October 18, 2010 · General · Email This Post

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As someone that loves music, listens constantly and is always adding to my collection by purchasing and then ripping CDs, a decent tag editor is an essential tool.  I've been using Linux for the past seven years or so and the only drawback that I was constantly faced with was the lack of a great audio tag editor -- basically a Linux based equivalent to mp3tag.   After trying every Linux tagger I could get my hands on (Ex Falso, EasyTag, Pinkytagger, Jaikoz, Picard, etc. etc.) I finally settled on running mp3tag under Wine.  Whilst it works, it's still a compromise because it cannot handle case sensitivity, cannot rename folders and filenames and path lengths are limited to Windows file system restrictions.   In addition, there were a number of functional enhancements and additions I wanted to see in mp3tag, but didn't seem like they'd see the light of day.

Enter puddletag

In December 2009 after again being frustrated with mp3tag's restrictions whilst tagging some albums I'd ripped I fired up Google and searched again for a Linux tagger.  To cut a long story short I stumbled on puddletag...open source, coded in Python and as luck would have it, loosely based on mp3tag.  Since then puddletag's been very actively developed to not only incorporate mp3tag's functionality, but also to add a host of features the author and I wanted to see in a tagger of choice.  Today, I'd go as far as to say that puddletag's probably the best tag editor out there, regardless of operating system.

How is puddletag different from other Linux taggers?

Well, for starters, if you're familiar with mp3tag, you're going to be right at home with puddletag...from the user interface, through to Extended Tags, Actions, regular expressions, Tag Sources etc.  In addition, puddletag offers a host of functionality you're not likely to find in a single tagger, including:

  • Retrieving tags from clipboard -- why copy track data from a website, save it to a file and only then write it... pop it into the clipboard and write it from memory?
  • Fully customisable screen layout. Drag and drop windows to where you'd like them or turn them off altogether.
  • Fully customiseable Tag Panel.
  • Extended Tags view/editing including visual confirmation of what's going to be added/ edited and/ or deleted -- no more guessing what you've put in train...changes are colour coded according to the nature of the changes you make (distinguishing between additions, edits and deletions).
  • Drag and drop columns in main view to reorder them
  • Right click on a column header to add additional columns
  • A spreadsheet-like layout that enables selection of individual tags/cells across multiple files and performing operations on the selected tags only
  • Copy and paste any combination of tags to multiple files in a single operation
  • Quick search and replace of text across selected tags/ cells or entire tracks using Ctrl-H (no need to write an action for a quick search/ replace operation)
  • ability to see stored tags as written to file (i.e. without tagname translation) to help resolve pesky issues like ID3 and Vorbis tag types in a single file
  • ability to tag single tracks using tag sources (handy when the album you're looking for doesn't exist in tag sources, but the songs do exist in other albums found in tag sources (why tag by hand when you can just take track metadata from other albums)
  • easily select all tracks in a folder using a hotkey (Ctrl-Shift-S) (no more dragging the mouse cursor around and shift-clicking)
  • resize/ relocate/ close windows (configure your workspace to suit you, and puddletag will remember window locations when you reactivate them)
  • realtime results feedback when defining actions (takes the guessing out of whether an action or a function is going to do what you're hoping it will do...you see the results an action will generate as you define it)
  • dynamically change main window font size to suit your needs
  • launch puddletag with a predefined font size designed to suit your needs
  • (optionally) dynamically size columns to match tag metadata
  • predefined and readily editable tag patterns always available to you through a pulldown menu
  • customisable hotkeys
  • Why should you have to process each album manually or be tied to your keyboard when most of the work can be automated for your later review and approval? A fundamentally different approach to using Tag Sources based on convenience, speed, accuracy, flexibility and ease of use:
  1. Ability to tag your entire library in unattended batch mode using multiple tag sources whereby you can specify which fields to retrieve from which tag sources, which tag sources take precedence, and  optionally add only new metadata, thus preserving existing tags.
  2. When masstagging is completed you're presented with the proposed changes -- additions/ changes are formatted in bold whilst tags/fields that won't change are formatted in italics.  Hover your mouse cursor over a bold formatted field and the current and proposed values are shown in a tooltip.
  3. Changes can be accepted/ rejected for a single/ multiple fields and track(s).
  4. Not only that, you can edit the proposed tags, make any changes you like and then write the final results when you're satisfied with them
  5. Easily tag individual tracks when track order differs from that provided via a Tag Source
  6. Ability to remap data retrieved from tag sources to fields of your choosing e.g. to have the Artist info retrieved from MusicBrainz written as the Performer tag, add the following to Preferences/Mappings: Tag=MusicBrainz, Source=artist,Target=performer
  7. All your tagging preferences can be saved to a tagging profile and reused at will...you can configure as many profiles as you have tagging preferences.

