Notes on Importing Audiobook CDs into iTunes 11

To read Apple’s marketing copy for iTunes 11, you’d think that the new app was a massive rewrite, or maybe even All! New! Fortunately for my instructions for importing audiobook CDs, while there’s some nice changes, lurking right below the surface is much the same user interface. Importing audiobook CDs using iTunes remains much the same task as before, with a few changes for some rearranged user interface elements. Here are some quick hints, while you wait for me to fully update the article.

Where Is the Join CD Tracks Command?

In step #2 of my instructions, you select the tracks of the CD and join them together, using the Advanced > Join CD Tracks menu item. But in iTunes 11 the Advanced menu is gone! What to do?

This action has been moved to the Options “mutton” (menu disguised as a button), which appears on the top-right of the list of the CD’s tracks:

Join CD Tracks menu item

Note that you must select the tracks of the CD before clicking the Options mutton, or the Join CD Tracks command won’t even appear in the menu. You also need to make sure the tracks are sorted by the track number in ascending order:

Sort by CD Track Number

Simplified Submit CD Track Names Steps

In steps #3-6 of my instructions, you choose Advanced > Submit CD Track Names, and then fill in a panel with metadata for the CD. The Submit CD Track Names action also moved to the Options mutton, but there’s actually a better way to accomplish the same thing. The purpose of submitting the track names was to open the CD Info dialog, which is now easily opened using the CD Info button, right next to the Options mutton:

CD Importing Buttons

Use that to fill in the CD’s details:

CD Info Panel

The Import CD Button Has Moved, Again

The Import CD button has moved, again, and its appearance has changed. It’s once again found in the upper-right of the list of the CD’s tracks, alongside the Options mutton and the CD Info button:

CD Importing Buttons

Clicking it will display the Import Settings dialog first, before actually importing the CD. This gives you a last chance to change to the optimal importing settings for audiobooks, just in case the last CD you imported was music. The Import Settings dialog is essentially unchanged; set it to your preferred audiobook settings, and click OK.

These changes should get you through steps 1-10 of my instructions. The rest of the steps (11-19) deal with perfecting the metadata attached to the imported tracks. They use the Track Info dialogs, which are essentially unchanged, and so is that section of the instructions.

Hope this gets you started!

54 thoughts on “Notes on Importing Audiobook CDs into iTunes 11”

  1. Hello, these instructions have been useful to me for ages. I have a problem with my latest audiobook though. The 4th CD of nine seems to be faulty – I can’t sort the tracks into order. Track 21 sorts into the wrong position thus: 1,2,3,4,5,6,21,7,8,9 …. etc. I have ejected and re-inserted the CD and restarted iTunes with no improvement. The CD doesn’t look damaged in any way. I can’t seem to move track 21 manually into the correct position. Is there a way to do this?

    1. Sorry, just tried again to pick up and manually move the errant track 21 to the correct place, and this time was able to do it. No idea why. Might help someone else with the same problem though. Thanks for all your help.

  2. Dear Michael
    Thanks for your information, I have successfully followed your steps for importing audiobook cd’s into several versions of itunes. I was wondering how to do it with itunes 12? I can’t seem to change the type to audiobook so it appears in audiobooks within itunes. Do you have any suggestions for this or a step by step guide for Importing Audiobook CDs into iTunes 12?
    Thanks very much :)

  3. I am having an issue with one of the CDs in the Audiobook. I imported all the CDs just like you instructed. They are all showing up under a single parent title with each disc being a chapter in the Audiobook. Disc 1 is chapter 1 and so on. However, disc 35 won’t join the group. It sits in my Itunes as a separate Audiobook. So when the book progresses, it goes from chapter 34 to 36. If I want to hear chapter 35, I have to stop the book and select 35 as it’s own file. Even though 35 is labeled exactly the same as the other discs, it will not fall in line. Any idea why this is happening? Could it be the CD?

    1. @Scott: It pretty much has to be a slight difference in the book’s title. Extra spaces somewhere, a lower case letter instead of an upper case, etc. Try this:

      1. Do a File > Get Info on one of the “good” tracks, e.g., #34 in your example.
      2. Select the entire title for the track, and copy it to the clipboard.

      3. Close the good track, and do a Get Info on the problematic track.

      4. Paste the copied title into the problematic track’s title field. Close the track by clicking OK.

      Does that work for you?

      1. Tried that and it still is not falling into line. Its really weird. I have compared every field in the “Get Info” screen between 34 and 35 and everything matches that should match. I did everything the same and it will not fall in line with the rest of the discs. Could there be something in the file itself that prevents it from merging?

