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Catalog your CD collection using iTunes Apps
Have you ever wanted to catalog your CD collection in a searchable database but didn't want to shell out the $30 to $40 some cataloging apps cost? You don't have to spend a cent. Everything you need is already on your Mac.

Begin by creating a destination folder with a clever name. I came up with 'CD Collection.'

Get a stack of your CD's and open iTunes. Put a CD into your drive. If the contents of the CD don't appear as a playlist in iTunes, click on 'Advanced' and select 'Get Track Names.' You need to be online and iTunes should then get the track information from Gracenotes.

Next, click Edit » Select All. Right Click in the blue highlighted area and select 'Copy.' Open TextEdit and right click in the white area. Select 'Paste.' Close TextEdit and save the file with the artist's name followed by the album name, like this:

Various Artists_My Big Mix 2

Move the text file you've just created to your CD Collection folder and repeat this process with each CD you want to catalog.

All of your CD's will now be organized alphabetically by artist; and alphabetically by title within that artist's grouping.

To find a particular song, or all songs by a particular artist, use Spotlight to search through your CD Collection folder and display all instances of that song title, a word contained in a song title, or the artist you want. This can come in handy if, for example, you've just returned from a ski trip and want to find music to accompany a slideshow in iPhoto. You could search for keywords like winter, snow, ski; and such to come up with a number of possible sound tracks to use.

Since your CD Collection folder has alphabetized your CD's by artist name; it's also easy for you to physically organize your CD collection alphabetically on a storage shelf. Just remember to keep your database current by adding new CD's as you buy or burn them.

[crarko adds: I tested this, and it works as described. This is a bit more work than using one of the cataloging programs, but does have the virtue of being free.]
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Catalog your CD collection using iTunes | 22 comments | Create New Account
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Catalog your CD collection using iTunes
Authored by: casperghst42 on Apr 20, '11 08:45:40AM

If one have a MySQL running then this might be something: http://www.math.columbia.edu/~bayer/Python/iTunes/iTunes.html.

I'm using it, paired with a website which contains a search box. Slightly more elaborate than the hint, but probably easier to maintain.



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Catalog your CD collection using iTunes
Authored by: casperghst42 on Apr 20, '11 08:48:11AM

Actually the proper link is: http://www.math.columbia.edu/~bayer/Python/iTunes/iTunes.html



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Catalog your CD collection using iTunes
Authored by: raphaeladidas on Apr 20, '11 08:58:57AM

People still have CD collections?

Seems to me like it'd be easier just to rip your CDs and let iTunes be your searchable database. Then you can sell your CD collection (that's what I did).



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Catalog your CD collection using iTunes
Authored by: Levito on Apr 20, '11 09:47:37AM

Or you could step out of the 20th century and convert that CD to mp3s.



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Converting to mp3?
Authored by: wgscott on Apr 22, '11 09:07:05AM

Or, far better, Apple Lossless

Then you have nothing to lose, so to speak.

Edited on Apr 22, '11 09:07:54AM by wgscott



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Converting to mp3?
Authored by: TonyT on Apr 23, '11 11:02:09AM

Better still.... FLAC



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Catalog your CD collection using iTunes
Authored by: nigelgoodman on Apr 20, '11 09:51:34AM

I understand what this is trying to achieve, but one must not forget that iTunes IS a database. That is its primary purpose. If your CDs are in iTunes you can do all sorts of searching and sorting.

Personally I think that this major functionality of iTunes is forgotten by all of its distractors. Bloated and overladen with functions maybe, but it is a great, and very useful, database of your music.

Edited on Apr 20, '11 09:54:45AM by nigelgoodman



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At the risk of sounding cheeky…
Authored by: rossr on Apr 20, '11 10:14:28AM

…people still keep physical CDs? :P



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At the risk of sounding cheeky…
Authored by: Dolf on Apr 25, '11 08:34:30AM

Yes I do. I even buy them instead of, erm, well you know.



