10 ways to clean up your iTunes library

Is your iTunes library getting out of hand? After years of use it may be full of duplicates or, even worse, links to tracks that are no longer there. Then there are the tracks that are in iCloud (if you use iTunes Match), and the various playlists that you created years ago. It's time to get your iTunes in order! Discover how easy it is to bring order to your music, movies, apps and more...

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  • Clean up 01 name Name your tracks
  • Clean up 02 artwork Get the right artwork
  • Clean up 03 iTunes Match Master iTunes Match
  • Clean up 04 hide Hide and seek
  • Clean up 05 home movie Home Movie fix
  • Clean up 06 genre Pick a genre
  • Clean up 07 dupes Kick out dupes
  • Clean up 08 join Join tracks
  • Clean up 09 orphans Find and fix orphans
  • Clean up 10 consolidate Consolidate your files
  • More stories
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Name your tracks

If you’re importing music from your CD collection, you can get iTunes to automatically name albums and tracks by using the online Gracenote CD database. To activate it go to iTunes > Preferences > General and make sure the “Automatically retrieve CD track names from the internet” option is ticked.

The catch is that Gracenote isn’t perfect. Sometimes it wrongly identifies all kinds of things - from album and track names or even the number of discs and that can make your iTunes Library get very messy, very quickly.

The solution is to manually correct the info yourself before you import the album or use an iTunes helper app like Song Sergeant (£20), to identify inconsistently named albums and tracks.

See:

10 amazing tips and tricks for using iTunes on the Mac

How to delete U2 album]

Next »

Next Prev Clean up 01 name

If you’re importing music from your CD collection, you can get iTunes to automatically name albums and tracks by using the online Gracenote CD database. To activate it go to iTunes > Preferences > General and make sure the “Automatically retrieve CD track names from the internet” option is ticked.

The catch is that Gracenote isn’t perfect. Sometimes it wrongly identifies all kinds of things - from album and track names or even the number of discs and that can make your iTunes Library get very messy, very quickly.

The solution is to manually correct the info yourself before you import the album or use an iTunes helper app like Song Sergeant (£20), to identify inconsistently named albums and tracks.

See:

10 amazing tips and tricks for using iTunes on the Mac

How to delete U2 album]

 

Step 2 of 10: Get the right artwork

Now you’ve got the names right, it’s time to do the same with the artwork. Luckily you can get iTunes to do the heavy lifting for you: simply head to iTunes > Preferences > Store and tick the “Automatically download album artwork” option.

If iTunes can’t find the right artwork or even any artwork at all, there are a still a couple of things you can do. First, make sure that the name of the album in your iTunes Library is the same as the one as the iTunes Store, delete any artwork iTunes has downloaded, then right click on the album and select “Get album artwork” to make iTunes try again. If you still have no joy you may to get the artwork from another online source or by scanning it and adding it manually.

One more thing: sometimes iTunes only adds artwork to one or two of the tracks in an album, leaving the others bare. You can easily fix that by selecting a track you know has artwork and then adding it to the rest using CMD+I and then copying and pasting between them. Read: How to create playlists on your iPhone or iPad

 

Step 3 of 10: Master iTunes Match

For £21.99 a year iTunes Match makes it easy for you to access your music anywhere, but it doesn’t always play nicely with the iTunes collection on our Mac. How so?

Because iTunes Match likes to act as the ‘master’ of your music collection, it can lead to situations where it undoes any changes you’ve made in your iTunes Library - something that’s especially true when it comes to album art.

You should be able to correct this by selecting to Store > Update iTunes Match from the top menu bar, but if that doesn’t work, you may have to delete the iTunes Match version and re-upload your version instead. To do that temporarily remove the local version of an album from your iTunes Media library and then delete all instances of it in iTunes - this should get rid of the iCloud version too. Now add your copy of the album to iTunes again and then head to Store > Update iTunes Match. Your new version should now be upload to iTunes Match correctly.

