iTunes: Change (or Fix!) the Sorting Order of Your Media

It’s easy to set how your iTunes songs, artists, and albums sort themselves. If you’re having trouble with your media files being all out of order when you play them or when you sync to a mobile device, here’s how you can change the sorting to be whatever you like. Birds will sing, babies will laugh, and you won’t have to do a search just to find that one stinking song from a movie soundtrack that’s not appearing with all of the others.

In iTunes, click to select the media you’d like to edit. Then hit Command-I or choose the menu command File > Get Info. If you’ve selected multiple items, iTunes will then ask if you’re absolutely sure that you know what you’re doing, at which point you’ll probably want to click the handy little “Do not ask me again” box before you confirm.


Must be nice. Must not talk about how much I hate this.


When you have the Get Info box open, click the “Sorting” tab at the top. You’ll note that on the right side, “Sort Name,” “Sort Artist,” and so on appear, and here’s where you can edit the information to your liking. No matter how you change the fields on the right, you won’t affect the actual song name, artist, album name, or anything else—you’ll only change how your media is alphabetized. In my screenshot below, for example, you can see that iTunes is stripping out the initial “the” in the fields on the right and sorting by “Black Mages” instead of “The Black Mages.” If you don’t like this behavior, feel free to edit things to be whatever you want. You could even change the Sort Artist for all of that Ace of Base music you have to be “zz” so that a curious onlooker would have to scroll all the way down to discover your secret obsession.

One of the real-world examples of how I’ve used this is with The Beatles’ White Album. Yes, iTunes, I understand that the official name of it is just The Beatles, but oh, it drives me nuts to not have it under W. So I changed it. I’ve also had to make a few edits to keep things in order when parts of a compilation or soundtrack weren’t sorted together, and other such issues. Me? OCD? Nah. 


Did you know you can click on the column headers in iTunes to sort by that category? You do now!