Finally! Ergonomic mass comment tagging for itunes (no overwriting of previous comment data)

Digital DJs, obsessive compulsive library organization fanatics and iTunes users who give enough of a shit to make smart playlists, fall to your knees and direct your google link juice to Steve Jobs programmer Steve MacGuire for his Itunes Keywords To Comments Plugin.

This little vb script solves a problem with itunes id3 tag managment that I have been pondering/googling for the last year and a half or so. Long story short, it allows you to add a keyword into the id3 comment field en mass, without overwriting the previously existing comment data that any of the songs may already have. From here you can have a song with multiple tags, and use those tags to search/group tracks while playing live or by making smart playlists and smart crates before hand.

So, imagine you had a track that you wanted grouped in a playlist called ‘Hot’ that was in a folder named ‘Acid’, and you also had this track in a playlist called ‘Agressive’ in a folder named ‘Deep House’. Ideally, you would want the comment field to look something like ‘Acid, Hot, Deep House, Agressive’. Sure, you could go into the individual id3 tag and construct that keyword list manually, but what if you decided you want the track to be in a playlist called ‘Dynamic’ under the ‘Tech House’ folder? You would have to edit the songs id3 tag each time you added it to a new playlist. At this point in the story, all of my friends and most of the internet starts waving their hands and screaming like an 11 year old know it all in summer school about how you can select all of the tracks in a playlist, right click>get info and edit the comment tags for all of the selected files at once. So feasibly, when the track mentioned earlier, along with a few songs, was added to the playlist ‘Dynamic’ under the folder ‘Tech House’, you would simply select all the songs, and set the comment field to ‘Tech House, Dynamic’. Allow me to elaborate on the implications:

1. Shut the fuck up.
2. Doing this would overwrite all of the other keyword tags in the comment field for each and every track in that playlist. So instead of producing a sortable keyword list that looks like ‘Acid, Hot, Deep House, Agressive, Tech House, Dynamic’ you would reduce the erase the previous data and reduce the keyword list to ‘Tech House, Dynamic’.
3. If you had another track in the ‘Dynamic’ playlist, with a comment field that looked like ‘Booty, Bangin, Techno’, you would erase the keyword list for that track and all others in the playlist, essentially destroying your organization schema in the first place.

If you’re still comprehending this post, this is why MacGuire’s script is a life saver. If you don’t care about sorting your music, then you are wasting brain space trying to remember the name of a track you bought 4 years ago that would be perfect for the moment, and that’s half the reason you can’t comprehend this to begin with.

KeywordsToComments alleviates this issue by appending the content rather than overwriting it… I think it has an issue with me not encoding the white space in the separator variable i use ( Sep=”, ” ), but that is not a bug, just a soft syntax error on my part.

You can see here that I was able to append several keywords to a track based on how i had it sorted into playlists. The nice thing was, I just selected each playlist and appended its keyword(s), which is infinitely more ergonomic than what it would take to tag all of those tracks correctly with itunes’ standalone capabilities.

Here is the code for the file for legacy purposes. I’ve changed the separator from a backslash to a comma (see line ~107). Font size and line height of the code was reduced for display purposes, but copy and paste if you need to, its all there.

' ==================
' KeywordsToComments
' ==================

' Version - September 18th 2010
' Copyright © Steve MacGuire 2010

' =======
' Licence
' =======

' This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms
' of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either
' version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

' This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY;
' without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.
' See the GNU General Public License for more details.

' Please visit to view the GNU GPLv3 licence.

' ===========
' Description
' ===========

' A script for iTunes for Windows to add or remove keywords from the Comments field
' If required can easily be modified to update a different field by adjusting the working field
' See comments in the ProcessTracks subroutine
' Related scripts: KeywordsToComments.vbs
' KeywordsToGrouping.vbs
' KeywordsToLyrics.vbs

' =========
' ChangeLog
' =========

' Version - Initial version, prompted by this thread:
' Version - Tweak to support insertion of the file location into Grouping using as the keyword to be inserted
' Version - Reverse processing loop to prevent out-of-bounds error if selection alters during processing
' Version - Implement multiple keyword input and optional sorting of keywords, will now work with multi-character separator
' Version - Added field replacement keywords &
' Version - Changed method for inserting fields so a pattern like "Year: " can become "Year: 2010"
' - If not sorting can choose if new words are appended or prepended to existing value of the target field

' Field Keywords - also \n = newline

' Visit for updates

' ==========
' To-do List
' ==========

' Add more things to do

' =============================
' Declare constants & variables
' =============================

Option Explicit
Const Min=1 ' Minimum number of tracks this script should work with
Const Max=0 ' Maximum number of tracks this script should work with, 0 for no limit
'Dim CD ' Handle to CommonDialog object
'Dim FSO ' Handle to FileSystemObject
Dim iTunes ' Handle to iTunes application
'Dim SH ' Handle to Shell application
Dim nl ' New line string for messages
Dim Title ' Message box title
Dim Tracks ' A collection of track objects
Dim Count ' The number of tracks
Dim P,S,U ' Counters
Dim Q ' Global flag
Dim Dbg ' Manage debugging output
Dim Opt ' Script options
Dim Append ' Option to add keywords at end, if not sorting
Dim Sorting ' Option for keyword sorting
Dim Sep ' Keyword delimiter
Dim Keyword ' Keyword to add or remove

' =======================
' Initialise user options
' =======================

' N.B. Edit Opt value to suit your needs.

