Remember the days when everyone used to have a giant music collection of illegally downloaded MP3 files along with Winamp to manage it all? Nowadays, most people stream their music directly to their device rather than downloading and maintaining large libraries of music.
However, there’s still a lot of music that isn’t available on streaming services, especially if you listen to a lot of foreign music. Tagging these non-mainstream music files can be challenging and in some cases requires manually editing the metadata.
Depending on the size and complexity of your music collection, there are a whole host of free and paid programs that will make tagging your MP3 files a lot easier. In this article, I’m going to mention the five best paid and the five best freeware programs that get the job done.
The paid programs obviously have more features and bigger databases, so it’ll be easier to tag your music, even if it’s something less mainstream. For smaller music collections and fewer tricky songs, the free programs will work just fine for most people.
Paid MP3 Tagging Programs
Let’s start off with the paid programs first as they have more features and can handle bigger music collections. I will list out the programs in order of best to worst and if you think I’m missing a program that should have made it on the list, feel free to post it in the comments.
Tag & Rename
Tag & Rename is $29.95 and totally worth the money if you have a really huge collection of music. I have found this program to be extremely fast and easy to use. Some of the other programs can be a bit confusing, but Tag & Rename has a certain finesse to it that I haven’t seen in any other program.
In addition to the normal fields, the program supports a bunch of other fields like lyrics, composer/conductor (for classical), disc #, part of a compilation, rating, mood, etc.
You can batch edit tag files and it can automatically fix or complete tags using freedb. In addition to loading album titles and cover art, it can get tag information from the file name and the directory structure. It can also rename files based on the tag information.
MediaMonkey is a powerful music organizer that you can use if you hate iTunes. It’s $25 for the Gold version and $50 for the current version with free upgrades forever. The free version of the program can actually do quite a bit actually, but if you need to automatically tag a bunch of files, you’ll have to purchase the Gold version.
MediaMonkey is an audio and video organizer, player and encoder. It can do pretty much everything that any other program can do in terms of tagging audio, but it also can rip CDs, encode audio files, automatically monitor folders for new files, find duplicates, automatically lookup lyrics, share media to DLNA devices and lots more.
If you’re looking for a program that can do it all, this is the one. It’s been around for a long time and is actively developed. It even supports multi-core processors to perform conversions, etc.
If you like using iTunes or Windows Media Player, then TuneUp is a good program to use alongside it. I used to use iTunes to manage my music library, but found that there were other tools that were much better at tagging, renaming and organizing the files.
If I had known about TuneUp, I might have ended up sticking with iTunes. Basically, it will scan all your music files and add all the appropriate tag info and cover art automatically. It’s not as good as some of the free tagging programs, but it works well with iTunes and if you don’t have a massive collection. I don’t recommend this program if you have tens of thousands of songs as it probably won’t work well in that scenario.
Overall, it does a very good job and is perfect for anyone who manages their music libraries using iTunes. The one big downside is that it’s a whopping $40 for a single license! That’s far too expensive in my opinion.
Magic MP3 Tagger
I haven’t used Magic MP3 Tagger myself as of yet, but I’ve heard some good things about it and that’s why I’m including it. The program costs $19, which is a bit cheaper than the rest. It has the basic features like automatically fixing tags, organizing into folders, searching, etc.
This program only focuses on fixing tags, not downloading cover art. This is true of several free programs, but most of the paid programs have this feature built in. Since it’s $20 and doesn’t include this feature, it’s hard to recommend this program over the other paid options or even some of the free ones.
Stamp ID3 Tag Editor
Stamp ID 3 Tag Editor is the only other paid tag editor I’m going to list, though it’s still hard to make a case for it considering the first couple of paid options, which are much better. The one thing going for this program is that it’s a bit cheaper than the others: $15.
It’s got a very simple interface and not a lot of features. The main problem with this program is that you have to manually update the tags on files, which is not possible if you have a large music collection.
Free MP3 Tagging Programs
Now for the free programs! If you’re wary of spending money to tag your music, you should first go ahead and download some of the free programs and see if they work for you. I’ve been using MP3Tag for years and it’s been perfect for my small music collection.
MP3Tag is the one I use and probably my favorite free tagging program. It supports a whole range of tag formats including ID3v1, ID3v2.3, ID3v2.4, WMA, iTunes MP4 and more. It also supports a bunch of different audio formats including ones I had never even heard of like True Audio (tta), Musepack (mpc), and OptimFROG (ofr).
The ability to batch edit files is what makes MP3 tag awesome. The program can write tags to multiple files at once and save you loads of time. It also does a great job of downloading cover art for albums, which is a must for me. I hate when I browse my music library and find an album with blank cover art!
The program imports tags from several different databases including Amazon, discogs, MusicBrainz, freedb and others. I have found that MP3Tag does a great job of automatically tagging files, even a lot of my Hindi music that I listen to.
However, one of the best features that I like is the ability to rename files based on the information in the tags. For whatever reason, when I had ripped a bunch of old music CDs, the files were all given generic names. MP3Tag was able to rename the files after downloading the correct tag info.
TagScanner is a program I had never used till recently and it’s slowly replacing MP3tag as my favorite. It has all the features that a tagging program should have and it’s really easy to use. You basically have a couple of tabs across the top of the UI to perform various tags.
There is a bit of a learning curve to using TagScanner, which is why I still call MP3Tag my favorite, but once you learn to use it, it’s hard to switch. It supports many audio formats and tag formats. It can pulls tags and cover art from online databases and rename files according to folder structure, file names or tag info.
What makes this program a bit better is that it also has a built-in player for many of the common audio formats. In addition, it supports embedded lyrics, which is great for someone like me who doesn’t know the lyrics to 90% of the songs in my library.
MusicBrainz Picard is a great program for tagging and renaming files. I would normally use this program in conjunction with another program that can handle album art.
It has a feature called AcoustID that lets it identify a song by the actual music itself (audio fingerprinting). I have found this program to be great at identifying songs that have absolutely no metadata and no file or folder information that could be used to tag it.
It also has a bunch of plugins that can be installed to customize the behavior of the program. Lastly, it is open-source and stored on GitHub, meaning it is actively developed. It is definitely worth using for tagging and renaming of music files.
foobar2000 is another tool that you can use for tagging your music collection. It’s billed as an audio player, but it has an advanced tagger that, if configured properly, can out-tag any other program out there.
You will have to do a bit of research to see which components to add to foobar2000, but once you have those installed, you can access a variety of online databases and tag tons of music. Again, like Picard, its strong point is tagging, not album and cover art.
Kid3 is another great free audio tagging program that supports everything I have already mentioned above. It’s really easy to use and the interface is clean and nice looking. I found that it did an excellent job of tagging some really hard songs that other programs could not tag.
It pulls data from multiple online databases and supports all the features you would expect from an audio tagger. You will have to use this program with another one in order to download all album and cover art. However, it terms of tagging, the results are impressive.
So those are five of the best free tag programs, but there are also quite a few others that work well. I’m going to just list out a couple in case you are interested in checking them out. I think the 5 mentioned above, however, will work just fine for most people.
MetatOGGer – This program has all the features of most of the other top free programs mentioned above: auto-tagging, downloading cover art, downloading lyrics, etc.
TigTago – If you like Excel spreadsheets, you’ll love TigTago. It’s a spreadsheet based tag editor that is perfect for mass tagging or mass renaming operations. It can import tags from online databases and then let you preview/edit them before saving to the file.
Hopefully, the above paid and free tools will be enough for any size music collection out there! If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment. Enjoy!