My collection of music files has grown organically over the years, and it has no consistent tags nor file names. Especially, older files may have weird ID3v1 tags or no tags at all, which makes them inconvenient to use with tag-based browsers (like the "Music catalog" display of Rhythmbox). Can you suggest any good program for mass re-tagging of the files?

Ideally, I would like the following features in a re-tagging program:

  1. It lets me choose an arbitrary set of files and re-tag them all, updating tag values selectively (e.g., only update "Artist")

  2. It can populate tag values from the filename or the containing folder name (e.g., for files organized like <album>/<track no.> - <song name>)

  3. It can detect whether there are inconsistencies between ID3v1 and ID3v2 tags (e.g., the song title is different in the two versions)

  4. It lets me search for songs on CDDB or MusicBrainz and then use the fetched metadata to populate the tag values.

  5. Bonus points if it has a two-step approach: first populate tag values from filename or MusicBrainz, then let me edit them, finally re-tag files.

I understand that 1. and 2. are pretty standard, but what about points 3.-5.?

  • 1
    Is there anything out there for Linux that will handle classical music? It needs to distinguish between composer and performer: the assumption that recordings are all of the composer is unfortunately not tenable when the composer has been dead since before musical recording became viable. It should also allow for sequential file numbering with leading zeros so that music players can play in sequence: there is little point in randomising the playlist for a concerto. Apr 14, 2017 at 11:02

2 Answers 2


Puddletag should do everything you asked for. There's also an article on it at Ubuntu Geek

MusicBrainz Picard can automatically identify albums via audio finger-printing. If the music is not popular enough to be entered into their open database, you can add an entry and finger-prints for future users.

  • Puddletag is exactly what I was looking for, thanks! They also have a Debian/Ubuntu package for download which works from 10.04 onwards. Nov 12, 2010 at 10:02
  • Thanks for this suggestion, trying to sort tags in Rhythmbox has been driving me crazy!
    – Roddie
    Dec 1, 2010 at 11:32
  • Puddletag does indeed seem to handle the fields well, once customised. It also accepts UTF-8 characters, and they seem to make it into the filenames OK too. Apr 14, 2017 at 19:26
  • If you really want the perfect control there is an even more sophisticated solution called "beets"...
    – piedro
    Apr 17, 2017 at 12:35
  • If you really want the perfect control there is an even more sophisticated solution called "beets"... beets.readthedocs.io/en/v1.4.3/guides/index.html It works on the command line though but it is really amazing for changing some details in your tagging even on huge collections. I use it for refinement like renaming false duplicates or cleaning unwanted title additions like featured artists... internally it uses the musicbrainz database. Cheers and happy Easter!
    – piedro
    Apr 17, 2017 at 12:41

EasyTag is the most comprehensive tagger I've found for Ubuntu, and I've tried many. It does lookups from CDDB and allows for your #5 criteria, which is probably my favorite thing about it. It can format file/directory names based on tags and vice versa. It has a learning curve, but once you get it down it's by far my fav (be sure to enable the filebrowser pane!). It's available in Ubuntu Software Center/Synaptic.

MusicBrainz Picard is another tagger, which does auto lookup, but it doesn't come close to meeting all your requirements. However it is a good tagger, but can be testy at times... It is also available in the repositories.

  • Do any taggers allow Unicode (UTF-8) characters? Lots of my music is sung in non-English languages, or has performers or composers with non-English names, and it would be nice to have them represented properly. Apr 14, 2017 at 11:04

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