MacMost Now 572: Fixing iTunes Sorting Problems

There are many ways to edit song information in iTunes that will help you sort your music. You can group songs together in an album using the Album Artist field. You can also set track numbers and use alternative song, album and artist information just for sorting.

Video Transcript
Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now, on today's episode let me show you how to fix sorting problems in iTunes. So it's important to remember there are different ways to view your songs in iTunes, you could view as list which is right here and then you could sort by say song name, artist, or album. When you sort by album you'll see all of the songs from one album together even if the names of the artists are different. So for instance, on the soundtrack here you can see each song has a different artist but the album names are the same so it groups them together. However, if I were to switch to the album list here then you can sort in many different ways, most usual is Album by Artist and then you could see that each of the songs here is a separate album because its by a different group so it'll appear all over my music collection over here in many different albums. So how do I get them all to be together in a single album? So one way would be to select each song individually, get info on it with Command I and then set it to be 'Part of a compilation' and if you do that for all of the songs, it will know to group them together as a single album. But an easier way to do it would be to select all the songs, lets do that by going to the list view again sorting by album so that I could easily see what songs are there and I'm going to select them all and do Command I info on them and it'll ask me to confirm that I want to edit info for all of the different songs and it will show me info that isn't common so the album name isn't common here, the artists are different so it's blank. Now the album artist is what we're looking for, the album artist field is especially created to be able to group together different songs by different artists under one album and have them show up correctly when sorted. So I can select the album name and let me create the album artist and make it the same as the album name just for simplicity and click okay. Now when I go back to view as Album List I can see it as grouped together, all the songs from that album even though they have different artists. Another thing you should know is that if you select a song, do Command I, you can look at the info for it but you could also look at sorting and under sorting you'll see some of those fields repeated so you see the Name, Artist, Album Artist all that on the left. On the right you see alternatives for each of these for sorting only. So for instance I could change the artists name and have something different over here, but it would not affect the actual information in the song which is over here. It would only use this data over here for sorting purposes and this data over here for everything else. So another thing you should know about is the Track Number, so you can see over here I have this album selected and in the Track Number column I have all listed here track one through thirteen of thirteen. You can edit these for any individual track if you wanted to change their order, just get info on them under info. There's the track number field and in keep in mind you can always change what you see here in the list by simply going to view and the view options and it gives you the option to include or exclude all sorts of different columns from the listing here. So for instant I can add Date Added if I like and it will appear here on the right. You can see that right most column now has listed dates. So there's some ways to fix sorting problems on iTunes, hope you found it useful, until next time this is Gary with MacMost Now.

Comments: 14 Responses to “MacMost Now 572: Fixing iTunes Sorting Problems”

    6/29/11 @ 4:00 am

    Thanks Gary!

    I’ll go and fix my girlfriends Library because it’s really messed up!

    Dave Blake
    7/24/11 @ 12:33 pm

    Hi Gary
    This is kind of related so thought I would ask it here.

    I have in my library albums by Bruce Springsteen, Bruce springsteen & the E street band & also Bruce Springsteen & the sessions band.

    Is there any way without changing the artist name to “Bruce Springsteen” that I can get these to just show up on my iOS device as “Bruce Springsteen” rather then 3 separate artists? this would also be useful where you have an album of duets.

    Many thanks

      7/24/11 @ 12:39 pm

      Yes. Watch the video. You can set the “Album Artist” for instance.

        Dave Blake
        7/24/11 @ 12:44 pm

        hi Gary
        That does not transfer though to iOS

          7/24/11 @ 1:25 pm

          OK. Then just change the artist. Or, build a playlist. Try different things until you get the result you want.

            Dave Blake
            7/24/11 @ 1:29 pm

            ok think I will wait to see if there is anything in iOS5 before I change my library metadata. Thanks for your help and I really enjoy your great content

    Mr Anthony Cotton
    8/1/11 @ 9:38 am

    I just did it way you said,change the artist. I have also did what you have said Try different things until i get the result i want. I have iTunes playing in the background while i am working on Photoshop. As i have said before i am self teaching myself, but i have learnt a lot of things from this site. When you are changing the artists name you get prompted by iTunes,also when you type in the name of the song or album you get prompted again. I don`t know why? Anthony

    Michael Bell
    8/28/11 @ 3:06 pm

    I have various cd’s imported from lectures where the producer has no information on the cd for it to be recognised as anything other than private so, on importing it I put in the name of the lecturer and some other basic details, then import. More often than not it turns up in iTunes under the category I have place it in and the track numbers are in a random order, as you can imagine its like reading a book upside down & back to front. Ihave played around with the options that I can see but must be missing something to get the order back! Can you guide me?

    Many thanks


      8/28/11 @ 3:15 pm

      Did you double check the information for each track? Is it still correct? Maybe you are just viewing it in a different way in the iTunes library so it is sorting it alphabetically or “last listened” or something like that.

    Michael Bell
    8/28/11 @ 3:29 pm

    checked that & its still in an odd order, I have tried renaming one cd from Track 01 along with producer name to 1 Track with producer name & that works…….odd!

    Joe Coto
    9/1/11 @ 10:55 pm

    Gary, How can I add on iTunes the track numbers automated in sequence to a album that does not have them on the original file. example:

    Sail Away
    Come Together

    I would like to add the track numbers as follow,
    01 – Sail Away
    02 – Come Together

    Thank you!!

      9/2/11 @ 6:47 am

      Just add the track numbers. What the video, you can see where the track numbers go in the info panel. Or, do you mean you want to add them to the song name too? You can just edit the song name if you really want to do that. There are AppleScripts out there that you can use to do that automatically. Search for them.

    Vicki B.
    10/11/11 @ 10:24 am

    I hope this works for audiobooks, b/c that’s what I’m having trouble with, and it keeps sorting backwards, too.
    I have no idea why but I don’t read a book from the back to the front; I’d like it to go from front to back. Except the people who created the discs made it be letters instead of numbers so disc 7, for example, goes from 7a to 7t.
    But the sorting option is sorting numbers backwards too. IDK why.

      10/11/11 @ 10:38 am

      If a column is sorting backwards, click on the column header again. Doing this will reverse the order (A-Z, Z-A, etc) of the column. Works in the Finder and other places too.

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