What Does Merging Albums in iTunes Do?
Merging albums in iTunes combines two separate albums into one single album while keeping all the songs from both albums. When you merge albums, the album artwork and metadata, like artist name, genre, and release year, will default to the first album you selected to merge.
Essentially, merging albums puts all the songs from two albums together into one album container in your iTunes library. The original separate albums will no longer exist after merging.
Merging can be useful if you have a multi-disc album split into separate albums or compilation albums with songs you want grouped together. Combining the albums makes the songs easier to access and manage as one unified album.
Requirements for Merging iTunes Albums
In order to merge two albums in iTunes, there are a couple requirements that must be met:
First, both albums must already be in the iTunes library. You cannot merge an album that is not currently in your library with one that is. Both albums need to be fully imported before proceeding.
Second, the albums can be by the same artist or different artists. iTunes does not restrict merging albums based on the artist name. For example, you could merge an album by The Beatles with an album by Imagine Dragons if you wanted all of those songs grouped as one album.
As long as both albums already exist in the iTunes library, the artist name does not matter. iTunes will simply combine the track listings from both source albums into one new merged album. The artist name displayed will be the primary artist of the first album selected.
Step-by-Step Guide to Merging Albums
Merging two albums in iTunes is a straightforward process that can be done in just a few clicks. Here is a step-by-step guide:
1. Open iTunes and go to your music library view. Click on “Songs” in the top left to switch to a view of all your songs.
2. Locate the two albums you want to merge. You can search or filter the list to easily find them.
3. Select one album, then hold the Command key and select the other album to multi-select them.
4. Right click on the selected albums and choose “Merge Albums” from the menu.
5. A pop-up will appear asking you to confirm. Click “Merge” to complete merging the two albums into one.
That’s it! iTunes will combine the albums, averaging song playcounts and ratings. One album cover will be used for the new merged album. You can tell iTunes which cover to use in the next confirmation pop-up after merging.
Merging Albums from Different Artists
When you merge albums in iTunes that contain tracks from different artists, both artist names will be retained after merging. For example, if you merge an album containing six songs by The Beatles and four songs by The Rolling Stones into one album, the individual tracks will still show the original artist name.
After merging albums with different artists, you have the option to view the tracks grouped either by album artist or track artist. Viewing by album artist will show all the tracks under the same merged album name. Viewing by track artist will show the tracks grouped under each individual artist name.
To switch the view in iTunes on Mac, go to View > Column Browser and enable the “Album Artist” option. On Windows, go to Organize > Arrange By and select “Album Artist”. The album artist view will show all tracks grouped under the one merged album name.
Enabling the “Artist” view will show the tracks grouped separately by each track’s individual artist name. This allows you to still view the tracks by their original artist, even after merging the albums.
So in summary, merging albums with different artists retains both artist names, and you have the flexibility to view the tracks grouped either by album or by track artist in iTunes.
What Happens to Ratings and Play Counts?
When you merge two albums in iTunes, the ratings and play counts for each song are handled in specific ways:
Ratings are kept for each individual song. For example, if “Song 1” is rated 4 stars in Album A and 5 stars in Album B, after merging the two albums, “Song 1” will still have the separate 4-star rating from Album A and 5-star rating from Album B.
Play counts, however, are combined for each song. So if “Song 1” had been played 50 times in Album A and 100 times in Album B before merging, “Song 1” will have a play count of 150 after the albums are merged (Source).
The separate per-album ratings are retained so that any personalized ratings you applied before merging are not lost. But play counts are unified since they are a general indication of how much you have listened to a song total, regardless of which album it was in.
Can Playlists Point to the Same Merged Album?
Yes, playlists will automatically point to the merged album. When you merge two albums together in iTunes, any playlists that previously contained tracks from either album will be updated to point to the tracks in the new merged album. This helps keep your library organized and prevents playlists from having dead links to tracks that no longer exist.
For example, if you had a playlist called “Favorite Songs” that contained tracks from “Album A” and “Album B” before merging, those tracks would all be updated to point to the new merged “Album AB” after the merge process completes. The playlist itself does not need to be edited or recreated. iTunes handles this seamlessly in the background.
So merging albums will not disrupt existing playlists or require you to rebuild them. iTunes intelligently handles redirects for all playlist links during a merge. This ensures a smooth and automated transition without breaking playback or losing your curated track selections.
Is Merging Albums Reversible?
Unfortunately, once two albums are merged in iTunes there is no built-in way to separate them again. The process is permanent and cannot be easily reversed (Apple Support, 2022).
If you accidentally merge the wrong albums, your only option is to try manually sorting through the tracks to recreate the original albums. This can be very tedious and time-consuming if it was a large album collection. Some users have reported spending hours trying to undo a merge, often without success.
Before merging any albums, it’s highly recommended to create a backup of your iTunes library. That way if something goes wrong or you change your mind, you can restore your pre-merge collection. But other than restoring a backup, there is no way within iTunes itself to split merged albums back into their original state.
Overall the merging feature should be used with caution. Be 100% certain you want to permanently combine albums before going through with it.
Apple Support. (2022). Merge albums in iTunes on PC. https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204005
Potential Issues with Merged Albums
While merging albums in iTunes can help organize your library, there are some potential downsides to be aware of:
Ratings may seem off if the albums had different original ratings. For example, if Album A had an average rating of 3 stars but Album B had an average of 4 stars, the merged album may display an odd intermediate rating.
Play counts can also be incorrect if the albums contained songs with the same name. iTunes will combine the play counts for those duplicated song names, resulting in an inaccurate total count.
There can also be confusion for collaborations or multi-artist albums. If Album A was by Artist 1 and Album B was a collaboration between Artist 1 and Artist 2, the merged album may just display Artist 1 as the sole artist.
Overall, while merging albums can consolidate your library, it does run the risk of inaccuracies in metadata and analytics. It works best for albums that are clear distinct editions or recordings of the same release.
Alternatives to Merging Albums
While merging albums can consolidate tracks in iTunes, there are a few alternatives worth considering:
Make a playlist with both albums – Instead of merging two separate albums, create a playlist containing all the tracks you want to combine. This allows you to keep the original albums intact while still being able to listen to a mix of songs from both.
Use compilation albums instead to combine songs – For mixing tracks from different albums or artists, compilation albums may be a better solution. Add your selected tracks to a new compilation album rather than merging completely separate releases.
Edit metadata individually instead of merging – If you only want to consolidate the metadata between albums, change info like the album name, artist, or year for each track individually. This modifies the appearance in iTunes without actually merging.
These options allow you to put tracks together without fully combining albums into one release. Evaluate whether your needs are best met by merging or using an alternate method.
Merging albums in iTunes is a way to combine two separate albums into one single album within your music library. This can be a useful organization tool, but it’s important to understand that merging is a permanent action – there is no way to undo it once albums have been merged.
When you merge albums, all of the songs from both albums will be included in the merged album. The album artwork, ratings, play counts, and other metadata will also be preserved after merging. So you won’t lose any data about your songs and playlists or smart playlists that point to the albums should not be affected.
However, merging albums can also sometimes cause issues. For example, if you have an album from two different artists that you want to combine, the artist name for all the songs will be set to the first artist name alphabetically. The original artist for some tracks will be lost. And if you later change your mind, there is no easy way to split the albums back apart again.
Overall, merging albums can be a useful way to organize a large iTunes library if done carefully. But it permanently combines albums, so consider alternatives like playlists if you want more flexibility.