If you’ve rummaged around in iTunes’ menus, you’ve undoubtedly seen its Export Songlist and Export Library commands. There’s no great mystery about what these commands do. Invoke one or another and you can export information about the selected files to a text or .xlm file, which can then be imported into another copy of iTunes. This serves as a convenient way to transfer playlists from one computer to another.
Where the mystery lies is in why iTunes is so choosy about which tags it will import. If you’ve tagged a playlist within an inch of its life–entered not only Track, Album, and Artist information, but also album art, comments, grouping, and beats per minute (BPM) data–you’ll be disappointed to discover that when you import one of these text or .xml files on another computer, only the Track, Album, Artist, Track Number, and Year information appear. The other tags you’ve entered are nowhere to be seen.
Yet when you examine these files in a text editor, you discover that they contain most of this information. For reasons unknown, that data won’t appear in iTunes.
So, what to do?
Use your iPod as a conduit.
When you add this more-arcane tag information to files and then sync your iPod, that information is copied to the iPod along with the music. If you then need those files–complete with all tags intact–on another one of your computers (as you might if you’re a DJ who lugs a couple of computers around), plug the iPod into that other computer and use one of the tools or techniques I describe in
Two-Way Street, to move music from the iPod to your computer. Such a routine not only imports all the tags you’ve entered, but helps ensure that your music library is complete on both computers.
Additional considerations? If you need to share these tagged files between a Mac and a PC, format the iPod on the Windows machine. A Mac can read a Windows-formatted iPod, but the reverse is not the case–Windows, by default, doesn’t do Mac (you can, however, use a Mac-formatted iPod on a Windows PC with the help of Mediafour’s $30
XPlay 2. And, of course, to avoid creating duplicate tracks, place all you music files on one computer, sync the iPod, connect the iPod to the other computer, and dump the music files to that other computer’s empty iTunes library. When you later need to update the second computer, switch the iPod into manual mode and copy over only those tracks that are new.