Organizing Itunes music

I’m trying to organize my ITunes music library and have a few questions. Is the album art stored in the mp3 file tags or is it a file stored in the folder that the mp3 file is in? Do I need to keep the other non mp3 files in the album folders? Most downloaded albums have a jpg of the CD cover, is that what is used for album/cover art? If I have a directory tree in my ITunes library that goes music/artist/album will that work? What about the software that fills in the tags? What works and what doesn’t?

Before you start - why are you trying to do this?
iTunes is a complete, searchable database and library. You can find any file you want by using many different criteria, far more than your file manager can. If you want to find a specific file and move it, iTunes will tell you where it is.

In my experience, it’s best to jut let iTunes handle organizing the files - that way you don’t have to worry about getting answers to the questions you asked.

I’ll ask again, is the the cover/album art located in the mp3 file with the tags? or does it need to be in the folder with the songs?

On a Mac, there is a folder stored in the iTunes Folder called “Album Artwork”… not sure how it is related to theOP’s question though…

I have no idea on the OPs question, but I do have a related but secondary question: is there a way to back-up my iTunes library? I have an independent hard drive that I use for backing up my financial files etc. but iTunes will only allow back up to a CD … Is it possible to back up to a flash drive (or other device on USB port?)

I’ve backed my complete iTunes library onto a flashdrive. It counts as one of your 5 devices, however.

You can back up the entire folder that contains the library XML files (~/Music/iTunes on the Mac) and the folder that contains the songs (if you’ve set it to a different place, most people don’t) like any other folder. To restore, just copy it back, and re-authorize if you’ve changed machines (this is also how you move iTunes to a new computer if you don’t let the OS’s File Transfer wizard do it for you.)

As for the OP: you can’t generally modify things outside of iTunes and have them picked up by iTunes just by adding files. MP3 tags are stored in the MP3s themselves, Album Art is in a separate folder, and most of the system is “bound” together by the “iTunes Music Library.xml” file and the itdb databases nearby. None of these formats are documented by Apple, and they change. Just putting album art in the right folder won’t make it appear.

Maybe a related question: Right now I sync my itunes to my ipod automatically every time it is attached, and it works great. But my ipod is about 2/3 full. Eventually it will get too full, and I’ll want to delete some things from the ipod but keep them them on itunes. How do I do that? I’ve tried to read the online manual, but it’s not very clear about this.

To answer the OP’s question, AFAIK once you add the artwork to the MP3 tag, you do not need to keep a separate copy.
I usually use the “Get Artwork” option but when that fails or I want to do something else I just copy and paste images to the artwork tab.

You just check/uncheck the boxes beside each file then synch it.
I have way more music than my iPod can store so I get a pop-up message telling me so and asking if I would like iTunes to select music for me. I usually follow this method as picking individual tracks or albums is a tedious process.

There are several ways of doing this:

  1. You can use the check boxes to select what should be synched and what shouldn’t. Then when your pod is plugged in, go to the pd window and check “sync only checked songs and videos”

  2. You can create playlists and then in the pod window choose to sync only selected playlists.

  3. You can go to the pod window “music” tab (or any other tab) and select to sync only certain artists, genres, playlists, or albums.

Making playlists is probably the easiest if you will be making frequent changes, and if you have multiple pods.

Second this. I have so much music in iTunes that I had to spend several hours unchecking boxes to get it all to fit on my iPod. Only later did I realize I could have created multiple playlists and synced to different ones at different times.

I’ve also learned the hard way that if you move the folder where the songs are stored, iTunes can’t find them. Since I back up my computer files periodically and have to change computers every few years, this is kind of an ongoing challenge.

More ipod/iTunes questions:

  1. Is there any way to not have albumn artwork copied over to my iPod Touch?
    I really don’t care about the artwork, and I’d rather same the space on my touch for other things.

  2. Not using iTunes, is there any way to either delete or give a 1-star rating to songs while they are on the Touch? We’ve got almost 6k songs, and I often don’t know I don’t like a song until it starts playing.

  3. Is there any way to change the artist name in iTunes? All of our music is ripped off of CDs that we own, into MP3 format, and then imported into iTunes. RealOne or Windows Media player will let me go in and correct the artist names (ie The Cure vs Cure), but I can’t find this function in iTunes.

They used to be, but one of the updates removed that functionality.

I know there is on the classic, but I don’t know about the touch.

Highlight the track and select “get info” from the menu (or command-I on the keyboard). You can edit pretty much all the metadata, except I think “release date,” which, I believe is the date that the work was first made available on Itunes (you can edit the “year,” which I use to mean the year of first release to the public).

Another iTunes usage question, about artist name and “sort artist”. I think artists who go by personal names (as opposed to made up group names) should sort as “Lastname, Firstname”. But it seems as though you have to manually compose this string into the “sort artist” text box to make this happen. I am surprised this isn’t the default or somehow automatic, or at least is some option you can select on a tune to cause its two word “artist” parameter get the word order reversed. Am I missing something?

No you’re not missing anything I spend amply of effort to make sure my sort fields are completely filled in.

I’m pretty sure iTunes ignores articles such as “The” when sorting by artist. I noticed my files by “The Police” and “Police” are together. Similarily with “The Eagles” and “Eagles”.
I’ll check why when I get a chance.


I got around this by putting my entire iTunes music folder on an external hard drive. Changing computers is a simple matter of de-authorizing the previous computer and setting up the path in iTunes preferences.

It does automatically edit the “sort” field by taking out the initial “the” but if you have tracks listed by the same artist under both “The Eagles” and “Eagles” as artists, then you will experience sorting problems. You should make sure that all the works by the same artist have identical “artist” and “sort artist” fields.

If you sort your playlist by artist, the list will actually be sorted by whatever is in the “sort artist” field first, unless the field is blank. iTunes automatically populates the field when you import the music – if you import a song by “The Beatles”, the sort artist field will be filled in with “Beatles” so the sort ignores the “The”.

I think this was a conscious, and correct, decision by Apple. There is no way for the program to know what is a proper or personal name, and what is a band title name. There is no actual “Jethro Tull” in Jethro Tull. There is no actual “Marshall Tucker” in “The Marshall Tucker Band”. Then there are names like “Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas” – how is iTunes supposed to pull the actual artist name out of that? So they decided to treat all Artist Names as titles, rather than come up with some algorithm doomed to fail as much as it succeeds.

BTW, you can make mass changes to any of these fields. You can select multiple rows like you do in Excel, and right click and choose “Get information”. Whatever change you make will be made in all the songs you selected.