5 list to Chris.. I’ve been looking recently to fix my iTunes library… THANK YOU!! xD

  16. For the most part I am content with Windows Media Player and MP3Tag, yet…

    Please, somebody help me; this is driving me loopy!

    How do I stop whatever is responsible from renaming my MP3 tags?

    For all of my MP3 files and corresponding MP3 tags I wish to maintain long filenames (name of artist or artists, title of album, year of release, number of track, title of track) ex. Tears For Fears – ”Seeds Of Love, The” album (1989) – 03 – Sowing The Seeds Of Love, however in the Windows Media Player (v. 10) I need for the title to be short (name of artist or artists, title of track) ex. Tears For Fears – Sowing The Seeds Of Love so I can use the sorting feature to put them in alphabetical order. The problem is: when I shorten the name in W.M.P. that program (or MP3Tag) automatically does the same for the (meta)tag (, but thankfully not the file itself).

    I uninstalled then reinstalled MP3 Tag and fiddled with the settings for it as well as W.M.P. all to no avail.

    Sincere gratitude to whomever can provide the solution.

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