Linux finally gets a great audio tagger

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:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Changes can be accepted/ rejected for a single/ multiple fields and track(s).
  • 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
  • Easily tag individual tracks when track order differs from that provided via a Tag Source
  • 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
  • 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.

    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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