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Organizing iTunes

You know that you can sort your iTunes music collections into playlists. But is flinging an album's worth of songs into a playlist the most efficient way to organize your music? Perhaps not. The following strategies may help your iTunes Music Library make sense.

All Sorts of Sorting By default, iTunes' main window includes the Song Name, Time, Artist, Album, Genre, My Rating, Play Count, and Last Played column headings -- click on a heading to sort your songs by that criterion. Suppose you want to identify a bunch of uncompressed songs that are eating up valuable space on your iPod, or quickly locate songs you just dragged into your iTunes Library? These headings won't help, but iTunes' View Options will.

When you choose View Options (Command-J) from iTunes' Edit menu, you have the opportunity to add many useful column headings to iTunes (see "Nice View") or to remove those you don't use. For example, by adding a Kind heading, you can quickly differentiate uncompressed AIFF and WAV files from uncompressed MP3 and AAC files, as well as purchased iTunes Music Store songs from home-encoded AAC files. Enabling the Date Added option and clicking on the heading will show you recent additions to your iTunes Library.

Maintain Multiple Libraries OS X was designed so that many people could share a single computer and still maintain individual work environments. The fly in the ointment is that two users of the same computer may want to listen to a single collection of tunes, but because of OS X's permissions scheme, each person is locked out of the Music folders of other users. To work around this limitation, you simply need to relocate the iTunes Music Folder in an area accessible to all users. Here's how it works.

Each person who wants to share his or her iTunes Music Library moves the iTunes Music folder that's inside his or her Music folder to the Public folder. Launch iTunes, select Preferences from the iTunes menu, and click on the Advanced tab. Click on the Change button, select the new location of the iTunes Music folder (the Public folder), and click on OK to dismiss the Preferences window.

To enjoy another user's music, launch iTunes, select Preferences from the iTunes menu, click on the Advanced tab, disable the Copy Files To iTunes Music Folder When Adding To Library option, and click on OK to dismiss the window. Now choose Add To Library from iTunes' File menu and, in the Add To Library dialog box, navigate to another user's Public folder. Select the iTunes Music folder within that folder and click on Open. This adds the music from the Public folder to your iTunes Music Library.

You can perform the same trick with mounted network volumes. Should you unmount such a volume and then attempt to play a song stored on it, you'll be prompted to log in to that volume.

If you'd like to maintain multiple music libraries on your Mac -- one on your internal drive and another on a removable drive, for example -- Doug Adams provides the means, with his $5 iTunes Library Manager ( This AppleScript applet creates backup copies of your iTunes 4 Library database file, so you can save and load different music libraries. This can also be helpful if you notice iTunes slowing down when you're dealing with a very large library.

Automated Organization Speaking of Doug Adams, he offers a horde of other helpful iTunes and iPod AppleScripts on his Web site, Doug's AppleScripts for iTunes ( In addition to the aforementioned iTunes Library Manager, you'll find scripts for corralling duplicate files in your iTunes Music Library, converting files from one audio format to another, and locating album art on the Web that you can then paste into iTunes. Many of these scripts are free, and nearly all of them are worth downloading. -- christopher breen

Nice View iTunes' View Options allows you to sort your music in a multitude of ways.
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