Odd iTunes question

I have almost five thousand CDs and finally felt it was time to digitize them all in iTunes.

My problem is that iTunes is terribly clunky at keeping that many titles organized since it’s all just one big bulk library file. The ability to create playlists is nice, but the main file is just one huge “library” file.

So I read an article that (supposedly) details how you can create multiple music libraries! This would have been exactly what I wanted! So I could have 2000 rock CDs, 500 classical CDs, 500 random-crap-that-defies category, etc.

But when I created a new music library, it seems to have destroyed the old one. The old iTunes folder is there, but the *.itl file is gone. And it doesn’t seem to show any movies I had linked to that old file. I now just have an “iTunes 2” folder and its *.itl file just has two test CDs in it. Everything else is gone.

I’m now trying to read about restoring the *.itl file (since the folder with all the original MUSIC is still there; no movies, just music) but I thought I would ask here if anyone else has any experience/ suggestions.

Thanks for any help. :slight_smile:

Im not sure why it being “one big library” is an issue, since you can sort it by genre (or literally any other criteria) quite easily.

You can even create smart playlists that automatically add new songs based on any number of criteria, including genre.

as to the multiple libraries thing, you have to put them somewhere else. If you try to put the into the iTunes Music folder (at least on a Mac) itll overwrite the old one.

But if you put it in a different folder, itll work fine. I still dont suggest doing it.

What you’re looking for can easily be achieved in other ways that are less confusing and less time consuming.

Because when I’m in the mood for rock, I don’t what to have to sort through a lot of Classical stuff, and vice-versa.

Again, it seems to me they feel the “average” user has 50-60 CDs and this isn’t a problem, and I’d agree. But at my level, it is a huge problem.

The “sort by genre” was always very hit or miss for me, mostly “miss” which is why I don’t want to call that a solution. It’s sloppy, at best and in my world, that means it’s not a solution at all.

And the entire Apple Universe revolves around the idea of “You like it our way, whether you realize that or not.” The issue is: I don’t like it their way. I don’t listen to music as lumps of “playlists.” I have a sound in my head, and that’s what I want. That sparks a new idea, which makes me want to listen to something entirely different. I listen to music by constantly choosing the direction. Random playlists… just aren’t my thing most of the time. iTunes works best when you just have a “workout mix”, or a “clean the house mix” or w/e. I don’t listen to music like that.

Multiple libraries is exactly what I want, but for some reason it’s anathema to Apple.

It did something like that. It created the new iTunes2 folder, and it created the new *.itl file with some test CDs in it… but it also ERASED the old *.itl file and that doesn’t make sense to me. It should have just left that one ALONE.

edit: I think what I’m asking at this point is this: from the article I’m reading now, it sounds like I can REBUILD the old *.itl file in the iTunes1 folder. All of the old music folders are still there. I don’t see anything for the movies but they were all digital so maybe I can just re-download them (?). I didn’t have a lot of movies though, I’m mostly just trying to save myself the hassle of digitizing 2000+ CDs that I had already done before.

lol? I don’t find anything at all “confusing” about having, what is simply, different categories. To me, it’s no different than having different folders on your harddrive. You don’t have everything in ONE folder, do you??? The whole time someone telling you “well, you can sort alphabetically, you don’t need other folders.” That’s entirely missing the point.

I appreciate your help though.

ASSumption is the mother of all screwups.

I have 70,000 files in my iTunes library. (Well, “Music”, now)

I dont need multiple libraries.

The only way this could be a “miss” is if you miss-genre the music. If you’re letting iTunes decide on genres for you… well, there’s your first mistake. iTunes and the world at large believe in too many genres. Edit your meta-data yourself, my man, like any other good file-system obsessive.

Its only sloppy if your metadata entry is sloppy. Thats a you issue.

Who said anything about random? You’re building a strawman here.

This is kind of like “what i need is a plate that has divisions on it so my food doesn’t touch, but instead ill dirty six different bowls”. I think you aren’t paying attention to what im saying.

