Quick Ways to Tag Audio Files for your MP3 Player

How does your MP3 player, iTunes and iPod know what song it’s playing, who wrote it and where did that tiny picture of the album cover come from?

Audio files like MP3s and AACs carry all sorts of meta data inside them, called tags. Common tags are the song’s name, artist, album title, year, track number and genre. Another common tag is an embedded picture, usually the album cover. iTunes and other MP3 players read these tags to organize their music libraries in an understandable way.

If you’ve ever had to manually tag audio files, you know how much of a pain it can be. Here are three quick and easy ways to easily tag your audio files for your iPod or whatever MP3 player you own.

Why is tagging important?

Tagging is important because that is how your MP3 player will organize it’s music library. Without proper tags, you can have songs scattered about and never know where any are when you want to listen to a certain album or find a certain song.

It’s also important if you’re an artist and want to make sure everyone knows the name of your song, album, cover art and even a link to your website in the comment field.

Method #1 – iTunes:

iTunes is a great way to easily tag and edit tags. You can either individually tag songs or tag multiple files at once.

To tag an individual song, select it and from File on the Menu Bar, choose “Get Info”. Once in the Information window, click the “Info” tab to view and edit the tags. If you need to edit a few songs individually, clicking next at the bottom will move to the next file’s Info window.

If you want to edit multiple songs at once, Select them from your iTunes library by either holding the Apple key or shift key as you select them. Once you have multiple songs selected, click File from the Menu Bar and choose “Get Info”.

In this window, you can easily edit multiple files at once.

Method #2 – iTunes via the Gracenote CDDB:

The Gracenote CDDB is an online resource that knows exactly what CD is in your CD drive by track number, track length and album length. You’d think this would bring out a ton of duplicates but in reality it works and works well.

In the distant past, you would have to do this manually. Now, iTunes automatically accesses the database and tags your CD accordingly. When you rip or import the CD into iTunes, the tags are automatic.

I use this method exclusively when ripping a CD into my music library. Its brain dead simple and automatic.

Method #3 – Tagr:

If you’re not into iTunes, want a really quick and simple way to edit an audio file’s tags, or have improperly tagged files, Harald Schubert’s Tagr is for you. Here’s all you need to do:

- Download and run Tagr.
- Drag and drop a folder of MP3s.
- Either individually edit them or select multiples and then edit.

Tagr is great if you have a bunch of pre-tagged files that aren’t tagged properly. Capitalization issues, filename issues, missing information or even improper information are all common when someone else tags your music. You can even have my personal headache – a compilation album where each song is by an individual artist, with the artist tag set accordingly. Since most MP3 players sort via artist and album. If each song in a compilation has a different artist tag, each song is sorted individually leading to an unholy mess on my Sansa e280.

Another area Tagr excels in is adding artwork to MP3′s, batch renaming of both tags and the files themselves, and fixing capitalization issues.

Tagging other files:

iTunes can handle formats it knows about, like Apple AAC formats (M4A, M4P, Apple Lossless), WAV / AIFF files, and MP3. Tagr is also pretty good with the standard formats but neither of them will handle two common audiofiles – Flac and Ogg/Vorbis.

For Flac tagging, xAct allows you to edit Flac tags.

Ogg/Vorbis tags can be edited with either EasyTag or Jiald3.

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