I love music. I have a decently large library, currently at about 75GB of data, with roughly 13,500 items. I know I am not listening to everything in this library, that I have some hidden songs I don’t ever hear, and I keep hearing the same crap over and over again.
So I decided to whip my iTunes metadata into shape, not only to clean things up, but to use some of the features of iTunes (like Genius and playlists) a bit more efficiently.
But first, a little bit about how I listen to my music:
My iTunes library lives on our iMac, but syncs to various devices, including my iPhone, iPod Classic, the iPad, and then using home sharing on our various other computers (Media Center, MacBook, etc). But for the majority of time, I am not sitting in front of my iTunes library, I am actually using my 120GB iPod Classic at work, with my entire library synced.
This causes a dilemma, since I can’t delete items off my iPod (and may not want to…since that could be a risky mistake), and not around my main library all the time. So I came up with a simple workflow that I would like to share on how I ‘tag’ items on my iPod – for processing at my next sync.
I get around this by mainly using ‘On The Go’ playlists and star ratings:
- An item that needs to be deleted gets simply added to an ‘On The Go’ playlist. On my classic (and most other iPods, especially the newer ones) you just hold the select (middle) button down, and then click ‘Add To On The Go’ playlist. You can not select the playlist name, and you may end up having a few ‘On The Go’ playlists on your next sync. If you are doing this on an iPhone/iPod Touch, the new iPhone OS 4.0 will make this easier – since you can create and manage playlists on the device.
- Items that I know directly need work get 1 Star. I then have a smart playlist setup in iTunes, just showing all items with 1 star, which gives me practically a list of songs I need to manage that I came across while listening.
- On my next sync, I do two things:
- Using the Smart Playlist, I go through each song and do whatever needs to be done. Usually this is pretty obvious.
- Go into my ‘On The Go’ playlist that was made, select all items, and while holding down Option, click Delete. This will ask you if its ok to remove these from your Library, and you should say yes. If you do not hold down Option, you will only be deleting items from that playlist – not from your library.
I used to use 5 Stars (since it was easy to quickly do without looking) to mark items for deletion, but stopped when I got my new iPod I assume that iTunes does use star ratings for Genius and its ‘smart’ random, and therefore I was tagging items that I really couldn’t stand as highly ranked (and therefore possibly playing more songs that I may not like).
So far this has been working great for me, and a very quick workflow. I could even automate this with AppleScript or Automator after a sync to handle the removal of items from the library. Finally, after getting into a simple workflow like this, I can do it almost subconsciously while working away on something at the computer if I don’t like a song and know I want to get rid of it.
Look out for more posts soon about the next steps in this cleanup, including metadata cleanup, album art, 3rd party tools, and more.