Sorting music by folders with iTunes

iTunes LogoSome people still prefer to arrange their music by folders. Modern players with music library use ID3 tags. Music files, like popular mp3 format, contains some metadata included in each music file. With this metadatas you can set data like artist, album, year etc. directly into your music file. It’s useful, for example – want to listen all songs from Alizée? Just select sorting by artist, choose Alizée and you are done. Do you want to listen pop? Just select sorting by genre and choose pop. Or want to listen one album? It works by the same way. You can choose to play from first to last song or shuffle it for random order. Or manually create playlist with any songs in your library. If you have complete albums with filled ID3 tags, you can create powerful music manager. But it can be little messy, if you are sorting your music files by folders and don’t care about ID3 tags, and you bough player from Apple like iPod nano. So if you want to get benefits from ID3 tags, but keep your music organised by folders, is that possible with iTunes? Hopefully yes. I will show you how to reach that.

First, disable iCloud Music Library before you add any music file, as seen here:

Disable iCloud Music Library

Why to disable it?

It only makes mess. It matches your library with Apple’s iTunes database and this does not work correctly. Sometimes it will replace your music with version from iTunes database, which, as Apple says, should be at highest quality, but this is very buggy. And it fills some metadatas, that are not always correct. When you finish ID3 tags filling, do NOT turn iCloud Music Library without manual backup of your music files, or your work is gone!

Now, look at tab Advanced in iTunes settings. Disable “Keep iTunes Media folder organized” and “Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library”, as seen here:

Disable iTunes Music Library

After this, your folder system with your music won’t be changed and all your music will stay at original place. iTunes will be something like “manager of shortcuts”. You can benefit from all features of library and your music folder system won’t be affected. Please note that music files after adding to iTunes should stay at same location in your operating system, because, as I said, iTunes will be just “shortcuts manager” and when moving music files to another location, iTunes sometimes won’t be able to find it. If it happens, you have to add “missing” music file manually again.

And now, how works adding ID3 tags?

Just right-click on any song and choose “Get Info”. Here you can add ID3 tags. These tags will modify your original music file in your music folder. It won’t move or copy anything, it just writes metadatas directly to your music file.

Still not sure how to add ID3 tags?

Okay, imagine you want to add to iTunes three albums from System of a Down (SOAD Album 1, SOAD Album 2 and SOAD Album 3 – all genre metal), one album from Alizée (Alizée Album 1, genre pop) and one from Metallica (Metallica Album 1, genre metal). First import songs from Alizée. Then select all songs from Alizée and by right-click via “Get Info” add metadata. Fill artist (Alizée), album name (Alizée Album 1) and genre (pop). Awesome? Yes. Now do it same for album Metallica Album 1 (don’t forget genre). Now you can sort by album, artist and genre. Now albums from System of a Down. Import songs from “SOAD Album 1” and choose all songs from that album and fill artist (System of a Down), album (SOAD Album 1) and genre (metal). Now import songs from “SOAD Album 2” and do the same as with first album (artist and genre are same, only name of album is other – SOAD Album 2). Good? Ok, now do it same with third album.

Now, want to listen metal music? Go to genre section at iTunes sidebar and choose metal. You will hear all songs from System of a Down and Metallica. Or want to only hear System of a Down? Then go to artist section and select System of a Down.

Library system provides many other features, like custom playlists, to mark loved songs, last played date & time etc. If you really don’t want to use library system and you want to purchase iPod, get iPod touch. It has iOS, where you can download music apps working with folder system with no library. The same applies for iPhones and iPads.

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