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How to change music ID3 tags in OS X – Or how to get started with Picard Tagger

All of my music is on a local server, which makes it difficult to re-tag songs with the correct data using only the standard mac os x programs (iTunes..). I’ve tried using Songbird with the directory browser plug-in (slow), and an unstable version of amarok – but the quickest/most accurate option was to use MusicBrainz. SongBird HAS a plug-in that is in development, but when I tried installing it today, I kept getting errors that prevented the install. When that plug-in is working I would much rather use it, so that I can do everything in one place.

Since it is not working now, I went over to the musicbrainz website and downloaded Picard Tagger
MusicBrainz is a database of music album “dna” that you can use to compare your songs against, and confirm that you have the correct artist, album, song, track number etc; (these are called ID3 tags) for your songs and/or albums. It also has a few optional plugins that make it even more useful. The plugins are difficult to install (compared to other apps like Firefox or Songbird) – but worth it. I explain how to install them later.

This is a (seemingly small) large reason I prefer Windows for music – Winamp with the AlbumList plug-in. Can’t beat that… It’s very fast at loading large libraries – whereas songbird’s directory browser is begrudgingly slow at it.

Anyways, Here is a quick video how-to that will explain MusicBrainz Picard Tagger much better than I can with words.


Next I noticed that there was album art functionality in Picard, but could only get it to send me to the appropriate page on Amazon in a browser. This was confusing at first – but here’s what you have to do to get it working:

  1. Download the Cover Art Downloader Plugin. (to the desktop – or wherever you will remember)
  2. Open the “Terminal” application (hit cmd+space to bring up spotlight search, and type in terminal – or you can find it in applications/utilities/ through the Finder)
  3. Type the following code into Terminal, hitting enter after each line (this will create some hidden folders where Picard looks for plug-in files):
  4. mkdir .config
    cd .config
    mkdir MusicBrainz
    cd MusicBrainz
    mkdir Picard
    cd Picard
    mkdir plugins
    cd plugins

  5. Now quit Terminal (cmd+Q) and switch (cmd+tab) to the Finder
  6. On the menu bar at the top of the screen you will see “Finder File Edit View Go Window Help” – click on Go, and then choose “Go To Folder” from the drop-down menu (you could also press shift+cmd+G on the keyboard)
  7. Now paste the following into the Go To Folder box that popped up:
  8. This will open up the (hidden) folder where you need to put the plug-in – Drag the file that you downloaded into this folder. (from the desktop or wherever you thought you would remember – remember?)
  9. Now (quit and restart if it’s open currently) open MusicBrainz Picard Tagger again and in the menu bar at the top of the screen choose “MusicBrainz Picard” and select “Preferences”
  10. In the left column, click on “Plugins” – and then click the checkbox next to the Cover Art Downloader option and hit “Ok”
  11. Restart MusicBrainz once more and you’re all set!

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Posted by on May 12, 2009 in Music, OSX


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