My wife listens to a lot of audiobooks on CD—or more precisely, audiobooks originating CD that she converts for her iPhone. I listen to a few too—as well as full-cast audioplays. The problem is, iTunes is designed to import music CDs. So it defaults to bringing in every single CD track as its own file. A single book can end up being comprised of 200 individual tracks!
The good news is, there are a few different approaches to simplify your iTunes library. There’s a little-known iTunes command that will save you a long time if you haven’t begun the CD ripping process. The free utility Join Together will join iTunes files together after the fact. And users of Roxio’s Toast may be unaware that it includes a nifty audiobook-ripping tool of its own.
Yes, my wife listens to her library audiobooks while we’ve still got the CDs—and when she’s done listening, she deletes the files. Please don’t pirate stuff. Also, support your local library! They probably have audiobooks you can check out!
I’m going to be talking about joining multiple audio tracks together to create one single track. Now, I’m going to use audiobooks as an example, but it’ll really work for any audio files that you’ve got. When you insert a CD of an audiobook on CD, you’ll see a lot of tracks, as if they were music tracks. Unfortunately, they’re just parts of this book.
The easiest thing to do, after you’ve inserted the disc, is to choose Select All, go to the Advanced menu in iTunes, and choose Join CD Tracks. This will cause iTunes to group all the tracks on that disc together. When you press the Import CD button, they’ll all be brought in as a single track.
Now, if you’ve got five or six discs in your audiobook, you’ll end up with five or six tracks, but that’s certainly better than 20 or 30 tracks per disc. Which is a whole lot of tracks to keep track of.
So what if you’ve already got the files and you want to join them together? Then I recommend going to dougscripts.com and using Doug Adams’s utility, which is free, called Join Together.
One note before we get started: Join Together requires QuickTime Player 7, which you can download free from Apple.com. Please do that before you run Join Together.
Here’s how you do it. You select all the tracks that you want to join together in iTunes. In this case I’ve searched for my author and Selected All. Then I click on Get Tracks From iTunes in Join Together. It will automatically read all the tracks that I had selected in iTunes. On the right side of Join Together you can put in your metadata—this is the tagging data that will end up showing up in iTunes. You can set a data rate, so you can choose the quality that you want the end result to be. You can choose mono or stereo, choose a sample rate, choose to save it as an m4a or an m4b (which is audiobook format), and then you press Proceed… and something crazy happens.
QuickTime Player 7 opens, and every single track that you selected opens, and then this one Untitled QuickTime window opens. And what you’ll see here is, Join Together is automatically pasting the contents of every single one of those tracks into a single file. When it’s done it closes all the other windows and begins the relatively long process of exporting that single file and putting it in iTunes.
When all is said and done, my 39 short tracks will appear in iTunes as a single audiobook track, ready for syncing with my iPhone.
If you happen to own Roxio’s Toast utility, it’s even easier. Click on the Convert tab, choose Audiobook, insert your Audiobook, and you’re ready to go. Under the options tab you’ll have options to convert stereo to mono, you can choose a quality, playback speed setting… you press the Big Red Button and you get this option in the Save dialog box to choose, for example, Multiple CDs to a Single File. If you do a lot of ripping of audiobook CDs for iTunes, Toast is actually a really good solution. It will convert this entire disc, and then eject it, and then ask for the next one. And when you’re done with all of them, you can click the Done button and it will assemble a single file containing all the audio from all the CDs in one book file.
Macworld’s Video Podcast
To subscribe to the Macworld Video stream via iTunes, click here.
You can also see a complete archive of all our videos on Macworld’s YouTube channel. Subscribe to that channels and you will be notified whenever we post a new video.