What good are computers for home use? Until relatively recently you'd have to try very hard pursuasing your spouse that $1000 down the drain was anything more than a big boy's toy. Gaming? — get a playstation. Word processing? — get a typewritter. Thankfully for the husband the advent of digital photography and the MP3 revolution gives plenty of excuses to get a home computer!
Digital audio is so much more convenient than your old vinyl and CDs. You don't need to hire a small truck to move your audio collection when you move houses. Everything can fit in a single hard disk. With your average MP3 song weighing at under 10MB each, you could fit over 100,000 songs in a 1TB hard disk. If they are 5' songs then you'd need to spend a whole year 24/7 listening to music to go through all this collection. But it only takes a couple of weeks in rapidshare to accumulate it <g>
Such huge music collections require heavy duty tools for managing, searching and playing MP3 and other types of songs. Windows explorer has some information columns like Artist, Album and so on (how many you get will depend on which Windows you are using) but they are incomplete and unreliable. But thanks to the open architecture of windows shell all you need is a plug-in called AudioShell. This free shell extension allows browsing and editing of ID3 tags, that is extra information stored in an MP3 file that holds the song title, artist, year, etc, that your music player can use to show you details on the tune you are playing.
AudioShell is very simple to use, just install and you get a couple of extra pages in music files' property sheet for ID3 tag displaying and editing. Even more importantly for large music collections you get extra columns in detailed view mode (in windows explorer and xplorer˛) showing ID3 tags for all sorts of music formats like MP3, WMA, M4A, OGG, FLAC, APE and more. Just look at what's on offer after you install AudioShell:
Audio Title, Audio Album, Audio Artist, Audio Year, Audio Genre, Audio Comment, Audio Track #, Audio Composer, Audio Orig. Artist, Audio BPM, Audio Copyright, Audio URL, Audio Encoded By, Audio Lyrics, Audio Cover Art, Audio Rating, Audio Encoder, Audio Mood, Audio Disc #, Audio Album Artist, Audio Conductor, Audio ISRC #, Audio Catalog #, Audio Label, Audio Bitrate, Audio Duration, Audio Hz
That's definitely more than anyone would ever need, and many of them are usually empty; whoever ripped the tracks didn't bother to fill in the Composer information or what have you. So many columns are hard to manage too: you don't want to see all of them for all your folders, just for those that contain music files. That's where xplorer˛ column sets feature comes in handy (under Customize menu). You can save a music-related column set and activate it only when you need it, and then switch back to your normal detail columns like Name/Size/Modified.
Here is today's demo video with music ID3 tag column managing
ps. Audioshell doesn't install properly in normal user accounts. If you find you can't see the extra columns and ID3 property pages, browse the audioshell installation folder (e.g. C:\Program Files\AudioShell) and type in xplorer˛ addressbar:
> regsvr32 AudioShellExt.dll
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