Problems editing track info in iTunes

Q: I bought the new 80 GB ipod and uploaded my songs into the iTunes library. I can listen to them all but I cannot edit the track tags at all. Every song is grayed out. Any ideas?

– Christine

A: The normal cause of this is that the audio files themselves are either stored on a read-only media such as a CD or DVD, or they are still marked as “read-only” in the underlying operating system. This will prevent iTunes from updating information within the file tags themselves, and therefore iTunes does not let you edit this information at all.

In Windows, often when files are copied from a read-only media source (such as a CD or DVD), they retain the read-only flag unless it is reset manually.

You can check this by going to the underlying file and examining its properties from within Windows. The fastest way to do this is to select the tracks within the iTunes library, and right-click on them and choose “Show in Windows Explorer” from the context menu:

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This will open a Windows Explorer window with the file in question highlighted. You can then right-click on the file from within Windows Explorer and choose “Properties” to examine the file’s properties:

 

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If the “Read-only” box is checked, this indicates that the file has been flagged as read-only by the underlying operating system, and iTunes will therefore not be able to update it. If this is the case, simply UNcheck the “Read-only” checkbox, and click OK to save the file.

You can also do this for multiple files simply by selecting them all and choosing File, Properties from Windows Explorer. This change can even by applied to an entire subdirectory tree by choosing the top-level folder and selecting File, Properties. In this case, simply UNcheck the “Read-only” checkbox, and when clicking OK you will be prompted as to whether you want to apply changes to the current folder only, or to all sub-folders:

 

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Therefore, if you find that the majority of your files are in fact set as read-only, you can simply select the top-level “iTunes” folder (located under “My Music”), and change the Read-only flag at that level to set it on all files in your music library.

If you are using a Mac instead of a Windows computer, this problem is less common, but can still occur if the files are “Locked.”  The same basic principles apply as above, except you will be looking for a “Locked” checkbox rather than a “Read-only” checkbox:

 

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