Tagging Songs in iTunes | iLounge Article


Tagging Songs in iTunes

March 30, 2004
By Jerrod H.

“Tags” are embedded in audio files, and include information such as Artist, Title, Album, Release Date, and Genre—much more than a filename could contain.

Anyone who has a large collection of digital music understands the importance of and value in maintaining a correct and complete set of tags for their music.  This is especially true for iPod users, as tags are the only means by which the iPod and iTunes understand how to categorize your music.

As we discussed in a previous iPod 101 article, the Gracenote CDDB online database makes tagging extremely easy for most users importing CDs.  However, CDDB is a user-filled database, so frequently, the tag information downloaded from CDDB has misspellings, errors, or simply doesn’t come “the way you’d like it.”  Sometimes, CDDB won’t even have information for the CD you’re importing.  Also, for users who acquire their songs through “shady” means, the tag information is hardly ever complete and accurate, if present at all.

iLounge is here to help.

Tagging one track at a time:

iTunes offers several ways to correct or add a tag to one file.

First, try selecting any song in your iTunes library.  (This tip also works from within any playlist!)  Next, click once on the tag that you want to change.  The tag will change to a text entry field.  (See screenshot below).  Type your correction or addition, and hit enter.


This method is quick and easy for the occasional tag fix, but you may encounter a problem when using this method—often, all fields are not displayed in the iTunes library or in a playlist… Sometimes the column you want to change is hidden.

To edit a tag in a hidden column, you need to open the track’s “Get Info” window.  To do so, right click (or Command-click on a Mac) on the track, and go to “Get Info.”  The window shown below will open, and you may edit any of the attributes shown.



Tagging multiple tracks with common information:

The methods shown above are fine for fixing spelling or making other corrections on any one song at a time, but they are quite tedious when filling tags for many tracks at a time.  Often, the process can be simplified by tagging in groups - one for each album.  Usually, tracks on an album have a common genre, artist, comment, year, and release date.  Why enter them all in over and over?  You don’t have to.

To edit many similar tracks at once, begin by selecting the group of tracks in your library.  (Select the first song with a single click.  Hold down “Shift” and click the last song).  See below:


Next, right click (command-click for Mac) on any one of the tracks, and go to “Get Info” as we did for a single track.  The following window will appear:



Any changes that you make here will be applied to all of the selected tracks.  When you click O.K., the only changes that will be applied to all tracks will be those fields that have their check box selected.  In the example above, the Artist, Year, Genre, Album, and total disc and track numbers will be written to all 12 tracks.  Song ratings, for example, will not be overwritten, as the My Ratings checkbox is unchecked.

Click O.K. to finalize changes.

We highly recommend ensuring that all of your tags are complete and accurate… It may take a lot of time and labor, but it will make your iPod experience much more enjoyable!

Notes and Tips:

The “Part of a Compilation” checkbox in the “Get Info” window allows you to tell iTunes whether it should store the audio files on your hard drive according to the Artist title, or group the tracks according to their Album name in the “Compilations” folder.  It is a good idea to enable this option for any CD in which the Artist is not the same for each track, but it is certainly not required.

If you are finding that some of your longer tags (i.e. long track titles) are being truncated, you’re probably using an old ID3 format.  Use iTunes’ “Convert ID3 Tags” feature in the “Advanced” menu to update the tracks to the latest ID3 format (v2.4).

For Windows users who want more audio tagging features than iTunes offers, we recommend Tag&Rename.

Jerrod H. is a Forum Administrator and Contributing Editor for iLounge.

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Maybe you could add the useful shortcut of Cntrl + I (for windows) for tagging things such as genre or entire artists.

Comes in handy especially for genre renaming or adding comments for smart lists!

Posted by Anh Han in TX on March 30, 2004 at 6:27 AM (CST)


Not the best software, but it’s freeware


It will ID3 tag MP3’s based on their name. Great way to do entire collections of songs. I used it on all my MP3 that I ripped before programs that did the tagging for you came around.

Posted by Shawn in TX on March 30, 2004 at 8:40 AM (CST)


Now that they’ve added the Grouping field, I’ve started using that to group songs for dynamic playlists.  For example, one of my songs that belongs in both Oldies and Instrumental playslists has “Oldies Instrumental” as its Grouping.  Then, I have one auto-generating playlist called “Oldies” that just looks for the word “Oldies” in Grouping, and one called “Instrumental” that looks for the word “Instrumental”.  That way, if it were to get removed from my library for some reason, I just have to add the song again, and it will show up in the playlists automatically.

Posted by Matt in TX on March 30, 2004 at 9:28 AM (CST)


anyone know of a good app that will allow you to have your mp3 library connect to the ccdb for tagging?

