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Music, Audio, and Podcasting Do you use your Mac to create music? This is the place for discussions on creating and editing music on the Mac!

Best iTunes add-on or standalone program to rename and organize music folders


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Grasshopper17

 
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Hello all. I've spent the last 2 weeks trying out about 10-15 different music organizing programs and still have not found one that will do what I need. It's hard to believe actually since there must be many people in my situation who end up settling for good enough.

So here's what I want:

I want a program that can reorganize my music collection so that all the albums for each artist are listed on the same page, rather than have them listed as subfolders. I also want them listed like this:

Artist (year)Album Name

This way I get to immediately see all the albums I have for a particular band in the order that the album was released and properly weighted by how much of that particular artist's music I actually have in my hard drive. I don't want 12 albums hidden behind "Pink Floyd" for instance - I'd rather all 12 albums were immediately visible. Having it set up like this would be the closest thing to actually looking through someone's alphabetized CD collection.

I also want the software to organize the songs inside the albums by track number and without duplicates. I find this part about iTunes exceptionally frustrating. I may have 5 different copies of a song because of various compilations I have, but that doesn't mean I want to hear "track 2" five times in a row. How could iTunes think that that's a good idea? Don't the software engineers use their own program and get frustrated by its limitations?

I have over 360 GB of music so I literally don't have the time to organize things manually.

Is there any software that will do this for me? Tag&Rename is supposed to be the cadillac of MP3 renaming software but it's not flexible enough to do the above task...at least as far as I can tell. Yes it can rename albums in the above format but it won't automate the process and flatten out the folder structure like I described even if all my ID3 tags are correct.

I don't mind paying a lot for the software if it actually works. Time is more valuable to me than a hundred bucks. I imagine an add-on to do this for iTunes wouldn't be too difficult since iTunes does look through all your music and creates new folders for you if you have it organize your music...it just organizes it in such a clunky way. Yes I know I can search for music in iTunes but I also want my music archived in an intelligent way on my hard drive so that I can back my collection up easily and it's all still organized even if iTunes somehow loses all my preferences etc.

Thank you!
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chas_m

 
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"Clunky"? Really?

iTunes organizes music (internally) as Artist -> Album -> Song. Wow, so "clunky!"

But really, the main problem here is that you have to let go of the notion that YOU have to organize the music at all. That's what the computer is for. Who cares how it organizes music internally, if you can get iTunes to show you the music in the manner you want?

To that end, you need to learn more about Smart Albums. You want to see just Pink Floyd albums, sorted by year? If your files are properly tagged and not pirated, this is child's play.
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Grasshopper17

 
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Oh man I knew this was going to happen. Complain about iTunes on a mac forum and all of a sudden I'm the bad guy, I'm just not using it right, and iTunes knows best...

Yes iTunes is clunky! There should be a way that I can specify how I like things. That's the biggest reason PC people hate Apple. Apple always thinks they know best and we as the consumers should just accept and embrace that even if it doesn't actually meet our needs. Don't get me wrong, I love Apple products. I have an iphone, an ipad, three ipods, a power book, and an airport. I think mac products are innovative, intuitive, and for the most part worth the higher price tag. But they're also inflexible and pigheaded about a lot of things and it can be infuriating dealing with that, iTunes being a prime example.

As I said I don't want my folders listed as Artist>Album>Song. I prefer to have it the way I stated for the very good reasons that I stated.

Look whatever, I just don't like the way iTunes does it OK? And yes how iTunes manages the folders internally does matter to me. I have over 360 GB of music and I want to put that music on a hard drive that I will connect to my Audi MMI system. There are no iPods that have a 360 GB capacity so this is the only way I can do it, therefore the folder structure matters to me.

And you want to talk about clunky? How about all the doubles I have to deal with in my folder structure AND in iTunes after I let iTunes start "organizing" everything? I can't tell you how many times I decide to listen to one of my favorite albums only to find that it's "one of those" that has every song repeated two or three times. As I said I have A LOT of music. I don't have time to micromanage my collection. That's what software is for.
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Kevriano

 
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Try Songbird, it's the only alternative with a nice interface.
I don't know if it will do as you want it to, because that's a little unusual (no offence), but it's worth a try, as iTunes certainly won't without some fiddling with tagging and a lot of patience.

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Grasshopper17

 
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Songbird doesn't do it. I think it needs to be a dedicated folder renaming program that is aware of ID3 tags. To be honest I think I've tried all the programs out there that currently exist and none of them will truly create the folder/file structure that a user wants. Tag&Rename comes the closest but it still doesn't cut it. It's funny how developers can fail to see the forest through the trees. I mean here's a program that is designed specifically to do what I'm trying to do and yet it can't do it. There are all kinds of specific things that it can do that you know the software engineers must have really labored at, but in the end, even after multiple versions, it still can't perform the basic function that it's supposed to be able to do.

OK well apart from the renaming folders issue, is there a somewhat easy way to get rid of song duplicates in my albums? What I'm really looking for is an add-on that says "yep this is what the album 'Continuum' is supposed to look like and it doesn't have the song 'Stop This Train' five times so I'm going to remove four of them so that this album playlist looks like the normal album."
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chas_m

 
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Ah, so the problem ACTUALLY is that the Audi MMI system imposes a completely inflexible structure that you have to adhere to. I see.