      2. I fixed it. The problem was not in the title but in the author. The name of the author was George and but this disc was coming up as Goerge. I did not notice it the 50+ times I looked at the information. Today I caught it. Thanks.

        1. @Scott: Ha, glad you found it! That’s one of those typos that’s nearly invisible when looking with the naked eye. When you can’t solve a problem, as a last resort, select _all_ of the tracks, and (re)set the common fields to the right values using the Multiple File Information dialog (File > Get Info). It’s the only way to be truly certain that they are all really set to the same value.


  4. You instructions are great, but when I try to click the joint cd button I don’t have that option. What am I doing wrong? The tracks are in order

    1. @Mattie: It’s hard to say what you’re doing wrong without more information. For example, what version of iTunes, Mac or Windows, what were the exact steps you took leading up to trying to click on Join CD Tracks, etc.? A screenshot also helps, if you can post one somewhere and provide the link here.

  5. I imported a cd without Internet access and I have the songs listed as Track 1, Track 2… I can’t seem to find the Get CD track names command. I do not see the Options mutton. I am using iTunes 11.4. Please help. Thank you.

    1. @Steve: Once you’ve imported the CD, you won’t find (or need) the Get Track Names command. That’s only available when you’ve got a CD in your computer and selected in iTunes. The entire mutton I describe here is for CDs, not tracks in general. You won’t see any of it without a CD in your computer, and even then, it’s options are only available for tracks on the CD, not imported tracks.

      The good news is, you can just click on the imported track names and rename them as you please. There’s nothing magic about doing this. Just select a track, choose File > Get Info…, and rename the track whatever you want.

      The Get Track Names command is useful if you’re attempting to insert chapter breaks, or otherwise add extra details to your imported audiobooks, but it’s a convenience, not essential. Now that your tracks are in iTunes, just treat them like any other iTunes track.

  6. Finally success!

    After I sent the last post I sat in front of the computer, completely frustrated. It was then I noticed I already had Audacity (which I’d used to transfer cassette music to iTunes) on my computer. With this app on a Mac you can load the CD, then simply drag and drop the track file (I think it’s an .aiff) into Audacity. The program does access the CD but in a much quieter way – sorry, I’m not too tech savvy. Anyway, the optical drive didn’t get stuck on the damaged part of the CD and require a force quit so I was perfectly happy. I did lose a bit more of the end of the track but that seems a small price to pay.

    Aldo, thank you again, I appreciate all your help. Without it I’d never have kept trying.

    1. @Judith: I didn’t think of suggesting a straight copy. That does work, but instead of “ripping” the track, it copies the raw track data. Hopefully you were able to do a Save As… in Audacity and re-encode the track to AAC or MP3, or whatever the rest of the book’s tracks are saved in. It’s not required, but the AIFF data can take up 10+ times the disk space of an AAC track.

  7. I downloaded Max but can’t get it to launch. I notice the latest version is from 2009, so perhaps it’s incompatible with my Mac’s OS X 10.9. Grrr! I hate missing out on 6:15 when only the last 2-3 seconds of the track are bad.

    I sure wish iTunes had an option to stop an import and finalize/keep the portion already imported. Thanks for trying to help, Aldo, I’m just so frustrated.

    1. @Judith: Hmmm. While Max is older, I just downloaded a new copy and it ran just fine on my Mac OS X 10.10 (“Yosemite”) system. Maybe there was something wrong with your download?

      There are a couple of secondary utility apps that won’t launch, but Max itself should be fine.

      I downloaded from the link right under “Latest” at the top-right of the Max page. The direct link is:, just in case you’re trying something different. HTH!

  8. I don’t see my specific question addressed so I’ll ask here. I’m importing an audiobook from CD into iTunes 12. Everything runs smoothly until the second to the last CD, which has a damaged area in the last three seconds of the final 6:15 minute track. At that point I get the pinwheel of death and have to force quit iTunes in order to eject the CD.

    I’m fine missing those final seconds but can’t figure out how to import the rest of the track without them. If I stop the import four or five seconds before the end, none of that last track shows as having been imported. As it stands now, I’m stuck missing all 6:15. I’m hoping you know of some way to trick iTunes into stopping the import process and keeping the portion that’s undamaged.

    1. @Judith: I don’t know of a way to interrupt iTunes once it’s started on a CD, other than the approach you’ve tried (Force Quit). When it’s stuck on a CD, trying to read a damaged bit, it just gets locked in a loop, and I rarely give it long enough to see if it’ll finish. (Because it never does.)

