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iTunes: Metadata

ITUNES: METADATA

Managing Metadata in iTunes

While iTunes is a wonderful program for managing your music database, you may one day decide to move to a different platform, such as the Lumin or the Auralic Aries music server. A few simple steps can help make the transition simple and painless.

A Word on File Formats

There are many lossless file formats available, such as AIFF, Apple Lossless (ALAC), FLAC, WAV and others. For iTunes on the Mac platform, we recommend ALAC:

  • In a properly set up computer audio system, there is no audible difference between ALAC and AIFF or WAV
  • ALAC is now “open source” and cross-platform compatible
  • Metadata (such as artwork) can be embedded into ALAC files by iTunes, making the underlying music files transportable and readable by other platforms. To embed artwork into ALAC files, it must be added manually using the Get Info dialogue box.  If you allow iTunes to fetch the artwork (not recommended for a variety of reasons), the artwork will simply be associated with the audio files.  If you have several albums with associated, as opposed to embedded artwork, you can use Doug’s Embed Artwork Script or, if in OS 10.6 and higher, Doug's Re-Embed Artwork Script.  Before moving audio files to a new platform, be sure to run one of these scripts.  Otherwise, associated artwork will be lost!

Properly Tagging Your Music

iTunes is a good tool for managing your music library. It allows you to edit metadata, such as song and artist information, and artwork. Once you have ripped your CDs, or converted your downloaded music files to ALAC or AIFF, you can use iTunes to modify and edit the metadata to suit your preferences. Proper tagging keeps your collection well-organized and manageable as it grows. It also ensures interoperability between iTunes and other devices.

From iTunes, select an individual song (or multiple songs in an album) and hit COMMAND+I to bring up the song info pane.

For an individual song, the Summary Tab will look like this:

The song’s metadata can be edited via the Info Tab:

To edit multiple songs simultaneously, select all songs in the album, and then hit COMMAND+I:

To maintain a well-groomed collection, it important to fill out all of the following fields:

  • Name
  • Artist
  • Year
  • Album Artist*
  • Track Number
  • Album
  • Disc Number
  • Grouping (you can use this for whatever you like; we recommend using it for sub-genre)
  • Composer
  • Genre

* Note that Album Artist is a critically important field. This field is used to group songs into an album folder, and it dictates how files are stored on your hard drive. Do not forget to fill out the Album Artist field!  The Artist field can vary for each song in an album, but the Album Artist should be the same for all songs in the album.