I could go on and on about all the great features you'll find in puddletag, but the best way to appreciate it is to experience it.  puddletag's homepage is http://puddletag.sourceforge.net/, download the latest build from http://sourceforge.net/projects/puddletag/files/puddletag_0.9.6-1_all.deb and refer to its documentation at http://puddletag.sourceforge.net/docs.html

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If you're in need of any assistance or have suggestions, please post them on the puddletag forum: http://sourceforge.net/apps/phpbb/puddletag/

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34 Comments to “Linux finally gets a great audio tagger”

  1. Brett Howard says:

    Appreciated… I’ll give it a look. I’ve been using easy tag and I clean things up album by album before they are dumped into the repository. Generally everything in the repository is 100% clean but it never hurts to double check…

    [Reply]

  2. ninjapirate89 says:

    I’ve always used Audio Tag Tool (apt-get install tagtool) but I’m willing to give this a go. Any chance there is a PPA?

    [Reply]

  3. conor says:

    I HAVE BEEN WAITING! this is actually a brilliant and very professional app!

    [Reply]

  4. PolluxStL says:

    I wish it would give the opportunity to write tags in ID3.2.3, since that’s the only tag my MP3 player will read. Otherwise a very nice program.

    [Reply]

  5. rr says:

    Thats great. Actually, i use a mp3tag/wine solution which works but is not the final goal.

    [Reply]

  6. M1AU says:

    I very welcome this post as I was looking for a good tagging tool for a long time!

    [Reply]

  7. Rahul Batra says:

    Wow… this is great, thanks!

    [Reply]

  8. e.m.fields says:

    This is looking good! Thanks for the tip. Intuitive + powerful seems to the hardest combo to come by with linux applications.

    [Reply]

  9. audiomuze says:

    Presently there’s no PPA, but we’re looking into it.

    [Reply]

  10. KimTjik says:

    “Why should you have to process each album manually…?”

    Because you have a huge collection of all kinds of music styles possible. For composed art music you might prefer to put composer as artist instead of the performer. Or you don’t trust tags for genre because they aren’t consistent even about order of words. You might wish to slimline the selection of genres as to not get a thousand of them.

    There’s many reason to why all automatic might not be preferable for all.

    [Reply]

  11. audiomuze says:

    “There’s many reason to why all automatic might not be preferable for all.”

    Agreed, and puddletag caters to manual album-at-a-time and/or automated masstagging using the same Tag Sources. Even with the automated masstagging you still get the opportunity to review/ amend/ accept/ reject any proposed changes at a field/ track or album level, so all your concerns are catered for.

    [Reply]

  12. Wasja Metallist says:

    Terrible thing happened.

    I had tried this beautiful app, and wanted to CLEAR a main tag area (grid). As usual and acceptable in others tag editors, I pressed “Ctrl+A” then “Del”. “Do you wanna delete?”, asked the app. “Yes”, I said.

    All of my selected files was PHYSICALLY DELETED from HDD, even not moved to Trash.

    My first question is: What the reason for this, more than doubtful and fatal, option in Tag Editing program?
    And the second one, after all, how can I safely clear(not delete files) areas like Tag area, Tag Sources.

    Thanks to author for beautiful-n-quick-media-eraser.

    [Reply]

  13. woekka says:

    Uhm, looking at the website I think the documentation is pretty clear in this regard:

    Delete (Del)
    Delete’s the selected files permanently.

    Delete Without Confirmation (Shift+Del)
    Delete’s the selected files, but doesn’t even bother asking for permission.

    Hope you had a backup, but don’t think it’s fair to blame a program for doing exactly what it says it does. There are also a number of file recovery tools you could use to undelete the files (assuming you’ve not subsequently written to the disk).

    [Reply]

  14. @Wasja

    I think you were looking to remove the tag’s from the files which you can do using Remove Tag from the edit menu (Ctrl+R). Best of luck.

    [Reply]

  15. Wasja Metallist says:

    @woekka:
    I, fortunately, have a backup. And, upon the whole, I like the app. And, of course, I didn’t study the Documentation in detail before the start, accordingly, I’ve no reason to blame a program. ?oreover, I’ve no this matter. How I said above, I like this app, especially Tag Sources feature.