      For a disc with damaged bits I recommend using a different tool entirely, Max, and enabling the “cdparanoia” ripping feature. You can set the number of times that Max will retry reading damaged bits, which lets it try but then skip sections that are too damaged to be read. It’s very much a a geeky, engineer-focused tool, but if you can forgive the user interface, and figure out the basics, it’s far, far better than iTunes for importing audio from damaged CDs. I’ve had multiple successes with Max on CDs that had caused iTunes to lock up.

  9. What does it take to get the audiobooks to import into the Audiobooks folder? Or is that something that is just a tease, something that is really not used and just a leftover from prior versions. I have corrupted my music database more than a few time trying to get audiobooks into their folder.
    PS, Using Windows 7 with the latest iTunes 12.0 and accessing iTunes from a shared public folder on a PC with multiple users accessing the same library.

    1. @BtrWrld: Your library corruption problem is due to your sharing arrangements, nothing else. iTunes Libraries can’t be accessed by multiple users, unless you are 100%, absolutely, never-fail never using iTunes on more than one computer at a time.

      You can read-only share a library out to other users on the same network, but that’s not the same thing as what it sounds like you’re doing. Basically, if more than one instance of iTunes can write to the iTunes Library folder at the same time, you’re going to corrupt that library, sooner rather than later.

  10. thank you thank you thank you for clarifying. I use your tutorial every single time I download an audiobook with cd’s because I just can’t remember all the steps. I really appreciate the added step of how to join all the tracks into one when they have been imported into the audiobooks section of my itunes library. I was facing twelve different tracks and wondering how that was going to flow seamlessly. Awesome!

  11. I have the same problem as AuDfather May 1, 2013 at 11:34 am
    but I have three tracks (one each for the 1st 2 CDs of the book and 1 for CD’s 3-7). I’ve followed all your instructions and have checked everything I a think of in the Get Info options but nothing has helped.
    Is there anything I’ve done wrong? Can you help me sort this? Or is this another ‘I hate iTunes’ experience to add to the list?

  12. iTunes 11. When importing a multi disk audiobook, under Info, the two boxes list track numbers, but they are greyed-out, so I am unable to delete the contents. Consequently, once imported, under Album view, the track numbers are displayed and then transfer to my iOS7 device making it difficult to navigate. Prior to importing, I change the song name to simply… Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc. I’ve puzzled over your suggestions above, but not sure I understand how to do this. Oh yes, I have even gone in to the iTunes directory and deleted the track numbers so OSX file system just sees… Chapter 1, etc. Thoughts?

  13. Thank you so much for this info which set me on the right track. Of course Apple have updated and changed things yet again, but was able to get my library audiobook CDs onto my iPad ready for travel!! Hallelujah!!

  14. In the past three days , I’ve done 4 audiobooks using these instructions, totaling well over 100 discs (big books like Game of Thrones). This is after spending the last few years ripping to MP3 in Windows Media Player, then transferring the rips to iTunes, then onto my iPhone… what a pain! And on top of all that, I’ve always had problems with noise and skips in the playbacks – I get most of my audiobooks from the library. But WOW!! These instructions have completely changed the experience for me! This is a treasure for any audiobook-philes out there. Thank you very much for sharing this with the rest of us!! Jeff, in Townsend, MA.

  15. I have just bought a new PC and loaded the most recent ITunes and all my music to itunes but when I try to import a cd the import cd button is no where to be seen. I’ve never had this problem before. I have checked preferences and they are all set up

  16. I am trying to join tracks for an audiobook. I put the disc in and clicked on “options” and “unjoin tracks” was listed. I clicked on that, when I should not have and it disappeared, and now the tracks are not joined and “join tracks” is not on the dropdown box. How do I get it back, please. I tried another disc, and noticed the vertical line, which means they are joined, and the “unjoin tracks” is there but I cant get it to come back on the first disc. Help, please.

  17. Are you going to elaborate on using iTunes with the iCloud? I’m having trouble knowing how to get the column heading ‘iCloud status’ as well as getting the cd’s to upload. This seems to be a different world and I can’t find any documentation.
    I do so appreciate all the help you’ve afforded me in the past,
    Kit Winterer

  18. when attempting to download an audio cd , I join tracks, click on import, but after a second I hear the Bell indicating import is complete. When I look in recently added folder the cd shows as Unavailable.

    Thanks for any assistance.

  19. I’ve been importing audiobooks from my library for years. Recently, after joining tracks and clicking on import the cd appears to import for a second or two then I hear a sound as though the entire CD has imported to include the green check mark, but it has not imported. I am using my MACBOOK PRO. Any ideas?

