Author Topic: Best-practice tips for managing, organising, renaming files  (Read 1210 times)

digdeeper

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Best-practice tips for managing, organising, renaming files
« on: October 30, 2020, 06:23:25 PM »
In order to get some order into my thousands of files, I have been using several tools and techniques over the years. I've decided to share them here so others can benefit from them as well.

I'll keep adding stuff, but I'd rather have it out than to languish as a tab buried among its sad peers, hibernated by the browser and waiting to be loaded again some day.

Also feel free to add your own tips, or mention why you do certain things differently.

Tools
All tools are free, but you are either welcome to donate towards their further development or kindly asked to acquire a license (Advanced Renamer), which is totally worth it in my opinion.

Mp3tag (Windows + MacOS (Beta))
https://www.mp3tag.de/
My go-to tool for editing tags from sound files, not only MP3, but FLAC, AAC (.m4a), WAV. Make sure to enable the option that you get a context menu entry for files and folders, as it will enable you to access Mp3tag more quickly.

Add images as tags
In order to do that,
1. Right-click an entry,
2. choose "Extended tags",
3. Choose the star icon in the upper right corner,
4. Select the image file. Note that you can add more than one image file, HOWEVER every single program I've used displays the last image as the one displayed, resulting in some back photo or label being displayed instead of the front cover.
5. Don't forget to click "OK" to save this change.
You can also remove images within the tags, clicking on the red "X".

Copy entire "sets" of tags apply them to other files
This is especially handy when you have one album in two formats, and only either of them has tags. In order to do this,
1. Make sure the files are in the correct order, optimally by sorting by track number, or by filename, in case the filenames have the track numbers in them at the beginning.
2. Press Ctrl+A to select all tracks,
3. Press Ctrl+C to copy the tags,
4. Go the the Windows Explorer and mark the other file group,
5. Right-click those and choose "Open in Mp3tag". Now you should have opened the other files without the tags.
6. Make sure the new files are in the right order, in that case the filenames have to have the right order as you don't have tags in these files yet,
7. Press Ctrl+V and confirm that you want to overwrite / paste the tags.

Numbering tracks
Mp3tag lets you convert values from one category to the other, such as tag > filename (Alt+1). You can append the track number to the beginning of each track, so the files will be shown in the correct order in the file explorer.

Adding titles from the filename to the tags
Another thing you can do is to "import" filenames into the tags, such as when files don't have tags. Press Alt+2 in Mp3tag to convert filenames to tags.

When renaming files, press "Tab" to go to the next file.

Press Ctrl+S to save all changes.

AppleScripts for iTunes (MacOS)
https://dougscripts.com/itunes/index.php
Use 600+ scripts to manage your music collection.

MediaMonkey (Windows)
https://www.mediamonkey.com/
A music library management tool worth going ape for. Use many user-generated scripts to add features such as sorting, skins, visualisations, and more!

Everything (Windows)
https://www.voidtools.com/
Basically a live search like Spotlight from iOS, you type something and the tool immediately shows you all matching files. You can also save searches into a file, and open it on another machine, enabling you to search through another machine (and check for instance, whether you already have something there).

Advanced Renamer (Windows)
https://advancedrenamer.com/
Very powerful renaming tool that lets you rename both files and folders. You can use regular expressions ("formulae" if you will for renaming stuff). You can rename files in several steps, in the vein of "first add this string to the beginning of the files, then add a number starting with 01 to the files, and then replace X with Y". You can preview the renaming, you can revert ANY renaming you have done EVER with this program, as it saves your renaming jobs by default. Providing of course, that your renamed files are still in the same place. How cool is that?

FastStone (Windows)
https://www.faststone.org/
My go-to software for organising and also slightly editing images. It has a great Lanczos2 filter for sharp downsampling of images. You can also rotate images slightly, which is very handy.

MediaInfo Lite (Windows)
https://www.majorgeeks.com/files/details/mediainfo_lite.html
Media-analysing tool. Right-click any media file and get quick info about codec, bitrate etc.

Lossless Audio Checker (Windows, MacOS, Linux)
https://losslessaudiochecker.com/
Scan your FLAC for signs of upscaling and upsampling, in which case the FLAC was the result of a source of worse quality.

