Tag your music the right way with Kid3

Posted by Flo in Open Source on November 11th, 2008.
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Tagging music is quite useless for the average computer user since you would not even notice the difference. But if you want to distribute music, have a music collection or if you are a member of last.fm, you may need to have every song tagged correctly. When you use the windows XP system, this may take ages. You need to search for the correct tags on the internet and tag each file seperately. That is… until you download Kid3.

Kid3 is an ID3 tag application that is focussed on tagging sound files the right way and doing this fast in an easy and controllable way so you can be sure that it’s really tagged the right way. The power to do this flows out of several options that either don’t exist in other tag applications I’ve tried so far, or are just far more advanced than in other tag applications. And as a bonus, you don’t even have to install it, just unzip the package and you’re done.

Tagging it the right way
As described above, to correctly tag your files, you need to know which tags are the official ones. The best way to do this is to manually look them up in databases. This usually requires you to open up your browser and look them up on the website of the database, but this takes a lot of time. With Kid3, you don’t have to do that. You simply select your favorite database from the menu, fill in the name of the band or the name of the album, and you can search through the database. If you can find the matching album, you can select it, and Kid3 will automatically tag your songs. But not after letting you know how likely it is that these tags fit with the song you have. It does this by comparing the play time of your songs. If they don’t match, the time will become red, so you know that something isn’t right.

You can import tag information from different databases.

On the other hand, if you can’t find the album in one of the databases, you can use the information that is usually stored in the filename. For example: 03 Rainbow – Stargazer.mpc contains the information track artist – song title. With Kid3 you can easily get this information from your filename into your tags and visa versa. You do this by selecting from a list how this information is stored in the filename so the application can recognise it, it’s pretty simple. If the way the information is stored in your filename is not available from the quick select list, you can even edit these lists so it will get the information from your filename. In contrary to most tagging applications, this "get tags from filename" is incredibly intelligent, and it will even look for information in the names of the folders where you store your music.

Tagging it fast
If you still use windows XP, tagging your files is a bothersome task because you need to select each file seperately, open the advanced information menu, etc. Kid3 let’s you import a whole folder at once, and by selecting every song you want to edit, you can bulk edit the songs in an incredibly easy and fast way. Not only with the databases and the "tag from filename" option, but also manually. You select the songs, you select the field that you want to edit, you edit the field, and you’re finished for all the selected songs.

It look like this when you’ve loaded one map of mp3’s, to the left the mp3’s, to the right the tags.

If your songs already have a ID3v1 tag (or ID3v2 tag), you can copy this in formation in the fields of the ID3v2 (or ID3v1) tag with just one click on a button, making your songs totally compatible with the windows tagger, and most applications that use this information. Kid3 also tags more than just mp3. If you have a FLAC collection or even a ogg/vorbis or an mpc collection, you can not tag these files with the windows tagger, but Kid3 CAN tag these files.

Tagging it safe
Sometimes you just forgot what you’ve tagged, and what’s still untagged, and sometimes you make a mistake in tagging. Windows does not mark the files you’ve recently changed, but Kid3 does… in a way. If you change tags using Kid3, it will let you see that the tags are different from the ones in the file, but it won’t change the files until you save everything. This allows you to tag all of your files, quickly check if they are correct, and if they are correct, you can save the changes. This really saves you a lot of time, and you can be sure that it is tagged correctly.

If something doesn’t fit in the tag, or if anything else goes wrong, it will show up in red so you can fix it.

There really aren’t much… the only thing I can think of is something that is not important for me, but maybe for people who have an iPod. Kid3 does not tag album art. If you have an iPod classic, you need to do this, otherwise the album art won’t show up when you play a file. Nevertheless, I don’t use it, and I don’t think that a lot of other people use this function… so it’s just a minor problem.
*update* album art tagging does exist, if you couldn’t find it like me, read the comment below.

Another small thing is that it takes a few minutes before you know how it works, and you maybe want to read a little bit about the different kinds of ID3 tags (v1 or v2) to make everything clear, but I guess you can start without this knowledge, the most useful functions are self explainatory.

Something that would’ve been a nice bonus should’ve been fully automatically tagging. In other words, you just drag the files into the applications, and if there’s enough information available, it gets the right tags from a database, and you would only need to check if these are the right tags. I do think it’s possible, and I think that it would make this application totally epic… but it’s not a big problem that it’s not in this software.

You can easily select the album that matches with you music files, Kid3 will tag them right away.

To conclude
I really love this piece of software. It saved me a lot of time, and it did give me the possibility to use mpc, FLAC and ogg/vorbis files on my computer without screwing up my last.fm profile (because they are sometimes tagged in a enormously wrong way). If you are one of the rare persons on this planet who wants to have every music file correctly tagged, and if you don’t want to waste an hour every day doing it, you should try Kid3 (why shouldn’t you? you don’t even have to install it…). I know you don’t want anything else after it.



Pro’s and con’s
+ You can import tags from the best databases
+ Tags both ID3v1 and ID3v2 tags so it’s 100% windows compatible
+ The "create tags from filename" function is incredibly intelligent

– Does not tag album art into your file *update* forget this, it does exist, read the comment below. It’s actually quite easy to find.
– Takes some time to figure out
– No fully automatic tagger (like: drag into the screen and they are tagged)



All 32-bit Windows, All POSIX, Linux

Project Website
Download Kid3

5 Responses to “Tag your music the right way with Kid3”

  1. Urs Fleisch says:

    Thanks for the article!

    Album Art works like this:
    – The complicated way: Select the files, Tag 2/Add, Picture, OK, Import, select image file, OK.
    – The easier way: Select the files, drop the image file into Kid3.
    – The easiest way: Select the files, right mouse button, Google Images (or Amazon, …), the configured browser (Settings/User Actions/Web browser) opens, drop an image from the browser into Kid3.

    Image drag’n’drop works only with some browsers (I tested it with Firefox on Windows and Safari on Mac OS X). In other browsers, you have to drop the image first on the desktop, and then you can drop the resulting image file into Kid3.

  2. Flo says:

    Woha, I really searched for it, but couldn’t find it (although I was a bit surprised to find a link to google images in the settings…). Your small guide really helps ^_^, gonna change my story right away.

    Thanks for the comment!

  3. LooieENG says:

    Just use iTunes. It’s better than any other app for tagging.

  4. Jakub says:

    Call me stupid, but I am not able to tag files from discologs.

    1. I select all files I want to tag in upper left area
    2. File > Import from Discologs … opens two windows
    3. In “Discologs” windows I choose the right album and press Close which downloads correct information to “Import” window

    and than I am stuck. What to do next to save imported info to tags?

  5. Flo says:

    If it loads the correct information, just pressing the OK button will do after you’ve matched the tags with the right tracks (pressing the match length/duration/title buttons), but I seem to have some problems loading the tags from Discologs, all the track lengths show, but not the titles etc. So maybe choosing another server to download the tags from will work for you. Of course, after you’ve imported the tags (so after you’ve pressed OK), you must save the final result by pressing the save button in the upper left corner.

    I hope this helps you.

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