M3Unify Online Help

This page last updated October 28, 2020, 8:30 PDT. You can access this page from M3Unify's Help menu.

Go to the M3Unify product page.


Bug reports, questions, comments can be emailed to support AT dougscripts DOT com. Include "M3Unify" in your subject line. A response will be sent ASAP. Before emailing, be sure your topic is not already covered here or in M3Unify Help.

Bug reports should contain precise details. If possible check Console.app for any M3Unify-related error messages. In case you don't know, Console.app is located in Applications/Utilities/. Launch Console.app and make sure the left column "Log List" is displayed. Select "All Messages" in the list. If nothing M3Unify-related is immediately visible, try typing "m3unify" in the search field of Console's toolbar. You will see some "helpful" log entries indicating progress, but error messages will be of significant interest.


Current Known Issues

Version 2.2.0 released October 28, 2020.

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Notable issues with macOS 11 Big Sur beta

  • Playlists cannot be dragged from the Music app, only track selections.

Notable issues with macOS 10.15 Catalina

  • Music currently has sketchy artwork support
  • Items cannot be dragged from the Books app

iTunes 12.2 - "Share iTunes Library XML with other applications" Preferences setting

"Share iTunes Library XML with other applications" is a setting in iTunes > Preferences... > Advanced (v12.2 and later). It gives other applications permission to access the current iTunes library's XML file [screenshot]. M3Unify needs to access this file to get information about the tracks and playlists in your library. Please be sure this setting is checkmarked ON. Otherwise, M3Unify will alert you about being unable to access your iTunes library information.

Some tracks can't be "dragged out" of iTunes

For a time, there was an iTunes bug whereby tracks dragged from the "Audiobooks" track list would contain nothing in the dragging pasteboard. Apple fixed this.

Currently, tracks cannot be dragged from the "Downloaded" track list.


Quick Help

Drag tracks from Music or iTunes or Files from the Finder to M3Unify

Some items may be rejected: Dragged tracks whose associated files are missing ("dead" tracks) or are not local (streamed Apple Music and Cloud Music Library tracks, or Shared Library tracks, for example) have no accessible files and will be rejected after the drag.


  • Audio files (and folders containing them) can be dragged to M3Unify's icon in the Finder, its icon in the Dock, or opened using the Finder's "Open With..." command.
  • A selection of audio files can be added using the "Open..." command in M3Unify's File menu.
  • A "Open in M3Unify" Service is available in the Services menu; select it to open selected files and folders in M3Unify.
  • An M3U playlist file (.m3u) file can be dragged to M3Unify, to its icon in the Finder, to its Dock icon or accessed using the "Open..." command in M3Unify's File menu to add the accessible files it points to.

Once tracks are listed in M3Unify they can be sorted by clicking the column headers. When sorted by Play Order (the furthest left column) tracks can be re-ordered by dragging them within the list.

The current sort order can be copied to the Play Order from the action menu pop-up or the column headers' view options contextual menu or by clicking on "Copy to Play Order" in the View menu (Option-Command-C).

More columns are visible by re-sizing the main window. Control-click/Right-click in the column headers to show/hide columns, or select "View Options..." from the View menu.

As a convenience feature, Control-click or Right-click on a track and choose to display information about it in a Show Info panel.

Use the arrow buttons (or the Left and Right Arrow keys of the keyboard) to navigate up or down through the list. Additionally, pressing the space bar while a single track is selected will open a QuickLook panel from which the audio can be played.

About artwork: M3Unify can display artwork image data only if it is part of a file's metadata. Invocations of QuickLook will display a file's icon, which, of course, is not necessarily its "album artwork" nor detectable as such.

Export Setting Options

Generate an M3U playlist file

When checked, will generate an M3U playlist using the relative file paths of the copied files and listed by the Play Order of the tracks in the list. The M3U playlist will be saved alongside the exported files (or sub-folders) in the directory you choose after clicking Save.

See the M3U entry at Wikipedia.

Formulate EXTM3U info using pattern:

When checked, formulates Extended M3U track info (EXTINF) for each track listed in the M3U playlist file using a substitution pattern composed of special bracketed tags. The valid tags are listed in an info panel which can be toggled visible by clicking the blue "i" icons. When composing the M3U playlist, the bracketed tags will be substituted with the corresponding ID3 tags from each track.