Spek (Windows, MacOS, Linux)
http://spek.cc/
Spek shows you the spectogram of an audio file (frequency range).

Audacity (Windows, MacOS, Linux)
The go-to audio editing tool most of you will already be familiar with, however there are some handy shortcuts I've only recently discovered.
· Ctrl+1: Zoom in
· Ctrl+2: Zoom out
· Space: Play / Stop
· Shift+Arrow keys: Same as with text elsewhere on Windows, this is how you mark sections of the audio.
· Left Arrow: drop marked section and put the cursor to the beginning of the marked section (for checking start of a tune)
· Right Arrow: drop marked section and put the cursor to the end of the marked section (handy for checking fade-out)
· Shift+Left Arrow: expand marked section to the left end (such as when you missed a slow fade-in)
· Shift+Right Arrow: expand marked section at the right end (such as when you missed a slow fade-out)
· Ctrl+Shift+Right Arrow: narrow marked section at the left end (such as when you marked too much background noise before the track)
· Ctrl+Shift+Left Arrow: narrow marked section at the right end (such as when you marked too much background noise after the end of the track)
· Shift+Mousewheel: Scroll horizontally
· Ctrl+Mousewheel: Zoom in and out

Also make sure to set a keyboard shortcut for Export Selected Audio in Audacity Settings (Edit > Preferences > Keyboard.

When saving a file, you can just press Enter instead of swapping to the mouse to confirm.

Methods
Mostly still to be written... Tool-specific methods I have put under the respective tools.

1-200 instead of 001-200 (Windows 10)
Ever since some update, Windows 10 recognizes these as consecutive numbers, so you don't actually have to put zeroes in front of them anymore. I don't know about MacOS, but they usually have features years ahead of Microsoft... I have recently changed my numbering to drop the zeroes in order to be more in line with the actual releases.

Comment tags (Windows, MacOS, Linux)
Many modern file formats allow for tags, among them also comment tags. I use this to add some info, such as the catalog number, ripping source (CD, LP, which one etc.), or to add credits from the original ripper (Jack etc.).

Use your keyboard, not your mouse: specific keys and keyboard shortcuts (Windows; other OSes similar, but not 1:1)
F2 is for renaming a file.
Pos1 is for going to the beginning of a file list, or file name (depending on which mode you're in), End to the end (who'd have thunk)
Enter for confirming the new filename (in renaming mode), or for opening a file.
Shift+Arrow keys will select several (consecutive) files at once. It will also select text (consecutive characters). Combine with Shift to select entire words.
Ctrl+Left Mouseclick will enable you to select several files at once, the difference to Shift being that you can omit some files and freely pick those that you want to select.
Ctrl+X: Cut
Ctrl+C: Copy
Ctrl+V: Paste
Ctrl+Z: Undo action (renaming a file, deleting a file (works only with trashcan), moving a file). It even works when you're in the process of renaming a file and forgot what its name was after you typed over the original name.

Discogs tips
· The Advanced Search offers some nice fine-grained control, you can track possible cover versions etc. by providing a track name and a year, among other things.
https://www.discogs.com/search/advanced
· Compare different editions of a record at the bottom of an entry, you might find much more info about a record by choosing another pressing, such as the arranger, or track lengths. That other pressing might have provided more info, or, more alternatively, the person adding the entry was more thorough in transferring every info.

Saving image files (Windows, probably other OSes as well)
You can bypass the tedious right-clicking and path-giving procedure with drag-and-drop. Simply
· Left-click the image you want to save
· keep the button pressed
· maneuvre to the place where you want to save the image (window doesn't have to be visible, you can even rest your cursor on a taskbar icon to switch to that particular window)
· let go of the mouse button.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2021, 07:00:37 PM by digdeeper »

stackjackson

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Re: Best-practice tips for managing, organising, renaming files
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2020, 01:35:44 AM »
Very nice to have this reference. Thanks, digdeeper.

