30

I have huge old collections of music that I'd like to whittle down by listening through and deleting those I don't want to keep. Currently, my process for doing so is this:

  • Open the folder containing my music files and play one

  • Listen to it in a player and determine that it's low quality and needs to be deleted

  • Minimise the player and maximise the folder containing my music files

  • Right-click and delete the file

  • Repeat process for every single music file in the folder

As you can see, this is incredibly unproductive when trying to organise large collections because it requires constantly switching between the music player and the filesystem.

I currently use Windows Media Player for playing music and MPC-HC for playing video.

Is it possible to use either of these players to delete music from within the player itself, while it's being played, and then simply have it skip to the next track in the playlist/queue?

If it's not at all possible with either one of these players, is there an alternative that will let me do so?

  • 3
    An alternate solution would be to find a way to play them from the command line (I'm guessing e.g. wmplayer file.mp3) then you can Up, Home, Ctrl+Del, del, Enter to delete them. – Stop Harming Monica Oct 14 at 9:55
  • 3
    By "determine that it's low quality" do you really mean bitrate or some other aspect of the file, rather than your preference for the music? If it's the former, you may be able to run a program or filter the list by "quality" for easier deletion. – spuck Oct 14 at 21:26
  • @spuck Listening by ear rather than bitrate. – Hashim Oct 15 at 4:36
  • 8
    I usually just open both, then lay out the windows side-by-side. No need to minimize/maximize all the time. – PNDA Oct 15 at 12:48
  • 2
    If the collection has rarities, see if you can send them to archive.org before deleting them. There's a lot of stuff "lost" like that, nowadays. – osiris Oct 15 at 13:24

10 Answers 10

34

Windows Media Player has an option to allow this. Go to Organize -> Options -> Library and check the option Delete files from computer when deleted from library

Windows media player Delete files from computer when deleted from library option

This option requires your music files to be part of Windows Media Player's library which by default means they need to be located in your user's Music folder (%UserProfile%\Music). If your music is stored elsewhere you can either move the files into your music folder, or add their location to WMP's library paths using Organize -> Manage Libraries -> Music.

With the option above enabled, you can now play your music from WMP's library and when you find a song you want to remove, just select it and press Delete. Playback will stop and the file will be deleted (to the recycle bin). To play the next song, simply press Enter. Alternatively, press CTRL+F before deleting the current song to start playing the next song, then press Delete

Note that WMP has a playlists feature that is visible as a side-bar (shown/hidden by the Play tab). This is separate from the library and unaffected by the obtion above. For the above option to work you need to select and delete the song from the library view, not the playlist view.

This method works in both Windows 7 and Windows 10.

  • 1
    Start the next track, remove the previous song while waiting for the first seconds of music to register, repeat. – Mast Oct 14 at 16:25
  • I'm struggling to understand how exactly this would work without needing to make sure the music is in the Library, at which point it's more involved than even the MPC-HC implementation with its playlists feature. Maybe this is because I'm on Windows 7. I'll have to test it on 10 when I eventually move to it. – Hashim Oct 14 at 18:28
  • This answer doesn't really do much except to point out the option in the settings, which for the record was already checked on my system. How exactly does that setting relate to actually being able to delete the music files while they're playing - what's the setup and the process for doing so? – Hashim Oct 14 at 18:41
  • 1
    @Hashim, when the option is enabled you can just select the current song in WMP and press delete and it'll delete the file from disk. – kicken Oct 14 at 22:11
  • 1
    As noted above - add to "playlist" is different to add to "library" – Stobor Oct 16 at 0:30
28

Well, good old Winamp has this feature. You can add your whole library, browse it through Winamp, and delete files directly from it.

To be honest though, I haven't used it in ages, so I don't know if the latest build (5.8) has it still.

winamp 2 remove from disk

  • 7
    I've been using WA for decades and didn't know this existed. Nice. Wish there was a hotkey bind for it. I took the liberty of adding a screenshot to your answer. (It's a crime to remove "The Who - My Generation" but I thought it was appropriate given all Winamp2 users are old timers like us) – RJFalconer Oct 14 at 11:49
  • @RJFalconer - Thanks for the screenshot! Yeah, I didn't find an option for adding a shortcut either. But - you can select multiple files, so there's that! – Vilx- Oct 14 at 12:03
  • 2
    @Hashim - There's no indication that there will be a new release in the next few years. The project is not quite dead, but there's nobody who would have the time to spend on it. So don't hold your breath. However what does that matter when you only need it for one job? Anyways, the "delete from player" feature is already there. If it's not in 5.8, then check here for the previous version. That definitely has it. As for visualisations - I don't know what is state of the art today, but I've yet to see something better than Winamp's MilkDrop. – Vilx- Oct 15 at 7:59
  • 5
    I think Winamp is still by far the best Windows desktop music player out there. I don't use it for nostalgia, I use it because nothing comes close to it. – xxbbcc Oct 15 at 19:52
  • 6
    @xxbbcc, It does really whip the llamas ass. – JPhi1618 Oct 16 at 15:01
16

I think you're doing a lot of unnecessary work by running your windows maximized. Resize your Media Player and Explorer windows so both are visible at the same time and not overlapping. Some versions of Windows have a "window snapping" feature that will let you easily dock one application to the left half of your screen and another to the right side.

