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Nov 30, 2011

TuneUp for iTunes – Review

by Stephen Ashby

Use TuneUp for Mac to fix errant music tracks, fragmented albums and missing cover art in iTunes…

TuneUp Information PanelIt’s hard to believe that iTunes is now more than ten years old. Since 2001, it has seen Windows support added, the Genius feature, library sharing, playlists, books and, of course, the iTunes Store. If you’re anything like us, then during those ten years your music collection will have grown to an almost unmanageable size. It’s not uncommon to see iTunes music libraries several weeks in total play length, or duplicate music tracks that have become jumbled up in the playlist. As a result, an aging iTunes music library can soon become a mess, with missing cover art and albums split into several parts.

So how exactly does one go about tidying and re-organising an iTunes library that has bloated to a size of unimaginable scope? TuneUp is one solution. It’s a plug-in for iTunes that can fix mislabelled song information, add missing cover art, reorganise albums, display artist details, enable you to purchase concert tickets and share music with friends. Quite an impressive feature set, and one that’s surprisingly easy to use.

TuneUp Interface
TuneUp will automatically start cleaning up your tracks when you drag them into its panel

Three versions of the program are available: a free lite option will analyse and clean 100 songs and apply 100 cover artworks, an annual pass, priced $19.95, will sort and organise your music collection for a year, and a one-off payment of $29.95 gives you a Gold Pass, enabling unlimited song and cover art fixes. All three versions also include unlimited concert alerts and full access to the Tuniverse service.

Installing TuneUp is a breeze. After you’ve downloaded the program and dragged it to the Applications folder, TuneUp automatically opens iTunes and attaches itself to the right-hand side of the interface. From this new panel you can access five options for sorting and enhancing your iTunes library. The first, called Clean, analyses your music by listening to the audio fingerpriThe final Verdictnt of each track and then comparing the results to the GraceNotes database of more than 90 million indexed songs. It works really well, renaming any errant tracks and reorganising albums in the blink of an eye. The second option, Cover Art, automatically scans your music collection for missing album art and offers a variety of results for you to choose from. It’s a convenient alternative to searching the web for album art when iTunes can’t find any from the iTunes Store. The third button is titled Tuniverse. This interesting feature scans any playing music tracks, then presents related music videos from YouTube, artist bios from Wikipedia, merchandise from eBay and song recommendations from Amazon. What’s surprising is how well this feature works. The constantly updating panel of information and media makes finding new content from your favourite band incredibly efficient, even more so than Ping. Tuniverse also includes a built-in Twitter feature that enables you to quickly tweet what track you’re listening too. Next to the Tuniverse button is a Concerts feature that quickly scans every album in your iTunes Library, then presents web-links to purchase tickets via Ticketmaster and Stubhub. We encountered an odd bug that resulted in no concert tickets appearing, but after a few days’ use the feature suddenly kicked in and began to show a selection of events that could be attended. Oddly enough, however, ticket prices were in Dollars and went up in price when we clicked through the link to the Ticketmaster website. The final button, Share, is aimed squarely at social networking fans. When clicked it displays the latest albums and tracks that you’ve played and enables you to quickly share these results with friends on Facebook. We can’t possibly imagine that our friends would be interested in seeing what music we listen to during the day, but if you’re supporting an up-and-coming band then this feature might potentially come to good use.

If we have a niggling issue with TuneUp, it’s that the program auto-runs every time iTunes is opened. Admittedly it’s possible toIf You Like This panel turn this feature off from the Preferences panel, but for a program that you’re unlikely to use on a regular basis, we’d prefer auto-run to be disabled by default. It can also take a large amount of time for TuneUp to scan massive music collections when looking for errant tracks and missing cover art.

TuneUp is a great addition to iTunes, with a handful of really handy features that enhance your music playing and sharing experience. It’s ability to tidy an iTunes Library is incredibly useful for anyone who has amassed music over a long period of time.

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    • Sandy

      I already used this app some time ago and it didn’t work the way I expected. It’s not that handy for deleting duplicate files and left some blank spaces in my Cover-Flow (the songs were tagged correctly). Because of this relatively poor performance I consider it to be too expensive. There are still some other tools that might be interesting like Song Sergeant, CopyTrans TuneTastic, Dupin etc. Some of them (including TuneUp) can be found here:

    • Dirk

      I have just installed the trial version so I could test its ability to identify and remove duplicates. I got the trial, so I could run a test the solution, before I buy the full version for USD 40 and the start cleaning up my my library of 10000 songs, where I expect to have somewhere close to 10% duplicates.

      The result was astonishingly poor. I was so glad to have found a solution, but this is not a solution, it is just another problem. If had run this clean up for my entire library, it would have been destroyed.

      Hours of synching my iTunes library.
      Then it takes ages again to “find the duplicates”. But the promised matching by digital footprint of the file is probably to be understood rather metaphorically.
      Some file were identified correctly. But I had lots of songs for which TuneUp found duplicates that had not the slightest resemblance with one another. Not even the tile or artist were the same to start with. For a given song, I had 30 duplicates, but the duplicates were in fact songs from other artists, different length of the file, with complete meta data in the library. TuneUp basically asked me to delete a Rolling Stones song (and 30 other songs with it) which it though was a duplicate of a Tina Turner song. Oddly, they all showed the same size/length of 256 in TuneUp. If I had chosen to automatically eliminate those duplicates, I would had lost tenth of perfectly valid songs in my library. Thanks God I was just testing.
      The clean up worked partially. But during the few tests I ran, only half the file were recognized and correctly labeled and the data added to the info tab. Others were not identified or even when identified, did not update the “unclean” entry in my library on saving.
      And to top it off, TuneUp caused problems to the library itself “INTERNAL ERROR – CANNOT SAVE LIBRARY”.
      I quickly uninstalled this trial version – I am still looking for a working solution. But this one, for close to USD 40….stay away from it until it works, one day, hopefully.
      To TuneUp’s credit, they offer the possibility to install a trial through their website (not the app store). So I could have a go at it before really shelling out USD 40.
      My own lesson learned – read the review that others have posted before you buy and install apps on your mac.