What's up with my music files on my PC?
September 8, 2009 5:12 PM   Subscribe

What is up with my music files' titles turning into nonsensical four-letter titles?

Ok, this is a little long, but it's a weird problem that is hard to describe.

I use iTunes on a (Dell) Windows Vista PC laptop. I noticed this issue probably over a year ago, but was too lazy to do anything about it until now.

Thousands of my music files are in files within "C:\My Music" that are named with F and then a number, F00 thru F49. All of my music was originally in "C:\Users\ishotjr\Music\iTunes\iTunes Music," and some of it still is. Within the F-named folders, the files are named/songs titled in three different ways.
1) Most are with four letters in caps, example: AJOM. They are seemingly random and not acronyms of the real titles. Within this, most, in the artist/album, etc. fields in Windows Explorer, have the correct info. A few have nothing at all in those.
In either case, if I choose to play it in iTunes (by clicking the option within Windows Explorer, where I'm viewing the files), it brings me to the song that is properly titled within iTunes (i.e., AJOM takes me to "Levitate Me" by The Pixies in iTunes).
2) A few of the songs are named with their correct name, but with the track number proceeding it (i.e. 01 Debaser)
3) Even fewer are named completely normally, with just the actual song title.

Another weird twist is that in iTunes itself, there are a handful of files that are actually named with the four letter names. Most of these are all from a Velvet Underground greatest hits compilation, but there are a few that aren't.

There seems to be no pattern as to how I procured the music and what's in these weird files. I did bring most of the music onto my computer from my iPod when I got the computer, but some of it I have purchased since owning this computer. The software I used to bring the songs from the iPod to the computer was some free program that I don't recall the name of and deleted to save hard drive space when I was done using it.

The real kicker is that most of these weirdly-named tracks are NOT duplicates, so I can't just delete them. Most of the time, it's one or two songs from a given album that are named weird and in the F-named folder instead of in the folder with the rest of its album-mates.

It seems that I might be stuck consolidating the 49 "F" folders into one (not so hard, just tedious), then trying to rename the thousands of song backs to their proper names by clicking them through to iTunes and manually entering the name of each song into the file name in Windows, then moving all of the songs to the correct place. It's not necessary to do this to be able to listen to the songs, but it's annoying having my files all over the place, especially when I want to delete entire albums off of my hard drive to make space.

My actual question is two-part:
1) Has anyone ever had this weirdo thing happen to their music files before?
2) Does anyone know a better way to fix it than to do everything manually (which will take for-ev-er)?
posted by ishotjr to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Short file and folder names are how tunes are stored on an iPod's file system. Maybe if you take a copy of all the files, delete everything in the library, then reimport, the proper file names should reappear?
posted by scruss at 5:17 PM on September 8, 2009

Best answer: Judging from a quick googling, that's how MP3 files are stored on the iPod (see e.g. this random google link.)

To fix, configure iTunes to copy files to it's own folder, and to organize the folder contents itself, and then reimport the files.

(you may want to make a backup first, so you don't lose all the files)
posted by effbot at 5:20 PM on September 8, 2009

Best answer: As mentioned, those funny filenames are how an ipod stores the files.

To correct your filenames, you probably want to use the (presumably un-corrupted) info which resides in the ID3 tags. There are lots of ways to do this. On a PC, I'd look at something like Tag and Rename, though there are probably a million examples of this kind of app.
posted by pompomtom at 5:29 PM on September 8, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks! I tried Google but I wasn't very good at picking search terms out. That really helps!
posted by ishotjr at 5:52 PM on September 8, 2009


It's super-irritating.
posted by InsanePenguin at 6:08 PM on September 8, 2009

Just adding: the reason they show up fine in iTunes but not on the filesystem is that iTunes prefers the ID3v2 tag for metadata, which is generally set when ripped and lives inside the mp3 file itself. You can edit metadata by right clicking a song and selecting "get info".

The filename itself is arbitrary. If you set iTunes to manage music for you, it will rename the file/directory structure on import to /Artist/Album/Track_Song.mp3. I recommend this approach for most applications. Just be aware it *copies* the files into its directory, leaving you with all your original music where you imported from, so you just delete that.

Back up your music before taking any advice. :)
posted by cj_ at 6:14 PM on September 8, 2009

Best answer: You don't even need to delete/re-import your music: Just click "Keep iTunes Music folder organized" in the Advanced tab under Preferences, and it should properly organize your music for you.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:24 PM on September 8, 2009

Best answer: dunkadunc has it. Just check the box to have iTunes manage things, then consolidate your library using iTunes. Then uncheck the box again if you prefer to organize things yourself. There's no need to do this the hard way...
posted by caution live frogs at 5:10 AM on September 9, 2009

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