Categories you can view inside of a single library. I dont think you understand how the libraries work. Every time you fire up iTunes/Music, you will have to hold a series of keys (i dont remember what it is off the top of my head) and choose which library to listen to.

If you want to switch libraries, you will have to CLOSE iTUNES, and then RE-OPEN IT, selecting a different library.

In no conceivable way is this easier, or more intuitive, than simply having all your music in your iTunes library and then simply selecting/viewing all songs of a particular genre.

iTunes is the Hard Drive. The Genre metadata is the folder.

If you want to listen to just Rock, create a new Smart Playlist, and include only songs of the Rock Genre. Boom. This playlist will now have ONLY the songs with Rock as the genre, you will only see those songs, and it will only play those songs. You can then sort this playlist however you like (alphabetically, date added, artist, album by artist, whatever).

Boom. Exactly what you wanted, accomplished without multiple library chicanery. Oh, and it’s a Smart Playlist, so any time you add a new song with “Rock” as the genre, itll automatically add it to the playlist.

Also, if this is on a Windows machine, there’s not a lot i can do to help, the Windows version of iTunes is garbage and always has been. The multiple libraries thing, and how it operates under Windows, i have no idea. It can still do the Smart Playlist thing though.

Ill post a few pictures here in a moment.

Also, if you’re on a Mac, updating to the most recent MacOS and getting the new “Music” app will probably help. Its actually got a few more search/sorting features than the last version of iTunes had.

I’m in Windows. I’ll leave it at that.

I dont have iTunes installed on my Windows machine (which is purely for gaming).

However, i can install it on my HTPC (which is Win10), and point it to my existing iTunes library over the network.

Give me a bit.

I still think your best bet is to just self-edit the metadata and use Smart Playlists.

Unfortunately, there is no word on wether Apple is going to update iTunes to the new “Music” app (its basically just a new version of iTunes with the iPad/iPhone handling stuff broken out into its own app).

The new Music App actually has some really powerful sorting features (i just discovered a few new ones while looking through my library trying to help, just now).


Also, why do you need to use iTunes?

There are PLENTY of good listening-to-music Apps on Windows that aren’t iTunes.

If you’re worried about syncing to an i-Device, a number of them will interface with iTunes and basically sync -through- iTunes.

1> (which we somehow keep missing to address): Do you know if I can simply rebuild my library file in the old iTunes1 folder? I’m sure we could endlessly go in circles as to why it’s gone, I’d rather move forward as to how/if I can get it back.


meh… “because it’s there.” I’m not up on other music apps that are available. I have a studio-quality sound system I listen to CDs to and up until very recently, that was all I wanted/needed. I got an iPod and starting digitizing my music if I go to the beach or w/e and … iTunes is there.

I also bought some Blu-Rays that had free digital copies available through iTunes so again… it was there, I used it.

I just want what is not only easy but INTUITIVE to how I want to use it. I know that’s pretty much the antithesis of everything Apple, it goes without saying it’s their way or die, customization is for plebians.

So it’s not that I “need” to use iTunes, I actually can’t stand Apple and their approach to things, it’s just… ubiquitous.

Right now, my main concern is: can I rebuild that file so I don’t have to redigitize 2000+ CDs?

Lol wut?

That file is utterly irrelevant.

Its just an XML file that has your playlists (and a line telling iTunes where to look for the actual audio files) in it. Thats literally all it is.

SImply drag the files into the iTunes window. Itll add them to the new (current/existing) library. THe songs themselves (most likely .AAC files unless you specified something else), all the metadata is stored in the song file. All the song files are sitting there, right where you (told iTunes to rip) put them. The .itl file has nothing to do with them other than pointing to where they are at and storing your playlists.


Part of the problem lies in what youre looking for.

NO app lets you easily manage “multiple libraries” - because no one writing these things (and honestly, nearly anyone else) thinks that having discrete libraries that you have to switch between by reloading the app is a good idea.

