Strip All Unwanted MP3 ID3 Tags

Posted by admin on June 20, 2014 under Tech Tips | 14 Comments to Read

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A while back, I wanted to find a tool that would go through my entire collection of MP3’s and remove all the extra ID3 tags I didn’t want. For example, when I purchase music from Amazon, Rhapsody, and other online music stores, there are a number of tags in the files that track things like the purchase date and sales transaction ID’s. I also like to get rid of annoying comments and other hidden tags that most editors won’t even show you.

In my search for a tool, I came across this very useful post outlining a similar project. In the authors quest to do the same thing, he came up with a shell script that searches for all MP3 files, and removes tags that are not in his list of “good” tags. I usually don’t like to rehash the work someone else has done, but since I use his script so often, I thought it would be useful to repost it with only minor modifications.

Prerequisite: Install eyeD3

The script requires the eyeD3 tag editor to parse and manipulate the tag data. So be sure to install eyeD3, which should be available in your favorite Linux repository.

sudo apt-get install eyed3

Save and Modify Script

Save the following script as somewhere in your executable path.

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# Script name:
# Original Author: Ian of DarkStarShout Blog
# Site:
# Options slightly modified to liking of
#Determine tags present:
find . -iname "*.mp3" -exec eyeD3 --no-color -v {} ; > $indexfile
tagspresent=`sort -u $indexfile | awk -F): '/^<.*$/ {print $1}' 
| uniq | awk -F)> '{print $1}' | awk -F( '{print $(NF)}' 
| awk 'BEGIN {ORS=" "} {print $0}'`
rm $indexfile
#Determine tags to strip:
tostrip=`echo -n $tagspresent $oktags $oktags 
| awk 'BEGIN {RS=" "; ORS="n"} {print $0}' | sort | uniq -u 
| awk 'BEGIN {ORS=" "} {print $0}'`
#Confirm action:
echo The following tags have been found in the mp3s:
echo $tagspresent
echo These tags are to be stripped:
echo $tostrip
echo -n Press enter to confirm, or Ctrl+C to cancel...
read dummy
#Strip 'em
stripstring=`echo $tostrip 
| awk 'BEGIN {FS="n"; RS=" "} {print "--set-text-frame=" $1 ": "}'`
# First pass copies any v1.x tags to v2.3 and strips unwanted tag data.
# Second pass removes v1.x tags, since I don't like to use them.
# Without --no-tagging-time-frame, a new unwanted tag is added.  :-)
find . -iname "*.mp3" 
-exec eyeD3 --to-v2.3 --no-tagging-time-frame $stripstring {} ; 
-exec eyeD3 --remove-v1 --no-tagging-time-frame {} ; 
echo "Script complete!"

To run the script, just execute it from the top level parent directory.

cd ~/Music/

I really didn’t change a whole lot from the original, only making slight tweaks to eyeD3 options. For example, I removed colors from the eyeD3 output when creating the first list of tags, and added a line to remove v1.x ID3 tags since I don’t like to keep them around.

Be sure to edit the list of good tags identified by the “okaytags” variable. My preferred list includes the following:


TALB - Album/Movie/Show title
APIC - Attached picture (Album Art)
TCON - Content type (Genre)
TPE1 - Lead performer(s)/Soloist(s)
TPE2 - Band/orchestra/accompaniment
TPE3 - Conductor/performer refinement
TIT2 - Title/songname/content description
TRCK - Track number/Position in set
TYER - Year
TCOM - Composer
TPOS - Part of a set


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MP3 Tag Editing in Linux

Posted by admin on July 12, 2008 under Tech Tips | 15 Comments to Read

There’s a number of MP3 tag editors available for the Linux platform, but there are two I use exclusively. EasyTag by far is the easiest and probably the most popular graphical MP3 tag editors available, and I use it a great deal for a majority of my MP3 tagging and renaming functions. For quickly identifying, converting and stripping unwanted tags, I use a python based command line application called eyeD3.

In my experience, EasyTag is the most versatile tag editor available.  Some often wonder why on first launch that all of their tracks are highlighted in red and why it keeps prompting them to save changes that they didn’t make.  This is because by default EasyTag writes both v1.1 and v2.4 tags to files it touches, and will attempt to automatically upgrade all v2.3 tags it has scanned.  This behavior can be adjusted from “Settings… Preferences… ID3 Tag Settings”.  If you have a player that is not compatible with 2.4 tags, then this is the place to change it back to v2.3.  Uncheck the “Automatically convert old ID3v2 tag versions” option if you would like to stop that behavior. Personally, I also remove the option to save ID3v1.x tags.

