iTunes is a widely used music library program, mainly because you need it when you’re using an iPod or iPhone. I use it myself, but mainly because I have to in order to get some music on my iPod Touch. We have written about alternative ways to sync your iPod with your music collection, but Apple seems to keep closing all options other than iTunes. So in the period that I have been using iTunes I have tried to make the best of it.
One of the improvements you can make is to have iTunes synchronize its library with your music folders. This can be done in two ways. You can let iTunes do it for you when you have it managing your music automatically already or, alternatively, you can have a program called iTunes Folder Watch (Windows only) do it.
After years of waiting for it and criticism from users, Apple has finally added the feature of auto adding music to your library in iTunes 9. One condition however is that you have to let iTunes manage your music. This means that you can’t have your own music folder structure but instead you have to add any music to iTunes and let it do its thing. This is fine for most people except when you want to keep using your own folders or file formats iTunes doesn’t support (which are more than you’d think).
The automatic way does work very easy though. All you need is iTunes 9. It already comes with the feature installed, many people just don’t know about it. Of course Apple would prefer that you get all your music from the iTunes store, that’s probably why they aren’t giving it much attention. There is a folder called “Automatically Add to iTunes” in your iTunes Music folder (called Media Folder starting from iTunes 9). Just place any new music there and iTunes will import it the next time you run it or right away if you already have iTunes opened.
Here’s more information from the Apple website.
This way iTunes handles everything for you. If you prefer to have more control yourself you can use an application like iTunes Folder Watch. I normally prefer freeware, but this does most of what we need in the free version. It allows you to pick a folder to synchronize with your iTunes library. The paid version does this automatically, but with the free version you have to do it yourself.
You point the program to a folder on your computer with music and it will compare the files in there with your iTunes library. When you add some music to the folder you can have it update your iTunes library automatically.
An alternative to iTunes Folder Watch is iWatchSyncer. It does more or less the same but has a few less options, but it’s good to have alternatives.
My favorite alternative by the way is to ditch iTunes altogether and start using MediaMonkey. This program has all you need from a media player and even more in the gold version. We have written in the past about it and has all the folder syncing you need. It has just released a major update in version 3.2 and is compatible with many MP3 players and phones, but in the past Apple has slammed the door on any software that synchronizes with the iPods and iPhone with their next software update.
What software do you use for managing your music and filling your iPod or iPhone? Are you using iTunes and had you already discovered the auto adding feature?