How to Organize Your Music

Save the music (literally!). Here’s how to organize your online collection without missing a beat.

1. Consolidate artists

It's great to browse your library by artist name, but many albums may list guest appearances too. Your search for, say, Justin Timberlake might find several iterations of his name: “Justin Timberlake," “Justin Timberlake featuring Timbaland," and so on. To remedy this, highlight these featured artists, and cut and paste the information into the song title.

2. Combine genres
Do you really need to differentiate between alternative, alternative & punk, punk, rock, alternative punk, and punk rock? Just keep it simple. Highlight all of the corresponding files, go to “Get Info" under the file menu, and change the genre field to rock.

3. Pick your favorites
Don't fill up your library with music that you don't like. We all have albums that we consider masterpieces from the first track to the last, but you don't need to import everything off of that Spin Doctors album you still have lying around. Import only your favorite tunes and forget about the rest of them—your hard drive will thank you for it.

4. Convert to AAC
All songs are not created equal: MP3 files are significantly bigger than AAC (or M4A) files. iTunes favors AAC, so when you import a CD (or buy it from iTunes) the songs are compressed to AAC. If you download something from a website, chances are, it's an MP3 or an even bigger MPEG file (highlight a track and click “Get Info" to check its format). To save space, highlight the tracks, click “Advanced" and select “Covert Selection to AAC." Audiophiles claim you lose sound quality when you convert files, but the difference is hardly noticeable.

5. Bring back the art
Album artwork is one of the reasons we still cherish our CDs, and you don't have to lose this in the digital world. Typically, updated versions of iTunes will automatically add album artwork to your library. If it can't locate it, check for it yourself on AllMusic.com. These pictures are the perfect size to simply click and drag into the album artwork space of a selected iTunes song.

6. Back it up
We've all heard the horror stories about hard drives crashing. Do yourself a favor and back up your music on an external hard drive.

Tip:

Get one with at least 100 gigs (needs to be more than your MP3 player can hold).

Thanks to Ken Colburn, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Data Doctors, a data storage and recovery service based out of Arizona.