iTunes cleanup questions.
August 17, 2007 8:47 AM   Subscribe

I want to clean up my iTunes library. How do I rename my music folder? How do I get rid of duplicates? and dead links?

Here, I'll explain what I'm trying to do in more detail.

1. All my music is in a folder in my root directory, called "mp3". This is a throwback to some ten years ago when mp3's is what you would call digital music. It's not anymore, and now I've got AAC, M4A, etc. I'd actually like to just call the folder "music" (I have all my pictures under "photos" not "jpegs" for example) but I'd break all the links in iTunes if I did that. Re-importing the library is not an ideal solution because I'd lose my playlists and ratings. So if I change the music folder name, can I edit the library to reflect it? ie. look for all instances of "/mp3" and replace it with "/music"? Is there special software needed? where do I even find the library database?

2. Occasionally I do get exact duplicates of my music in my library because I'm sloppy. While iTunes does give me a list of duplicates, they're matching on ID3 tag data (like artist and track title). That's not very useful for me-- I need a list of duplicates that are matching on filename, so I can get rid of the actual duplicates.

3. What iTunes really needs is something that will also scour your database and give you all the dead links, not just tell you if it tries to play a song that's not there. Is there a way (third party or not) to do this?

I'm on iTunes, on WinXP. I haven't updated to the newest version of iTunes yet, but since I never notice any substantially new features on minor upgrades I doubt newer versions will do what I need it to, and only heightens the likelihood of breaking with outside software.
posted by lou to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Change the name of your music folder to whatever you want. Go to Edit > Preferences > Advanced and click Change... next to the iTunes Music folder location.

Also, I just let iTunes manage everything, so I check both "Keep iTunes Music folder organized" and Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library."
posted by kirkaracha at 9:04 AM on August 17, 2007

I haven't used it myself, but iTunes Library Updater (Lifehacker review) should be able to handle the duplicates.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:15 AM on August 17, 2007

You can use iTunes Library Updater to clean up the iTunes database.
posted by Argyle at 9:15 AM on August 17, 2007

Response by poster: kirkaracha - doesn't work, as my "mp3" folder wasn't set up as the iTunes Music folder to begin with. I'm hesitant about having iTunes manage it for me because I don't want it to mess with my file/directory structure, and iTunes isn't the only program that's accessing my collection. I've got a Linux partition and it also reads from the same drive. Over on Linux it was an easier fix as all I did was create a symbolic link called "music" in my home directory that points to it, behaves exactly the same as I want it to.
posted by lou at 9:27 AM on August 17, 2007

The only sure-fire way I've found is to manually remove things if you're not letting iTunes manage everything for you.

In my experience I've found it easier to just let iTunes manage the library for me. Music lives in "My Music" and iTunes arranges it by album as it wishes. Why? Because everything except iTunes is smart enough to auto-detect changes for me. Winamp for example is my primary player, and it can re-scan on start to keep its own library database updated. For my laptop (Mac, not Windows) I use a sync utility to bidirectionally sync the entire My Music folder with my Mac's Music folder. Aside from some minor delays in refreshing the library on start now and then, it works fine.

I don't however really care so much about play count and all that, so YMMV. Rating music, etc. just seemed like more work for me. With a CD collection I know what I want to hear and when, and nothing stops me from doing the same with my iTunes library.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:05 AM on August 17, 2007

Loads of helpful stuff at Doug's -- oops you are on Windows. The link above is to some Windows itunes resources. For your #3 you want a Windows version of the "Super Remove Dead Tracks" script.
posted by omnidrew at 2:47 PM on August 17, 2007

Best answer: The answer to your first question appears to be detailed here.

I'd like to 2nd (or 3rd) that you should let iTunes manage your music and copy songs into your music folder when importing to iTunes. I was against this for many years but after a number of problems much like you describe, I finally just went for it and I've never regretted it. Also, if you download MP3s to different folders than you use for managing your songs (for instance, if you have a "downloads" folder for your browser), then you can drag those files to iTunes, secure that they'll be added into the correct folders instantly (and, if you change the ID3 info, it'll automatically be reflected in the folders - which won't have weird mismatched names like "Beatles", "The Beatles", and "Beetles" for instance)

Now onto your other questions..

Duplicate Files
Dupes can be tough because of the same reasons you mentioned - but once iTunes is managing your music, it's a one-time process of looking at its list of duplicates and figuring out which are actually dupes and which aren't. This should only take about 10-15 mnutes.

Dead Links
Select every file in your library, and hit "File -> Get Info". iTunes might warn you about altering the ID3 info for multiple files, but you can bypass that. Then, change something arbitrary (like select "Remember Position : No" or change the BPM to "1"). It'll only be able to change ID3 tags for files it can access. Then, you can either manually delete those dead links, or make a Smart Playlist where "BPM is less than 1" (or something like that - basically comparing against the arbitrary value set you just changed)
posted by revmitcz at 7:04 PM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

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