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Home  /  geekspeak  /  How To Clean Up Your iTunes Library

How To Clean Up Your iTunes Library

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iTunes organises your music for you, but if things get messy you can fix it by hand.

When you rip a music CD to your computer using iTunes, it automatically downloads all the details for every track and uses this to sort your music according to artist and album. After this you can drag around the columns in iTunes to control how your music is listed.

Occasionally songs aren’t sorted correctly — perhaps listed out of order or broken into multiple albums. This often happens when you’ve imported songs from another source apart from the iTunes store or a physical CD, because the track data isn’t automatically updated when you import tracks into iTunes this way. Thankfully it’s easy to fix this problem.

The first step is to select one of your new tracks in iTunes and press the Control and “I” buttons (or Apple and “I” buttons if you’re using a Mac). “I” is for “Info”, and this keyboard shortcut opens a window listing lots of information about that file. Switch from the Summary tab to the Info tab and you’ll see all the data regarding that track, album and artist.

The key information to enter here is the song name, album name, artist name and track number. If you don’t have the CD case, websites such as are a good source of such information.

Entering this data should give iTunes enough information to sort your songs correctly. Thankfully you don’t need to edit each track one at a time. You can select every track in an album at once and use the Info keyboard shortcut to edit the album and artist for every track at once. Now you can go back and individually edit each song’s name and track number, using the Next button to easily skip to the next song.

Once your albums are sorted correctly, go iTunes’ Advanced menu and choose Get Album Artwork to see if iTunes can find the album covers online. If not, you can manually add an image using the Artwork tab in a track’s Info menu.

Sometimes iTunes gets confused even when you do rip your music from a CD, particularly if it’s a compilation such as a movie soundtrack. If iTunes breaks up compilation albums according to the artist, try ticking the Part of a Compilation option on the Info tab. Problems can also arise when different band members are credited as the artist on different tracks of an album, but entering the band name as the album artist can override this.

If these changes don’t fix your problems, check the Sorting tab to see if they’re being overridden. For example, tracks by the “The Beatles” might have the Sort Artist set to “Beatles”, so it appears under B rather than T. These Sort details do not affect how track details are displayed, only how iTunes sorts them. It’s a handy trick to ensure iTunes doesn’t mix up tracks from multiple albums with the same name, such as “The Essentials”.


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