How to setup for resume listening of many MP3 files - audiobook? folders? or?

I just bought a clip plus with the primary purpose of listening to many MP3 voice recordings.  Each set (topic) is 15 hours divided into roughly 100 sequential (numbered and labeled) MP3 files.  I use  Mac computer - and currently I have these files on my Mac in folders (and  some, but not all, have .mpu files)

I would like to be able to turn on the Clip Plus and resume where I left off (for example: minute 3:52 / MP3 file 46 / Topic A).

What is the best way to do this? Folders, Audiobook, Playlist, other??

Remember, I’m a Sansa (mp3 player) newbie, so I’d be grateful if you could be specific.

Extra credit: will this work if I listen to an unrelated music file or podcast and then come back to resume listening in the middle of my 15 hour topic A? (or will I have to write down which file I was listening to and how far into the file I was?)

If you change the Genre tags of your files to Audiobook you should be able to bookmark them.  Those tags have to be in the files. Just going to Audiobook won’t do it. 

I believe that if you Pause an Audiobook file and listen to something else, you’ll go back to the bookmark when you resume listening to the Audiobook. 

In iTunes you highlight the file, click on Get Info and change Genre to Audiobook.

If you want to do a bunch at a time, you can also see if there is specific tag editing software for Mac. PC people have mp3tag, which will run under emulated Windows on the Mac

If you do use a tag editing program instead of iTunes, then choose the ID3 version that Sansa likes best : ID3v2.3 ISO-8859-1. 

I haven’t installed iTunes 11 because it’s such an ugly inept piece of garbage–10 was decent at least–but previous iTunes used ID3v2.2, which worked. But ID3v2.3 is better.

In mp3tag you make  ID3v2.3 ISO-8859-1 the defaults under Tools/Options/Tags/Mpeg/Write. As far as I know, iTunes doesn’t let you choose the tag version.  

In case you’re wondering, ISO-8859-1 is Windows encoding for the text. The Unicode (UTF) used by Apple can sometimes confuse the Sansa. If you have those options available in your tag editing software, make those the defaults.

I run every album through mp3tag and, under Tools, use the Auto-Numbering Wizard with leading zeros (01, 02, etc…because albums numbered in iTunes will play track 1, 11, 12, 13, etc. before 2). Running the wizard fixes the track numbers  and gives me ID2v2.3 ISO-8859-1. It takes about 5 seconds per album and is well worth it. 

I believe the only playlists that Sansa will handle are .m3u and .pla. Apple likes to keep things proprietary. Luckily your files are mp3 and not m4a. 

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Also, I belive that files are treated like audiobooks even without changing the ID3 genre field to Audiobooks, IF you store the files in the Audiobooks folder on the Clip.  But for organization purposes, I do both.  Likewise for Podcasts. 

Also, I belive that files are treated like audiobooks even without changing the ID3 genre field to Audiobook, IF you store the files in the Audiobooks folder on the Clip.  But for organization purposes, I do both.  Likewise for Podcasts. 

Thank you so much for your detailed answer!!!  This is very helpful.

I have been using kid3 on mac - open source from sourceforge. It seems very capable - and works independently of iTunes!  And now that I have poked around, I have a few questions about  how to implement your advice - and also about playlists on the Sansa.  Thanks for your patience with my limited knowledge about mp3!!

  1. What determines whether to use ISO-8859-1 vs UTF-16 or UTF-18  (is this a question of which character set you use for text? or is it a matter of device compatibility?)

  2. What is the difference between the Tag1 and Tag2 fields? – i.e. do I put genre “audiobook” in Tag2 only or???

  3. Also, I have a basic question about Audiobook structure – is it the “album” name common to many tracks that indicates a set of mp3 files are part of the same book?  And, are the “titles” the chapters?

  4. for the Audiobook method you describe, do I need to make a playlist?

  5. Before I received your response I tried to make a playlist.  I was confused by the options of “relative” vs “absolute” – I choose relative…neither seemed to work if I did this on the computer and then moved the folder of tiles w/ mph to the Sansa.  When I created the playlist for the files on my microSD when they were in the Sansa and connected to the mac, it worked.  That’s a drag if playlists only work on the device where you make them.  Is that how it is, or…???

Thanks again!!

  1. ISO-8859-1 is device compatibility  Sansa is Windows oriented.

  2. Tag 2 might be ID3v.2  But you’d have to ask kid3.

  3. Yes, Album groups them together. Titles are chapters. Think about playing a music album. 

  4. No, it should play the chapters in sequence as long as they are in the same “Album.” 

  5. Don’t use playlists, so can’t help you there. 

I’m getting this to work, but still there are some things I don’t understand.

