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Mashduo quickly compares iTunes libraries

By Lex Friedman
May 4, 2012 04:10 PM ET

Macworld - Mine was originally a mixed marriage: I'm a Mac, my wife was a PC. Years ago, though, after yet another virus had rendered my beloved's Windows machine unusable, I insisted she switch. (She did so begrudgingly, but she's since become a contented Mac user.) I smoothed the transition by copying all of her old files from her Windows PC to her Mac, but some tracks from her iTunes library, for whatever reason, didn't made the leap.

At the time, we didn't bother to figure out which tracks were missing, but for my wife's birthday this year, I decided I'd finally find those tracks and bring them over to her Mac. I'd assumed it would be a painstaking process: I'd need to look for a couple hundred songs--out of thousands--that existed on the old PC but not her Mac. And, of course, her library has grown substantially since the switch, so comparing the two libraries would be far from simple.

Luckily, I discovered Mashduo, a free Mac app that makes quick work of the process. You just feed it a pair of iTunes-library XML files, and it shows you which songs exist in one library but not the other.

In my case, I went to iTunes on the Windows PC and chose File -> Library -> Export Library; I copied the resulting library file from the PC to my Mac. Then I used the same library-export command on my wife's MacBook. I now had two XML files, each containing complete information about the contents of that computer's iTunes library. Of course, Mashduo would also work with two library files from Windows PCs or two from Macs.

To use Mashduo, you launch it and drag one library file (in my case, the MacBook's XML file) into the space on the left of Mashduo's window, and the other (in my case, the Windows PC's XML file) to the space on the right. Those spaces are labelled Your Name and Friend's Name, because Mashduo is pitched as a way to compare your library with a friend's. I'm sure it's a fine tool for that, but that wasn't my goal.

Tapping the Compare button displays a Venn diagram listing the number of tracks unique to each library, along with the number of tracks the two libraries have in common. For my test, the utility took less than a minute to compare nearly 7000 tracks. When the process completed, I could see that my wife's PC had 322 tracks that weren't on her Mac.

Tapping the See Results button displays the actual list of songs: The two-paned window shows tracks unique to the first library on the left, with tracks unique to the second library on the right. As you scroll through the lists, Mashduo lets you jump directly to a track's entry on the iTunes Store to purchase it--for example, if you really were comparing your library to a friend's, and you found something in your friend's library you wanted to buy. (Mashduo doesn't let you preview tracks within the utility, or go to the actual track in your iTunes library; I'm guessing this is because you can perform your comparison on any computer--it doesn't have to be either of the computers hosting the two libraries--so the tracks may not exist on that computer.) You can also export either set of unique songs to a text file, or email the results.

Originally published on www.macworld.com. Click here to read the original story.
Reprinted with permission from Macworld.com. Story copyright 2012 Mac Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.
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