Working with Tags at the Album / Folder Level

I maintain 'tags' at the album level (e.g., I rank albums). Tags at this level are used to manage albums, rather than individual mp3's within an album. I prefer this over having to maintain album-level tags at the episode level, which is tedious and makes for long backups. For example I have album tags that indicate finished albums (I've already listened to all the podcasts), albums that should be listened to in a set order (e.g., university lectures), categories of albums (e.g., lectures v. entertainment podcasts), albums with episode numbers (i.e., to check for gaps), different albums that sometimes download the same episodes (e.g., TEDTalks-audio and TEDTalks-video), etc.

I maintain album tags by creating tiny audio files named for each album folder (1 album per folder). I then add album tags to these tiny audio files using Mp3tag.

You can display and sort some of the tags for these tiny audio files in Windows Explorer (e.g., Album Title, Comments, Artist, Genre). I bastardized these tags for my purposes (e.g., comments=ranking, genre=drive-path of album folder), but only for the tiny audio files.

I keep all these tiny audio files in a single folder (AlbumTags).

Here's what I can do with these tiny audio files:

  • From Windows, view, sort and select based on those tags viewable in Windows Explorer (e.g., Album Title, Comments)
  • From Mp3tag, view & sort & filter by tiny file complete tag listings (e.g, Categories)
  • Right-click a tiny audio file 'Edit ID-Tag' (dBpoweramp) to update tags for an individual album
  • From Windows, right-click >> Send To a tiny file to open its corresponding album folder (see notes)
  • From Mp3tag, right-click >> Tools >> 'Open Related Album' to open a tiny file's corresponding album folder (see notes)
  • From Mp3tag, load corresponding album folders based on a selection of tiny files

    Load selected AlbumTags tiny files into Mp3tag (very fast)
    Further filter your selection of tiny files using other tags as needed (e.g., Finished=N)
    Right-click >> Tools >> 'Load Mp3Tag with Corresponding Album Folders' (see notes)

  • From Mp3tag, load corresponding tiny files from a selection of episodes (it's kinda fun for a while going back and forth between the album episodes and the tiny files using keyboard shortcut keys)

What this means is I can queue up episodes for my IPOD based on both album tags and episode tags. For example I created an Export Config file that automatically selects new episodes for copying to my IPOD. It selects episodes up to a custom number of total seconds for each album and a custom number of total seconds for each ranking. Selection takes into account episodes already on the IPOD (topping off albums to their custom lengths so-to-speak). It selects randomized episodes for albums that can be listened to in any order, and ordered episodes for ordered albums such as University lectures. This is an illustration of the capabilities you can build using tiny audio files tagged for albums.

I use Windows/XP and Rockbox on an IPOD mini (Rockbox uses a FAT file structure, fully compatible with Windows/XP, so copy and paste of my selected files is quite straightforward).



  1. Mp3tag >> Option >> Tools >> Name: 'Open Related Album in Explorer' Path: C:\WINDOWS\explorer.exe Parameter: /root, "%genre%%_filename%" (recall I have bastardized genre for use as drive-path and my tiny audio file has %filename% = the directory name of the album folder)
  2. Mp3tag >> Option >> Tools >> Name: 'Load Mp3Tag with Corresponding Album Folders' Path: C:\Program Files\Mp3tag\Mp3tag.exe Parameter: "%genre%%_filename% (don't forget you can use keyboard shortcut keys with Mp3tag tools)
  3. For Windows right-click 'Send To' functionality I created a Windows Batch file with C:\WINDOWS\explorer.exe "c:\itunes\Podcasts\%~n1". Be nice if someone could suggest an approach with less movement.
  4. Of course this approach means you must keep the tiny audio files synchronized with the album folders (e.g., adding or renaming a tiny file when you add or rename a folder). Every once in a while I create temporary shortcuts (Shortcuts.exe) to the album folders using the tags contained in the tiny files, and then use Shortcuts Man (Shman.exe) to look for broken links. Use SearchMyFiles in Summary Mode to find album folders that are near empty (probably meaning iTunes has switched the directory for one of your podcast subscriptions and you need to create a new / changed tiny file).
  5. Creating a blank tiny .mp3 can be difficult if you're not used to it. One's attached. To get started create a batch file that copies this file using your album folder names.

_BlankAlbumTag.mp3 (2.82 KB)

Hmm, I do it this way ... on the DOS commandline ...>dummy.mp3

... or with Mp3tag Export ...