Get rid of ID3v2 tag from many files at once using Winamp

If you’re an “old-school” MP3 user, and ID3 Tag version 1 data is all you need to get happy, you may find a shit stick to version 2 of ID3 Tag a little bit annoying. If it is so, then the big question is, how to quickly get rid of ID3v2 data for many files? Many programs are allowing to do a massive ID3 tags (both versions) change/edit, but there aren’t many of them that allows to delete particular tag version out of many files massively. And here comes my little trick.

Load as many files as you want to Winamp Playlist. Make sure, that all of them has ID3Tag version 2, you want to get rid off (if not, do some files/folder organisation before). Click mouse on the first one to select it. Open ID3 tags editior window by either pressing Left Alt + 3. Click mouse or select ID3v2 tab with keyboard. Do nothing (yet) on this tab, just press OK. Then start this “magical combination”: Left Alt + 3, Space, Enter, Cursor Down. And again. And again. The more practice you get, the faster this combination you can fire.

And that’s the whole trick. What it does? Simply. Left Alt + 3 opens ID3 Tag editor. Spaceselects or deselects first active elements (which is checkbox deciding, whether to add or not to add version 2 tags to file — that is, why selecting ID3v2 tab first time was so essential). Since all files has ID3v2, you want to get rid off, this checkbox will be selected for each and everyone of them and hitting space will remove this selection. Rest is even simpler. Enter saves your choice to the file (getting rid of ID3v2 tag) and Cursor Down moves your selection to the next file. So, when a “magical” combination will be pressed again, you’ll change tags of another file.

If you’re using different media player, you may figure out your own combination. But I found the one in Winamp so fast (able to get rid of ID3v2 tags for around 1-3 files per second, if I get myself on highest turn), that I decided to left it installed on my computer, even though I’m not using it at all for playing files or any other play-related stuff.

Take into account, why changing ID3v1 tag involves only editing just a few bytes in your file, changing anything in ID3v2 tag (including getting rid of it) requires to rewrite whole file. This is because ID3v1 tag has a fixed size (and therfore, fixed position in MP3 file, I’m not sure, if not in the beginning of it – i.e. as a part of file header). So, changing it, even on old, slow MP3 players shouldn’t be a big problem.

But, ID3v2 tag is non-fixed-size (an ability to enter as many data as you want into it was advertised as one of it’s best features and one of the most important reasons for introducing it – why did I ever make use of this? :]). Therefore, a whole file must be rewritten in order to record any change (including, again a removal of it) in it. This is why, you hear a single “blip” in Winamp, when saving changes it MP3 currently being played. Winamp does the trick by pausing play, remembering position, closing file, rewriting it including your changes, reopening, moving to remembered position and restarting the play. But even on fast computers, the whole process can take up to one second, so “blip” is unavoidable. But, when editing ID3v2 tags on old, slow MP3 players / pendrives, this could be a real horror. So, take it into account and consider copying files to hard drive before doing tag’s changes. For some reasons, in many situation, this could be faster then direct editing on you player.

What you also need to know here, is that Winamp has not quite intelligent keyboard shortcuts. Especially when, you’re frequently using playlist or are quickly editing ID3 tags for many files using Winamp Playlist. Or doing a massive ID3v2 tag-get-rid-of, with above receipe. Why?

Left Alt + 3 used in above mentioned technique is just too close (in my opinion) to Left Alt + W, which hides / shows main window. And Ctrl + A, which is used in playlist to select all files, it is also used in main window to set / unset “Always on top” option for this window. This could get a little bit annoying especially in combination with Left Alt + 3 missed to be Left Alt + @. Because, after this combination, your main Winamp window will disappear, and when when you press it again, it’ll come back, but focus will remain on main window and therefore will not switch back to playlist.

So, if it was your last file on the list being edited, following Ctrl + A will not select all files on the list. Instead it will activate “Always on” option for main window. You may think that there are to many ifs in this description and such situation has little or no chance to become. Well… you might be right, but I was wondering, why the heck I have Winamp always on top so many times in the past, that I would not spend a dime on betting on chances for described situation to become real! :]

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