Thats not an Apple or iTunes thing… thats just basic UX design (User Experience).

What you’re looking for can be easily achieved with all your songs in a single library.

To extend the “hard drive” analogy, think of iTunes (your audio library) as the Hard Drive.

If you want to move files into “folders”, you can do so quite easily by using the metadata in the files to sort them, use Smart Playlists to only present you with songs that meet a certain criteria, or even just use the main window’s search and sort functions to isolate and show you only what you want to see.

There’s absolutely nothing to be gained by having multiple discreet libraries.

The functionality as it exists in iTunes is there so that different users can use their own libraries when sitting at a machine without having to necessarily use a separate user account (which isn’t always preferable) or even move the files to that computer (as you can point iTunes to a library over a network).

That way you have access to all your playlists, etc on whatever machine you open the library on.

Its not meant to inconveniently compartmentalize your music into separate libraries that you have to literally close the app to switch between.

Im actually learning myself how to record a short video on Win 10. Will hopefully be able to post that and explicitly show what i mean and how it works (and accomplishes what you want) with an actual video.

Ok well that sounds encouraging. I’ll mess with this for a bit, ty.

edit: Ok it looks like it’s adding the “Music” folder from that iTunes1 folder now. So that’s good.

But the movies section is empty. There should be 10 or so movies there. (there is actually a progress wheel that says “updating your purchases” so that might be the movies since I’ve only spent about $10 in iTunes. lol

But this is good progress. :slight_smile:

Hmm attempt one failed, as the stupid built in screen recorder for Win 10 only captures the actual app so 3/4 of the video is pooched.

Attempt two.

As I’m sifting through this, I realize this is the crux of the problems and the semantics between the two of us:

What you call “editing meta-data” to make “sort by genre” work, I simply want to create a new folder and drag and drop the things I want in the locations I want.

My world: I digitize a CD, then drag it to “Rock” or “Classical”, etc. Done.

Apple (your) world: I digitize a CD, open the file, edit meta-data line 1, edit meta-data line 2, etc etc. Done.

I’m exaggerating the Apple solution just to highlight how it feels to me-- cumbersome and stupid. But I can admit they both take a mere 7 seconds of extra work to organize things how I want them. I just STRONGLY disagree with Apple’s solution.

Thank you so much for all your help! I learned a lot. :wink:

I also hope I get my movies back…

The problem is “your” world doesn’t comport with ANYONE elses view. Like i said, its not an Apple thing. You’re not going to find ANY music program that does what you’re describing - zero many. (I realize this sounds attack-y; its not meant that way).

Its also needlessly simplistic and doesn’t cover a lot of situations. Not all artists are the same genre all the time. What happens when you decide you want to listen to a specific artist but you’ve got them all in separate folders?

Just as example of something that is extremely common in my own library. A good example would be Eric Clapton. Do you just mass-classify him as “Classic Rock”? That’d be weird, since he’s released specific genre albums in the past (he did an entire Blues tour with Stevie Ray Vaughn, and continued the tour solo after Vaughn died in a helicopter crash that he was also supposed to be on) - and released two Blues albums to support it. They are definitely NOT Classic Rock.

Keeping your meta-data up to date and accurate lets you create whatever combination you want at any time. Its worth the effort.

And a lot of times, you really only have to edit the Genre, if you let iTunes use its database, when you plug a CD in it will accurately identify the CD, get the album art, get the artist, track list, get them in the right order, etc. The only thing i tend to disagree with/change is the Genre because the RIAA/iTunes/The World At Large are obssessed with subdividing things into a bajillion genres, and i think i narrow everything down to about 12-15, tops.

The movies thing, i dunno. Ive never put my Movies into iTunes. They’re stored on my NAS and i use VLC to watch them. (In obsessively structured folders). Worst case is you (if you bought them on iTunes) just go into iTunes and re-download them.

