Earlier we talked about ripping and encoding CDs; here we will show you how to make sure these files are properly marked up. We will do this with the EasyTAG program.
But first, what are tags? ID3 tags are small pieces of text stored inside the MP3 file itself. These tags allow a music player or portable device to show you the artist, album, song title, and even artwork. All this information is stored in MP3. Without tags, you will see the following:
With tags, you’ll see something completely different.
Download Windows Installer to install EasyTAG on Windows. EasyTAG is a powerful Linux application that tags MP3, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC and AAC files. To install it on Debian or Ubuntu (or their derivatives), simply enter the following into a terminal window:
sudo apt-get install easytag
If you will be using EasyTAG to edit AAC tags, you will need to install the program version using this command:
sudo apt-get install easytag-aac
Use EasyTAG to edit ID3 tags
Now that EasyTAG is installed, let’s open it up.
You will see a huge window with a lot of different options, which, frankly, can seem a little intimidating.
Let’s take a look at some of the different parts of the interface to try and find out what EasyTAG is capable of. Hopefully, when we do this, its power will become evident.
The first section we’ll highlight is the file browser. Here we go to the folder that stores our music to be tagged.
Click on a folder in the file browser and in the next panel you will see all the music files from that folder that EasyTAG can edit.
Some of them may be red. This means that EasyTAG has scanned them and either found errors or will alert you to changes that need to be saved. Some files will be red for a different reason; this is because the version of the ID3 standard they are using is older than the version that EasyTAG uses, and since EasyTAG updates all “old” versions to the newest, it will inform you of this change.
You can edit tag information for individual files, or for all files at once (by clicking a single song or selecting all of them). When you do this, you will notice that certain information appears in various fields in the tags panel on the right.
In this image, some of the tags are already filled in. If they are incorrect or incorrect information, we can simply change it. In addition, there is a small checkbox next to each field. After you fill in a field, clicking on that field tells EasyTAG that the change should be applied to all currently selected files. This is a great time saver when filling out artist, album, year, genre, and other general information, but obviously shouldn’t be used when filling out the title field!
You will also notice a tab at the top of the image above called Pictures. Click on it and you can add album art to your MP3 files.
Just drag the image (downloaded from Google Image Search, Amazon, or wherever you find the cover image) into the window, or select it by clicking the plus sign at the bottom. To remove a cover art already embedded in MP3, click on the red X. Again, to apply this to all MP3 files from the same album, make sure all your files are selected, add cover art, then check the box in the little square.
Automatic tag editing
There are two other ways (both fast and fairly automated) for editing tag information. First, you can configure EasyTAG to scan online metadata databases.
With this feature, EasyTAG scans your files and checks the online databases for matches. You can also search manually if your fileset is not displayed. When you find the correct entry, click the Apply button and EasyTAG will fill in the fields for you.
Another automated method is great for cases where your MP3 files have the same name but are tagged incorrectly. If you have a folder full of MP3 files from the same album, it makes sense to have a folder with the same name as the album. And this folder can be inside another folder using the artist name. And the MP3 files themselves can be named by the track number and song title in the file name, for example:
In this case, select the Fill Tag (s) option from the Scanner menu and you will see this little window.
Just tell EasyTAG the template your files and folders are using, and based on this information (folder and file names), it will substitute the correct tags based on the template. You can also do the opposite: if your files are properly tagged but have inconsistent names, you can configure EasyTAG to rename files based on tags.
EasyTAG can do much more. This is a large program with many features (and a potentially complex learning curve), but more than worth the effort. If you are a Linux user who needs a powerful music tagging tool, EasyTAG is one of the best, if not the best tool.