Thus, this pattern, [album]-[track number] [name]

...might produce something like: Abbey Road-06 I Want You (She's So Heavy)

The entered text must contain at least one valid substitution pattern.

  • Not all players can read M3U Extended format. But those that do may use this information for track display purposes.
  • This information is not written to the audio files as metadata. It is used in the M3U content only.
  • If this option is un-checked then the M3U will not be configured using Extended M3U formatting.

Convert and export files as:

It may be handy to convert higher bit rate AAC, Apple Lossless, FLAC, AIFF, or WAV files to smaller AAC or MP3 files when exporting to a thumb-drive or SD card for mobile listening. Additionally, some older or less sophisticated players can only recognize MP3s.

Choose to create either AAC or MP3 copies of the files with basic metadata copied from the source track/file (Song Title, Artist, Album, Genre, Track Number, Disc Number if available) and extant artwork. Both AAC and MP3 conversions will be 2 channels with a sample rate of 44100 Hz. Bit rate settings can be user-set.

  • The encoding quality/file size will range from least/smallest to best/largest in this order: ABR (Average Bit Rate), CBR (Constant Bit Rate) and VBR (Variable Bit Rate). The latter VBR strategy's quality setting can be set using the slider. The other strategies use a specifically set bit rate.
  • The Preferences setting "Do not include artwork in metadata of converted file(s)" can be toggled on to prevent image data from being applied to a file's metadata in order to keep files as small as possible.
  • Because only minimal metadata is added to the converted files and because the converted versions may be (at least) second-generation encodings, it is not advisable to re-add these files back to Music or iTunes. If archiving, you probably don't want to use this setting.

Skip convert if source file is already in this format. When either AAC or MP3 conversion is selected, by-pass converting the source file if it is already in the format selected (bit and sample rates are ignored) and just copy it.

Perhaps obviously, converting files will take longer than simply copying files.

Copying and conversion times can also be affected by the type of media the files are being copied to. Exporting to a flash drive will be slower than exporting to a HDD or SSD drive.

During both AAC and MP3 conversion, a track's artwork, if it exists, will be added to the converted file's metadata if possible. Not all players recognize image metadata. (Also see Export album artwork as folder.jpg:, below.)

Rename exported files using pattern:

When files need to be sorted strictly by filename, use this option to formulate filenames using a substitution pattern composed of special bracketed tags. The valid tags are listed in an info panel which can be toggled visible by clicking the blue "i" icons. When exporting the files, the bracketed tags will be substituted with the corresponding tags from each track. (See the example under Formulate M3U track info using pattern: above.)

Create sub-folders for exported files:

Exported files will be copied to sub-folders named using the corresponding tag info from the tracks. The sub-folders will be created if necessary. (See Preferences below for options preferring Album Artist over Artist when the former is available and regarding Compilation albums.).

  • Choose a single level "Album", "Artist" or "Artist - Album" sub-folder
  • Choose two level Artist/Album/ sub-folders — perhaps the most common arrangement
  • Enter the name for a single sub-folder - OR - Use substitution pattern matching to create custom folders. (See Formulate M3U track info using pattern: above.) Valid tags are listed in the info panel accessible by clicking the adjacent blue "i" icon. In short, use "/" to indicate a sub-folder, sub-folder names can be composed of text and substitution patterns.)
  • If a folder already exists it will not be replaced.

Export album artwork as folder.jpg: When checked, and if track artwork exists, a single image file will be exported for each folder in which audio files are located. Presumably, this will be a discrete "Album" directory. By default this album artwork image file will be named "folder.jpg", which many audio players recognize for display purposes (others may use "album.jpg" or "cover.jpg"). Additionally, the dimensions of the exported image file can be restricted via settings in Preferences.

This option should only be used when an "Album" sub-folder is being created for exported files. Because only one "folder.jpg" file can exist per folder, results may be less than desirable when a sub-folder contains tracks from multiple albums.

Replace same-named audio files

If an audio file to be exported has the same name as a file in the Save location then the new file will over-write the existing file. If unchecked, same-named files will not be copied at all.

Audio players vary in the way they manage files, tracks and playlists. Some can read audio file metadata, others require a specific directory hierarchy; some maintain a database, others need to read the media each time, and so on. Experimentation may be required to achieve the correct export settings for any particular use.