When both programs are on-screen at the same time, you can process a folder quickly, without even needing to touch the mouse. In the Explorer window, press Enter to play the currently-selected file in WMP. Switch back to Explorer with Alt+Tab. Delete the song with Delete, or move to the next song with Down Arrow -> Enter. Use the left hand for Alt+Tab and the right hand for Enter, Delete, and Down Arrow. I've done this sort of thing before for sorting through photos, and I very quickly got into a rhythm (yay muscle memory) that let me burn through a large collection in no time. There's still some processing overhead for each file, but you should be able to do all of that while you're listening to the current file and deciding whether to keep it or not.

If it won't let you delete a file that's still playing, you may have to start the next one and then go back and delete it.

  • 2
    This is an otherwise good solution for anyone not willing to move from their current music player, and I've upvoted accordingly, but it still involves dealing directly with the filesystem, which is always going to be slower than using a proper solution like a player that can delete music from within in. Hacks like "start the next one and then go back and delete it" are yet another another reason I'd prefer to use those more complete solutions. – Hashim Oct 15 at 4:48
  • 1
    Agreed, multiple monitors or at least using one's screen real-estate wisely would help. – Criggie Oct 15 at 8:29
12

EDIT: I no longer recommend this answer. See my other answer involving MusicBee, which combines the functionality of MPC-HC with the user experience of Windows Media Player, and then some.

I found a way to do this with MPC-HC, although I still would have preferred to have used Windows Media Player, which has advantages over MPC-HC such as music visualisations and a much more natural shuffle feature.

Disappointingly, even MPC-HC can only do this by using its playlists feature, which is enabled by opening the Playlists window pane. This is disappointing, but is so far the only way I've found to do this (incidentally, setting up a playlist is also a requirement to shuffle music in MPC-HC).

To delete files from within MPC-HC

  1. Right-click on the folder containing your music files, and click the Add to MPC-HC Playlist context menu item (note that the context menu item needs to be selected on a folder, as from my testing adding a large number of individual files to an MPC-HC playlist results in a fatal crash)

  2. Within MPC-HC, select View > Playlist, or use the shortcut Ctrl+7 to open the Playlists window pane.

  3. All of the music files in the folder should be loaded into this pane. Right-click anywhere in it for a context menu with more options. Select Move to Recycle Bin to delete the currently playing track and move to the next one. You can also select Shuffle here to enable MPC-HC's shuffle ability.


Due to the playlist requirement of doing this in MPC-HC, I'm still open to other solutions involving MPC-HC, Windows Media Player or different music players entirely that does not require the use of playlists as a requirement. Visualisations would also be a huge bonus of any such solution.

  • 2
    You can also set a keyboard shortcut in the settings for "Move to Recycle Bin". I've had it to shift+delete for years. You can then use AutoHotkey to create a global shortcut if you want MPC to run in the background. – isanae Oct 14 at 13:30
  • @isanae That's a great tip, I'd completely forgotten about MPC-HC's hotkey customisability. – Hashim Oct 14 at 18:30
10

There's an alternative hack that might work: use the sidebar to rate the songs as 1 star, then at the end, sort by stars in Explorer and delete the items with one star.

Note that you'll need to not have any one-star songs before you begin, or you'll delete them too.

  • This solution needs more attention as it does not require you to change your current music player to proceed with deletion. – Meraj al Maksud Oct 26 at 9:02
8

Since kicken's answer to this question only seems to work on Windows 10, making me unable to test it, and since I got tired of trying to make MPC-HC work for this purpose (it does, but it's glitchy, its playlist view is plain ugly, and development on it has also been stalled for a while), I decided to spend the last 24 or so hours looking for and experimenting with an alternative music player.

I quickly realised I was no longer looking for just a music player - whereas previously I'd used my music player almost exclusively to listen to music, it was now overdue for me to move with the times and start using something that had more powerful music organisation abilities.

A much better alternative

I began by looking into foobar2000 and Clementine, based on recommendations from answers to this question and elsewhere, and although I found both okay, both were still lacking in comparison to the solution I tried last.

MusicBee is something I've been looking for for a long time without realising it - a modern music player and manager with an interface and user experience as beautiful as it is powerful. Ironically, I'd already had it installed because I'd checked it when last running Ninite, but I'd never started it up or thought to use it as my regular music player.

The one thing it is missing is a context menu item to add files in a folder to the Library, which I found odd, but clicking the Menu, Add Files to Library, and then navigating to the Playlists tab gives me the view of my files that I need:

enter image description here

From here, it allows me to play files and delete them as they're playing - both to the Recycle Bin and permanently (with built-in hotkeys for both).