Compiled a quick video on the ultra-basics of what i’m talking about. Sorry for the junk quality but i didn’t want to fool around with adding a bunch of screen-cap stuff to my HTPC, so i just grabbed my Razer Kiyo and took and old-fashioned, low-fi video of the screen (which only took like 30 seconds). Its also just got ultra-basic text overlays. Didn’t see the point in making it a pro presentation (and i haven’t used iMovie in a hot 5+ years).


Should be finished up loading in about ~10 minutes.

Lulz and Youtube low-fi’ed it even more. It WAS at least in 1080p when i shot it. Oh well, still legible, if barely.

Been using iTunes for two decades now (how has it been that long) and I would second Kagthul’s recommendation of better tagging and smart playlists. I’ve tried juggling multiple libraries in the past for a different reason (dad wanted to buy and burn some music) and it’s incredibly clunky… the feature basically exists only for opening libraries on external drives.

I highly doubt that. Take your own advice about that whole “assumption” thing. :wink:

In the broad sense, I just want to agree with you that Apple’s problem here is that they want to create 20+ genres. I once worked in a music store and I’m fine with how it was done there: Rock, Classical, Soundtracks. THAT’S IT. Yes, even Jazz was filed under “Rock.” edit to also add: Remember that Rap acts are in the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame. Keep it simple.

It’s arguably an over-simplification, but it’s better than what Apple has done.

Dragging and dropping files into folders is something we’ve all been doing for decades. It is, objectively, intuitive at this point. Editing meta-data to get the same functionality … is not, and I still contend is clunky by comparison. It feels like taking 3 steps to get the same result as the 1 step of drag-drop.

Because I can also say that using my method-- absolutely nothing changed. How I organize things doesn’t CHANGE anything. But editing meta-data DOES. My copy of “Soundgarden” is now “Rock”, but someone else’s is “Indie Rock.” They’re DIFFERENT… when they shouldn’t be. I will never agree that’s a better system.

And in what I’m calling typical Apple form, I’m fine to say “tomato/tomahto… we’re both right”, yet you keep insisting that I’m flat out WRONG and that “no one would do it like I’m asking.” I just wish you would instead say “I think I see why you want to do it that way, but it doesn’t work that way.”

I dont, not even for one second.

Otherwise, there would be software that would do what you’re thinking.

There isn’t. If there are other people that think like you do, they are such an infintessimally small number that they have no bearing on what software will or wont be produced. And that is saying something given that there are Linux distros that have like ~1000 users or less and get full support.

This isn’t an Apple thing. Jeebus, quit trying to blame Apple for things that are not even remotely in their power.

When you insert a CD, iTunes/Music just connects to a server that has the info for that CD - that info is uploaded to that server by the Publisher of said music. Apple does not define the genres, the artist/their publisher does.

But this is what causes what you see as the “i cant rely on just sorting by Genre issue” - when you let iTunes fetch the data, it’s going to assign whatever genre the artist or publisher said it was. And they LOVE to invent genres. Ive seen Indie Rock, Indie Prog Rock, Indie Glitter Rock, like 20 different variations of Indie Rock, which, in and of itself, is not a genre i recognize as legitimate in the first place.

You have to take ownership of your collection. Thats what the metadata is there for, to allow you to sort and view your collection easily in a way that gets you where you want to be quickly.

Though it is likely already out of business, i’d love the name of this place so that i make sure to never, ever go there. Thats assinine. You CAN go too far in the other direction.

There’s simple, and there’s stupid.

Again, its not Apple.

If you really dont want to edit the meta-data (just the genre), then you can STILL do this.

Create a new Playlist (just a regular one). Name it Rock.

Drag anything you consider Rock into this playlist (“folder”)

Done. No editing of metadata required.

I’d also point out that you’re neglecting an entire generation of people who have NOT been dragging and dropping things for decades. My son is 12. He’s had far more screen time and hands on time with tablets and his phone than a computer.