The Preferences sheet is available by clicking "Preferences" in the Application menu or the action menu pop-up, or by pressing Command-comma.

Check for updates

You should.

Use Sound Check normalization during conversion to AAC

Generate Sound Check info for a file during AAC encoding.

Do not include artwork in metadata of converted file(s)

During AAC or MP3 encoding, prevent album artwork image data from being applied to the converted file's metadata.

Pad with leading zeroes

Pad occurrences of [track number], [disc number] and/or [play order] digits used in extended track info or filenames with zeroes to the length chosen in the popups.

Sub-folder creation

Prefer Album Artist tag data (only when available) instead of the Artist tag data when creating sub-folders that incorporate "Artist".

Group compilation album tracks when "Artist/Album/" is chosen, similarly to how Music/iTunes groups such albums in a "Compilations" folder rather than an "Artist" folder. (This setting is ignored for any custom substitution pattern directories.)

By default, the Compilations folder is so named. Other possibilities include "Various Artists", "Collections", "Best Ofs" and so on

When naming files and sub-folders:

Substitute underscore character for all but 0-9a-zA-Z-,._. Some drive formats may "mangle" file and directory names if they contain certain text characters, such as upper-ASCII, non-standard Unicode or control characters. Checking this setting will replace all but basic alphanumeric characters (0 thru 9, a thru z, A thru Z and dash/hyphen, comma, period and underscore) with an underscore character. This only affects file and sub-folder naming and not metadata or display text.

Use \ (backslash) as path delimiter in M3U file. A player may only recognize file paths in the exported M3U file that use this MS-DOS-style delimiter. However, the default / (slash) character will likely be suitable in most cases. As they say, if you're not sure what this is then you probably don't need to change it.

When embedding and/or exporting album artwork:

New as of version 1.12.0: This setting only applies to image data that is embedded during file conversion and image data when exported as a JPG file—it does not affect audio files that are simply copied. The maximum size of the artwork data exported can be set by entering a number indicating the square pixel dimension; any image larger than this size will be downscaled. In general, a number between 300-600 pixels is a decent smaller size.

Delete dot-underscore files from FAT drives after processing

The Finder may create "dot-underscore" files—invisible files that contain file attributes Windows doesn't recognize—after copying or converting files to a MSDOS FAT-formatted drive. When this setting is checked, these files will be deleted.

Reset Warnings

This will reset all warning alerts that have been individually suppressed (by clicking an alert's "Don't Show This Again" button).

Preview M3U

Display a secondary window that displays the M3U as it would be configured using the current Play Order, Export Settings and Preferences.


Press the Save button to select the location in which to save the files and the M3U file. A Save panel will be displayed:

  • The selected location will be the base level for the M3U file and any exported files or sub-folders.
  • If creating an M3U file, the Save Panel will ask for a name for the M3U file. Additionally, the line-endings for an M3U file may have to conform to the requirements of the selected volume's disc formatting (or of the player's operating system). Select the correct line-endings for the displayed format using the pop-up.
  • Directory delimiters, if required by sub-folders, will be unix-style "/" which is also acceptable by most Windows formats. (Also see Use \ (backslash) as path delimiter in M3U file, above.)

When satisfactory, click the Save Panel's Save button. The M3U will be generated—if this option is selected—and the files will be copied to the selected location.

Pressing your keyboard's escape key will cancel the Save operation. Files moved previous to cancelling will remain in their new locations.

Files that could not be converted or copied—for whatever reason—will be colored red after the Save operation has completed. Specific errors will be logged to the Console.app. These tracks should be removed from M3Unify.

Export M3U Using Relative or Absolute Paths (File > Export M3U...)

This feature was added in M3Unify v1.10.0 - It may be convenient to export an M3U playlist that references files which are already in an established location. For example, audio files that have been previously stored on a thumb drive can be dragged to M3Unify and an M3U playlist file can be exported that will reference those files in their current locations. No audio files are copied or converted during these Export operations.

Keyboard Shortcuts

(In addition to standard keyboard shortcuts.)

