Sort out your iTunes before moving to iCloud!

If you are about to make the move to iCloud there’s a few things that it might well be worth your while thinking about before you make the move.

And given that having multi-device access to your music library through iTunes Match is one of the big pluses of using iCloud, it might make sense to tidy up that iTunes folder now, before you make that untidy mess accessible across all your devices.

I didn’t do that, and now wish I had. Although I could have tried to clean up my mis-named, unnamed and duplicate files after I’d synced them, I didn’t. I ended up buying this very cool tool that you’ll probably already know about – TuneUp. I then went back to stage 1, cleaned up the files on my Mac Book and then set up iTunes Match from scratch again!

I wish I’d done it first time – and my iTunes library isn’t vast – at something like 25,000 files (after all the fixes BTW!). It took me a while to sort it out but there’s no doubt that this tool helped a lot.

So what does TuneUp do?

Cleans Files and Metadata in iTunes

The first part of the process is to scan your entire library and clean up all the filenames and metadata. It does this by looking at the Gracenote database and automatically fixing any that are mislabeled, have odd variant spellings of artist or track names or, as is the case with mine, no name at all!

It’s not perfect. There are songs that it missed but they were by and large obscure tracks. Everything that you could consider mainstream, it picked up and auto-corrected. Score 1 for that feature. What’s left was a whole lot less that I then had to go through and listen to and name by hand – saving me hours.

Finds cover art for iTunes

Next up Tune Up scans your iTunes library and looks for files without cover art. Wherever possible it then looks to find the right art and displays up to four possible choices. Generally it does an excellent job of this too, with the same caveat as before – if you’ve got a lot of obscure music, it might struggle to do them all but it will make a very good run at most music. Occasionally it will source a poor resolution but again that’s in the minority of cases. My folder went from something like 30% of tracks with no art to less than 5%. I still didn’t find the time to manually add art for those that are left but it’s now much nicer and far more complete to look through.

Dedupes iTunes

This was the biggest issue that I had to contend with and it’s probably where TuneUp does the best job. Having corrected the whole folder and added metadata to previously unlabeled files my duplicate problem had exploded. I knew I had multiple versions of many tracks but from combining libraries several times in the past a very large proportion of all my tracks were present as duplicates or even triplicates.

No sweat, run the deduper and automatically delete all the copies. Although I’ve heard some people worry about deleting different versions of tracks that have essentially the same name (a remix or live version perhaps) this didn’t seem to happen when I ran this feature – probably as they are comparing the audio files.

Should you buy TuneUp?

Getting your iTunes folder cleaned up and properly identified before setting up iTunes Match is clearly a very smart move and one I wish I’d done.

Can you do it manually – yes you can, but I didn’t fancy it. Using Tune Up wasn’t quite the one-click perfect solution I’d hoped but it worked for me and saved me countless hours.

Setting up iTunes Match a second time it was clear that it was finding it easier to match all the tracks as the meatadat was all fixed and that mad e the whole system work that much better.

Don’t expect Tune Up to be 100% perfect but to me, it’s well worth investing in before you move to the iCloud.

November 15, 2012

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