  20. Wow, thanks so much for these detailed instructions. It will make my listening experience so much more enjoyable!

  21. I do not get the join tracks option after disc 9 and there are 24. I have tried everything.
    any thoughts.

  22. Update,

    Step 17 (adding the part 1 or 01). I added the number to the author and it created a new book. Once I corrected and put the part number on the title, it consolidated.

  23. Thanks for the info. I have used it often. One question on the newest iTunes SW, when I attempted step 16-19, I ended up with two copies of the book. One has all 7 of the 8 discs listed, but no indication as to the disc number and the other has just one disc listed, which is the one I attempted to update. Is this normal and how it works?

    1. @Jerry: It sounds like you used a slightly different Album value for the one outlier disc. You might try selecting all 8 discs, choosing File > Get Info, and setting the Album to be the name of the book. That should group them all together. HTH!

  24. Wow! I wish I had seen your comment section earlier. Your system worked perfectly with the old iTunes – beginning to end. Listening to the audiobooks was seamless. I have the new iTunes (apparently – I really have no idea what version it is) and can easily follow your new directions. Unfortunately, when you say steps 11 – 19 are the same, they are not! I cannot find the tracks or do any of the metadata adjustments I could do before! Trying to listen to a book is a nightmare as the discs are downloading completely out of order! ANY help you could provide would be very, very much appreciated!! Thanks!

  25. Hi Michael,
    Thank you, firstly for taking the time to put this together. I’ve learned a lot here.
    Unfortunately, I am also having that annoying problem with getting #Join CD Tracks to appear. I am using Windows 7 and iTunes as Laura D. above appears to be. I’ve sorted and resorted and checked and unchecked just about every box I can think of (and I’m relatively computer savvy and know about hovering and right clicking for drop down menus–thanks for the new term #Mutton, btw). I’ve seen multiple solutions elsewhere online that discuss how to do this with iOS, but I’m striking out using Windows. I’m now at a point where I have bunches of books that I’ve managed to combine into a single “Album” in iTunes, but the ones I’ve already imported have dozens to hundreds of 3-5 minute tracks. I’m hoping going forward to avoid this because while they look cleaner in iTunes on the computer, they still show up with tons of tracks on my iPod Nano 5 (haven’t started pushing them to any of the 3rd or 4th gen iPod Touches I have yet…). So, I guess I’m in need of a “retro-fix” as well as a future-fix.
    I may have to do what Sunny mentions and try an older version of iTunes. Anyway, again. Thank you.

  26. Hey, I just imported a new audiobook into my iTunes. I was able to join the tracks so instead of a ton of tracks, I have three tracks (one for each CD of the book). However, when I changed the file type to audiobook, it moved the 3 tracks into the audiobook section of my library as three separate audiobooks. I’ve tried selecting all 3 tracks > get info > sorting > check artist (also tried checking the book title). But the tracks aren’t merging into a single book. Also, when I double checked the options tab, it shows the media type as Music. I’ve changed it to audiobook but when I close the dialog box and re-open it, it isn’t retaining the changes I’ve made and the media type has reverted back to music. What am I doing wrong? Thanks for the help!

  27. Thanks so much, Michael, for spelling out the bit about sorting by track order. The tracks on my audio CD appear to be in the correct order upon insertion of the disk, but for some reason I could not get the ‘join cd tracks’ menu to appear without sorting the disks first high-low, then back to low-high, then ctrl-A. I never had to do that before and I’ve imported tons of audiobooks into iTunes. I was getting ready to roll back to iTunes 10.7, so you saved me wasting an entire afternoon on that endeavor.

    Thanks again.


  28. Hi, I have the same problem as Con – “Join CD tracks” doesn’t display. I tried Deb’s idea to select the first one, and then “select all” from the menu, but that doesn’t work either. I have iTunes version

  29. Good to see you back! Before I had your excellent directions for importing audiobooks, I simply downloaded a 40-disc book without joining tracks or fixing all the information. Is there a way that I could now do that so that tracks are joined? I don’t see any option to do that but before I delete that multi-disc book and start all over I thought I’d ask you.

    1. @Deb: There’s nothing built into iTunes that will let you join tracks after importing. You’ll have to turn to third-party tools, which I wrote about in this post:

      How to join multiple tracks into a single audiobook file

      The information is still pretty current, though I’ve mentioned a few other tools since I wrote it. If you’re on Windows, the most promising new tools (which I haven’t had time to test) are Chapter & Verse and Teridon’s Audiobook Helper. On the Mac, Audiobook Builder still reigns.

  30. Just wanted to note that if you want to prevent iTunes from asking for Import Settings every time you import a CD, you can hold the ‘option’ key down when clicking the button.