  • Select All - Command-A
  • Select None - Shift-Command-A
  • Copy to Play Order - Option-Command-C
  • Export M3U Using Relative Paths... - Command-E
  • Export M3U Using Absolute Paths... - Shift-Command-E
  • Show Track Info - Command-I
  • View Options... - Command-J
  • Open... - Command-O
  • Refresh - Command-R
  • Clear - Option-Command-Delete
  • Delete Selected Tracks - Command-Delete
  • Delete Non-Selected Tracks - Shift-Command-Delete
  • Big Font - Command +
  • Small Font - Command -
  • Previous in Show Info Panel - Left Arrow
  • Next in Show Info Panel - Right Arrow
  • Select Show Info Panel Track in List - Down Arrow

M3Unify does not alter any files or tracks in your music library. It works on copies.


Version History

v2.2.0 (october 28 '20):
- Fixes Save Panel API regression
- Accommodations for macOS 11 Big Sur
- Performance, UI and security enhancements

v2.1.0 (january 3 '20):
- Adds compatibility adjustments for Music app's new pasteboard type

v2.0.0 (september 8 '19):
- Initial compatibility with the Music app under macOS 10.15 Catalina
- Performance and security enhancements
- Minor interface changes

v1.12.1 (april 16 '19):
- Fixed an EXTINF formatting issue
- Minor cosmetic UI adjustments

v1.12.0 (january 21 '19):
- Maximum pixel size preference settings now also applied to image metadata embedded in converted audio files
- Minor performance enhancements

v1.11.4 (october 28 '18):
- Ensures MP3 and AAC converted files include Album Artist metadata tag (when available in sources)
- Minor fixes

v1.11.3 (october 9 '18):
- Fixes issue whereby export fails to respond on some systems

v1.11.2 (october 5 '18):
- Minor color re-adjustments for Dark Mode

v1.11.1 (september 21 '18):
- Updated for compatibility with macOS 10.14 Mojave

v1.11.0 (august 3 '18):
- Elementary support for FLAC files
- Adds preference to toggle Sound Check volume normalization during AAC conversions
- Adds preference to use MS-DOS-style backslash path delimiters instead of POSIX slash
- Improved list navigation from Track Info window
- Performance enhancements

v1.10.1 (july 8 '18):
- Fixed an issue with Delete Non-Selected
- Fixed QuickLook issue in Show Track Info panel
- Minor fixes and performance enhancements

v1.10.0 (june 3 '18):
- Adds "Export M3U Using Relative Paths" option to create M3U playlist based on relative paths of files already in established locations
- Adds ability to open/drag-and-drop an M3U playlist file to "add" the accessible files it references
- Adds feature to remove duplicated file entries
- Adds "Kind" column for better sorting of different audio types
- Adds option to show the Finder Information Window for a file

v1.9.3 (mar 4 '18):
- Fixes Services issue in macOS 10.12 and earlier
- Fixes UI issue when switching encoders
- Improved detection of missing/inaccessible XML file
- Other minor maintenance fixes

v1.9.2 (sept 16 '17):
- Fixes proportion issue with Info artwork well
- Fixes issue with sanitizing metadata from ID3 tag v1.x MP3 files
- Preference to remove dot-underscore files from FAT drives after copy/conversion
- Additional minor performance fixes

v1.9.1 (aug 18 '17):
- Initial accommodations for macOS 10.13 High Sierra
- Fixed issue with user-created sub-folder pattern matching

v1.9.0 (jul 14 '17):
- Adds enhancements to substitution pattern matching for user-entered sub-folder names
- Adds preference to pad disc numbers (separate from track numbers)
- Improves filtering for improper characters in source file metadata
- General performance improvements

v1.8.2 (jun 23 '17):
- Fixed rare bug that prevented directory creation/file copy when using tag text that starts and/or ends with special characters

v1.8.1 (jun 6 '17):
- Minor maintenance and performance improvements

v1.8.0 (apr 21 '17):
- Adds preference option to rename files and sub-folders using strictly limited alphanumeric character set (which some drive formats may prefer)
- mproved handling of .AIFC files
- Fixed some minor UI compatibility issues with pre-macOS 10.10 systems
- Code maintenance and performance improvements

v1.7.1 (feb 17 '17):
- Fixes compatibility issues with older operating systems
- Fixes stall issue with exporting as MP3

