Mass modification of ID3 tags and MP3 filenames

I’m a puristic person and perfection maniac. Every of tens of thousands of MP3 files in my audiobook library must have a precisely filled up ID3 Tag and correct file name. For most operations on both tags and filenames, I’m using my own piece of software, written in Delphi years ago.

However, since it does not support operations on ID3Tagv2, I was forced to strip these tags manually, using “magical” key combination in Winamp (see below). But, for large set of files some batch program must be used. And here you’ll find short notice on some of them.

As previously mentioned, for most operations on ID3 tags and MP3 filenames, I’m using my own program, called pnMP3 or MP3 Toolbox. However, since I haven’t been coding in Delphi for years and uninstalled last version of it about five years ago, mentioned repository contains only source codes, which you must build up manually. In addition, this program also doesn’t support ID3Tagv2.

If you need to support this version of ID3 tag or don’t have time or proper tools to build my program from scratch, you need to take a look for something else.

For just removing entire ID3 tags in version one or two, you can use ID3Kill program (discontinued) or ID3 Tag Remover. Both are described in details in this blog post. Second one is also mentioned in this article.

If you need a fine tuned operation, of for example removing only certain strings from ID3 tags in many files (but keeping other values not touched), then this Software Recommendations answer brings you detailed information (with many screenshots) about MP3Tag program, which can do this work like a charm.

And finally, about my “magical” keyboard shortcuts combination, to quickly strip ID3Tagv2 from many files, that I was using in Winamp before I started using batch programs mentioned above. Well…

  1. Start Winamp, hit Alt + E to display Playlist Editor, if it isn’t already displayed.
  2. Press Ins and select folder containing your MP3 files. Click first item in the list to select it.
  3. Press Alt + 3 to display File Info dialog. Go to ID3v2 tab and uncheck Include ID3v2 tag in file checkbox.
  4. Click OK or press Enter to confirm change. Click second list item to select it.

Now, start pressing five keys in exactly the same order: Alt + 3, Space, Enter and Arrow Down over and over again, for each file, from which you want to strip ID3Tagv2.

“Magic” explained:

  1. Pressing Alt + 3 opens mentioned File Info dialog. After first, manual, operation it is already opened on ID3v2 tab.
  2. Hitting Space unchecks Include ID3v2 tag in file checkbox.
  3. Pressing Enter confirms change and closes File Info dialog and hitting Arrow Down navigates to the next item in the list.

And then, entire process may be executed again. With proper and long enough practice and experience you can achieve an impressing speed of files changed per minute. The only obstacle is, that this process works like a charm and quite quickly only, if all files have ID3Tagv2. Because, if anyone doesn’t, then hitting Space will actually add it.

One last notice. As some of you may know, ID3Tagv2, which is always added to file’s tail (which makes possible, that tag’s fields may have a variable length). Which is on contrary to ID3Tagv1 (which is added to file’s head and thus all tag’s fields must have precisely defined length). Due to this fact, removal of ID3Tagv2 requires entire file to be rewritten. What can be a glitch for short music files, especially those stored on quick SSD disks or pendrives, may become a real pain in the ass for huge 50-100 MB audiobook’s parts especially, when they’re stored on old, slow magnetic disks. Believe me or not, but I have seen Winamp freezing for even a minute, when stripping ID3Tagv2 from each long MP3 file on slow old HDD. And it turned out, that it was actually faster to copy entire colletion to SSD disk and perform ID3Tag removal from there.

This problem, of course, is the same no matter, whether you’re using Winamp and my “magical” way or whether you’re performing an automated tags removal using any of software mentioned in this article. All that matters in this case, is file size of each of processed files and speed of medium, where they’re stored.

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