    I used working with Tag editors before too and, actually, was surprised, that “Tag Editor” may physically delete files, all the more, permanently, bypassing Trash. ?fter all, there are “File managers” for this goal.

    @concentricpuddle:
    I was looking to clear grid(like clear a desk ;) before the work on another album.

    Thanks.

    [Reply]

  16. MiguelGL says:

    I had been using EasyTAG quite successfully quite long time ago, just in case it is of any use for you all too.

    [Reply]

  17. Everything went better than expected. ;-)

    There’s no need to clear the grid before loading another directory. But if you really want to, use Clear from the File menu.

    [Reply]

  18. MiguelGL says:

    @MiguelGL Sorry I did not realise you already listed EastyTAG on the post intro. I read it too quickly! Just trying to help, though :(

    [Reply]

  19. John says:

    “always adding to my collection by purchasing and then ripping CDs, a decent tag editor is an essential tool”

    I have not found that to be the case since when I rip a CD the info is loaded from FreeDB, corrected by me, and put in by my ripper, never to be touched again. Many of the features look useful for “borrowed” music, or perhaps if one’s tag preferences or conventions change over time, and in that sense it looks like a great program.

    [Reply]

  20. Nitroflow says:

    So what does this offer that EasyTAG http://easytag.sourceforge.net/ already doesn’t?

    [Reply]

  21. audiomuze says:

    “when I rip a CD the info is loaded from FreeDB, corrected by me, and put in by my ripper, never to be touched again”.

    Sounds like your tagging needs are pretty basic…not sure you’d need a tag editor at all.

    [Reply]

  22. audiomuze says:

    “So what does this offer that EasyTAG http://easytag.sourceforge.net/ already doesn’t?” Try it and make up your own mind…

    [Reply]

  23. Piers says:

    What about Album Art I can not seem to see ANY reference to it at all??? Or am I blind…..? How to do this would be great and are there any plugins for download?

    Thanks, to anyone who can help me with this!

    Piers

    [Reply]

  24. @piers Windows->Artwork

    [Reply]

  25. anonymous coward says:

    have all you guys never heard about easytag: http://easytag.sourceforge.net/

    [Reply]

  26. Mimmus says:

    Is there an automatic tool that is able to “recognize” an MP3 (sending an hash to some site) and tag it automatically?

    [Reply]

  27. audiomuze says:

    “Is there an automatic tool that is able to “recognize” an MP3 (sending an hash to some site) and tag it automatically?”

    If the files contain no tags, puddletag can do this using the freedb tag source, which can then be supplemented using musicbrainz tag source

    puddletag will also use foldernames to attempt to discern albums

    [Reply]

  28. FCMike says:

    ““Is there an automatic tool that is able to “recognize” an MP3 (sending an hash to some site) and tag it automatically?”

    If the files contain no tags, puddletag can do this using the freedb tag source, which can then be supplemented using musicbrainz tag source

    puddletag will also use foldernames to attempt to discern albums”

    Is there a way to do this using a hash (as Mimmus inquired) rather than a text search. (As looking at the docs implies.)

    I have found a program (Beatunes) that does this using iTunes library. (The trial version is free for two weeks and it works pretty well,) I would much rather have a less restricted version that worked on mp3s and wasn’t tied to iTunes…

    [Reply]

  29. sgtrock says:

    “anonymous coward says:
    October 26, 2010 at 6:53 am

    have all you guys never heard about easytag: http://easytag.sourceforge.net/

    Why, yes, I believe that the author mentioned EasyTag IN THE VERY FIRST PARAGRAPH and said it had not met his needs:

    “I’ve been using Linux for the past seven years or so and the only drawback that I was constantly faced with was the lack of a great audio tag editor – basically a Linux based equivalent to mp3tag. After trying every Linux tagger I could get my hands on (Ex Falso, EasyTag, Pinkytagger, Jaikoz, Picard, etc. etc.) I finally settled on running mp3tag under Wine. Whilst it works, it’s still a compromise because it cannot handle case sensitivity, cannot rename folders and filenames and path lengths are limited to Windows file system restrictions.”

    Reading Comprehension. It’s a good thing.

    Strike that. READING before bitching is a good thing.

    [Reply]

  30. John says:

    “was surprised, that “Tag Editor” may physically delete files, all the more, permanently, bypassing Trash. ?fter all, there are “File managers” for this goal.”

    Wait till you hit puddletag’s Re-Format Hard Drive button! (Shh, its location is a secret!)

    [Reply]

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