Organizing Your Music

I have music in .mp3 and wma format all over my hard drive.  I’d like to consolidate them and remove the duplicates.  How do I do that?

Ah, yes.  The fragmented music library (or libraries.)  I was once plagued by this problem and it drove me slightly crazy (er.)  For those of you who know me, you know I’m slightly OCD.  I can’t stand having things all over the place and that certainly translates to the files on my computer.  Not to mention, it’s just plain good housekeeping.

iTunes to the rescue!  No, seriously.  You should be using iTunes.  Allow me to elucidate. (I’ve always wanted to use that word. 🙂 )

I’ve already talk before about how to get music from CDs imported and onto an iPod, but what if you already had a large library of music between a couple of different programs?  This is more likely to affect Windows users (Media Player, Limewire, Napster, etc) who would like to get rid of the stragglers and bring everything to one place.  This also might be the case of one recent switcher who has gobs of music that she moved from the PC to her Mac and would like to easily get it sorted out.  So I’d like to outline three basic steps to get your music imported, sorted and duplicates removed.

Setting up Preferences

Let iTunes do the work for you! All the tools you need are built into the program, you just have to know they’re there.  You may not be the type to “let things go” but allowing iTunes to “keep the media folder organized” is must.  This means that you don’t have to fiddle with renaming and reorganizing folders in what may be a manner that is obvious to you.  In the windows version go to the Edit menu–>Preferences–>Advanced tab.  If you’re on a Mac, click on iTunes–> Preferences–> Advanced Tab.  Either system, select “Keep iTunes Media folder organized” and “Copy files to the iTunes Media folder when adding to the library.”  The second option is especially important so you don’t accidentally lose the original files before you actually want to get rid of them.

When importing iTunes takes the file and included information (called meta data; don’t worry if you can’t see it, it’s there) and puts it in a folder based on the name of the Artist and Album name.  What happens if you change the name of the Album because you realize you misspelled it?  No problem.  Any changes automatically take affect in the folder names as well.

Import the Files

If you already know exactly where the folders containing the music are located, this is pretty straight-forward.  In Windows you’ll go to File–>Add Folder to Library….  on the Mac click on File–> Add to Library… and select the folders you want.  (You can also get fancy and just drag the folder containing the music to the “Library” column.  When you see the green “plus” sign drop the folder and you’re done!)  Depending on how large a folder you’ve selected and how many files iTunes needs to import this will take some time.  Rather than leave you guessing, iTunes will show you a progress bar to let you know what’s going on.  Isn’t that nice?  😉 

Want to get crazy?  Let iTunes search your entire hard drive (C: or Macintosh HD for instance) and import everything! You can always delete those annoying 1 second system sounds later.  That way you’re SURE you don’t miss anything.  Be prepared for a long wait, though.

Now if you’re importing a filetype not usually associated with Mac like .wav files, iTunes will ask if you’d like to convert the file.  If that’s the case you’ll want to cancel the process and ensure you have the import settings set.  Here’s a post that includes an explanation on how to do that.  You’ll have to restart the import process after you’re satisfied with your import settings.

Deleting Duplicates

This is probably the most stressful part.  Easy, but stressful.  First, the directions: on Windows go to File–>Display Duplicates…  on the Mac click on File–> Display Duplicate.  Now for the more stressful part; deleting the duplicates… if you want to.  One of the things I pick up from time to time are compilations of artists.  Inevitably one or two of those songs I will have already picked up from a different album.  I would leave those alone.  It may be the same song, artist, recording, etc. but who wants to play an album only to have a missing song because you had it in another album but didn’t want the duplicate?  Yeah, no fun.  Here’s a more likely example of deleting a duplicate… same song, same album, same artist, two copies.  And they may have a 1 second duration difference.  My suggestion is to listen to both, pick the one you like better and delete the other one.  The other option is a little “geekier” but more accurate.

When songs are digitized they are “sampled” at a specific rate.  In this case, “more is better.”  If you right-click on the song and click on “Get Info” the summary tab will give you the “Bit Rate.”  More than likely one of these will have a higher bit rate (kbps which stands for kilo bits per second) and you can delete the other one.  If they’re the same?  Flip a coin (you win either way so it’s not really gambling. 😀 )

SO! That was short and sweet and by no means covers all the possibilities… but that’s what the comment section if for…

BTW, there’s tons more tips, tricks and video tutorials at Apple’s iTunes How-To page.  Check it out!

Posted in Apple, Inc., iTunes

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