Importing MP3 CDs

Q: I am having a lot of trouble importing MP3 files from CDs into iTunes and having them stored in my iTunes folder. I can import them and play them through iTunes provided I have the CD in the drive but if I remove the CD it says it can’t find them. I have tried copying the files into the iTunes folder using Windows Explorer but it still pretends it can’t see them. Further to this, when I import a folder of MP3 songs from a CD and use Gracenote to get the track names it stores them fine in a playlist I created, but when I play the songs in iTunes (which only works if the CD is in the drive) every song I play loses its title and goes back to Track 0x as I play it. This is very frustrating. What can I do?  Thanks for your help.

– Anemarija

A: By default, iTunes stores a full path to each file that it imports into its library. If you have not told iTunes to copy files into the iTunes library when you import them, then it will simply reference them from their original location, using this full path. Therefore, the most likely problem in this case is that when you import these MP3s from CD, iTunes is referencing the files from the CD itself, rather than copying them into your own iTunes music folder. As a result of this, when you remove the CD, iTunes can no longer find the files.

Further, the reason your track information is not being saved is because iTunes is referencing these files from the CD, which is a read-only device. When you update the track information in iTunes, it cannot actually write these changes to the MP3 files themselves, and they therefore retain whatever information was contained in them before. While iTunes will temporarily display the Gracenote track information, it will re-read the information stored in the MP3 file itself as soon as you actually play any of these tracks.

Fortunately, there is a very simple solution for this:  Simply change your iTunes preferences so that iTunes copies each track you import into its own iTunes Music folder. This setting can be found under iTunes advanced preferences (iTunes, Preferences, Advanced on the Mac, or Edit, Preferences, Advanced on Windows). Simply find the checkbox labeled Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library and select it:

Importing MP3 CDs

Once this setting is enabled, any tracks that you import from these MP3 CDs will be copied into your iTunes music folder, organized into sub-folders by artist and album.

If you would like to clean up the tracks that you have already imported without having to reimport them, this can also be done with the “Consolidate Library” function, found on the Advanced menu. Simply insert each of your MP3 CDs containing tracks you’ve already imported, and select Consolidate Library. This will copy the tracks from each of those CDs into your iTunes Music Folder, in much the same way as the normal file import process does when the “Copy files…” option is enabled.

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