How to manage your digital music library

It doesn’t matter how big your music collection is if you can’t find the tunes you want. This in-depth guide will help.

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The free edition of the app can search for duplicated content based on standard attributes such as size, date, or a combination of both. It’ll do a reasonable job. The $29.95 Pro edition, however, includes an audio mode that analyzes and compares metadata—allowing you to find files with exact duplicate or even just similar tags. The title, artist and album tags can be used for your search, but also details such as bit rate, sample rate, AcoustID (that “audio fingerprint” I mentioned earlier) and more.

Duplicate clearer pro TERRY WALSH/TechHive

Duplicate Cleaner Pro offers a sophisticated audio mode for pinpointing duplicate tracks.

Once you’ve configured your search criteria, point Duplicate Cleaner to your Music folder in the Scan Location tag and let it check out your tunes. After a little while, you’ll be presented with a list of duplicates found.

Matching tags can obviously help to find tracks that might legitimately belong in multiple albums; for example, a track that appears in an artist’s “Best Of” compilation as well as on the original album.

One track two albums TERRY WALSH/TechHive

This track legitimately appears on two different albums by the same artist, so it can be left in place.

Audio mode filters TERRY WALSH/TechHive

Audio mode filters allow you to compare actual data within the file, not just the file name or tags.

However, enabling a filter to only use audio data sees Duplicate Cleaner calculate and compare file hashes, reducing false positives. Sure, you’ll still need to check the results, but it’s a major time saver when working with large music collections.

Here’s a great example of how Duplicate Cleaner’s Audio Mode can help. The hash check has identified two files that are named differently but are, in fact, exactly the same.

A true duplicate file TERRY WALSH/TechHive

A true duplicate is found.

Once you’ve isolated your duplicates, in the screenshot above you can see preset filters that allow you to easily select files to mark for deletion. Longest length, highest sample rate and highest bit rate are designed for audio duplicates, but you’ll find a range of alternatives available.

Not just deleting TERRY WALSH/TechHive

Spring cleaning isn’t just about deletion, you know.

Review the selection and, when you’re ready to proceed, click the File removal... button to see a summary of your options. Of course, sending those files to the Recycle bin is an obvious choice, but you can also safely move or copy the files to an alternative location, just in case. Other options include renaming the files or creating hard links to the files instead.

Select the option that works for you, and you’re done! The result? A potentially huge savings in storage capacity—almost 32GB in this example.

Mac user? Then be sure to check out Gemini 2. Priced at $19.95 (with a free, limited trial available), it offers many of the same features you’ll find in Duplicate Cleaner.

Upgrade and find missing cover art

We’re living in an ultra high-definition world, and while CD rippers of years passed could acquire cover art while extracting audio, they’re perhaps not the highest resolution files: 200x200-pixel JPEGs might look okay on a small screen, but drawing from Plex to display on a 65-inch TV? You’re going to need some bigger artwork. Apps like MusicBrainz Picard can download larger image files, but if you’re dissatisfied with the results, or you find that the MusicBrainz database is missing artwork for certain releases, you could try an alternative approach.

My go to is Album Art Downloader, a phenomenal application that will search a plethora of sources for the highest-resolution cover art.

Install the application and then enter the artist and album name for the cover art you wish to locate. More than 30 image sources from across the internet (including retailers, music archives, and streaming services) will be checked and the results presented by size. Where a size comes back as unknown, a single click will download it to your PC, check the size, and re-sort the list of images found.

Album art downloader TERRY WALSH/TechHive

Images are sourced at sizes of 1400x1400 pixels and beyond.

Save the image you select in the album folder as folder.jpg and you’re all set.

Whether you’re a serious music collector, or just want to have the richest audio experience available when enjoying your favorite tunes, then time spent managing your music library is a smart investment. Who knows, in future years, smart A.I. assistants might handle the minutiae of file and folder management on our behalf. But in the meantime, if your music library is going to seed, a little elbow grease plus a few handy tools can help you get back in control.

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