Use MP3Tag to Organize Your Music Library for Free

I have had enough of talking about video, TV and Media Center-type stuff for the moment. It is time to move to the other side of the spectrum — music. It seems like, for many of us, our music library is in a more or less constant state of disarray. If you are, like me, always looking for a solution to organize it, and prefer free, then there are several options available out there.

However, my favorite over the past few years has proven to be MP3Tag. Over the time I have used this, it has proven to be the simplest, but also the best, solution of the many I have tested and thrown away, some of them I even paid before and then hated!

The app is free from German developer Florian Heidenreich. While he does solicit donations to support the project, they are not necessary. He will also accept a gift from his Amazon Wish List, but again you do not have to give if don’t have the means.

However, if you like the software, and can afford a few dollars, then I always recommend supporting these types of software projects.

Requirements

There is not anything special here. It’s a small, lightweight app that works with Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8. In addition, it also works with Server editions 2003 and 2008.

Sorry, Mac and Linux users, but there is no compatible version for your systems.

Getting Started

When you first open the app you will encounter a rather Windows Explorer-like view, minus the new ribbon interface, of course. All of the ID3 tags you can edit are listed down the left column. These consist of the following:

  • Title
  • Artist
  • Album
  • Year
  • Track
  • Genre
  • Comment
  • Directory
  • Album Artist
  • Composer
  • Disc Number

The first thing you will likely want to do is to change the directory. By default, this points to MP3Tag in the Program Files folder of Windows’ C drive. You will want to tell the program where to find your music folder. In my case this is on my HTPC, but the app is capable of accessing files elsewhere on your network, so that is not a problem.

To add a directory click “File” at the top of the screen and choose “Change directory.” Alternatively you can hit “Ctrl-D.” Now you can browse to where your music is stored and then click “Select folder.” Depending on the amount of files you have, this could take a little while. However, my 80-plus GB collection was done in less than ten minutes.

You can also add additional directories by returning to the File menu, but this time choosing the option that is labeled as “Add directory.”

Tagging Songs

Now the hard part begins. Sure, MP3Tag, makes it as easy as possible, but manual labor in unavoidable in this process. Your entire library should now be showing in the main screen, and you must begin the arduous task of scrolling through it to find the songs you need to fix.

You can choose how you would like music ordered so as to make it easier to find particular things. Click on a song and the existing tags will appear in the left column.

If you are not sure what to enter, or just want some help, then click on the “Tag sources” menu entry and you will be able to access information from Freedb and Amazon. This includes adding cover art.

From the “View” menu item you can also access “Extended tags.” This allows you to add additional fields if you so choose, although I don’t personally see much reason to do so.

Menu Bar

The “Options” menu provides control over what you do and do not want the app to display and perform. For instance, you can choose what music file types are displayed — by default this is set to AAC, APE, APL, FLAC, FLC, MP+, MP1, MP2, MP3, MP4, M4A, M4B, M4V, MPC, OGG, OGA, OFR, OFS, SPX, TAK, TTA, WMA and WV. The vast majority of these you will never encounter, as most of us only use about four of those on a regular basis.

From the Options panel you can also add genres, export data, add tools, choose a default language, check for updates and a whole lot more.

The tools menu, where Options is found, also contains an auto numbering wizard. This allows you to skip the track number step and let MP3Tag handle that task for you. You can choose the track number to begin on, add a zero to the beginning of single digit numbers and more.

Finally, there is a “Customize Columns” option under “View” that allows you to choose what information appears on the main screen and how you will be able to sort it.

Conclusion

There are too many music management apps out there to name or compare. I personally have tried quite a number of them in a desperate attempt to get my 80+ GB library under some sort of control.

In reality most my music in organized just fine and, probably, yours is as well. So, it is really only a small, annoying percentage that needs to be dealt with. For that very reason, there is just no reason to go paying for fancy software like MediaMokey. It may work well, but free apps like MP3Tag can do the same job just as well. It may not automate the process, but it is simple to use, free and does not take a computer science degree to get started with.


  • http://diogocosta.pt.to/ Diogo Costa

    Great app, I use it for a long time now. I just think it could be a little more “smart”. I mean, it should give you the opportunity to set a pattern for, let’s say, filenames, and follow it on all files. For example, I use the nomenclature “01 Song Title.mp3”. It would be amazing if, after correcting the tag for the song title, the program fixed the filenames automatically fetching that info.

    Great app, nonetheless.

    • Unknown

      You need to learn the freeware. There are plenty of functions over there I couldn’t even number them. Including fetching lyrics for you music files (although with 3rd party plugin) and also the opportunity to organize your music name, music folder structure. Just make a little search. :)

      Kev.

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  • freeware savant

    I would like to point out that while mp3tag is mostly a manual tagging solution, there is also a highly automated one, which I discovered recently. It is called taghycardia (http://taghycardia.info). The program is freeware, too, and it includes both auto tag correction functionality and an automatic album art discovery and embedding feature.

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