How To Organize Your iTunes Collection With TidySongs

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musicDo you download music from multiple sources? How about sources you don’t pay for? Even if all you’re doing is ripping CD’s onto your hard drive, odds are good you’ve got more than a few songs labeled something like “Track 06.mp3″ or “This song’s totally sweet.mp3″.

How in the world are you supposed to remember what song that really is? And how are you supposed to figure out when you’ve got duplicate songs taking up space on your computer?

The answer to both those questions is one word (well, really two, but one in a Web 2.0 kind of way) – TidySongs.

TidySongs is a brand-new Adobe AIR app, for Windows and Mac OS X, that hooks into your iTunes and goes bananas all over your music library, helping you to finally organize your iTunes collection.

Before I go any further, a disclaimer: TidySongs isn’t free. It’s got a fully-functioning free trial, that’s perfect for a one-time cleanup of your songs. The Genre Renaming feature remains free, but to continue to use the rest costs $30. It’s a bit hefty, but I found the benefit of one use well worth the time to install. If you download like crazy, you might want to consider purchasing the app.

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Once you’ve installed the app (it’s small, and requires Adobe AIR – which it will automatically install if you don’t have it already), open up iTunes and TidySongs. You’ll immediately get three options: Fix Your Songs, Find Duplicates, and Organize Genres.

tidysongs

Let’s start with the big kahuna first: Fix Your Songs. Select a playlist (If you pick ‘Music‘, TidySongs scans your whole library), and check a couple of options before you start. I recommend, at least for the first pass, making sure “Fix Songs Manually“ is selected – that means you review every change TidySongs makes before it makes them.

A nice medium, though, and one that worked for me, was to select “Automatically fix songs if confidence is greater than 80%.“ Every time TidySongs fixes a song, it gives a confidence level of how sure it is that it’s making the right change – my experience was that, when it’s over 80%, it’s actually right about 99% of the time. Once your options are set, click “Fix Songs“ and let TidySongs go to work!

fixed

TidySongs brings up the list of all the songs it wants to update for you, with all the info (it finds album art, track #, genre, and so much more) in the window. You either choose “Skip“ or “Fix,” and TidySongs takes its action, and moves you to the next one. Once it’s finished, you’ll find you’ve got tons of new album artwork, better organization and ordering of albums, and a much more information-packed iTunes. This is a good first step in organizing your entire iTunes collection.

Your next option is “Find Duplicates.” TidySongs checks the Name, Artist, and/or Album of the track to see if you’ve already got it – if so, it keeps either the longer one or the better quality one, and can either delete the duplicate or just mark it as a duplicate.

dups

You can’t actually delete anything from TidySongs without paying, but that wasn’t a problem: the "Simulate" option worked fine, and manually deleting duplicates was super easy. In one pass of my library, TidySongs found no fewer than 225 duplicates (out of 8,000 songs, not so bad, but still). Of those, I ended up deleting about 200. That’s a great percentage, but I’d still recommend checking TidySongs’ findings. Once you run this, though, you might be surprised how much space it frees on your computer.

genres

Organizing Genres is a more simple affair – it presents you with a list of all the genres you have in your iTunes library. Select one or more, and choose what you want to rename it to. This lets you consolidate your genres into a smaller number, based on a system you’ve devised, rather than the insanity that makes Pop Rock, Rock/Pop, and rock_pop three different genres.

As a serial music downloader, having TidySongs around to run once a week or so is a lifesaver – no manually hunting for album artwork, or renaming songs – TidySongs does it for you. Even incorrectly named songs get found, for the most part, and are updated properly. It’s an impressive app, and has kept the audio-OCDer in me happy.

iTunes users should also grab a free copy of our The Ultimate iTunes Manual. Lots of great tips there.

How do you keep your music organized?

Photo Credit : Mikey

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