Another thing that sets MusicBee apart from the competitors I tried is just how customisable it is - the Options panel is chock-full of settings to be enabled/ disabled and panels to be added/removed, from changing the program's icon (with four included options):

enter image description here

enter image description here

...to changing virtually every component of the layout:

enter image description here

It also comes with visualisations, as well as built-in transcoders and skins (many of them dark, for those who are into that sort of thing), and many other powerful features.

Then there's the Theater mode, which is a big sell for me since I hadn't until today found a full-screen music player view that rivals that of (Windows 7's version of) Windows Media Player:

enter image description here

Finally, MusicBee is complete freeware. That's worth mentioning because at this point this answer is starting to sound like a product plug, which I apologise for, but it's very rare that I come across a product that I know will massively transform the way I do things and make me ten times more productive as a result.

PS. Please don't judge me for my music tastes, this is just one of many collections of music that I've inherited and am trying to separate the wheat from

4

Add the songs to a playlist, save the playlist as m3u, and feed it to rm.

  • This was the first thought that came to my mind too. – Señor CMasMas Oct 15 at 16:01
3

Besides all the great answers that suggest using software such as foobar, you could make a pretty sweet shell script that iterates through the music in a given folder, plays each one, then uses bash's built-in select to give you menu options:

  1. delete this file
  2. delete all .mp3 files in this folder
  3. do nothing and proceed to next song
$ cat ~/bin/music_delete
#!/bin/sh
# usage ./music_delete my_folder
cd $1;
for f in *.mp3
do
  echo "Playing $f; press Ctrl-C once you've heard enough";
  mpg123 $f; # play the file
  select option in "Delete" "Delete All" "Skip"
  do
    case $option in
      "Delete")
        echo "Deleting $f";
        rm -f $f;
        break;
        ;;
      "Delete All")
        echo "Deleting all *.mp3 files in $1";
        rm -f *.mp3;
        exit 0;
        break;
        ;;
      "Skip"|*)
        echo "Skipping $f";
        break;
        ;;
    esac
    break;
  done
done

Example usage:

$ music_delete test2/
Playing test1.mp3; press Ctrl-C once you've heard enough
...
1) Delete
2) Delete All
3) Skip
#? 1
Deleting test1.mp3
Playing test2.mp3; press Ctrl-C once you've heard enough
...
1) Delete
2) Delete All
3) Skip
#? 3
Skipping test2.mp3
Playing test3.mp3; press Ctrl-C once you've heard enough
...
1) Delete
2) Delete All
3) Skip
#? 2
Deleting all *.mp3 files in test2/

Advantages:

  • Everything can be done from the keyboard with no pesky clicking. Even if you use a GUI program to play the file you can exit it with Alt-F4 or Ctrl-W
  • Should work on almost any machine (Posix compliant so you don't even need bash technically)
  • Using mpg123 or other command-line utils to play the music files, you can skip back and forth through the song easily with just the keyboard
  • Leet af
  • This approach is extensible to any type of file you want to review, including videos, pdfs, pictures, etc.
  • Can change the script to use GNU find and recursively search through whole directory structures for files.

Caveats:

  • Need a posix-compliant shell installed. On Windows this can be installed with e.g. the Linux subsytem or Cygwin
  • Need the mpg123 executable installed and in your user's path (which Cygwin can install as can Ubuntu or other Linux distros
  • mpg123 can be replaced with any program that plays mp3 files and accepts them as command line arguments. This should include foobar and vlc to name a few
  • You will need to put the full path to the executable if it's not in your user's path
  • You can change *.mp3 to a list of file formats e.g. *.mp3 *.flac *.alac
  • I haven't tested this with any files with weird names, even just names with spaces, so be careful and run some tests!
1

Both Winamp and Clementine can delete files while playing. Clementine is now better than Winamp, and is still being updated regularly. Windows Media Player makes an awful music player.

  • You need to provide step by step instructions to make this answer better. – Meraj al Maksud Oct 26 at 9:03
0

I suggest using Windows File Explorer instead of WMP to do the finding and deleting of files. These would be the steps.

  1. Create a new folder for the files you want to keep.
  2. Open two windows of Windows File Explorer. One will point to the existing music folder and the other will point to the new one.
  3. Highlight any file in the existing folder. Play the song (press Enter, right click and select Play with Windows Media Player, double click, etc). Then close the music playing software (Media Player, Groove, whatever).
  4. If you decide to keep the file, cut and paste it to the new folder. Otherwise, delete it.

The advantage of this approach is that the original folder will only contain files that have require decisions. You don't have to keep track of anything, and you don't really have to do much searching.

  • I was talking about minimising the windows there rather than closing, and yes you're right, if you stay focused and don't select anything else in Explorer then the file should stay selected so searching can be avoided - I've edited to reflect these points. That said, your suggestion of using two windows and cutting and pasting files over would be even slower, and misses the point that I was looking for a way to do this within the player in order to interact with the filesystem less and make the process faster, not the opposite of that. – Hashim Oct 14 at 18:35
  • Your last edit confuses things. – Hashim Oct 14 at 18:37

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