Last year I reviewed MP3tag – a brilliant universal tag editor that lets you edit the tags of music files together with their filenames, select and edit multiple songs, download song info and add cover art.
I have used MP3tag ever since but it can’t always download tags from the internet – especially if you don’t know the album name or even who the artist is. This is because MP3tag downloads possible tags from the internet using sources that require the album name (e.g. Amazon and Discogs).
What MP3tag lacks is access to the Gracenote database (formerly CDDB – Compact Disc Data Base) – this can identify digital files like MP3s from the track itself – without needing to know the track name, or the artist/album.
Winamp does have access to Gracenote and can even tag unknown music files – below is a simple guide to how to use it.
Note: You must have Winamp Standard (free) or Winamp Pro (paid) for this – Winamp Lite does not include the feature.
Method 1 – Tag A Single Music File
- Open Winamp and select (click on) the track you want to download tags for then right click on it –
- Either in the Playlist Editor:
- Or in the Media Library Manager:
- Select ‘View file info’ to open the File Info window shown below:
[Tip: if the track is currently playing in the Winamp Main Window you could alternatively click ‘File’ from the menu bar and then select ‘View file info’ to open the same File Info window]
The File Info window shows Basic Info and additional tabs for Artwork and ID3 tags – in my example there are no tags at all and the only thing known about the track is the file name – unknown.mp3
- Click the Auto-Tag button to scan the file – if a match is found, the Basic Info is populated and the ID3 tags are filled in (you can check by looking under the ID3 tabs)
- Click OK to save the info and tags into the track – note that the Playlist Editor and Library now show the correct artist name, album/track title with the correct tags
Method 2 – Tag Multiple Music Files
If you have a lot of tracks to tag you can save time and tag multiple music files at once:
- Open Winamp and in the Media Library Manager, select all the files you wish to tag (best not to choose more than about 15 in one go)
- Right click one of the selected (highlighted) files and select ‘Send To:’ then select ‘Auto-Tag’:
The Winamp Auto Tagger window will now open – if matches are found, the status of each track will change from ‘Looking Up’ to ‘Querying’ then finally ‘Done’ and the tracks will be ticked
- Clicking on a track will display the Old Info and New Info with the tags now filled in:
- Select (tick) the tracks you wish to save info for – either individual tracks or all of them. When you are happy with the selection and that the tags are correct, click the ‘Apply Changes’ button to save the info and tags into the tracks and return to Winamp
- Note that the Media Library Manager now shows the correct artist name, album/track title with the correct tags
Winamp is a simple and quick way to tag music files, even if the track name and other details are unknown – the Gracenote database may not cover every track ever released but it appears to retrieve even the most obscure tracks.
A few other programs e.g. iTunes also use Gracenote for music file identification but, in my experience, Winamp is small and lightweight with rock solid stability. It’s also easy to install, upgrade and uninstall – unlike certain competitors.