Posted by Joe in TX on March 30, 2004 at 10:21 AM (CST)


Do a google search for Tag & Raname - it’ll do almost anything you want, tagging wise..

Posted by pat in TX on March 30, 2004 at 10:23 AM (CST)


Are the items in the “summary” tab in the tags?  I kind of mind having the image, but all these iTunes Pespi downloads now have my email address and name associated with them.  I assume if they get converted and burnt to a CD that information goes away, but still - it’s a little disconcerting to have my personal information associated with a song.

Posted by Nigel Mellish in TX on March 30, 2004 at 11:47 AM (CST)


Check out IEatBrainz (Mac) and the MusicBrainz tagger (Windows) from www.musicbrainz.org It figures out what song each track is, even if you don’t know the artist or the right name, and will re-tag the selected files with the right information. You can add stuff to their database and make corrections to other people’s additions. It’s a really neat resource.

Posted by kostia in TX on March 30, 2004 at 12:51 PM (CST)


Now, don’t ignore me because I’m a Windows user - I still love the mini iPod.

I’ve just spent the last 3 hours using the eval of Tag&Rename; (http://www.softpointer.com/tr.htm) and it is excellent.
Not only does it generate tags from filenames (you can even set up multiple mask editors if your collections don’t have consistent file naming conventions), but you can also reverse engineer the tags onto the filenames, as well as batch up whole albums or artists.

It is also very fast, and seems pretty reliable so far.

I much prefer this to the iTunes library editor, mainly because it edits the actual tags, not just the pointer to the file (unless I’m missing the point here) - which is useful for me for moving the files around from one computer to another (NOT sharing of course! all for my own use).

Posted by badger in TX on March 30, 2004 at 2:47 PM (CST)


I much prefer this to the iTunes library editor, mainly because it edits the actual tags, not just the pointer to the file (unless I’m missing the point here)

Itunes edits the tags and the pointers. Unless the files you are editing are WAV’s. In that case it only edits the pointer.

Posted by br-- in TX on March 30, 2004 at 5:44 PM (CST)


MusicMatch has “Super Tagging” than gets all the info you need, including the picture of the album cover, directly from the internet. I strongly Recommend this software to anyone.


Posted by ARES in TX on March 30, 2004 at 6:23 PM (CST)


Media Center combines all the excellent tagging and rename abilities of Tag&Rename; with all the “Super Tagging” name+album art grabbing of MusicMatch.

Of course, you do have to pay to use it and all the extra features, but it’s worth every cent.

Posted by Super Duper Tagging in TX on March 30, 2004 at 6:27 PM (CST)


I would be interested in thoughts on the current competition from Cowon. the iAudio M3 looks pretty cool.


Posted by tim in TX on March 31, 2004 at 3:56 AM (CST)


Is there a way to transfer EQ settings from iTunes (PC) to your iPod ?  I haven’t found jack on this topic and I might be missing something obvious, but I have asked friends and they do not know.

Posted by Doug in TX on March 31, 2004 at 10:09 AM (CST)


I’ve retagged a bunch my tracks using music match.  My question is, how do I get itune (for windows) to refresh its display and update its information based on the new tags (so they get propogated on the next ipod sync).  I can refresh one track at a time with get info, but couldn’t seem to find a way to do multiple tracks at a time.

Posted by Jason in TX on March 31, 2004 at 10:09 AM (CST)


The way I use to force iTunes to refresh is to select all the songs and tell it to Get Info. Then I hit ok without changing anything.

Posted by inversed in TX on March 31, 2004 at 11:30 AM (CST)


Best tagger I’ve ever run into and, for that matter, a program I use often is MP3BookHelper.  Check it out all it’s the only software you’ll ever need to deal with complicated tagging situations.  Tight program.  Find it here free and full featured:


Posted by Weepy in TX on March 31, 2004 at 12:03 PM (CST)


Is there a keyboard equivalent to jump to another cell? Say you’ve got a custom mix CD you made and you want to add the track names, it’s a pain to click-pause-click every track to rename them….tab doesn’t work, nor does any of the shift/crtl/alt+arrow keys.

Posted by sniglet in TX on March 31, 2004 at 2:37 PM (CST)


I just want to second Weepy. MP3BookHelper is the most powerful tagger ever. And it’s free!! It may take a short while to get used to, but you’ll love it once you get to know it. Two thumbs up!

Posted by Hoss in TX on April 1, 2004 at 2:56 AM (CST)


I use .wavs which you can’t tag. I have a nightmare organizing songs on my ipod.

Posted by chavo in TX on April 1, 2004 at 11:55 AM (CST)



>I use .wavs which you can’t tag. I have a nightmare organizing songs on my ipod. <

you use .wav’s ...so your telling me you have 8 songs on your 40 gb ipod???

Posted by rivlinm in TX on April 2, 2004 at 11:13 PM (CST)

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