4 Replies Latest reply: Apr 8, 2011 11:54 AM by Stephen Downs
Horitexan Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
I just moved a ton of poorly organized music files, that I've collected over 15 years, onto my new MacBook pro; and then I told iTunes to "add to library." The end result is that iTunes has a very confusing assortment of music because music file names (for, say, the same artist) are structured differently and folders are structured differently (some have artist name, some have album title, some have both, some have only year album released, etc.), there are multiple folders for same artist with different variations of the artist name (first name first, last name first, slight misspelling of name) and there are folders that have a name like, "08_Song name" and compilation albums have resulted in folders for EACH artist on the album and only one song in each! Even when I look in iTunes, I see an album listed (on the far left column) but only one song showing; but if I scroll down, I will find the album again with ANOTHER song, from another artist!

How can I organize these better? What I would LIKE is to have all the music within the iTunes music folder to be, first, organized by genre and then by artist except in the case of compilations which I would like to put in a "compilations" folder within the proper genre- with ALL the songs on a single compilation within a single folder!

I can manually go through iTunes and correct variations in artist names to get all the files/ albums to group together- like, change "THE Bob Seeger Band" to "Bob Seeger Band" instead of having some albums listed one way and some the other- but how do I deal with compilation albums that seem to be all split up even though the all show the album name in the same way?

Should I just delete the entire music collection from iTunes and start adding small chunks (one album folder at a time) and trying to organize it a little at a time instead of sticking with the mess that I have from adding my entire music collection at one time?

This is SO confusing!! WHY? I know my music wasn't organized well in the original folders but iTunes seems to have made the music it imported EVEN MORE disorganized!

I hope someone can help!!

MacBook Pro (2011), Mac OS X (10.6.7)
  • Jolly Giant Level 7 Level 7 (25,440 points)
    this excellent user tip by Steve MacGuire will help.
  • Horitexan Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Actually, while I found some useful information, it's not really helping. So, let me ask a single, specific question:

    I have a folder that's titled "Totally Country" that +has in it+ several folders in it titled, "VA-TotallyCountry_Vol.1-2003", "VA-TotallyCountry_Vol.2-2004", etc. (quotation marks not actually part of folder name). In each folder are the mp3 files, album covers etc. The mp3 file names are written like: 01-Brad_Paisley-the world.mp3 This is a bunch of compilation/best of albums that have the top country songs from several years.

    OK, so I took the main, "Totally Country," folder and dropped it into my iTunes Music folder.

    *The result:* iTunes took all the songs and put each one in a folder with the singer/artist name on it with a folder inside that is titled "Unknown Album" that then contains the single mp3 file that the artist contributed to that year's compilation album. The REALLY WIERD part is that iTunes took the 2003 album and associated the album name to each one of the songs- so, in the case of those mp3s, I can actually do a iTunes search for "Totally Country" and it pulls up ALL the songs (which I edited one at a time and checked 'part of compilation') but the same search doesn't pull up ANY of the other albums from other years!

    What the heck? What is causing this and WHAT is the best way to import a compilation album into iTunes so that it doesn't break the whole thing up? Is there a specific file name/folder structure that I need to follow BEFORE I ask iTunes to import that folder, to make for a smoother import?
  • Rob X Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I feel your pain. iTunes organization is pretty simple, really. That said, it's quite rigid. A few things to remember:

    1. Your library on disk is organized by artist (folder), then album (sub-folder). Check out your Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Music folder to see what I mean.

    2. Compilations are stored inside the Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Music/Compilations folder, grouped by Compilation name, not artist.

    3. You cannot change 1 and 2.

    The iTunes application manages your iTunes Media folder. It will attempt to sort/organize the music you import based on file metadata. If your song file has no artist or album metadata attached, iTunes will see this as Unknown Artist and Unknown Album. Regardless of how the file is named, if the metadata is missing or wrong, you need to correct it before the file will show up in its proper place.

    Don't worry about how files are named or organized when you import them. iTunes organizes for you (assuming you're using a managed library, which most do). And remember, iTunes moves the files around for you as you change metadata so that rules #1 and #2 above are followed (similar rules apply to how iTunes stores Movies, TV shows, Podcasts, etc). Don't mess with your iTunes Media folder! Let iTunes handle it.

    So, the more metadata you provide, the more flexible your library becomes. You can choose different views, write "smart playlists" to query your library, etc. But you MUST fix your metadata or your files will never be organized.

    If you're overwhelmed, I'd suggest deleting everything and importing/fixing metadata in small batches. You can change metadata for a selected group of files. In other words, select all the songs in an album, Get Info, and change the artist, album name, genre, year, disc number, etc. for all tracks at once. Then fix the song title for each track.

    Fixing metadata is quite tedious, but ultimately worth it. Just make sure to backup your iTunes files, especially the iTunes Library file. Time Machine!

    Also, for some good iTunes-related Applescripts, check out:


    Good luck!

    Message was edited by: Rob X

    Message was edited by: Rob X
  • Stephen Downs Level 1 Level 1 (65 points)
    To have all the tracks from a compilation album placed in the same folder you'll need to first mark those tracks as belonging to a compilation before you import them. In iTunes, select the tracks, Get Info, then select Options > Part of a compilation: yes.