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Catalog your CD collection using iTunes
Authored by: S.Patton on Apr 20, '11 10:43:47AM

This can be done in literally a minute in Excel by 'select all' & copy in the iTunes main music window. Paste data into a workbook page for complete data manipulation. Of course, one can change what data is pasted in by first customizing the data columns that appear in your iTunes window.



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Catalog your CD collection using iTunes
Authored by: TonyT on Apr 23, '11 11:06:22AM

Nice. Now this should be a hint.



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Catalog your CD collection using iTunes
Authored by: gabester on Apr 20, '11 10:57:08AM

This is an interesting approach, but as previous commenters have noted, iTunes already is a database... and if you're going to take the time to insert all of your CDs you might as well spend the extra couple minutes per disc to RIP them to Apple Lossless...

Then you can access all the music on those CDs right from within iTunes - and do really useful things like play it back on the computer, over your wireless network to another device with home sharing, or even stream to the internet... rather than having to hunt around for the jewel box and insert the physical disc into a CD player.

Mind you, iTunes has become somewhat bloated such that accessing your music from CD in this fashion won't be as quick as the method outlined in the original hint (which I'm positive could also be automated in several different ways) but it would be a heck of a lot more useful.
g=



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Please ignore this comment...
Authored by: mdwittenberg on Apr 20, '11 11:43:38AM

Did you know you can analyze disk usage without even opening up a 3rd party application?

Simply open Finder and navigate to the folder or hard drive you wish to analyze. Then, one by one, select each file and use "Get Info" to view the file size and write this value into a new Text Edit document.

: dodgy :



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Please ignore this comment...
Authored by: everkleer80 on Apr 21, '11 06:48:33PM

Heh, don't laugh... I used to do this before I had (or even realized there were) utilities to do this! I actually still do this occasionally on my Windows machine at work when I want to find what's eating my disk space!



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Please ignore this comment...
Authored by: mdwittenberg on Apr 22, '11 09:12:26AM

My apologies; I did not mean to offend ;)

FYI there are several functional and free disk usage tools out available.
Mac:
-Disk Inventory X
-OmniDiskSweeper
Windows:
-WinDirStat



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Please ignore this comment...
Authored by: everkleer80 on Apr 22, '11 09:33:17AM

You did not offend - I know this is the poor man's way of doing it (well maybe poor isn't the right word since there's free alternatives.) Now I use GrandPerspective on all my Macs, but I still stick with the manual method at work - it keeps me from getting too comfortable using Windows!



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Catalog your CD collection using iTunes
Authored by: Peganthyrus on Apr 20, '11 12:19:00PM

I cataloged my CD collection with iTunes seven years ago by ripping it all. I was very glad for this when my hard drive was in the 10% of my possessions that were not destroyed in a hurricane.

I guess this works if you want to keep them all around or if you have an order of magnitude more CDs than you have room for on your hard drive. Or a really slow computer that takes forever to encode the music. Otherwise it seems like a lot more work than just ripping it.

Edited on Apr 20, '11 12:24:22PM by Peganthyrus



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Catalog your CD collection using iTunes
Authored by: everkleer80 on Apr 20, '11 01:12:42PM
I guess this works if you want to keep them all around or if you have an order of magnitude more CDs than you have room for on your hard drive. Or a really slow computer that takes forever to encode the music. Otherwise it seems like a lot more work than just ripping it.

Oh, I didn't even realize until I saw this comment that the hint is not about ripping cds to your computer; I assumed that the OP was ripping them and thought this hint was a joke making fun of the recent submissions that some people are complaining 'are not hints.'

So I guess this is a hint, if for some reason you want to store just the titles/playlist info from your cds, but why on earth wouldn't you rip them? A. Hard drives are cheap (1TB < $100), and B. if you have enough CDs that they won't fit on your computer, then this method of cataloging them will be a nightmare, and finding the individual cds you want once you've selected a song won't be too easy either.