' Control options, add bit values (x) for selective actions
' Bit 0 = Suppress dialog box for previews, just process tracks (1)
' Bit 1 = Suppress summary report (2)
' Bit 2 = Process entire library, otherwise try to restict to current playlist (4)


' Debug/report options, add bit values (x) for selective actions, initial value may be modified during run
' Bit 0 = Confirm actions (1)


' Keyword separator, e.g. / , ; etc. should be a single character that you won't want to use inside keywords/phrases
' If target field supports multiple lines use Sep=" " & vbCrLf to have keywords listed on separate lines
' N.b. the space separates the words if iTunes displays the field on a single line in the browser e.g. with comments

Sep=", "

' Option to have keywords sorted alphabetically, or added after or before existing content

Sorting=True ' Probably not a good idea to sort the lyrics field in case it actually contains lyrics
Append=False ' True to add keywords after existing content instead of before, unless sorting keywords are added in the order given

' ============
' Main program
' ============

Init ' Set things up
ProcessTracks ' Main process
Report ' Summary

' ===================
' End of main program
' ===================

' ===============================
' Declare subroutines & functions
' ===============================

' Initialise track selections, quit script if track selection is out of bounds or user aborts
Sub Init
Dim R,T
' Initialise global variables
Title="Keywords To Comments"
' Initialise global objects
' Set CD=CreateObject("UserAccounts.CommonDialog")
' Set FSO=CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")
Set iTunes=CreateObject("iTunes.Application")
' Set SH=CreateObject("Shell.Application")

Set Tracks=iTunes.SelectedTracks
If Tracks is Nothing Then
If (Opt AND 4) OR iTunes.BrowserWindow.SelectedPlaylist.Source.Name<>"Library" Then
Set Tracks=iTunes.LibraryPlaylist.Tracks
Set Tracks=iTunes.BrowserWindow.SelectedPlaylist.Tracks
End If
End If
' Check there is a suitable number of suitable tracks to work with
IF CountMax And Max>0) Then
If Max=0 Then
MsgBox "Please select " & Min & " or more tracks in iTunes before calling this script!",0,Title
MsgBox "Please select between " & Min & " and " & Max & " tracks in iTunes before calling this script!",0,Title
End If
End If
' Check if the user wants to proceed and get keywords
T="Enter keyword to add to the Comments field for " & Count & " track" & Plural(Count,"s","")
T=T & ", separate keywords with "
If Sep=" " & nl Then
T=T & "\n"
T=T & Sep
End If
T=T & " and/or prefix with - to remove a keyword."
If R="" Then
R=Replace(R,"\n"," " & nl) ' Replace \n with space & newline
R=Replace(R,"\N"," " & nl) ' Replace \N with space & newline
Keyword=Replace(R," "," ") ' Remove any double spaces
End If
End Sub

' Add or remove keywords from string
Function Keywords(ByVal V,ByVal K,ByVal T)
Dim R,S
If Append Then
End If
If S>0 Then ' If more than one keyword, split & recurse
If Append Then
End If
End If
'MsgBox "Input: " & K & " into " & V
If Left(K,1)="-" Then
End If

' Replace field names with their values, extend list as required
IF Instr(K,"<") Then With Tracks.Item(T) K=Replace(K,"",.Comment)
End With
End If

If R Then ' If keyword begins "-" then remove it if found
V=Replace(V,Sep & K & Sep,Sep)
If V=Sep Then V=V & Sep
Else ' Otherwise add the keyword if not already present
IF V=Sep & Sep Then
V=Sep & K & Sep
ElseIf Instr(V,Sep & K & Sep)=0 Then
If Append Then
V=V & K & Sep ' Add keywords to end of list
V=Sep & K & V ' Add keywords to front of list
End If
End If
End If
'MsgBox "Output: " & V
End Function

' Return relevant string depending on whether value is plural or singular
Function Plural(V,P,S)
If V=1 Then Plural=S ELSE Plural=P
End Function

' Loop through track selection processing suitable items
Sub ProcessTracks
Dim I,T,V
For I=Count to 1 step -1 ' Work backwards to avoid index errors
Set T=Tracks.Item(I)
If T.Kind=1 Then ' Only process "File" tracks
V=Sep & T.Comment & Sep ' Change working field here,
If Sorting Then V=SortIt(V)
IF V<>T.Comment Then ' here
T.Comment=V ' and here
End If
IF Q Then Exit Sub
End If
End Sub

' Output report
Sub Report
If (Opt AND 2) Then Exit Sub
Dim T
T=P & " track" & Plural(P,"s","")
If P

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