Simon and Lind­say: Easy­TAG is indeed a use­ful tool for tag­ging many music files at once. While Easy­TAG does auto­mate a lot of the work, it is still quite a labo­ri­ous process. This real­ly grinds when you’re try­ing to man­age a large music col­lec­tion. What if your tag­ger worked more like your ears and brain — it just lis­tened to the music and worked out what song was playing?

Enter Picard, stage left.

Picard ‘lis­tens’ to your music and ascer­tains an audio fin­ger­print of each track. Using this infor­ma­tion, along with more tra­di­tion­al data such as exist­ing file­names and tags, it con­sults var­i­ous online sources to deduce the details of the track and pop­u­late the meta­da­ta fields. I’ve found the results to be amaz­ing­ly accu­rate. Some­times it finds mul­ti­ple match­es, and it can occa­sion­al­ly get con­fused if the same track is avail­able on dif­fer­ent albums (e.g. a sin­gle, an orig­i­nal album and a ‘best-of’ com­pi­la­tion). If you have some idea of what the track is, you can lend Picard a hand by man­u­al­ly adding a more use­ful file­name or some tags. This is where Easy­TAG works well with Picard, since Picard isn’t geared towards man­u­al tag edit­ing. Still, it’s bloody impres­sive nonetheless.

As an album-based tag­ger, Picard behaves some­what dif­fer­ent­ly from file-based tag­gers like Easy­TAG. It can take some get­ting used to, and it might be less accu­rate for peo­ple who pre­fer to col­lect sin­gle songs and not entire albums. If you’re like me and do com­pile full albums, it can do clever things like ascer­tain that you have the ‘White Album’ (or part of it) if it sees ‘While My Gui­tar Gen­tly Weeps’ as well as ‘Rev­o­lu­tion 9′. The devel­op­ers have recog­nised that the UI does need some love, but once you’re used to it it isn’t too bad.

Picard is a mass-tag­ger, so drag a whole stack of music files onto it and watch it do its work. It’ll try and group your music into albums. To cor­rect allo­ca­tions, drag their entries to arrange them in the way you please (or drag them away if noth­ing is suit­able). Depend­ing on how eso­teric your music tastes are, you should find that most tracks are han­dled fair­ly accu­rate­ly. If you sign up for a MusicBrainz account, you can sub­mit your changes for oth­ers to benefit.

Adden­dum: If you’re using Ubun­tu, don’t for­get to install lib­tunepim­p5-mp3 for MP3 support.

LotD: Excel­lent speech by Nicholas Negro­ponte on One Lap­top Per Child. I would espe­cial­ly rec­om­mend that the naysay­ers lis­ten to it.