Getting Ford Microsoft Sync to recognize your ID3 tags
So I never tought I would be writing about my car on this blog. However this particular problem took me some time (like WAY too long!!) to solve and I could not find any posts of other people with a real step-by-step solution. I figured it would be nice to make an exception and write about it :-). The case: Since not too long I’m driving a very nice Ford Focus Titanium Wagon. I’m very satisfied with it, and enjoy driving it on a daily basis. However the audio system (The Microsoft Sync Media system) really sucks when it comes to recognizing the ID3 tags you’ve so accurately set. In my case in about 50% of the cases (read tracks) it just wouldn’t recognize the Artist, Album and Genre. All tracks could be found in the ‘unknown’ section of the USB index.
So what you need to know about the Sync system (with the exception of that it sucks 😉 ). It will only recognize a few tags: Track, Artist, Songtitle and Albumtitle. It will not recognize Albumartist (which is used a lot). And It will not recognize the number of the disc (which again sucks bigtime). I did say suck a lot this article. I’m going to stop that now. The last thing you need to know is that it will not recognize all tag versions. I read about that on the internet. I’m not a 100% sure it’s true, and I also cannot tell you which tag versions it will recognize 100%.
In my particular case I used foobar to convert my flac collection to 320kbps mp3 (cause ofcourse the Sync System will not read flac). What I can advise you is that you place your tracks in a logical folder and file structure. Mine looks like this: Artist – Albumtitle\Track – Artist – Songtitle. When you use a structure like this it’s very easy to read the tags from the folder & filename. You also need to make sure that multiple disc cd’s have the discnumber in the Albumtitle. Cause your Sync will not recognize the tag for the discnumber. When you have prepared like that download mp3tag. It’s free and rocks!
First you need to set some options (tools > options)
You need to specify which tags it will read (I don’t see why you should not select them all). You need to specify which tags it will write. I can confirm in this case that version 2.3 ISO-8859-1 is working and I believe I read somewhere that Sync doesn’t support v2.4. Then you need to specify which mp3tags you will like to see removed. Now the reason that you specify this is that you will start removing all the tags from your mp3’s. That’s it for the settings. Now you need to add your mp3 folder. Because you will remove all tags I recommend you leave your original mp3 folder for devices that can actually read ID3 tags and just create a copy of it. Now add the copied folder to mp3tag. CTRL+A to select all files and rightclick > remove tag to remove all ID3 tags. When done all ID3 tags will be removed and you can start settings them again.
If you followed my advise it’s easy to set the tags. Mine are in the Artist – Album folder and have the Track – Artist – Title Format. Just by selecting all again and then using ALT+2 (which is convert filename to tag) you can read the folder and filename to create the tags again.
%albumartist% - %album%\%track% - %artist% - %title%
That will take a while and then your tags are set. The only thing missing your sync can read is the Genre. I do not use it but if you’re smart and categorize your collection in Genre folders first mp3tag can read them as well with the following code:
%genre%\%albumartist% - %album%\%track% - %artist% - %title%
To finish up you need to let your Sync system recreate it’s index. Plug in your USB and in the Sync Media Options you will find a reset USB option. After a while you’re USB key is indexed and it should now display all Artists, Songs and Albums. The ‘unknown’ part should have disappeared. Do enjoy driving your Ford (or other vehicle that has a Sync system 🙂 )