Now that it is officially cold season in my corner of the world, I think it is the perfect time for some sorely needed cleaning up and reorganization of various things around my house and around my computer. Having now set up my new MacBook Pro as my main machine, I seized the opportunity to clean up my iTunes library.
Perhaps you are a bit like me, and you’ve have accumulated lots and lots of music in the past years, having ripped a mountain of tracks from your own extensive CD collection or bought music from various online stores or downloaded freebies from artist sites. Perhaps you’ve also “got” lots of songs from other people: relatives and friends, all well-meaning, but where the tracks were largely devoid of details like album name, exact track name or cover art. Or perhaps you are like my husband, who was often too impatient to name all the tracks he added to iTunes and ended up with hundreds of Track 1 and Track 2 titles. And perhaps you tried to keep up and clean up the ID tags, only to give up. Well, no more putting it off. I decided to bite the bullet and purchase the app TuneUp to help me clean of my library.
TuneUp is the kind of app that you wished Apple would make (or at least integrate into the current iTunes) because it solves the universally known problem of mislabeled or incomplete tracks and missing cover art. As we all know iTunes in its current iteration offers nothing in the way of reliable help here. The album artwork feature does not work as it should. And iTunes cannot help you to correct the spelling your artists or albums.
TuneUp does this with the click of a button. The only thing is it takes hours, depending on the size of your library. Although the app would allow clean up of up to 1000 songs at a time, in practice I found it better to drag across 20 to 50 songs at a time – so that I could review the suggestions and confirm correct ones properly. If I did hundreds of tracks at a time, the database search took a long time and I would get impatient and fight the temptation to simply confirm things just to make some progress. I went about it systematically – listing my tracks alphabetically and working through A’s, B’s etc – which worked well for me as I had to divide this task over several days.
When you launch the app it automatically reduces the iTunes screen to the left half, taking up a wide column on the right side of your screen, making it easy to drag tracks across to be cleaned. The TuneUp bar has 4 tabs – Clean, Cover art, Deduper (to process duplicate songs) and something they call Tuniverse (to display concert listings and info on a song currently being played). I especially appreciated the customizations in the Preferences – which allow you e.g. to opt out of tagging to compilations (which makes searching longer but worth it as I did not want to have lots of “Greatest Hits” or “Hits of the 70′s” album suggestions. You can also define which metadata is conserved in the ID tag or create playlists of tracks cleaned for easy review.
Did TuneUp actually do its job 100%? I would say in my case, I ran into various snags with perhaps 20 tracks out of almost 4,000 which is a great track record. Sometimes the track would not copy the cover art over, so I either had to re-screen the track or copy the artwork from the internet. Tedious true but this only happened in rare cases. Do not expect TuneUp to work perfectly without supervision – you need to review things manually to make sure your tags are the way you like them.
The result? Now all my tracks are clean, tagged, with cover art in iTunes. All I needed was patience.
So after all this – is it the investment worth it? I have to admit that I hesitated for quite a while before taking the plunge and buying TuneUp. The free trial (download link) is useful in the sense you see how the app works in practice, limiting features and capping the number of cleanable tracks. In the end, for me, the promise of having everything organized in iTunes was too great to dangle in front of me.
So yes. $39.99 sounds and is steep but without the app it would have taken me double or triple the time it actually took, the reason why it was an unsurmountable hurdle for my mind in the first place. I’m happy I did it and glad the app is around for tune ups (get it!) in future.
TuneUp is available for iTunes in the App Store for $39.99 (link).