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Burning CDs with track names

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Q: I have several computers loaded with iTunes. From time to time I will burn a CD from the iTunes Library. If I take this CD and load it onto another computer to simply play, the info (title, album, artist) does not show up on the iTunes screen. All I see is the track number and duration for each track. “Get CD Track Names” appears not to work or be recognized despite the fact that the original CD was burned from purchased iTunes material. Is this typical?

- Anonymous

A: If you are burning compilation or “mix” CDs, this actually is somewhat expected behavior. The “Get CD Track Names” option queries the online Gracenote CD Database (CDDB), but this query is based on complete CD information, not individual track information.  If you were to burn a CD that contained identical tracks a commercial CD, in the same order, chances are that CDDB would be able to identify this properly, but CDs that have different track orders, or a mix of tracks from different albums will not be recognized as the CD as a whole cannot be identified.

If you have a CD recorder and CD player on both ends that support the “CD Text” function, you can alternatively ensure that you burn your CDs with this enabled in iTunes. iTunes will both write CD Text information based on the existing MP3/AAC track metadata, and can likewise read this information. Unfortunately, this requires that the CD recorder used to burn the CD supports CD Text, and that the CD-ROM used to read the CD on the other end also support CD Text.

Note that many newer audio CD players now provide CD Text support as well, so as an added bonus, if you are able to burn CD Text, your audio CD track information will appear on these audio CD players as well.

The option to enable CD Text can be found in the iTunes “Burning” preferences, under Preferences, Advanced, Burning:

Note that if your drive(s) do not support CD-Text, you will not receive any obvious indication of this—the feature simply won’t work.

As an alternative, if you are only concerned with moving your music between computers that are running iTunes, you could alternatively choose to burn a “Data CD” instead, which would just contain the original MP3/M4A/M4P files, which could then be imported and played back directly through iTunes. Note that if this includes DRM-protected content purchased from the iTunes Store, the other computer will need to be authorized, however.

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