 

Step 4 of 10: Hide and seek

With iTunes in the Cloud everything you’ve evee bought from the iTunes Store is always available for you anytime. In iTunes, you can easily see what’s available for you to download because it’ll have a little cloud icon in the top right corner.

Sometimes, however, you might not want to see all your purchases - either because you’ve already downloaded copies to your Mac or because yesterday’s “guilty pleasure” has turned into today’s “buyer’s remorse”. Luckily there are three things you can do:

1. Go to Store > Turn off iTunes Match.

2. Go to iTunes > Preferences > Store and untick “Show iTunes in the Cloud purchases”.

3. Hide content you don’t want to see on any of your devices by heading to the iTunes Store within iTunes. Select “Purchased” from the Quick Links menu on the right. This takes you to an inventory of everything you own. Mouse over the item you want to hide to see the ‘X’ icon. Click it and the item will disappear.

 

Step 5 of 10: Home Movie fix

When Apple launched iTunes 11 it introduced a new video category to sit alongside Movies and TV Shows: Home Movie. It’s great if you genuinely have lots of home movies. The problem is iTunes 11 likes to categorise pretty much any video not bought from the iTunes Store as a ‘Home Movie’, which can be annoying. To fix the ‘home movie’ you want to move, click on it and select CMD+I to open its info window. Select the Options tab, then click on Media Kind. Select Film, for example, and the video should automatically move to the place where you want it to be.

 

Step 6 of 10: Pick a genre

We could all talk for hours about which genre a particular band, album, movie or TV show belongs to and Apple seems to have the same problem: sometimes its iTunes Store classifications are all over the place and that can leave your iTunes library looking messy.

Harry Potter fans, for example, will know that films in the franchise are variously labelled ‘Action & Adventure’, ‘Sci-Fi & Fantasy’ and ‘Kids & Family’ so they don’t appear in the same place when searching for movies by genre. Luckily you can fix this schizophrenic behaviour either in iTunes or by using a third-party tagging app such as Subler (Donationware) or MetaZ (Free).

 

Step 7 of 10: Kick out dupes

After you’ve been importing music into iTunes for a while you may start to notice that some tracks pop up for than once. While it can be handy to keep them sometimes, it can also get annoying - especially if space is tight. Ditto for SD, HD and 1080p versions of movies and TV shows. Do you really need to keep all three?

One way to quickly get rid of any duplicate tracks is to go to View > Show Duplicates and simply delete the ones you don’t want. Another option is to use an app like Song Sergeant again, which sets about the task in a more intelligent way.

 

Step 8 of 10: Join tracks

If you like to listen to a lot of classical, prog rock or live albums, you’ll have noticed that iTunes 11 no longer gives you the option to create ‘gapless’ albums. That’s now handled automatically.

However you can still join tracks together when you import them from CD. Head to the CD button near the top right of iTunes’ main window and then sort the list of available tracks by track number. Select the tracks you want to join and then select ‘Join CD tracks’ from the CD drop-down menu. The tracks will now be imported into iTunes as one.

 

Step 9 of 10: Find and fix orphans

Even if you keep iTunes spick and span, there are inevitably going to be times when tracks simply disappear - either because you’ve accidentally deleted them or iTunes simply no longer sees them.

You can quickly find any tracks you’ve lost in this way either by using Song Sergeant or Doug Adams’ TrackSift (£1.49) which fixes nine common iTunes problems.

 

Step 10 of 10: Consolidate your files

This is one of the biggest and best things you can do with iTunes - especially if you have have bits of iTunes content stored in different places.  First choose where you want your iTunes Library to be by selecting iTunes > Preferences > Advanced > iTunes Media folder location. Then go to File > Organise Your Library and tick ‘Consolidate files’.

This will move all the relevant files on your Mac to the iTunes Media folder you selected. It’s not only a great way to tidy up iTunes and your Mac, but it can help solve other problems too.

You can read more iTunes tutorials over in our iTunes topic zone, including: 

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