  31. my ipod nano was easy to load with mp3 books using itunes until i upgraded to itunes 11. i loaded the books to my computer then via itunes to my pod via drag and drop. now itunes 11 will not do the job and apple will NOT wind back to any pre 11 version. HELP

  32. I so much appreciate your information on itunes and audiobooks. I really wish I’d gone with some easier mp3 player because this is giving me a major headache. I managed to get 2 huge books done and onto my ipod, but now itunes is itunes 11 and I’m in trouble again.

    My discs do not appear in order: that is, Disc 1 is followed by Disc 11,then 22, 30 and randomly. There are 36 discs. Does this matter? Will they play correctly?

    I have not yet tried to go to your step 5 above because I’m afraid to. I want to make sure I understand what I’m doing (or at least the steps I’m doing; I have no understanding of the whys of the process). Do you mean I need to go disc by disc, and remove the disc number? 1 of 36, 2 of 36, etc?

    I’m sorry. I’m totally confused. Can you spell this out for me and assume I don’t understand how itunes works (because I don’t). Your previous directions (before itunes 11) got me through this because I sat here with the directions open while I did every single disc. So thank you for that. And I’m sorry to be so ignorant.

    Deb Weeks

    1. @Deb: You must sort by the track order. If you’re not sorting by the column highlighted, the Join CD Tracks menu choice won’t appear. It’s very irritating, and not very good user interface, but it’s how it works. This is for importing CD tracks.

      For sorting the tracks imported, yes, it’s again irritating and tedious, but you need to set the track order, and zero out the disc numbers. It’s definitely painful, but it’s the only way I’ve found to make it work right…

      1. OMG, THANK YOU so much for your very easy and detailed instructions. I am addicted to audiobooks and sometimes the ones I want are only available on CDs. Since first reading your article I have imported a few and then all of a sudden my “join CD tracks” button disappeared. I knew if I just came back to your site and read the comments I would find my answer and voila, you are AMAZING!!!

  33. I’m looking at you “Where is the Join CD Tracks Command” under your notes on importing iTunes 11. I have verified that I am using I have set my CD in and see the screen you describe where you show the three choices under options. I have set them up for import by highlighting all tracks by clicking on the first of 19 entries and then highlighting the 19th using the shift key. My screen looks like your sample, but when I click on options, I only get the first two choices. I have tried this and then tried it by entering some metadata, but options still only has two choices. I have also tried importing and no dialog prompts joining those highlighted tracks. Ideas?

    1. I found that by clicking on just the first one, then going up to the menu and using “select all” the “join cd tracks” appeared. It was trial and error.

  34. Thank you for your excellent instructions. I think I must be doing something wrong, though. What I’m gettting on the Ipod (an old Classic) is the joined cd tracks showing up as separate tracks, rather than one complete book that plays from beginning to end. It’s not a major problem to move on to the next cd, once one has fionished, but it would be nice if it did it itself. Am I missing something?

    1. @Dave: Seeing each merged CD as an individual track is expected. iTunes can’t merge tracks, except as part of the importing process, which means the most you can do is consolidate down to one track per CD. This is a limitation of using iTunes to import the CDs, and it’s the major reason why I recommend and personally use Audiobook Builder.

      But, if you’ve set the metadata as explained in my instructions (and I mean, worked your way through all of the tedious steps, not just the first 1-10 to do the import), then your tracks should appear in the correct order, and even advance from track-to-track as they complete. (It sounds trivial, but when you’re driving it’s very hard to advance to the next track without being unsafe. So I think this is important!)

      Older iPods are susceptible to this much more than iOS (touch) devices, and iOS has the further advantage that the display makes it very clear when you haven’t correctly set the metadata, because the tracks won’t be grouped into a single book, but instead display as separate books.

      In your case, I’d recommend reviewing the metadata on the book’s tracks:

      1. Select all of the book’s tracks, and choose File > Get Info. This will display the Multiple Item Information panel.
      2. In the Info tab, set the Album field to the book’s title. This will ensure that all of the tracks have the same value for Album. (They need to be exactly the same; white space and capitalization count.)

      3. In the Options tab, set the Media Kind to Audiobook.

      4. Click OK.

      5. Now you need to go track-by-track, and ensure the track numbers are sequential and correctly set. (And it’s best if the disc numbers are blank.)

      If that still doesn’t do the trick, do make sure your iPod is updated with the latest firmware. And if in the end this still doesn’t work…well, it’s mysterious. At that point, all I can do is say how wonderful it is having an iPhone or iPod Touch to use with audiobooks, a far better experience than the old “classic”-style iPods.

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