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mp3tag arrives on OS X (sort of)

  • 2007. That was the year I switched from a Windows laptop to a Macbook. Just as Windows users began wincing their way through Vista, I jumped from XP to OS X Tiger, foraging Finder for files, surfing Safari across the web (which would quickly be replaced by Mozilla Firefox and, later, Google Chrome) and ingesting images with iPhoto.

    On the audio playback side, iTunes fronted by Audirvana+ or Amarra or PureMusic would ultimately be DAR HQ’s software of choice before switching up and out to an Antipodes server and AURALiC Aries streamer. The Macbook Air on which I type these words occasionally sees Audirvana+ 2.0 fired up for when needs must.

    However, one piece of software from those Windows years for which I’ve yet to find a proper substitute is mp3tag – a God amongst men of tag editors. Despite its name, mp3tag handles a good deal more than MP3s:

    (From the website) “Mp3tag is a powerful and yet easy-to-use tool to edit metadata of common audio formats where it supports ID3v1, ID3v2.3, ID3v2.4, iTunes MP4, WMA, Vorbis Comments and APE Tags. It can rename files based on the tag information, replace characters or words in tags and filenames, import/export tag information, create playlists and more.Mp3tag supports online database lookups from, e.g., Amazon, discogs, or freedb, allowing you to automatically gather proper tags and cover art for your music library.”

    To this day, no OS X substitute comes close to feature set comprehensiveness and ease of use. The standout is mp3tag’s spreadsheet layout where each entry is its own clickable/editable cell.

    mp3tag’s second strongest suit is its ability to sort by file/folder name inside the app so that ‘track number’ re-sequencing can be properly applied. This is especially useful when faced with multi-disc sets whose tracks are subdivided into separate folders but whose ‘album’ tag info remains the same throughout.

    Consider the recent (2014) 3CD reissue of The Wedding Present’s Bizarro stored across three separate folders, one for each disc:

    • The Wedding Present – Bizarro / Disc 1
    • The Wedding Present – Bizarro / Disc 2
    • The Wedding Present – Bizarro / Disc 3

    There is need to burn each ‘disc’ to a separate CD-R but I prefer to store the entire release in ONE folder. Combining the three folders, each containing 17, 16 and 13 tracks, would results in 46 tracks but according to the tag data that determines the folder’s playback order, three track “1”, three track “2” and three track “3” etc. would exist, causing the album to play out of sequence.

    I’ve tried MusicBrainz Picard and Kid3 as substitutes but no dice. I even gave Stephen Booth’s Tag a whirl. Close, but no cigar.

    What to do?


    With mp3tag’s German developer showing no sign of developing a dedicated OS X version, the Mac-bound mp3tag-lover must resort to VMware/Parallels or retag each folder as a separate album using the aforementioned Mac-centric software offerings. In the case of our Wedding Present release this means “Bizarro (Disc 1)”, “Bizarro (Disc 2)” and “Bizarro (Disc 3)” – three folders isn’t really what I’m after; it’s a so-so compromise.

    wine is not an emulator. Enter Vortexbox forum administrator Ron Olsen who has created a Wineskin wrapper so that the mp3tag.exe will run on OS X. Yes, I’m late to a party that kicked off way back in 2012 but I’m here to make amends by spreading the news.

    From the Wineskin website: “Wineskin is a tool used to make ports of Windows software to Mac OS X.  The ports are in the form of normal Mac application bundle wrappers.  It works like a wrapper around the Windows software, and you can share just the wrappers if you choose.”

    You’ll note from Olsen’s opening post that he’s been sharing Wineskinned versions of mp3tag via his Dropbox account for three years with the most recent being December 2014’s Mp3tag-v2.66. Some OS X users have reported various compatibility issues – see the Vortexbox thread for specifics – but I’ve so far experienced zero problems running the v2.65a on OS X Mavericks 10.9.5.

    mp3tag is once again my goto FLAC tag editor.

    Warning! Beware of It isn’t mp3tag at all but Wondershare’s TidyMyMusic rebadged for the web in the hope of extracting US$39 from unsuspecting Internet users.

    Further information: mp3tag on OS X |

    John H. Darko

    Written by John H. Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has also contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram


    1. In my experience (I use Macs exclusively since 1994), there are almost always issues with compatibility and/or usability between ported Windows apps and the OS X. I gave up on those silly ports long ago.
      For tagging and embedding the artwork in FLAC files, I use only the “Yate” app. Yate’s scope of functionality is enormous. Because of that, I use maybe 10-15% of its capabilities. You may want to give it a try…
      BTW, for ripping and/or converting file formats, I use the “Max” app.

      • I haven’t and it sounds like maybe I should. For other readers:

        EDIT: Just had a quick look. Yate doesn’t have ‘editable spreadsheet’ layout of mp3tag. Neither does it sort via file/folder inside the app.

    2. I feel like a dinosaur pointing this out (and perhaps something has changed with the latest iTunes) but… I simply go into iTunes, open ‘get info’ and edit there. If I have a twofer CD, I call the second one exactly what the first one is called and change the ‘1 of 16’ tracks to ‘1 of 32’. This automatically merges both albums in the same folder. Now I can renumber the 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3 etc. string of tracks to get 1-32. I doubt this takes any longer than using so-called editor software and it’s right there in basic iTunes (unless the most current version has somehow messed this up).

      This is no different than ripping a friend’s sampler CD which shows up as ‘unknown album’ and ‘unknown track 1 – 16’. Right-click on the track icon, give it an album name and track name, do the same with the others and presto, a new album folder without artwork but all the tunes. Art work can now be added in all the usual ways.

      Am I overlooking something here which these after-market editors do better?

      • Possibly. 😉 If one buys lossless files in FLAC format (as I do) then they must first be converted to ALAC before they can be added to iTunes. I like to keep my library impeccably organised but outside of iTunes in a folder structure – makes it easier to move/copy to third party servers/DAPs. Artwork and file/folder renaming, based upon tag data, is handled by Bliss. A 3rd party tag editor is therefore required to make sure the metadata is spot on.

    3. I found XLD to be all that I need in terms of tagging (right before it converts to AIF or ALAC). iTunes is always there allowing me to make tweaks afterwards, which I consider the perfect workflow since I use iTunes as my library. No need to feel like a dinosaur Srajan Ebaen!

    4. This seems like A LOT of overhead for a tagger. Why not Decibel’s Tag? Also, most players let you edit tags on the fly including Audirvana.

      • I like mp3tag for the two reasons I explained: 1) Spreadsheet layout and 2) ability to sort my folder/file location *inside the app*. If another app can match that then I’m all ears. 🙂

    5. John, I think Puddletag may be what you’re after. It’s a Linux app that has a very similar layout to MP3tag, and can be installed on OSX.

    UPDATED! Testing the PonoPlayer/Kickstarter returns process

    Global feedback: Pro-Ject Debut Carbon vinyl vs. digital