Here’s a couple of things about iTunes that I’ve finally got round to sorting out..

Compilation Albums

iTunes Compilation Albums
By default, iTunes was showing an album cover (as if it were a complete album) for each artist listed on a compilation album.
The first is the way that “compilation albums” appear by default if the tracks are by different artists. For example, I have an album called “Beginner’s Guide to World Music”. There are lots of different musicians on the album and iTunes shows each artist as a separate album (see illustration). This isn’t what I want. It’s one album and I want it displayed as such. (It’s even worse with a 3-disc album of various artists called Atlantic Soul!)

Well, the answer is actually included in iTunes but hidden a bit deep. What you need to do is as follows:

  • Click on the “Music” option in the sidebar.
  • Click on the “Albums” option to order the music by Album.
  • Ensure that the listing shows all of the entries for the compilation album consecutively. This is achieved by clicking on the “View” command and then “Show View Options”. This opens up a small window in which you can select the “sort by” option as “title”. Then close that small window.
  • Scroll through the list of albums until you reach a compilation album.
  • Select all the occurences of the album. The easiest way is to depress the Command key and then click on each occurrence if you are using a Mac or depress the Control key and then click on each occurrence if using a PC.
  • Right-click on any selected title and then left-click on the “Get Info” option.
  • Click on the “Options” tab, and then click on the “no” answer next to “part of a compilation” in order to change it to “yes”.
  • Click on “OK”.
  • You may need to scroll up and down through the list to get iTunes to refresh the listing. It should then show just a single entry for the entire compilation album.

Album Lists

Vinyl Album Covers
Remember when this was the only filing system we had?
If, like me, you wander into music shops to see if there are any bargains that you just can’t ignore, then you might also have the problem of staring at a CD cover, knowing it’s familiar, but just not knowing whether you’ve already got it. You’d think it would be easy to produce a list of albums in iTunes that you could carry around on a tablet or smarthpone or even to print out.

Well, you can, but for some reason Apple don’t make this possibility as obvious as they might. There’s also quite a big difference between doing this in iTunes on a Mac and doing it on a PC. So, here goes:

Producing an Album List Using a Mac

  • Select “Music” in the sidebar by clicking on it.
  • Ensure (if desired) that albums are sorted by artist by clicking on the “View” command and then clicking on “Show View Options”. Then select “Sort by artist”. Then close the “View options” box.
  • Click on the “File” command and then “Print”.
  • The options box that then opens allows you to choose a list of all songs or all albums.
  • Then choose to print either “Songs by Album” or “List of Albums”.
  • Click on “Print”.
  • You can then choose which printer to use or click on the “pdf” option in the bottom lefthand corner. If you choose to create a pdf file then you can, of course, save it in a cloud location such as Dropbox, Google Docs etc so that the file is available on your smartphone on a Saturday morning when you have that sudden senior moment in Fopp or HMV.

Producing an Album List Using a PC

Cartoon of a long list

  • Right-click on the “Music” item in the sidebar.
  • Left-click on “Export” (the only option in the list).
  • Give the file a name and, if necessary, select the appropriate folder in which the file will be created.
  • This has produced a “text” file. It can be opened by many programs (such as “Word”) but you’ll just see a load of text all crammed together. You can, however, get a useful view of it if you have Excel (spreadsheet program). If you have Excel, open it and then open the file created above. You will need to ask Excel to show all files in the chosen folder as it would not otherwise show your text file (whose name ends with “.txt”) as a file that it thinks it can open.
  • When Excel loads the “import wizard”, just click “next” until you reach “finish”. No items in the wizard need changing.
  • The good news is that your music data will be displayed as a spreadsheet so that you can, for instance, sort it by different columns (eg Artist Name, or Album Name).
  • The bad news is that this listing shows one row (line) for every track of every album and not just one line for each album. Depending on what you want to do with the list this may be a good or bad thing. With Excel 2010 just go to the “remove duplicates data” option on the “Data” tab and select the “album” column. I seem to remember that removing duplicates is also available on earlier versions of Excel but it’s not quite so straightforward.

If you read the blog last week (about creating lists of instructions), you’ll probably now see what I was getting at!

(Last updated 08/09/2023)