1.  When i put folders of mp3 files comprising a into audiobooks they work fine if I play them by navigating using this path: Music > Folders > External uSD card > MUSIC > AUDIOBOOKS > myfoldername
Interestingly, although the ONLY copy of these MP3s is on the SD card, they show up in the Audiobooks folder of the main directory (Music > Audiobooks > myfoldername)  (without navigating through the folders to the external card).  However, when accessing the same files this way, various problems occur.  For example, in one folder,  track #32 of 97 numbered MP3s does not appear with the other tracks, rather it appears by itself in a folder labelled  “unknown”.  A second folder with 125 tracks  - the MP3 files are not in the correct order (they being in this order: 010, 020, …090,100, 110…)
This is OK, I can simply locate and play these mp3s via the longer path, but I’m wondering if I am doing something wrong.

2.  Continuous rewind:  I would love to be able to rewind past the begin of the current track to the end of the prior one.  Is it correct that the Sansa Clip plus won’t do this (for audiobooks, podcasts, playlists, etc)?  Does Rockbox give this functionality?

3.  When i first installed an SD card, the audiobook and podcast folders were automatically created within the Music (as subfolders).  That seems odd because the internal memory has Music, Audiobook, and Podcast folders all at the same level.  Should I change this to make things work better?

4.  This question relates to playlists, not audiobooks:  In Kid3 on Mac I have a choice of relative or absolute path for files in playlist.  If I use  relative and then move the folder with playlist onto my microSD card from mac, it doesn’t necessarily work – but if I connect the sansa w/ SD installed to my mac, and create the relative playlist that way - it does work.  Is there something I can do to make playlists that can be moved with the folder of MP3 files so  they work anywhere?

Thank you for sharing your your knowledge!!!

  1.  The Clip is getting its information from the tags.  The lists of Album, Artist, Audiobooks,  etc. that are displayed are not folders. Think of them as labels. A folder is in one particular location, but sorting by labels finds everything with that label in every folder. 

When it sees Audiobooks as Genre, on either the card or the unit, it groups those under Audiobooks. 

But the information has to be in the tag. In the evolution of Sansa software, Folders was a late add-on because SanDisk mistakenly thought everyone would have consistent, readable tags. But since tagging is very inconsistent, and Sansa doesn’t read ID3v1 at all, Folders is there to help find things that turn up as…yes…Unknown. 

So there’s a problem with the tag in your stray mp3–an empty field that should be filled. And there is a problem with Track Number tags in your folder with 125 tracks.  

  1. Not in the Sansa firmware. You’d have to check at

  2. Don’t change what the automatic file structure is. There must be a reason. 

The folders are so we humans can organize. But the Sansa thinks along the lines of a database built from the tags, and it can find them in folders and subfolders. 

And for playlists…you’re on your own. 

Hmm, I don’t know what else I could change - I already replaced tags, and renumbered - and this is what made it work … but only by navigating to the external SD.  AND…when I navigate to the audiobooks folder in the external SD - it does play as an audiobook (if I go to track information - it shows as an audiobook, and I can select chapter mode).  Maybe there is something held in the memory that needs to be purged??  Do you have any suggestions about that?


PS - I also noticed that my new (1st) Sansa Clip plus shuts off from lack of battery when the indicator bar is about or slightly below 50%.  Is that typical?

Maybe kid3 stumbled while making tags? Take a close look at the problem ones. Copy (with cut-and-paste) the same info (minus, obviously, title and track number)  from a working file. 

You can delete the database file that holds the listings, in case something is stuck in there. It’s just the list gathered from the tags, not the files themselves. 

Since you’re on Mac, you should go to Settings/System Settings/USB Mode and change it to MSC if you haven’t already. Auto Detect is going to MSC mode–the computer sees the Clip and card as two separate, basic hard drives–anyway since you have a Mac, but if someone plugs it into a Windows computer, Auto Detect would send it into MTP. 

The database file is MTABLE.SYS. You can delete it and the Clip will build it up again from scratch. See if that helps. 

As for the battery, I wouldn’t worry about the indicator as long as you’re getting decent run times. If not, then you might want to call 1-866-SANDISK, since it might be defective. It should run all or most of the day on a charge. 

I tried all your suggestions including deleting MTABLE.SYS.  Nothing changed.   All works perfectly (audiobooks behave as audiobooks, folders and track numbers are correct)  if I navigate via Music > folders > external > audiobooks.

Still, If I navigate via the root directory Music > Audiobooks – everything is there, but the same variety of problems occur with number and folder structure.  So, I’ll just use the former method.

Thanks for all your help getting this newbie up and running with a Sansa Clip Plus!!

For others reading this, Kid3 on Mac seems  capable and powerful for tagging, creating playlists, numbering, etc – the only limitation is the manual is not written for beginners, and all is not intuitive.