Grouping multi-disc albums

Q: I sometimes have two or three of the same album cover in my iTunes library with several tracks on each (i.e. if the album consists of more than 1 CD). This makes it difficult to locate tracks. Is there a way can I get them all to appear under one album cover?

– Suzanne

Grouping multi-disc albums

A: iTunes and the iPod group tracks based on their album and artist entries.

Tracks with the same artist and album name are normally grouped under the same “cover.”  In the case of multi-disc albums, however, often the information contained in the track’s album title will include a disk number for the album as part of the album title. In this case, the tracks will be treated as separate albums since the album title is in fact different.

Unless you actually want each disc to be treated as a separate album, the proper way to group multi-disc albums in iTunes is to set the album title for all tracks to only the album name, and then use the “Disc #” tag to identify each disc:

Grouping multi-disc albums

This will cause all of the tracks on both discs to be grouped as a single album when using Cover Flow or Grouping views:


Grouping multi-disc albums

Likewise, the tracks will also appear under a single album heading when viewed on the iPod itself.

Due to the “Disc #” field being filled in, the tracks will still be sorted in the proper order, since the disc number takes precedence over the individual track numbers when sorting.

Note that if you have multi-CD albums that have more than a single artist on them, they may still appear under separate album entries, since again iTunes uses both the artist and album name when deciding which tracks belong together. The “Album Artist” field can be filled in with a single artist name for albums with featured artists, but this does not work consistently on all models of iPod. Your better option is to use the “Part of a Compilation” tag to identify those tracks that belong to the same album.  When “Part of a Compilation” is checked, and the “Compilations” setting is enabled in iTunes or on the iPod, the “Artist” tag is basically ignored when grouping tracks into albums. See our Dec 7, 2007 Ask iLounge column for more information on how the “Compilations” feature is used.