Updated ID3 tags in iTunes

Q: I recently moved my library of over 4,000 songs to a new computer system. Everything is working fine except that iTunes 9.1.1 is now mysteriously changing my song names when they are played. For example. in the name field a song is called “Elton John – Harmony”. When I select Get Info OR when I play the song, now the name field changes to “Harmony”, dropping the artist and the ‘-’. I have no idea why iTunes is doing this or how to tell it to leave my name fields alone. I have never had this issue before with any previous iTunes version.

When I correct the name field under ‘Get Info’ the name is fixed and does not revert, however, I really do not want to fix this manually for each title in my library. Is there some option I can set in iTunes to tell it not to mess with my song names?

Updated ID3 tags in iTunes

– Jeff

A: What seems to be happening here is that the tags contained in your MP3 files and the information contained in iTunes is not in sync. Normally, iTunes will read in the MP3 tag information and use that to update its database whenever you open a track to play it or modify the track information. In this case, the MP3 files likely contain incorrect information and that’s what you’re seeing in iTunes. Once you correct the track information in iTunes, it re-writes the tags back to the underlying MP3 file and therefore remains consistent for the future.

While this is how iTunes is supposed to behave, there have been bugs in previous versions that have either prevented the MP3 tag information from being updated properly by iTunes or prevented iTunes from reading the MP3 tags properly. Presumably iTunes 9.1.1 fixes this problem, but of course provides a less than optimal result since the tags are already out of sync.

Depending on the status of your underlying MP3 files, there are a couple of things you can try to fix the problem and force iTunes to update your actual MP3 tags from your iTunes information, rather than the other way around.

First, try converting the ID3 tags for the affected MP3 tracks. You can do this by selecting one or more tracks, right-clicking, and choosing “Convert ID3 Tags” from the context menu.

Updated ID3 tags in iTunes

This will bring up a dialog box of MP3 tag conversion options. Choose the “ID3 Tag Version” option and select v2.4 from the drop-down menu.


Updated ID3 tags in iTunes

This forces iTunes to write the ID3 tag information from its database out to the selected MP3 files. Further, since the tags are being written to the latest supported version, these are the tags that iTunes itself will use should it need to re-read the tag information from the files themselves.