Tag your music files correctly with MusicBrainz Picard

If your digital music library is full of embarrassing gaps when it comes to song titles, artist names, or more, MusicBrainz Picard can help you quickly clean it up.

Rob Lightner
Rob Lightner is a tech and gaming writer based in Seattle. He has reviewed games, gadgets, and technical manuals, written copy for space travel gear, and composed horoscopes for cats.
Rob Lightner
2 min read

Once your music library expands beyond a few thousand tracks, you're likely to find that some of those tracks have incorrect or missing information, like artist, album, year, genre, and so on. Sometimes this doesn't matter much, but if you are having a hard time searching or your obsessive side is dominant, MusicBrainz Picard can help you get your music files back in shape. Here's how to use it:

  1. Download and install the application here for Linux, Mac, and Windows.
  2. Run Musicbrainz Picard.
  3. Add a folder containing music files. The application will also search subfolders, so if you'd like, you can add your whole library or large parts of it at once.
  4. After you add the folder, most of your files will be in the "Unmatched Files" folder on the left. Select it, then click the "Cluster" button at the top. Some or all of your files will now be shifted to the "Clusters" folder as separate subfolders with rough artist and album info, while the rest will remain in "Unmatched Files."
  5. Some unmatched files can be dragged and dropped into the newly created subfolders below; click on an individual track to see its location and folder info at the bottom of the screen. If an entire album is in the "Unmatched Files" folder, you'll need to look it up on the MusicBrainz database site and then skip to step No. 7 below.
  6. Select any of those subfolders and click "Lookup." This opens a Web page on the MusicBrainz site that should have the correct album info (if not, try searching for your album in the search bar on the top right).
  7. Click the "Tag" button near the album name and a new folder should pop up in the right side of the Picard window.
  8. Move the files from the folder on the left to the newly created folder on the right, then check to make sure that the files match up.
  9. If they do, right-click the new folder and select "Save."
  10. Every now and then, a new or obscure album doesn't show up in MusicBrainz. If you're ambitious and community-minded, the site offers the ability to enter the correct tag info yourself.
Step 8: Transfer files to newly created folder.
Step 8: Transfer files to newly created folder. Rob Lightner/CNET

The process takes a little time at first, but soon you'll be tagging at high speed.