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Another method
Authored by: cmac6126 on Apr 20, '11 01:46:03PM

I have a large CD collection and started ripping them back in the iTunes 1.0 days, although I have them all in iTunes now.
I like rummaging through second hand stores for discs and sometimes can't remember if I already own a particular disc or not, which has resulted in a few duplicate buys over the years. I needed a way to have a 'portable' CD Catalog to prevent this.

I came up with a method where I use the iTunes 'Export Library > Plain Text' command to create a tab separated list of all discs/tunes in my collection. A bit of massaging the file in a spreadsheet app (or with awk) and I have a list of all the discs I have.

I used to then load this onto my iPod (1st gen!) as a contacts note file for use when I was at a store. Notes have rather small limits on the length though so I'd have to split it into many contacts which was a pain, but at least I had a list.

When I got the first iPhone I realised there was better way (I have more ripped music than will fit in any iPhones iPod app, so that's still out)

I now take that exported text file and through a combo of a shell script that runs UNIX awk, sort, uniq and cat commands I get an html table formatted file that gets uploaded to the web. I can access that via Mobile Safari for perusal while on-the-go, and since iOS 4.2 I can also use the 'Find on this Page' functionality to do a search. I run the script one a week or so to make sure it's upto date.

Of course I just need the discs title/artist/year info, but there's no reason you couldn't extract other info (ie song titles, times etc). It's all contained in that 'Export Library' output. I did try to use the XML export initially, but found it simpler to use the text for my purposes. If you were trying to get the info into another database the XML could be the best way to go with the data loader.

Until I read this hint I'd never thought that someone else might find that useful too. If anyone's interested I could supply my shell script(s) and try to find some time to write it up properly.

I also been experimenting lately with exporting the text from long webpage articles I don't have time to read to the ePub format where I load them (via iDisk) into iBooks for reading later on offline (like on a plane). This might also be a nice way to get that list portable with me as well (2nd hand CD stores are often in basements where 3G connections are flakey so I need to make sure the page is loaded before I descend).



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Catalog your CD collection using iTunes
Authored by: BobMinnesotan on Apr 21, '11 01:29:05AM

The above comments raise valid points - from one point of view. However, it's important to remember that all Mac owners may not be in the same situation as those who commented. I have a 40 GB hard drive and; with my own CD collection and those discs I've inherited from relatives; now own over 800 CDs. Ripping all of them to iTunes would be an impractical use of limited available HD space and; for those of us living on a small fixed income; buying an external drive at any price would be an extravagance. I posted this tip as an alternative for those readers who don't have the luxury of ripping their entire CD collection into iTunes.

Regarding another concern addressed by those commenting; if you organize your CDs on a shelf in the order they appear in the CD Collection folder,as described, finding the jewel case takes only a matter of seconds. It's not the hassle envisioned by some readers.



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Catalog your CD collection using iTunes
Authored by: TonyT on Apr 23, '11 12:40:25PM

It's a shame that all that music is trapped on CD's. For less than $60 you can get a 100g external Hard Drive that will hold over 1,000 CD's at 128kbps.
Better yet, for less than $100, you can get a 320g external Hard Drive and rip your Music to a FLAC format. That way you will have your Music stored in full quality that you can then easily convert later to any format you want.



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Delicious Library...
Authored by: dzurn on Apr 21, '11 09:24:14AM
Delicious Library 2 ($25) will do this automatically, and update itself from iTunes:
iTunes shelves automatically read in iTunes collection
  • iTunes shelves automatically stay in sync with iTunes media — albums, TV shows, movies, & audiobooks
  • Editing a song's info in iTunes updates it in Delicious Library 2 seconds later
  • Individual songs from iTunes are automatically grouped into albums for display in Delicious Library 2 (iTunes 7 copied this).
  • Delicious Library 2 is the easiest way to publish your iTunes collection to the web
---
Madness takes its toll.
Please have exact change.


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