How To Easily Edit Audio Tags On Linux

Collecting and purchasing music is never a difficult task. Sorting and organizing them are. How many times have you come across an audio file on your Music player with the name like 01.mp3 and there are no other information like the artist, album info, etc. Multiply that by the number of songs you have in your library and you know you are in for a headache. Today, I will show how you can easily manage your song’s name, structure and tags in the way you want it.

The application that i am using is EasyTag. It is my favorite application for managing audio tags, but it is not the only one available. You can also try Ex-Falso, Cowbell, MusicBrainz Picard, and more. Before you proceed to edit the audio tags, it is best to backup your music collection just in case the application mess up your library. I have no idea how times it has messed up my my music directory while finding the best tag editor out there.

Let’s go back to EasyTag. Install it with

sudo apt-get install easytag

EasyTag is pretty simple and straightforward to use. Actually, the exact terms would be “intuitive”, and with a lot of options. As you launch EasyTag, it will scan your hard disk for all your music files. You can narrow down the selection by specifying the Music folders on the left panel. The middle panel will display the list of files found earlier; while the right one is for the properties and the tags. Finally, the bottom part is the log, which will keep you updated about the operations.

easytag-interface

You can switch the left panel in order to see the artist/album view. For that, click on the button with a little guy on it:

easytag-artist_view

Let’s start with the most obvious part. You can edit the audio tags simply by selecting the file and modify its attributes on the right panel. When you are done, save the changes by hitting “Ctrl + s”. If you have a few files to edit, this method will be more appropriate.

easytag-edit

Notice that you can also associate pictures to the files, like an album cover, via the appropriate tab in the tag panel (but do not forget to hit the check box on the right while doing so).

There is something that I really appreciate when trying a new software: it is the respect of the shortcut conventions. For example, saving was the conventional “Ctrl + s” rather than any other hard-to-reach obnoxious shortcut. Same thing for the search function, use “Ctrl + f” to seek through your music.

easytag-search

Now, let’s hit the core of the EasyTag: the scanner. This tool can basically do three very useful things. The first: you can use it to edit the tags automatically from the file name. This is very useful if you like to have your files to be named with the rule “artist-album-title.mp3″ for example. In that case, using the appropriate mask, EasyTag will edit the tags itself. Here, the mask should be “%a-%b-%t”. As you can guess, “%a” stands for the artist, “%b” for the album, and “%t” for the title. You can find a detailed list of the masks in the paragraph 1.3.2 of the official documentation. For me, I use the simple “%t-%a” mask.

easytag-scanner_mask

The second usage is exactly the opposite – naming the files from the tags. The mask usage stays the same, but here, your audio tags are supposed to be correct and you want your files to be named after your convention. Notice that if you use a normal slash “/”, a sub-directory will be created. For example, I can rename and restructure by using the convention “artist/album/track number-title”.

easytag-scanner_renaming

And last but not least, you can edit the syntax of the tags with “Process Fields.” It can become particularly useful if you want to replace spaces by underscores, or put every tag in capital letter, or even systematically change a character to another one. The usage is fairly simple: select which tags can be affected, make your rules via the options and apply them.

On the side, you will find some goodies with EasyTag, like the possibility to launch your music player to play a file via the shortcut “Alt + x”. You can of course change the music player by default in the parameters window, along with a good hundred of other options. Among others, you can change the character format and encoding, define the path to your music collection, modify the programs behavior when quitting, etc.

Finally, you can use the Compact Disc Data Base (CDDB) to find matching tags. The shortcut for that is “Ctrl + b”. You can either perform an automatic search or a manual one with a mask. After you found the matching song, you can use the “Apply” button to modify the tags. However, you have to keep in mind that CDDB is good but not omniscient. For this article, I used some creative content music that CDDB was unable to find.

EasyTag is a simple program that responds to the users’ demands. I appreciate the CDDB sync feature (even if clueless in this example). As its name implies, it really makes the task of editing and managing the audio tags a child’s play. While there are other features like renaming from a text file, or creating a playlist, I find these options either too precise, like for a certain type of situation that rarely occurs, or too far away from the original goal. If I really want a playlist, I prefer to use Amarok rather than EasyTag. But I guess it cannot do any harm.

What do you think of EasyTag? Have you tried it? Or did you prefer an alternative? Why? Please let us know in the comments.

Image credit: Music tag set by BigStockPhoto