Sorting out iTunes sorting

I’ve bloviated plenty in the last couple of Playlist blog entries, so let’s address something practical. And by practical I mean, of course, bears. Reader Michael Hoffman is having some trouble with them. He writes:

In my iTunes library I have two bands with similar names (in this case “The Bears” & “Bears”). Is there a way to force iTunes to separate them?

For those of you slightly out of the loop, this issue arises because iTunes disregards the word “The” in iTunes lists so that artists such as “The Beatles” is filed under B rather than T. But, as in this case, there are times when you want to use a word like The or A to sort something. Thankfully, iTunes provides this option with its Sort feature. It works like this:

Select a track by The Bears and choose File -> Get Info. Click the Sorting tab in the resulting window. In the Sort Artist field enter The Bears and click OK to close the Info window.

Now right-click on that track (sigh, or Control-click if you insist on using that one-button mouse with your Mac) and from the contextual menu choose Apply Sort Field -> Same Artist. iTunes will apply the contents of that sort field to all of your The Bears tracks.

Now do the same thing with a Bears tracks except this time enter Bears in the Sort Artist field. Again, do the right-click thing and Bears tracks will have Bears as the sorting field applied to them.

Finally, right-click in the column header bar (where you see the Name, Time, and Artist entries at the top of the iTunes window) and choose Sort Artist from the contextual menu. When this header appears, click it and you’ll find that The Bears and Bears are now sorted separately.

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