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Ask the iTunes Guy: Glitchy tracks, numbers game, and too-large libraries

Kirk McElhearn | April 21, 2014
You know the one where you get a track from iTunes Match and it's not perfect? How about the one where you've just got too much stuff in your iTunes library and it slows iTunes down to a crawl? Or that thing where there are numbers at the beginnings of track names and you'd really like to get rid of them? Well, read on to find out how to fix these problems.

If I understand correctly, you have albums where the track names are like this (this is Miles Davis's Kind of Blue):

1 So What2 Freddie Freeloader3 Blue in Green4 All Blues5 Flamenco Sketches

Some downloads include track numbers in the name tags. This is generally only useful with older music players that don't correctly read Track Number tags. You'll need to do two things to fix this, both of which use AppleScripts.

First, select an album, with the tracks in the correct order. Run Doug Adams' Albumize Selection (free; donation requested) AppleScript. This will set the Track Number tags in the order of the tracks. So, the first track will become Track 1 of 1, the second Track 1 of 2, and so on. This will ensure that when you play an album, iTunes knows the correct order.

Next, with the same tracks selected, run the Remove n Characters from Front or Back AppleScript. Choose to remove 2 characters from the front of the Name tag: that's the number, and the space. If there are other characters, such as a dash or a colon, remove them as well. If you have more than nine tracks, you may need to run the script twice — once for the single-digit track numbers and a second time for the double-digit numbers. Sometimes track numbers are noted as 01, 02, etc. In this case, there are the same number of digits for each track number.

Library too large

Q: My iTunes library is just shy of 100,000 tracks. I have a large collection of audiobooks and educational courses, along with a lot of music. I'm looking for suggestions on how to manage a library of this size. Searching is slow. Changes to playlists or changing options, such as "Remember playback position" is slow. Do you have any suggestions on how to work with a library of this size?

The short answer is that you should not have a library that large. iTunes gets very sluggish over about 30 to 50,000 tracks. I've split some of my music into a second library, and I use it as a sort of archive for things I don't listen to any more. I shunt music back and forth between the two as necessary.

To do this, open iTunes and immediately press the Option key. You'll see a dialog asking you to choose a library or to create a library.

Create a new library with any name you want and iTunes will show you a blank library.

To move music to this library, you'll need to get it out of the first library as there's no direct way to transfer music from one library to another in iTunes. What I do is create a folder somewhere, open it, then select tracks I want to move from iTunes and drag them to the folder. Check that all the files have moved — compare the number of tracks selected in iTunes with the number you've moved to the folder — then delete them in iTunes. Quit iTunes, launch it again and choose the other library, and then drag all the tracks into the iTunes window.


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