Personally, I'm one of those old-timers who prefers to organize everything manually. I know, I know, it's tedious, but somehow it satisfies my OCD impulses.
Honestly, the only "automated" programs I use are NameChanger and, occasionally kid3
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Retronic

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Re: Best-practice tips for managing, organising, renaming files
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2020, 08:46:00 AM »
I'm old school too and amazed I don't have arthritis from cut n pasting track titles from Discogs using my left little finger for hours on end.  I have the LP in fromt of me but use Discogs for ease.  Very basic but again very satisfying- I find it relaxing.

kimhill

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Re: Best-practice tips for managing, organising, renaming files
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2020, 12:50:31 PM »
Some really cool tools. Thanks!

kimhill

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Re: Best-practice tips for managing, organising, renaming files
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2020, 12:55:12 PM »
For anyone using iTunes on Mac (or "Music" as Apple calls it now), Doug's AppleScripts is a truly amazing repository of music management tools.

https://dougscripts.com/




Snowdog

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Re: Best-practice tips for managing, organising, renaming files
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2020, 06:13:18 PM »
I'm on a Mac & I use Tag Editor to do a very similar job to MP3Tag outlined above.

Copying & pasting from one album to another sounds much the same & the find & replace feature is really powerful. I can lick a track listing into shape in seconds flat.

About the only thing I'm having to do "longhand" now is to type in A01... A02 etc. before the track names, as I like to preserve the vinyl track listing if I can. Unfortunately, that can't be automated as track A02 might have an a, b, c before going on to A03, so it has to be done manually.

I've also figured out that if I select a complete track listing from Discogs & paste it into a note, it comes in as a table. I can then select a single column (if I only want the composers, for instance) take just that column into InDesign & use find & replace to tide it up, then I can copy it straight into the composer column in Tag Editor. Sounds compilcated but it hardly takes any time at all once you've done it a couple of times.

Advance Renamer sounds interesting, as there are a couple of things I just can't automate without a wild card feature. I'll have to see if that works on a Mac.

Oddly enough, I always keep my numbers at two or three characters (depending on context), as I prefer the way they line up in a list! :)
"Elements of the past & future, combining to make something not quite as good as either."

digdeeper

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Re: Best-practice tips for managing, organising, renaming files
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2020, 06:28:59 PM »
Added keyboard tips. Seriously, keyboard is superior to mouse most of the time.

Snowdog

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Re: Best-practice tips for managing, organising, renaming files
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2020, 09:26:48 PM »
Added keyboard tips. Seriously, keyboard is superior to mouse most of the time.

Agreed. If I can find a keyboard shortcut for a thing, I'm all over it.
"Elements of the past & future, combining to make something not quite as good as either."

heriberto0815

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Re: Best-practice tips for managing, organising, renaming files
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2020, 09:09:44 PM »
I'm using MediaMonkey (licensed) since way more than ten years now and couldn't live without it, since tagging consistently all my music files (> 280.000) is an obsessive-compulsive disorder of mine  ::)

With several additional scripts I've automated whatever can be automated like
- conversion of artist names, e.g. "Alan Hawkshaw" to "Hawkshaw, Alan"
- Auto-numbering track-number
- copy 'Date' to 'Original Date'
- Uppercase first letter of titles, lowercase the rest (with some exceptions like "I" etc.)

There are hundreds of predefined RegExpressions to manipulate whatever you can think of, and everything can be done at once for all selected files.

I tag the label into 'Publisher' (e.g. Bruton Music) and the release into 'Grouping' (e.g. BRI 07). Then I use the auto-renaming for all the files (CTRL+A, QTRL+R) and everything gets moved directly where it belongs to in my file organization, including additional files like covers:

Library
  A
  B
    Bruton Music
                 BRI 07 - Biology
  C...
 
You may also copy all tags incl. pictures, playlist entries and so on of a complete album (maybe in mp3-format) and paste everything to the same album in another format (flac for example).

