We live in the age of digital media. It's all around us, and our libraries of music, movies, TV shows, and e-books are becoming larger, more complex, and more difficult to manage. Music lovers have known since the first music libraries that organizing their music collections was going to take long, hard work.
Organizational taxonomies are highly personal, with some preferring to sort by band, some by song title, some by album, and some by composer. And that's not even counting classical music, which adds a new level of complexity by introducing conductors, orchestras, original composers, transcriptionists, and other complex metadata.
What to do with all of this metadata? Fortunately, most music library software allows for rapid editing and organizing of music libraries. However, no software does it better than iTunes does.
Sort and Organize
The most critical task, when it comes to sorting and organizing your music metadata, is sorting and organizing your music. At this, iTunes excels. iTunes allows you to insert, store, and show as many or as few metadata fields as you'd like. You can then sort all of your songs by the field that suits you.
Automatically Get Album Info
What if you don't have useful metadata in your mp3 files? Fortunately, iTunes has a "Get Album Info" option. To automatically download all of the track names for your songs, click Advanced, then Get Track Names. iTunes will automatically compare your mp3 files with its online database of music, and provide you with the album titles, song titles, artist names, and other important metadata for sorting your music.
Be aware, though, that iTunes cannot find music that it doesn't store in its database. So, if you have obscure albums, live bootlegs, or other obscure albums, don't expect iTunes to find it.
It's a good idea to back up your music library before getting album information, in case iTunes botches any of your song titles. To back up your music library, click File, then Library, then Export Library. This will back up the *database* of your music, not all of the mp3 files. By backing up your iTunes data, you will ensure that you can fall back on the way your mp3s were previously organized.
Download Album Artwork
Since we have switched to digital music, it has become easy to forget about the *visual* experience of enjoying an album. It used to be the case that when you bought an album (on vinyl, of course), you would have large album artwork to look at as you enjoyed your music.
While the ubiquity of mp3 players somewhat removed some of that visual experience, iTunes is restoring that by allowing users to download all of their album artwork instantly. To do so, click Advanced, then Get Album Artwork. iTunes will do its best match your albums to album artwork.
You don't have to be obsessive compulsive to savor the organizational features iTunes offers. In fact, the best organizational feature of iTunes is that it is invisible —В you never have to know that it's organizing your library.