Dragging and dropping is less intuitive to him than simply long-pressing on something and assigning it to a category, or what have you. Or at least, its equally as intuitive, and he only really has decent experience with a traditional desktop OS because ive had him on a computer since he was 5. A lot of his friends can barely use a Chromebook, much less a full up desktop computer. Because they dont have to.

Except you’re not being remotely objective. You’re seeing everything only through your own lens.

Except you aren’t getting the same functionality. You’re getting far superior functionality. While you’re clicking through folders, i can find any given song in my library in 2 seconds or less. Or genre, or artist, or composer, or from a given year, you name it.

This assumes there is some neutral arbiter who decides what the correct definition is for what is Rock and what is not. Which has not ever been a thing. So there will ALWAYS be a difference between your sound (and video) files and someone elses. Hell, there will be big differences just based on what program was used to rip the audio, and what format the audio is in. If you didn’t change it, iTunes ripped your files as 128bit AAC (an Apple derivative of MP4 audio streas), not MP3. I rip mine first as Apple Lossless (and back those much larger files up to my NAS) and then again as double bit rate MP3, and just set my iPad (or iPod in your case) to “convert all audio to 128bit AAC on this device” to save space on my devices.

Even if it is just the name of the file or the folder it is housed in (which is ALSO stored in its metadata). I habitually rename all of my TV show files to [Show, Year][Season][Episode, #][TitleofEpisode].

Not everyone does that, or does it that way, meaning their files for the same show (that may even have started life as the same file) will be different from mine.

Because you are. This isn’t tomato, tomahto. This is “food” vs “rock”. (And even that isn’t a good analogy, since one way to say it is correct - Toe-May-Toe - and the other is wrong. And before you try to argue that point, thats what my degree is in, and my wife has a masters in linguistics and is working on her doctorate).

I’m actually very good at putting myself in others shoes and trying to see things from other people’s perspectives. I even often make arguments (on these very forums) in support of the side that i dont personally agree with, because no one else is.

I cannot fathom why you would want to do something that is inferior and leaves you with less options.

The coloquialism “cutting off your nose to spite your face” comes to mind.

Honestly, your attitude reminds me of a friend i have who is a complete luddite. He refused to upgrade from Windows 7, until he was absolutely forced to do so because his old computer imploded (PSU went and cooked the motherboard) and he had to build a new one, which he could not install Windows 7 on.

Anyway, i hope you can find some way to organize things so you can tolerate it, but you WONT find software that does what your idea of “the best way” is. Doesn’t exist.

I’m all done here.

Yeah, the only reason ive ever used it was to create a library for my father in law, so he could use the iPod my brother in law bought him.

He doens’t even have a full up computer at home (they have one, but its the province of his wife), so he couldn’t do it on his computer (she’d have lost her mind about it).

So i had him take a pic of his CD collection, downloaded the relevant rips (<— before people jump on the piracy shocktroop bandwagon, this is legal; you are allowed to own a digital backup of any music (or video) you own; the DMCA does NOT say you have to rip it yourself; for instance, i own Babylon 5, but had no desire to rip it myself, so i downloaded the ripped files. As long as you aren’t making them available to someone who doesn’t legitimately own them (set your upload to 0), you’re in the clear legally as long as you DO own it), created his library, and had him bring his iPod down and sync it. Thats actually where the files i used in the example video came from, some of the stuff i downloaded for his library, that are stored on my NAS.

You’ll die of old age trying to rip 5k CDs.

nah. It’s time consuming and mundane, but it can be done. Having two screens help. I’m watching stuff on one screen and then I just pop CDs in and out, edit all the meta-data to make this nonsense work, and just keep on rollin.

I figure it’ll take me 4-5+ weeks. Slow and steady…

And for posterity, I will say that the movies came back. There were listed in the “recently added” category of my “Movies” library. And once I clicked on them to see if they were actually there (like, I could play a section instead of it just being a title card), it simultaneously was added to the actual “Movies” section. I dunno… whatever is going on behind the scenes, at least it works, at least I’m getting back to normal.