All About ID3 tags on Mac


What is an ID3 tag?

The ID3 tag is used to display song Title and Artist information on players that support this feature. The MP3 will play regardless or whether the ID3 tag information is there or not. The MP3 format has evolved over time and one of the things that has changed is the format of the ID3 tag. There a two types of ID3 tags, the first generation format (ID3v1) and the second generation format (ID3v2).

First generation ID3 tags – ID3v1 and Older Players

The first generation of ID3 tag is called referred to as an ID3v1 tag.

  • If you have an older MP3 player, you need an ID3v1 tag to display the information.¬†
  • If your MP3 only contains ID3v2 tags, you can add an ID3v1 tag by using the ‚ÄúAppend ID3v1 Tags‚ÄĚ preference when you burn the CD or DVD.
  • Your older MP3 player does not require the ID3V2 tags, and they take up a lot of space.¬† You can strip these unneeded tags using the ‚ÄúStrip ID3V2 Tags‚ÄĚ preference.

First generation ID3 tags – ID3v1 and Newer Players

If you have current MP3 player, it will display the information available in the ID3v2 tag, or in the ID3v1 tag if an ID3v2 tag is not available.  If there is no tag, file name information will be displayed.

It’s important to know that

  • The MP3 will play regardless or whether the ID3 tag information is there or not.¬†
  • Whether or not the song Title and Artist information is displayed depends on what type of ID3 tag is in the MP3 and what type of player you are using.

The difference between an ID3 tag and Meta Data

Other music formats use their own tag formats, often referred to as meta data, instead of as an ID3 tag.  Whether or not this data is present will not affect music playback but it will affect displayed information.