EasyTag Preferences Window

It’s easy to get a bit overwhelmed with all the options EasyTag has to offer, but the defaults are typically safe to use.  Here’s a couple screenshots of the main user interface.

EasyTag Main Window EasyTag Album Art

Other useful features include the ability to perform bulk file and directory renaming based on the tag data, or even set the tags based on the directory and file naming convention.  You can clear all tags (be careful), and automatically populate tags from CDDB sources such as,, and

There are also a slew of command line tag editors each with their own strengths and weaknesses.  The lack of 2.4 support plagues most of them, with the exception of eyeD3.  This application is wicked cool.  Not only does it support v2.4 tags but it also provides a very clean display of current tags using color and bold text.  You can attach album art, add new or modify existing tags, and of course is easily scriptable.

Rhythmbox ID3 Tag Issues

Posted by admin on July 8, 2008 under Tech Tips | 11 Comments to Read

So I recently noticed that Rhythmbox was behaving strangely when reading the ID3 tags of my MP3 collection purchased online via No matter what ID3 tag editor I used to try to correct the issue, Rhythmbox appeared to be displaying tag information that didn’t seem to match any of the values they should be. Artist names would not appear as I set them. Track numbers and genres would display as blank values. ‘What gives?’, I thought.

So I decided to use “strings” to take a look inside the MP3’s and find out what’s going on. It turns out my MP3’s were double tagged with v1 metadata and it was screwing up Rhythmbox’s organizational skills! Boo!

Some brief background info on ID3 tagging is needed before we continue. ID3 v1.x tags are located at the tail end of an MP3, whereas v2.x tags are located at the beginning of the file. To view the raw tag data, open up a terminal window and use the strings command to parse the mp3 for text.

$ strings songname.mp3 | head
$ strings songname.mp3 | tail

Here’s an example of the output obtained from one of my problematic tracks. I wanted the artist name to appear as “Bob Marley”, but Rhythmbox insisted on displaying “Bob Marley & The Wailers”.

$ strings 01 - Is This Love.mp3 | tail
TAGIs This Love
Bob Marley & The Wailers
TAGIs This Love
Bob Marley
Legend Song ID: 20254105

In this example, you can see I have two ID3v1.x tags at the end of the file. Each tag starts with “TAG”, immediately followed by the track name, artist and album. Rhythmbox was only reading the first one, but all of the tag editors I tried were working with the last one.

Simply remove all ID3v1.x tags twice, then re-write them if you wish. An easy command line application for this job is “eyeD3“. Others may work as well, but of course your mileage may vary.

Install eyeD3 from repositories if you use Debian/Ubuntu.

$ sudo apt-get install eyed3

Display the outer-most ID3v1.x tag

$ eyeD3 -1 01 - Is This Love.mp3

Remove the outer-most ID3v1.x tag twice, or until they’re all gone. I trimmed the output below for brevity.

$ eyeD3 --remove-v1 01 - Is This Love.mp3 1>/dev/null
Removing ID3 v1.x tag: SUCCESS
$ eyeD3 --remove-v1 01 - Is This Love.mp3 1>/dev/null
Removing ID3 v1.x tag: SUCCESS

Doing so immediately resolves the Rhythmbox tag display issue, as it reverts back to using the v2.x tags at the beginning of the file.

Fixing the problem in bulk:
If you want to fix all of your MP3’s fast, you can use any of the following methods. Remember, you must run them at least twice, or until all v1.x tags have been removed. The commands listed below use "1>/dev/null" to remove all standard output, but still allows standard error messages to be shown. Interestingly, the SUCCESS messages eyeD3 uses are written to standard error, so you’ll see those too.

If all your MP3’s are in the same directory:

$ for i in *.mp3 ; do eyeD3 --remove-v1 "$i" 1>/dev/null ; done

If all your MP3’s span multiple subdirectories:

$ find . -type f -name *.mp3 -exec eyeD3 --remove-v1 '{}' 1>/dev/null ;

Alternatively, you can use a python script written by UlyssesR, originally contributed on the Ubuntu Forums here. The script has the advantage of only needing to be run once and it is relatively safe to use. I actually used it on my entire collection before using eyeD3 in this manner with no problems. I then reapplied my tags using EasyTag.