iTunes Tip: Create an “All Columns” Playlist to Examine Files

If you have a large iTunes library, you have probably spent a lot of time tagging your files to be able to sort them and find them easily. Good tagging is especially necessary if you use smart playlists: if you want to play, say, music released in the 1970s, you have to enter data for the Year tag of your music files. If you want to find music by composer, you need to fill in the Composer tag; and so on.

002.pngYou may know that you can edit tags for any files by selecting a single file, or a group of files (such as an album), then pressing Command-I (Control-I in Windows). If you’ve selected a single track, you can edit its tags; if you’ve selected multiple tracks, you can edit the tags they share, such as Artist, Album, Composer, Genre, etc.

But selecting tracks and pressing Command-I can be time-consuming. Here’s a quick way to get an overview of the tags in your files. Create a new playlist, and call it something like All Columns. Press Command-J (Control-J on Windows), and you’ll see a View Options palette. Check every option in this palette. This will show every possible column in the playlist, and you’ll be able to see all the editable tags – and some that you can’t edit, such as Time – for tracks you add to that playlist.

When you want to examine some of your files to see if you need to add or edit tags, drag them to this playlist. You’ll need to scroll horizontally to view all the columns, but you can re-order the columns by dragging their headers; drag the ones you view most often to the left of the window, so you can see them without scrolling. You’ll quickly see which tags you don’t use, and you can display the View Options palette again and uncheck them. For example, if you never use the BPM (beats per minute) tag, there’s no point in it taking up space in this window. If you don’t care about the Purchase Date, uncheck that tag as well.

With tracks in this playlist, you can sort by any tag (click a column header to sort by that tag; click the header again to change the sort order). You can see, for example, if certain tags aren’t filled in for tracks, then select them, either individually or in a group, and edit them.

When you’re finished, just delete the tracks from the playlist. You can add files at any time to get a quick overview of their tags, edit them, then delete them, all much more quickly than selecting files and pressing Command-I to view the tags.