After launching, Song Sergeant will automatically find and load your iTunes library, launch iTunes (if necessary), and start checking your library for problems. Song Sergeant will then automark the duplicates it found, marking which information and which audio data you'd probably like to keep amongst each group of duplicates. More on automarking below.
In addition to Duplicates, click the icons in Song Sergeant's toolbar to view other types of problems it may have found.
This list of songs are those that appear to be redundant within your library, and are shown grouped. By default, Song Sergeant looks for songs that have the same (or similar) titles and artist names, and have durations within 10 seconds of each other. You can fine tune these criteria in the Preferences window, where you can adjust the match information above, or even add match information such as album title, file kind, or file size.
Each song has its track information treated separately from its actual audio data, because the best track information isn't necessarily attached to the best audio data. Checkboxes in the list let you mark which track information and which audio data you'd like to keep for each group of duplicate songs. There's also a handy little green "play" button in the audio data section to let you quickly listen to any track.
If Song Sergeant is showing some songs as duplicates of one another and you've determined that they aren't, you'll want to either adjust the Duplicates criteria to be more discerning in the Preferences window, or you can simply let Song Sergeant know that the particular songs should never be considered as duplicates of one another ever again by selecting them and clicking the "Note As Not Duplicates" button below the list.
Everything peachy? Just click the "Merge Marked" button to let Song Sergeant take care of the marked songs. Any duplicate group with both track information marked and audio data marked will get merged together, with the unchecked items in that group being "unkept". You can choose what you'd like to happen to these "unkept" songs with the "Unkept songs" pop-up button below the list. By default, they're removed from iTunes and put into your Trash.
Knowing what songs are duplicates of one another doesn't do you much good if you have to manually pick what you want to keep, and that's where Automarking comes in. By default, Song Sergeant will prefer track information that is the most 'complete', with the most filled-in fields of information (including many that you don't see in Song Sergeant itself). That being equal, it will then prefer the most played song. For the audio data, it will prefer the highest quality. You can fine tune how Song Sergeant automarks duplicates in the Preferences window, and a little "gear" button in the upper right of the Duplicates list will take you directly to it.
If you'd like to approach your duplicates in smaller groups, just click the Unmark button and then select some groups before clicking the Automark button. Both of these buttons will affect whatever is selected, or everything if you have less than two items selected.
If you don't want Song Sergeant picking what to keep at all, just click the Unmark button and click the checkboxes in the Duplicates list yourself.
Song Sergeant finds artist names and album names that are very similar but not exactly the same, and presents them here. Song Sergeant chooses a preferred one for each inconsistent group for you, but not at random — it does know about some oddly-capitalized band names, but otherwise mainly relies on common sense rules to pick which of the inconsistent names you'd probably want.
It's quite surprising how many artists or albums have names with trailing spaces that you never realized were there; even this will result in your iPod presenting an album's music as being split into two apparently identically named partial albums. To help you see them, Song Sergeant shows "quote marks" around members of an inconsistent group if one or more of them has white space issues.
You can double-click any name in the list to prefer it, if Song Sergeant didn't choose the best one for you automatically. Finally, select some (or all) of the entries in the list and mash the "Rename Selected as Preferred" button to clear up the mess.
The longer you've been collecting digital music, the more orphaned song files you're likely to have lying around within your iTunes library folder. For whatever reason, iTunes has completely forgotten about them — perhaps you deleted them from your library but told iTunes not to Trash them.
At any rate, they're probably either long-missing gems or a total waste of space. Select some and make up your mind to either Add Selected to iTunes or Trash Selected. If you add some back into your iTunes library, you'll probably want to rescan your library for duplicates and inconsistent names so that these newly adopted orphans will be considered, and Song Sergeant will helpfully ask you if you'd like to rescan.
The dreaded little grey exclamation points littering some unfortunate people's iTunes libraries indicate that it has lost track of where some of their song files are. Maybe some were lost in a hard drive crash, others manually deleted in Finder, and there might even be some that iTunes doesn't even know are missing yet until you try to play them. Song Sergeant checks all music in your library, and anything that it can't coax iTunes into locating will appear in its list. If it's here, you really only have one choice — select them in the Missing section of Song Sergeant and Remove Selected from iTunes.
Reuniting Missing & Orphans
When Song Sergeant finishes scanning for problems, it may decide that some of the orphaned song files it found are a match for song entries in iTunes that are missing their files — and so the Sarge will offer to reunite them immediately after the scan, no tears involved.
Whichever type of problem you're looking at, it would be helpful to have a look at everything else you have in your iTunes library by a particular artist. When eliminating duplicates, you might want to be sure that you're keeping the track information for a complete album you have instead of keeping info from a movie soundtrack, and album artwork can be very handy to ensure that you're picking the right name from a list of inconsistent names.
Just select something in one of Song Sergeant's lists of problem songs, and the Related section shows everything you have by that artist. Song Sergeant even helpfully selects the same song if possible. You can resize this area by dragging the dimple on its edge, and you can resize the album art section by dragging the dimple between it and the list of tracks.