iTunes/iPod Tips & Tricks: Compilations

Over the last few weeks, we have been looking at some of the more PDA-like features of the iPod and how to access them via iTunes or the iPod’s actual disk. This week we are going to look at something music related. This week, we look at compilations.

Compilations are probably the second most understood thing in iTunes, coming in behind “album artist”. Compliations, when it comes to an actual compact disc can be one of several things. They can be a CD that contains various artists, like a when a local radio station releases a CD of in-studio performances. A compilation can be a soundtrack to a movie. It can also be a CD with a single album artist but dueting with other artists.

The main problem with compilations, when you do not group them, is that the various artists all show up in your library. This might seem like completely normal behavior, but there is no grouping. You can not click on one of the artists to get all the tracks from the that album. You have to know the name of the album and find it that way.

The good news is that iTunes helps you solve this problem with a “Group Compilations When Browsing” and the option on the iPod is just called “Compilations” under the Settings menu.

Turning on these two options will eliminate the problem of having artists with only a song or two being listed in the Artists sections of the iPod and iTunes.  This is beneficial in that it keeps things organized like they need to be.  Rather than having 10 or so albums that put a lot of artists in your Artists list, you get a single “Compilations” option that allows you to find those songs by album more quickly.

Yes, you could just find the songs by album originally but this is not the best way to keep your music organized.  What happens to your iTunes folder when you mark an album as a Compilation, it creates a Compilation folder in your iTunes Music folder and puts a folder for each compilation in there.  Thus group the tracks on the physical hard disk where your music is stored.  Without compilations, you would have folders for artists that would contain one or two songs a piece and depending on how many songs are on the compilation and how many compilation discs you have, those kinds of folders begin to add up quickly.

So, as you can see, Compilations in iTunes is a great feature to take advantage of.  It keeps your music library a lot more organized and allows for a slightly better logic in finding your music when you want it.  Next week, we are going to dive into some of the options for the tracks in your library.

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