There is not a single feature I can think of missing in that application.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2020, 09:16:18 PM by heriberto0815 »

kimhill

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Re: Best-practice tips for managing, organising, renaming files
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2020, 10:49:26 PM »
I'm using MediaMonkey (licensed) since way more than ten years now and couldn't live without it, since tagging consistently all my music files (> 280.000) is an obsessive-compulsive disorder of mine  ::)

Sounds like a great tool. I indulge a lot of obsessive-compulsive impulses as well, using "Doug's Applescripts for iTunes."
https://dougscripts.com/

Here's my current menu list for these scripts:
  • Album Rating Reset
  • Append to Selected Tag
  • Artist - Name Corrector
  • Batch Export Playlists
  • Batch Trim Start or Stop Time (Seconds)
  • Change Hidden Preferences
  • Comments to Description
  • Copy Tag Info Tracks to Tracks
  • Copy Tracks to Multiple Playlists
  • File Creation Date to Comments
  • Filenames to Song Names
  • Increment Number Tags
  • Is Artwork Embedded
  • List MIAs
  • Make JPEG and PNG Playlists
  • Move Playlists to Folder
  • Needle Drop
  • New Last Played Date
  • Not In Any Playlist
  • Play In Album Context
  • Player Position to Start or Stop
  • Playlist Manager
  • Playlist Names to Text File
  • Playlists Info
  • Proper English Title Capitalization
  • Put Track Prefix to Track Number
  • Remember These Tags For A Sec
  • Remove n Characters from Front or Back
  • Reset Plays
  • Reset Tracks Start-Stop
  • Restore Artist 'Last, First...'
  • Save Album Art to Album Folder
  • Search Album Artwork With Google
  • Search Discogs
  • Search Wikipedia
  • Search YouTube
  • Search-Replace Tag Text
  • Show In Playlists
  • Size of Artwork
  • Sundry Info to Comments
  • Super Remove Dead Tracks
  • This Tag That Tag
  • Tracks Without Embedded Artwork

digdeeper

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Re: Best-practice tips for managing, organising, renaming files
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2020, 11:02:41 PM »
If all people were reasonable, we would never have these amazing collections, that is for sure.

Edit: I'm gonna add MediaMonkey later to the list.

heriberto0815

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Re: Best-practice tips for managing, organising, renaming files
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2020, 01:12:02 AM »
In your valuable list you may mention whether the tool is for Apple/Mac/iTunes or PC/Windows. We all live in two fundamental distinct worlds...

btw: MediaMonkey is Windows only (and music player and upnp-server...)
Now I stop the advertising...

kimhill

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Re: Best-practice tips for managing, organising, renaming files
« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2020, 02:52:34 PM »
In your valuable list you may mention whether the tool is for Apple/Mac/iTunes or PC/Windows. We all live in two fundamental distinct worlds….
btw: MediaMonkey is Windows only (and music player and upnp-server...)

"Doug's Applescripts" are for Mac. AppleScript is a Mac-native scripting language, and anyone can use it to write little utilities, but these particular scripts only work for iTunes on the Mac. At this point Doug has 600+ music management scripts – you just drop them in a folder, and they appear in an iTunes menu. The odds are that he already has a solution for most problems. I really think Apple should hire him. ;) Here's an example of a script I use a lot (kimh.info/dougscripts):
« Last Edit: December 30, 2020, 07:34:21 PM by kimhill »

digdeeper

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Re: Best-practice tips for managing, organising, renaming files
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2020, 07:27:31 PM »
Okay, added. Unfortunately there are no nice Windows / Apple / Linux logos in Unicode which I would have added otherwise.

Don't hesitate to name more stuff, or just general tips.

Snowdog

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Re: Best-practice tips for managing, organising, renaming files
« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2021, 11:58:46 AM »
I'm on a Mac.

I use dBpoweramp to rip CDs & Tag Editor to adjust the tags of all my lossless files (wether they be FLAC downloads or the AIFFs from my ripped CDs) & then dBpoweramp's built-in batch converter to to convert the lossless file to lossy version for life on the move.

The lossless & lossy versions sit alongside one another in my music folder & the lossy version gets imported to iTunes, where it will sync with my phone.

As a result, my music directory looks a lot like this:

https://imgur.com/zNcPhki

I let "album name" & "album artist" do all the heavy lifting, so that all my library albums, for example, have LIBRARY as the album artist, which makes them all sort together & the album title makes them all sort alphabetically by label & then by catalogue number.

(If someone could clue me in on how to embed an image in the post I'd be very grateful. :) )
« Last Edit: January 01, 2021, 01:29:07 PM by stackjackson »
"Elements of the past & future, combining to make something not quite as good as either."