About iTunes and ID3 tags
Ask iLounge offers readers the opportunity to get answers to their iPod-, iPhone-, iPad-, iTunes-, or Apple TV-related questions from a member of the iLounge editorial team. We'll answer several questions here each week, and of course, you can always get help with more immediate concerns from the iLounge Discussion Forums. Submit your questions for consideration using our Ask iLounge Submit Form. We reserve the right to edit questions for grammar, spelling, and length.
Q: Due to my PC being fairly old and iTunes’ rather heavy reliance on resources, I tend to use iTunes primarily for managing my library/syncing my iPod, and a simpler application for playback when I’m working at the PC. However, I keep running into a problem with changes that I make to a song in iTunes (like genre or year changes) not taking effect when I play the file using a different application or when I load songs onto a different brand MP3 player.
I always assumed that when you use the ‘Get Info’ option to modify the information about a song, iTunes made the changes not only to its database, but also to the tag within the specific MP3 file itself; but this doesn’t always seem to be the case.
Are there certain fields within an audio file’s tag that iTunes will not change, or do I have something set incorrectly?
A: Your assumption that iTunes should update the ID3 tags within the media files themselves is absolutely correct. Unfortunately, however, there are some factors that can prevent this from working as it should.
This problem occurs most commonly with MP3 files, and is often the result of either corrupted ID3 tags, or simply the fact that the files are using an older version of the ID3 tag standard, known as ID3v1 tags (ie, version 1).
ID3v1 tags stored a very limited amount of data in a fixed-length format, and made no provisions for extended information such as album artwork or any of the more advanced metadata in iTunes (ie, album artist, disc number, grouping, composer, etc).
Compatibility with ID3v1 tags was further complicated as many programs adopted their own (often-incompatible) standards for encoding this additional metadata into the file using the ID3v1.1 format, which allowed for some basic extensions to the ID3 data area.
While iTunes is normally supposed to update whatever tags are already in the file, we have observed problems working with ID3v1.1 tags over the years, most frequently due to this additional non-standard data that may have been added by other applications which may have touched the files in the past.
You can check which version of ID3 tag is contained in the file and being used by iTunes simply by viewing a track’s properties. Select an MP3 track, and choose File, Get Info from the iTunes menu, and check the “Summary” tab:
Note that an MP3 file can have both ID3v1 and ID3v2 tags contained within it. iTunes will normally use the latest version of the tags it finds to populate the information in its database, although it will try to update both versions. However, iTunes does not attempt to rewrite the entire tag header—it merely updates those fields that it finds within the tag.
The simplest way to fix this issue is to convert the ID3 tags within your MP3 files to the newer ID3v2 standard. There are several sub-versions of this, but you should generally use ID3v2.4 (the latest) provided your other applications support it, which almost all modern MP3 playback and management applications should. Even if you find that your tracks already have ID3v2 tags, the conversion process forces iTunes to rewrite the tags in full, which will often fix any issues of corruption or non-standard attributes that may be causing problems.
iTunes can facilitate this conversion for you, simply by selecting the tracks within iTunes, and choosing Convert ID3 Tags… from the Advanced menu:
This will present a dialog box of conversion options:
Simply check off “ID3 Tag Version” and choose the appropriate version from the drop-down menu and click OK. iTunes will go through the selected tracks and convert all ID3 tags to the selected version, cleaning up and normalizing them in the process.
You can find out more information about the ID3 tagging standard at http://www.id3.org.
- Will removing a credit card from Safari also remove it from Apple Pay?
- Can I mute Handoff calls coming into my Mac from my iPhone?
- How do I keep my iPhone calls from ringing on my Mac?
- Why doesn’t Traffic show up on my Today Notifications Screen?
- Why doesn’t my iPhone reconnect to Wi-Fi after I turn it on?
- Why can’t I see the iPad-style landscape view on my iPhone 6 Plus?
- Happy Presidents’ Day from iLounge
- Apple plans to begin iPhone manufacturing in India starting with the iPhone SE
- Rumor: iPhone 8 to eliminate Touch ID in favor of Facial Recognition
- Report: Apple working on 4K for next-generation Apple TV
- Apple announces WWDC 2017
- Apple patent points to possible new Smart Keyboard with dedicated ‘Share’ and ‘Emoji’ keys
- Jaguar announces in-car Apple Pay payment option at UK Shell gas stations
- Shareholders seek more diversity in Apple upper management
- Apple to fight Nebraska ‘right to repair’ bill
- Apple eyeing another supplier for future OLED screens
- 1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones
- Revogi Smart Lightbulb, Smart Lightstrip, Smart Candle + Smart Meter Plug
- Audeze iSine10 In-Ear Headphones
- MOCACARE MOCACuff Connected Blood Pressure Monitor
- Apple AirPods
- Elgato Eve Motion
- Olloclip Core Lens Set for iPhone 7/7 Plus
- Logitech Pop Home Switch Starter Pack
- Elgato Eve Light Switch
- iHome iPLWBT5 Docking Clock Radio for iPhone and Apple Watch
- Top Five: The Best Products for Building a Smart Home with HomeKit
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of watchOS 3
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 10
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 10
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Photos gets Advanced Computer Vision
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Music app delivers ‘clarity and simplicity’
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Maps gets a major redesign
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 shakes up the user experience
- Inside the betas: watchOS 3 promises a real speed boost
- Inside the betas: A sneak peek at what’s new in tvOS 10