[xplorer˛] — MP3 renaming made easy
home » blog » 15 April 2007
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Once upon a time, music on the go meant audio tapes (remember those?) and a walkman. But this is the 21st century and people have gadgets like the iPod and other MP3 players (even musical smartphones). So how do we put songs from our huge CD collection into one of these players? Easy, we use a PC and a ripping program to extract the audio tracks from the CD and convert them to size-efficient MP3s, then copy the files to the portable device.

The program I use is dBpoweramp, I guess for no other reason than it was recommended to me a long time ago and I got used to its simplicity. Just slide the CD into the PC, then dBpoweramp reads the tracks, fetches their name from an online database and with one click converts them to MP3s. I have several gripes with this program though:

  • For some reason it requires administrator rights to work (all rippers I tried seem to share this issue).
  • It is no longer free (here's the last freeware version).
  • The freebie does not offer many naming options for the MP3 files it creates.

The file name supplied by dBpoweramp is in the format "artist name - song title.mp3", sorely missing the track number (without it it's hard to get the order right in iPod which uses alpha sorting, which is rarely the same order as the tunes appear on the original CD). The mass renaming feature in xplorer˛ can help with this problem, since it is aware of the ID3 tags dBpoweramp stores in the MP3 files, one of which is the track number.

The menu command File | Mass rename acts on all selected files using a name template which can contain $-tokens (same as those used in user commands and scripts). You can combine them as building blocks to form the target filename. In our case we want to prepend the track number to the existing name. The existing name is $N, but where is the track number $-token? We could use an automatically incremented counter token (i.e. a template like "$01. $N") but that would be sensitive to the order files appear within xplorer˛.

Luckily xplorer˛ has another trick up its sleeve: you can use shell columns as token names. If you download & install the recommended MP3 shell extension you will get some new columns in detailed view mode, one of which is called Track and represents the ID3 tag in the MP3 file. So the template we need to type in the mass rename dialog is:

${track}. $N

Note this includes the column name verbatim (spaces and all, if any) within {curly braces}. This template will be applied to all selected files, so if you have song.mp3 which is track #3, it will end up renamed as "3. song.mp3". To be absolutely certain hit the preview button in the mass rename dialog before you commit the change. For step by step instructions see this small demo video

Now if only there was an easy way to rip my old vinyl record collection to get rid of that old pile of junk...

Addendum: If you are using windows vista or 7 you will find that the audioshell music information columns won't appear in windows explorer, but they are still supported by xplorer˛ professional, as are all old style column handlers. So the renaming method described in this article will still work in xplorer˛ pro!

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