Track numbers appear in track names


Q: I would like to know if you can stop the latest version of iTunes from adding track numbers to the files I import. For example I import “Tommy” but it goes in as “01 01 01 Tommy.” It makes sorting useless by title and just looks bad when looking through the track listing. Sometimes so many digits are added the song title is no longer visible without widening the column. I have seen the solution to this problem when using iTunes with a Mac, however I use iTunes on a PC with XP Media Centre Edition. I have not been able to locate any fixes for the problem when using XP.

– Justin

A: It appears that this may not actually be an iTunes problem, but rather a problem with the original files themselves. By default, iTunes 9 does add a single two-digit track number to the front of the file name, but it will never add the track number into the track name which appears when viewing your track listings in iTunes.

Note that it is possible to change this behaviour by adjusting a hidden preference setting in iTunes, which are easier to set on the Mac than on Windows. This is probably the solution you’re seeing mentioned elsewhere, however this setting only affects how iTunes names your media files and not how those tracks are displayed in iTunes, and therefore doesn’t really apply to the problem you’re described.

In this case it is more likely that the original files themselves have bad tag information contained within them or have filenames which include these track numbers. When importing MP3 or AAC files, iTunes will use whatever tags are already in the file headers, or in the absence of any file tags will use the file name as the track name. This means that if you have a file named “01 01 01 Tommy” and it has no tags in the file, then iTunes will simply use this as the track name when you import that file, and this is what you will see displayed in the “Name” column.

You can of course clean up these names in iTunes, but this may be more time-consuming if you’re importing a lot of files at once. Third-party tools such as Tag & Rename or MP3Tag can help you with cleaning up your tag information before importing the tracks into iTunes, and these tools are often better at handling mass-cleanup operations than iTunes is. In this case, you’ll want to make sure that your MP3 files actually have tag information in them and that this tag information corresponds to what you want your track names to actually look like.

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Jesse Hollington

Jesse Hollington was a Senior Editor at iLounge. He's written about Apple technology for nearly a decade and had been covering the industry since the early days of iLounge. In his role at iLounge, he provided daily news coverage, wrote and edited features and reviews, and was responsible for the overall quality of the site's content.