Track information not appearing when importing into iTunes

Q: Thanks for your site, it’s highly informative. I loved your tutorial on moving an iTunes library to an external drive. Following up on that, my question is how do you add music ripped by another person’s iTunes collection into your own? My friend and I rip only our own CDs in WAV format. The only option I see is Add To Library under the File menu, but this way only the track names come across—all other info is missing, which is odd considering all CDs have been ripped using iTunes itself.

Track information not appearing when importing into iTunes

– Ali

A: The problem here is actually that you are storing your tracks in WAV format, which does not provide any fields for metadata such as album, artist or even the track name. When you import the WAV files into iTunes, you’re getting the track name simply because that’s the name of the file; there’s no other information inside of a WAV file that iTunes can read in to populate its library.

Although there are workarounds using Applescript or via exporting and importing XML files, your best option is to convert the tracks to another format that actually provides the ability to store metadata tags in the files. In addition to allowing you to more easily import those files into other libraries, this provides a useful backup against loss of or corruption in your iTunes database, since this allows the track information to effectively be backed up in each file.

Almost every other format supported by iTunes can do this, including the AIFF format, which is otherwise identical to WAV, or the Apple Lossless format which provides the exact same quality at an average of 50% of the file size. Apple Lossless the most efficient storage method if you’re concerned about preserving the original quality, but comes at the expense of compatibility with non-Apple hardware and software. AIFF, on the other hand, is identical to WAV except for its ability to support tags.

Since WAV files are lossless to begin with, converting them to AIFF or Apple Lossless will not reduce the quality in any way.