Eliminating Library Duplicates

iTunes Tips
You probably have duplicate songs in your library. This often occurs when you have an album but also a single related to it, or a song also appears on a compilation.

Why is this bad? Firstly, they take up space. Secondly, because the same song exists as two or more separate files, they are treated as entirely different songs. Playcounts are separately kept. I find this, plus the multiple files, confusing.

Here's my handling:

I consider the album senior to singles and compilations.

If I own an album and a related single, I rip the album in its entirety, then all songs from the single minus duplicates. If I own a single only, I rip all songs. If I then buy the album, I retag the duplicate song from the single as the one from the album. I do this to preserve the playcount and rating.

I have a set of compilations, many songs of which I also own on albums. After deleting the compilation duplicates, I had removed so many that the compilation structure was gone. I resolved this by setting up playlists for each of the 48 CDs and then adding all the songs that belong on them. Now I can play one of these compilation CDs and get all the songs in the correct order. I recommend this if you have a number of compilations as above.

You can save a lot of space by doing the above. I have asked Apple to implement a better solution: aliases. I want to be able to create an alias of a song and tag it independently of the original. That way, I could have the original "Song X" ripped from the album "Album X", then create an alias of it for "Single X". The alias would have different album, track and disc number and album art tags, but would have the same playcount, rating and date played. No matter if I played the song from the album or the single, this data would remain constant, which makes sense, as it's the same song.

by japester on Feb 03 | 7:00 am


Sorry I'm still quite new to iTunes but is there some way that I can keep my album integrity i.e. keep tracks under album listings but keep my ratings, play counts the same for a particular song no matter how many duplicates I have?

If I use get info to point every occurrence of a song to the same file will play count, ratings etc be shared?

Any help would be appreciated because I have loads of duplicate tracks but I don't want to delete them because I still want to be able to play my compilation albums in full.


by chris on Mar 24 | 8:44 am

No. That's why I asked Apple to implement an alias feature like I said above.

At the moment, you have two choices:

1. Keep all your duplicates. Each will be treated separately and will therefore have individual play counts and ratings. The big disadvantage is the large amount of space that duplicates take up, however this is not a problem if you have a large iPod, a small library, or are not using a portable device.

2. Delete duplicates and use standard playlists to bring together album tracks and the duplicates. In this way, duplicate tracks will retain the same play count and rating as it's physically the same file.

It's all in the article. As I tell everyone, tell Apple about your feature wishes. The more requests for a feature or bug fix, the more likely it will occur.

by japester on Mar 24 | 3:18 pm

OK thanks. I thought perhaps that your comment about retagging meant that you had found a cunning solution to this problem. I agree that alias' would be the best solution.

I am lucky enough to own the 40 Gig version of the iPod so space is not (yet) a problem. The problem is smart playlists which don't work as expected when you have lots of copies of the same song.

As a Windows user I am so far incredibly impressed with Apple and the iPod in particular - I'm sure it won't be long before we see a solution to this and the combining of AND's and OR's (in smart playlists) problem

by chris on Mar 25 | 9:49 am

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