Renaming imported CD tracks

Q: I have downloaded a non-commercially made CD of bird songs with the intent of transferring them to an iPod. iTunes imports and labels them as “Track 1,” “Track 2,” etc. This will not help me once on an iPod so I renamed them with the appropriate bird names using the “Get Info” area. Then, I also renamed them within the computer storage area (My Music\iTunes Music) so that I can find them to run on a sonogram system. However, now when I try to play the songs within iTunes it says they can not be found. I presume this is because I also renamed them in the computer storage area, but then how can I have both areas have the songs with bird names rather than track numbers?  Further, how do I keep a bird name instead of a track number when I ultimately transfer them onto an iPod?

– Jan

A: You are essentially correct in that iTunes has lost track of the actual files due to you renaming them in the actual iTunes folder. When a file is imported into the iTunes library, the full path and name of the file is stored within the iTunes database, and iTunes does not expect you to actually manipulate the file names or move them around within those directories.

The good news is that you don’t actually need to worry about the underlying file system as long as you have the option to “Keep iTunes Music folder organized” enabled. This option can be found in your iTunes preferences, by selecting Preferences, Advanced, General:

Renaming imported CD tracks

With the “Keep organized” setting enabled, iTunes will automatically move and rename your tracks according to the tag information contained in them. Therefore, when you update the name of a track from “Track 1” to something else, the underlying file should automatically be renamed. Likewise, adding information into the Artist and Album fields will automatically move your tracks into sub-folders based on this information as well, so you can further categorize your tracks this way if necessary.

Note that only tracks that are located in the “iTunes Music Folder” path (as indicated in the same preference screen) are actually organized in this way. Tracks imported from CD are stored in this location by default, so if you’re only importing tracks from CD this should not be a concern. If you have existing MP3 files that you’re adding manually, however, you’ll want to ensure that the “Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library” (shown above) is also enabled so that these files will also be copied into your iTunes Music Folder when adding them to your library.

In terms of the iPod itself, the names of the underlying files do not matter. The iPod uses the tag information exclusively to identify tracks, so they will be named according to the title shown in iTunes itself. You can browse to them on the iPod either via a complete track listing, by grouping them using album and artist fields, or by organizing them into playlists.


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