iTunes Guide

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This guide explains how to correct and update the tags of your music in your iTunes from MusicBrainz using Picard. Please read everything and check that this method will work for you before you begin.


A few things that must be considered/checked before starting:

If you really really want to use Picard to rename/move your files. Know that this will cause iTunes to lose track of where all of these files are; meaning you will have to re-add them to the library (manually), which will take you hours and which may mean you will lose play counts and any other information that iTunes keeps in its own library. Please save yourself the time and frustration.

Summary of Process

  1. Tag files using Picard (see How to Tag Files With Picard)
  2. Update iTunes library (see below)
  3. Other troubleshooting/tidy up steps may be needed (see below)

Updating Library in iTunes

All these methods should work in iTunes 10+.

Manual method (file-by-file update)

This method works best for updating data on individual tracks or a couple of albums.

  1. Select the first track in an album/selection
  2. Right click > Get Info
  3. Click "Next" (or Cmd+N/Ctrl+N on the keyboard) repeatedly, until you've passed the last track. This will be much slower than the first method (especially if you're letting iTunes manage your library), but it will work in iTunes 10.

Brute force method (full library re-scan)

This method works best if


  1. Go to File > Add Folder to Library
  2. Point it at the top of your iTunes directory ("My Music\iTunes\iTunes Music\Music" on Windows, by default).
  3. iTunes will rescan your music, but recognize it's already imported, so you shouldn't end up with duplicate files (unless you have moved/renamed files)

Mac-only advanced method

This method is a bit more complicated to set up, but easy to use.

Fire up Script Editor (which is under Applications/AppleScript, but it will work with TextEdit). Paste the following code, then save as a Script called /Library/iTunes/Scripts/Refresh.scpt (create the Scripts directory if it doesn't already exist).

tell application "iTunes"
	refresh selection
end tell

Now, inside iTunes, you should see a Scripts menu (an icon of a scroll, just left of Help). The "Refresh" item on that menu will force it to re-read the tags for all tracks that you have selected.


iPod Photo/Video

The iPod doesn't like the MusicBrainz tags in the files, so it may pull up the wrong release art on the iPod. This can easily be fixed by

  1. plugging in the iPod
  2. going into Preferences > iPod > Music
  3. turning off "Display album artwork on your iPod"
  4. update the ipod (so it removes all the release art on the iPod)
  5. then turn that option on again, update the iPod and it will move the correct release art to the iPod.


There is a difference between how iTunes and MusicBrainz classify compilations. iTunes compilations are effectively the same as MusicBrainz Various Artists, whilst MusicBrainz compilation subtype also includes single artist anthologies such as Best Of / Greatest Hits albums.

Since Picard 1.3, the Compilation tag is now compatible with iTunes. In previous versions of Picard, the same result can be achieved by adding the following script to Picard tagger (Tools -> Options -> Advanced ->Scripting);

$if($and($eq(%compilation%,1),$ne(%albumartist%,Various Artists)),$set(compilation,0))

This will remove the compilation marker from any album that isn't a collection of Various Artists.

If you want to know whether your album is a MusicBrainz compilation, use $inmulti(%releasetype%,compilation) (from Picard 1.0)

If you want to know whether your album has tracks by multiple primary artists, then use %_multiartist% (from Picard 1.3).