v1.7.0 (feb 7 '17):
- Adds Artwork column, displays accessible artwork metadata
- UI updates to accommodate artwork column
- Preference panel update
- Adds Preferences option to custom-name "Compilations" folder
- Fixes issue with M3U Preview window while modal
- Minor maintenance and updates

v1.6.0 (dec 22 '16):
- Files can be added by dragging to app's icon, Dock icon, or using Finder's "Open With..." command
- Deploys "Open in M3Unify" Service
- Adds command to just export a M3U file using absolute file paths of all listed tracks (can only be useful to a player with access to files in their current location)
- Fixes potential error with iTunes MP3 conversion of files dragged from the Finder
- Minor performance improvements

v1.5.0 (dec 6 '16):
- Adds ability to drag-and-drop files from the Finder
- Adds skip conversion option when source file is already in selected format
- Adds (limited) pattern matching options for sub-folder creation
- Adds cancel export via escape key
- Adds Delete From List to contextual Info menu
- For most common issues, export process will not cancel on single file errors
- Fixes rare issue with Play Order sorting inconsistently
- Performance fixes for album artwork exporting
- General speed and stability improvements
- Minor fixes for macOS 10.12 compatibility

v1.4.5 (sept 19 '16):
- General maintenance update and compatibility adjustments for macOS 10.12

v1.4.4 (april 8 '16):
- Adds "Artist - Album/" sub-folder naming option
- Minor maintenance

v1.4.3 (february 14 '16):
- Security improvements
- Fixes an issue with Save Panel under OS X 10.8

v1.4.2 (january 9 '16):
- Fixes a codesigning issue

v1.4.1 (november 7 '15):
- Minor tweaks and performance enhancements
- Replaces info drawers with separate windows

v1.4.0 (august 31 '15):
- Adds option to export to discrete Artist sub-folders
- Toggle option preference to group compilation albums
- Adds View Options panel (Command-J)
- Additional support for OS X 10.11 El Capitan
- Minor tweaks and performance enhancements

v1.3.4 (august 10 '15):
- Fixes minor bug in conversion routine

v1.3.3 (july 4 '15):
- Additional support for iTunes 12.2
- Fixes an issue whereby dragging tracks from a playlist in new "Playlist" view fails

v1.3.2 (july 1 '15):
- Fixes issue with "Refresh"
- Accommodates changes in iTunes 12.2
- Fixes sticky progress indicator under OS X 10.10 (Yosemite)
- Preliminary support for OS X 10.11 (El Capitan) beta
- Adds warning for downloaded "Apple Music" files. Manipulating these files may be a violation of Apple Music's Terms of Service.

v1.3.1 (june 11 '15):
- Addresses rare issue whereby .m3u extension may not be appended correctly
- Performance improvements

v1.3.0 (may 18 '15):
- Optionally export tracks' album artwork image data as "folder.jpg" to Album sub-folders
- Adds field to provide user-entered name for exported artwork
- Adds Preference to restrict dimensions of exported artwork
- Fixes issue when protected audio cannot be exported as MP3
- Speed improvements

v1.2.4 (may 8 '15):
- Fixes a few very minor UI issues

v1.2.3 (apr 12 '15):
- Fixes issue with artwork not appearing on some non-Apple devices

v1.2.2 (apr 5 '15):
- Fixes issue with restoring default settings after cancel
- Addresses a directory-writing issue when as exporting to SD
- Minor performance fixes

v1.2.1 (apr 3 '15):
- Fixes issue with restoring default settings after cancel
- Addresses a directory-writing issue when as exporting to SD
- Minor performance fixes

v1.2.0 (mar 23 '15):
- Provides MP3 conversion through iTunes
- Includes artwork metadata when converting as AAC
- New Preferences toggle to inhibit AAC artwork metadata

v1.1.1 (nov 14 '14):
- Fixes issue escaping characters in file paths, preventing copy
- Fixes issue copying protected files when convert option is selected
- Fixes issue canceling operation from "protected files" alert box

v1.1.0 (sep 27 '14):
- Applies basic metadata to converted AAC files (Name, Artist, Album, Genre, Track Number/Count, Disc Number/Count)
- Provides keyboard shortcut for "Clear" menu item
- Fixes issue converting some types of single-channel MP3 files
- Additional support for OS X 10.10 Yosemite and iTunes 12

v1.0.0 (aug 1 '14):
- Initial release

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