What a good sort!

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The full version of Musicmatch pro­vides a very cool way to clean up those ID3 tags with its Super Tagging feature (sadly, the free version on the cover disc doesn't offer this particular feature, but it still gives iTunes a run for its money). Given a list of files, Super Tagging will collect whatever information is available to it from the file name, the directory structure, and any ID3 tagging on each song, then match that up with an online database to pinpoint which track it is and fill out the associated metadata automatically - see FIGURE 1. It can even grab album art - when it's working correctly, anyway.

Super Tagging does come with a couple caveats. First, when a song appears on multiple albums, the tagger can get a little confused. For example, you'll see different album art for tracks from the same album. To fix this, you need to click More... on the screen where you review the matches. This will pull up a list and let you choose the right one. You'll have to spend some time tweaking the tagger's recommendations, but this is still a lot quicker than finding and entering all that data yourself. The second and more important caveat is that Super Tagging needs at least some information to get it started. If you've got a folder of files named "track1," "track2," "track3" without ID3 tags, you won't get good results.

If that's your situation, turn to an app like MP3/Tag Studio 3 to help you fill in the gaps - see FIGURE 2. Plenty of capable shareware apps help you rename or retag files in batches. MP3/Tag Studio provides a powerful interface that lets you automatically tag files based on their names, rename files based on their tags, enter your own tags in batches, or even remove extended intros or outros from songs. It's simple and fast enough to make hand-tagging some of your files convenient and you'll find it on the cover disc.

A nice final step in reorganising is to create a consistent artist/album directory structure for all the songs. One easy way to do this is to let Apple's iTunes do all the work (we've put version 5 on the cover disc if you don't already have it). In the program, select Edit-Preferences, and click the Advanced tab. Set the iTunes Music folder location to a directory where you want your MP3s to end up and click OK to close the Preferences dialogue box - see FIGURE 3. Make sure this directory doesn't already contain any of your MP3s, or they won't get reorganised. Then select Advanced in the menu bar and click Consolidate Library. Click OK, and iTunes moves all your tunes to the directory you chose and sorts them into an artist/album folder structure. While consolidating your library, iTunes can also convert any WMA files you have to AAC or MP3 format so it can play them, but it won't convert any protected WMA files you've purchased from online stores. Nor can it handle similarly-protected RealAudio tracks.

If, after all that, you're up for some extra credit, check out a program called MPTrim (on the cover disc). The program detects and removes big pockets of digital silence, like the ones inserted before hidden tracks at the end of a CD. It can also clean up extraneous ID3 tags and strange info found in MP3s. The Pro version even normalises your songs so you don't get big jumps in volume between tracks.

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Eric Dahl

PC World
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