Tagalicious: Ordering the Chaos

I’m the kind of person that likes things to be neat and organized, but I don’t like it enough to put a lot of effort into making it happen. I’m mostly content to be moderately irritated by things being out of order in exchange for not having to waste time organizing, alphabetizing, labeling or tagging. Since my recent hard drive failure, I’ve been dreading transferring music from my iPod back to my computer because I’d forgotten that all the hard work I did updating song metadata hadn’t been synced to my iPod.

I was naturally very intrigued by Little App Factory’s new app Tagalicious, which promises to clean up your iTunes library quickly and painlessly by auto-detecting track metadata and updating it in iTunes. Read on to find out if it succeeds!

The Tagalicious Workflow

When you first open Tagalicious, it begins cataloging your entire iTunes library. If you have a large library, this could take a while. Once all your songs are recognized, you can start updating their “tags” (metadata info like artist, album, track number, etc).

Reviewing Changes

When you select a track, the current info shows up in the sidebar, and Tagalicious starts searching for more accurate data. Once it’s done its search, you’ll see two columns in the sidebar: one for the old info, one for the updated info. Any tags that are different from the original are highlighted. At this point, you can either leave the new data as it is, or click on the old data to change it back. Once you’ve finished picking which tags to use, the highlighted gray ones will be the ones sent to iTunes.

New information is displayed with a grey background in the sidebar

New information is displayed with a grey background in the sidebar

You can also see which fields have been changed when you look at the song list in details view: any field with a tag icon beside it has been changed.

Tagging Multiple Tracks

It’s not immediately obvious that you can tag multiple tracks at once, but if you select more than one in the left column, the option “Check All For Tags” appears in the sidebar, which updates all selected tracks. Depending on how many you select, this process can be pretty slow, and sometimes triggered a pinwheel of doom. Once Tagalicious has finished tagging, you can review the changes most easily in list view and change back anything incorrect.

Selecting multiple tracks

Selecting multiple tracks

Accuracy

For the most part, I found Tagalicious to be quite accurate, with a few exceptions:

1. Anthologies and “Greatest Hits” Albums

When faced with “Greatest Hits” albums, Tagalicious often identified the original album the track was released on and not the collection, but not always. Of all the albums I have, Tagalicious had the most trouble with the Beatles’ Anthology, identifying about two-thirds of the songs as being from Anthology, and identifying the other third as being from their respective original albums.

If this idiosyncrasy had been more consistent, I think I actually would have appreciated it, because it’s easier to sort through songs by the well-known albums they were originally released on than in one huge album. When you’re tagging your music, I’d recommend doing it album by album, so you can quickly check accuracy in the left column after changes have been made.

2. Classical Music

I found tag results to be really all over the place with classical music, although I guess technically Tagalicious’ info is more accurate than what I’d written: it sets both “artist” and “album artist” to the conductor or orchestra, and though this is technically correct, it’s not very helpful for browsing. Though it doesn’t show the “composer” field in the sidebar, it does update the field accurately.

Some of my classical tracks were also renamed pretty strangely, for example, every Stravisnky track name started with “Stravinsky:.” Many classical albums were also incorrectly identified.

3. Audiobooks

Tagalicious got the audiobook tracks I had and my Pimsleur language tapes completely 100% wrong. Don’t use Tagalicious for spoken word.

There was also one album that Tagalicious just couldn’t handle (Desmond Decker’s Israelites), it got all the song titles and albums completely wrong. When Tagalicious adds incorrect data to a field that previously was empty, you unfortunately can’t delete the new information from within Tagalicious, and have to remember to fix it in iTunes, which I wound up having to do a bunch of times.

Lyrics & Album Art

Tagalicious finds and adds Lyrics and Album art to your tracks surprisingly quickly (much faster than in iTunes, in my experience). I was impressed with how many songs it found lyrics for, with the only exceptions being iTunes Store-purchased songs, which Tagalicious can’t really touch (which isn’t a huge deal, since iTunes Store tracks usually have accurate metadata).

Picking album art

Picking album art

Tagalicious found album artwork for pretty much every album I have, I’m still not sure I’d ever use CoverFlow, but now at least I have the option!

It's a beautiful thing

It's a beautiful thing

The Little Things

I really like the minor corrections Tagalicious made to album and track names, such as capitalization and apostrophe errors (prepositions in titles don’t get capitalized!) and getting rid of some of the messy album names that sometimes come with special edition, two-part, or live albums.

Conclusion

I started out writing this review feeling a bit more positive about the app than I do now, I realize that I actually spent quite a bit more time updating my music than I wanted to. Now that I have a thoroughly tagged and organized music library, I’m glad that I do, but I did spend a considerable amount of time “babysitting” Tagalicious while it worked, and then correcting mistakes in iTunes.

I’m not sure anything can be done to improve the accuracy of the app, because the tagging relies on a separate technology called Gracenote, the same technology that powers iTunes’ Genius features. The inaccurate taggings would be a lot easier to deal with, however, if you could correct them more easily from within Tagalicious: for example, when one track of an album is identified as part of the wrong album, you can only change the album name back to what it was before, not to what the other tracks were identified as.

Overall, I’m really pleased with my obsessively organized iTunes library. If you’re like me, and you’re willing to put a bit of time into getting things perfectly organized, you’ll find Tagalicious a big help. If you have a really large library, however, the process is still going to take a long time, and potentially make some things messier (mostly by breaking up albums). Tagalicious is definitely a really impressive app, powered by some very powerful technology.

What do you think? Is it worth spending a bit of time to organize your music, or are you content with a little bit of chaos?


Summary

Tagalicious uses powerful Gracenote® technology to collect information about your music, and allows you to update your iTunes library with complete information.

8
  • http://YouMeUs.in linusr

    MAS version doesn’t work on Lion yet.. bad timing

    • http://cansurmeli.com C@N

      Lion compatible Tagalicious is waiting Apple’s approval.

  • B30

    On Lion the Tagalicious MAS version (1.5.1) crashes immediately when a file is selected.

  • docMD

    Its yeah a great Idea, but an idea has to Work for me to care. As just about everyone has pointed out this app crashes waaaay to much to be acceptable. I feel like I got really ripped off.

  • http://cansurmeli.com C@n

    I like Tagalicious as well but sometimes it’s tagging isn’t that good. But as you’ve said, it’s about Gracenote.

    So overall. I give it 3.5 out of 5.

  • https://www.facebook.com/luke.andrew22 Luke Andrew

    honestly, this app is a real life saver. previously i used to actually add metadata and artwork by looking up tracks of wikipedia. yeah i know, sad much? but this makes everything so much easier and is such a breeze to use and ive got no complains what so ever

    one thing they could have done to make it better was if the result they found was partially correct to your liking, it should give you the option to edit it to tweak the data, before sending it over to itunes

    either then that, its one hell of an app and really an essential to any music lover that wants a pristine looking collection

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  • Harry

    I agree with most people. It has good potential but I rate it a 3 out of 5. I have to spend a lot of time correcting errors but in the end it helps me to accomplish the task. I was tempted to try TuneUp, but for $50 it’s an expensive application so I went with tagalicious. In hindsight, the extra $40 is probably worth it if it accurately accomplishes the same task. Time = money and tagalicious most definitely requires a lot of your time if you have a large library.

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