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I consider myself a pretty tidy person, but if you ever took a peek at my iTunes library you'd likely disagree. It's one big, ugly, disorganized mess. It has one artist called "Simon and Garfunkel" and another called "Simon & Garfunkel." It has one song called "Are You Gonna Go My Way?" and another called "Are You Going to Go My Way?" And it has, for some unknown reason, five different copies of the Tori Amos song "Crucify." I could sit down and clean out the music library myself--if I ever found myself with five hours to spare. Or I could speed things along significantly by using RealNetworks' Rinse ($39, free demo), a handy utility that automates the process of cleaning out an iTunes library.
Rinse offers four different ways to clean up your iTunes music collection to make browsing through its contents quicker, easier, and more visually appealing (especially if you're accessing it on a mobile device): Add Album Art, Find Duplicates, Fix Your Songs, and Organize Genres. It analyzes the information about your music, including the artist name, track name, and album name, and compares it against the information in the Gracenote database. When suggesting fixes, Rinse gives you a confidence rating about its solutions, helping you figure out if you want to accept its suggestions
Adding album art is a straightforward process: Rinse scans a selected playlist or your entire music collection, and suggests album art where it's lacking. You can let Rinse assign the art it considers its "best guess" or you can review its suggested art before accepting it. Rinse calculates its confidence level based on the information it has and displays it as a percentage; you can set a minimum confidence level that must be reached before it makes an automatic fixes. In my casual tests, Rinse added the correct album art to all of the titles it processed.
The application did not demonstrate the same accuracy when it came to the "Fix Your Songs" option. This process is designed to assign the correct artist name, track title, album name, and album art, to your songs, and you can, again, choose to let Rinse proceed automatically or you can review suggested changes before approving them. Rinse was able to fix the majority of songs in my library, but when it went wrong, it went really wrong. For example, it suggested that the song "Just Dance" by Lady Gaga was actually a song called "Just Dance" by DJ MAKIDAI. Rinse did warn me that its confidence level in suggesting this change was only at 56 percent, and the problem likely occurred because the song had been ripped from a CD that lacked an album name.
The Find Duplicates option also comes with a safeguard; it doesn't automatically remove any songs from your computer. You can opt to have duplicates marked in their iTunes comment field, or removed from iTunes but placed in a folder on your computer.
Even with its missteps, Rinse proved to be a useful companion in my battle against digital clutter. It's made my iTunes library easier to browse and easier on the eyes.