What you actually want is a music player (and nothing else) that just reads folders and files and plays them, since you want to do all the work of organizing them. ITunes can do this IF you turn off the option to have it organise files, but really something like WinAmp is what you're really looking for.
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Grasshopper17

 
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No I don't want to do all the work of organizing them. The reason I posted this question was to try and find a piece of software to do it for me. Clearly I've come to the wrong place to get any real answers since everyone here apparently thinks iTunes is and always has been a perfect piece of software.

One of the reasons I care about my folder structure is precisely because iTunes doesn't get it right on the back or front end. Once I get my music organized on the back end exactly the way I want it, then you're right I won't have to rely on crappy pieces of software like iTunes muddying up my albums with triples and quadruples of songs. Come on - we're on iTunes 10.5 and that issue still hasn't been solved?
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Kevriano

 
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That's because your issue isn't an issue for 99% of people, regardless of whether they use iTunes or not.
iTunes is the most efficient organiser of music there is, full stop. You will have to manually tag them if you want to use a Mac and stick to what you are trying to do.

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Grasshopper17

 
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Anyone who has a sizable mp3 collection is going to run into the problem of having duplicate songs in their albums. Over the course of the last few weeks I've asked many of my friends if they've run into the same issues and every single one of them told me that iTunes duplicates songs in their albums - and that they have to manually go in and make it right again. If you do a google search you will see that many people have this issue. And you will also see many mac fanboys trying to tell them that it's not an issue...or they'll advise an annoying workaround that might as well be manual because you still basically have to go in and fix things album by album.

iTunes should know the sequence and tracks in any particular album based on the ID3 tags and should keep things organized that way. I don't see how you can even make the argument that the way iTunes does it now is best.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grasshopper17 View Post
iTunes should know the sequence and tracks in any particular album based on the ID3 tags and should keep things organized that way.
It does. But you've said this isn't what you want.

I have a near 300gb music collection. The only duplicates I have in the entire thing are those where a track appears on more than one album. I'd consider these legitamite duplicates. I have iTunes organise the collection. Everything new is bought via the iTunes store or imported via iTunes.

I don't like iTunes particularly but having used it on Windows and Mac platforms for years I've found that the biggest issues and headaches come from trying to make it do something it isn't designed to do and not having correctly tagged tracks in the first place. This is what your trying to do. There's nothing 'wrong' with wanting to do what you want but as you've gleaned, iTunes isn't the software for you. Conversely, this doesn't make iTunes the bad guy either. It's just not the right tool for you.

Unforetunately I don't know of any mp3 organisation software, Windows or Mac, that allows you to specify the folder structure to the nth degree as you require.
All the good ones I've come across just use a basic Artist - Album structure and then use the tags to manipulate how the tracks are display to the user.

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Grasshopper17

 
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I don't have a problem with iTunes listing legitimate duplicates if I sort by artist or song - but if I'm trying to listen to a paricular album I want the original structure of the album preserved.

One of the reasons I have a lot of duplicates is because I have a lot of "mixed tape" folders...favorite playlists of mine that I might make every six months or so. I make a new folder with new hard copies of the playlists so that I can burn them to CD or put them on a new hard drive with just a click and drag. Because of this, I have some songs duplicated 5 or 6 times on the same hard drive. That's OK with me and I want to keep it that way. Space isn't the issue. I just don't wany iTunes throwing all those duplicates into the same album. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to fix my folder structure - because then I wouldn't have to worry about iTunes messing everything up.
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Any music software that reads tags is going to show these duplicates because they have the same album name in the tag. Nothing's being messed up as such. Itunes is just reporting the tag information it has within it's library.

When you purposefully duplicate those tracks to make hard copies just change the Album tag on those tracks to reflect your playlist name (e.g. "Mix tape 1" etc).

Alternatively, just create a playlist and burn the playlist to CD. No need to create physical copies.

If you're creating a set of tracks to physically move to another location. Create a playlist then export it to a folder outside of your library then move it to an external from there, or connect the external and export directly to that. That way you keep the playlist in iTunes for future use (updating etc) but you don't have to keep the physical tracks as duplicates.

Using this workflow will eliminate your need for physical duplicates and therefore maintain the integrity of the original album structure.

This 'workflow' will apply to most music library software. Not just iTunes.

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Grasshopper17

 
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I understand what you're saying and I appreciate the advice. Still I think iTunes should have an option to "maintain original album integrity" and as a suboption "keep track with highest bitrate" or something to that effect.
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I have no duplicates in a 350GB collection. They are all tagged correctly and I just don't see how you are getting duplicates.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grasshopper17 View Post
One of the reasons I have a lot of duplicates is because I have a lot of "mixed tape" folders...favorite playlists of mine that I might make every six months or so. I make a new folder with new hard copies of the playlists so that I can burn them to CD or put them on a new hard drive with just a click and drag. Because of this, I have some songs duplicated 5 or 6 times on the same hard drive. That's OK with me and I want to keep it that way. Space isn't the issue. I just don't wany iTunes throwing all those duplicates into the same album. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to fix my folder structure - because then I wouldn't have to worry about iTunes messing everything up.
So what you are saying is that you have a continous mix with the songs that are already broken down into individual tracks. You don't want these individual songs from the mixes to be part of the original mix album.

If this is correct, then click on a song in itunes, click "Info" (Command +I), clear the blocks for Track Number and untick the block for "part of a compilation".

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