How To manage your library in iTunes

May 28, 2014
 by Paul McGowan

Managing your media library properly can bring great rewards.  If you are using iTunes as a management tool on a Mac, make sure you use an aftermarket program such as Bit Perfect, Audirvana, Pure Music or Amarra to get the sound right. Our specific recommendation is for Bit Perfect. If you are running iTunes in a Windows environment, we are still searching for a way to make it bit perfect if sample rates change.

Add music from a hard drive or data source

To bring music into the iTunes library you can simply highlight a group of tracks or albums on an existing hard drive and drag them into the iTunes desktop.  Or, you can go to File->Add to library:

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Add music from a CD or DVD

You can also rip or copy music from your CD's or DVD data discs.  To do this, make certain your import settings have been set to the proper file type.  Our recommendation is to use either AIFF (uncompressed) or Apple Lossless compression.  To set the import settings go to Preferences->General->Import Settings:

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Once you have imported your media into iTunes you can now manage your library.

Quick edit

In either the album or song view, you can click any of the text field and edit their content directly. Here's an example of what that looks like in album view.

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The blue highlighted area has been clicked on, allowing direct editing. The same can be applied to any field in the song List View as well.

For larger more complex editing features, opening the tag editor window is recommended.

Tagging editor window

The best tool to manage your library can be accessed by choosing Get Info and opening the Info dialog box.  To access this dialog box you can right click on any track or album and choose Get Info.  You can also go to the File->Get Info menu.

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Once you have opened the Get Info dialog box you can manage all aspects of the individual tracks, albums, titles and artwork.  Here is what the Get Info window looks like:

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Use this intuitively laid out window to manage Artwork (open the Artwork tab of this window), or change the track, composer, genre, artist titles of your library.

If you have a compilation album, with different artists on multiple tracks, choose the checkbox labeled "Part of a compilation".  You can highlight a group of tracks, right click the highlighted group opening the Get Info dialog box, check Part of a compilation, and this will become an album.  Choose various artists for the album's artist field.  You can still enter individual track titles and artists within the compilation.

Genre editing can be either custom named or choose from the list. To add a custom genre type, simply place the cursor in the Genre box and type whatever you want. To choose from a predefined list, click the arrow and choose from the list.

Adding or changing cover art

iTunes is pretty good finding most cover art using the Gracenote database. This database is targeted more at popular music than it is jazz and classical - and certainly has very few Audiophile recordings in its list. Many of the tracks and albums Audiophiles might add need custom art added. Google Images is the single best source for album art. An entire universe of art is available. Just type the artist, orchestra or band name into a Google search field, click on Images and select the appropriate image. Click on that image. It centers in the browser. Right click the image and choose Save Image As and it will download to your desktop. If you cannot find the art on Google, Amazon is also a good source.

To add or change an existing image, you must be in the tagging editor.

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Note, in this example, Shelby Lynn hasn't any artwork. Click the Artwork tab. Then click Add Artwork and navigate to where your downloaded file is. In this case, I made a folder labeled Artwork that is on the desktop. Open.

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This adds the artwork to the album or track selected.

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Artwork can be changed, or added through this method.

7 comments on “How To manage your library in iTunes”

  1. Hi Paul,

    Thank you for this great series and I certainly hope it helps many overcome their fear of the computer audio and software. One thing to note about cover art, I have found it quite easy if the art is not there to also do a Google search for something like "Shelby Lynne Little Loving Cover CD" and you get an image link from Google with every picture it has in its database for this album. You can then find the one you like (I prefer 500 x 500 as a minimum size) and then "right click" the image in your browser to copy it to the clipboard. Going back to iTunes and going to the artwork window you can put your cursor anywhere in the window and "right click" and go "paste" and it puts the artwork into the file easily, all done and the artwork is then intact with the file.

  2. I really love a free script called Album Artwork Assistant that searches Google, Amazon and the whole web (if necessary) for your album's artwork, then runs a batch process to embed the chosen album cover into the tracks you've selected.

    After installing the script, simply select an album and hit the keyboard shortcut "shift-command-f" to do an album art search. For most CDs, it will find a dozen choices with different file sizes and alternate versions of the CD. For obscure titles, you can change the search terms to expand or narrow the search. If necessary, click on the radio button to search the full web. It will find 999 out of a 1000 covers.

    For "Blood on the Tracks" you could find the regular, Mobile Fidelity, Japanese or "Nice Price" budget versions, select the one that matches your CD, then click on Add Immediately or Add to Queue (when working on lots of CDs in one session, then batch processing).

    It stopped working for a time when the first version of Yosemite was released, so I looked for alternatives and tried them all. Nothing performed as simply, seamlessly and infallibly as this little script.

      1. It does slow things down when the CDs are less than pristine or badly manufactured, but it ensures a bit-perfect rip, so I think it's mandatory.

        My solution to slow rips was to get a better external optical drive. Although Apple doesn't support Blu-Ray per se, I've noticed that the two Blu-Ray drives I have are easily two or three times as fast at ripping CDs than Apple's optical drives, and often do a better job on the iffy discs.

      2. I am with you on this Paul, I have honestly not heard any difference between discs ripped with or without error correction. I generally use the correction mode only because I am curious as to the results (many of my discs come from my local library and I cannot believe how badly people treat these) but even when I get errors in reading (JRiver logs it as "unreliable data at sector xxx" I never hear any fault with the file during playback. Of course all my owned discs read perfectly well they are in good shape.

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