iTunes 11: Adding to Playlists (Without the Sidebar)

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When iTunes 11 first came out, the illustrious Bryan Chaffin pointed out that it's easy to restore the traditional sidebar by choosing View> Show Sidebar. We all breathed a sigh of relief and put down our pitchforks at that point, didn't we?

The formerly omnipresent iTunes sidebar.

As time goes on, though, I'm finding that I'm using the sidebar less and keeping it hidden more, so if you are, too, here's how you can add music to playlists without having it on. It's pretty darned easy, actually—all you've gotta do is pick up a song, album, or artist from your library when the sidebar isn't showing, and as soon as you do that, iTunes will obediently slide open a drawer on the right-hand side of your window.

Within that drawer are your playlists (and any attached devices!), available for your dragging-and-dropping pleasure.

After you drop your item onto the playlist of your choice, the drawer disappears, leaving your iTunes window as clean as it was before.

If you prefer, you can also add something to a playlist by selecting the arrow that appears when you hover over any song, album, or artist. Then you'll click on Add To to see your playlists and put your selected item within one:

Hey, it's like I don't even need the sidebar anymore. Wait, not really! Please don't take away the sidebar view, Apple! I'll be good.

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So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell,
blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?
And did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?
How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found? The same old fears.
Wish you were here.

Melissa Holt

Dear furbies,

That is all.



I admit, after I saw the Wish You Were Here album my eyes were reading text but my mind was strumming along to Gilmour’s guitar and vocals. 

I’ve never actually turned the sidebar back on iTunes 11 and while I can say I live ok, there’s a lot of features of iTunes 11 that I wish were as intuitive as today’s tip was.  First and foremost, respecting my choice of ‘List’ view when I choose it instead of switching back to album after every search!

Melissa Holt

Hey Substance,

I’m not the biggest fan of iTunes 11 and its counterintuitive-ness, either—as you may have gathered. wink

Assuming I understand what you mean, iTunes will stay in “List” view (the view under the “Songs” tab) after searches, but only if you click on a song from the results (and not an album or an artist). Does that make sense? Hope I’m understanding what you’re asking!


Paul Goodwin

Hi Melissa. You’ve visually shown what is wrong with iTunes 11 for people who used iTunes to manage large numbers of playlists. Imagine that you want to keep adding about another 10-11 somgs to that same playlist. And imagine that you have 10 times as many playlists as what is shown in that red box, and more than what can show vertically on the Mac’s screen. You end up in a find/select/drag/scroll nightmare. Over and over and over you have to scroll down that list to find the playlist. In iTunes 10.7, you just opened the playlist in a separate window and dragged each song over to it. That big huge Mac screen was big enough to have the iTunes library on 2/3 of the screen and the playlist on the other 1/3 right next to it. So much better. I hated iTunes 11 so much I got AppZapper and took it out. Then downloaded iTunes 10.7 which is still available (at least it was a couple of months ago). Then I used Pacifist to install 10.7. The world was right again. Your tip here was great, and I tried every trick I could find trying to get iTunes 11 to be satisfying to me. It’s just horrid. One of the most disappointing things ever to come out of Cupertino. There haven’t been that many missteps from there, but this iTunes has got to go. The Apple Support forums of people complaining about it are a mile long. Hopefully people are using the links there to Apple’s iTunes feedback. I know a lot have people have used it.

Melissa Holt

Hey Paul,

Not that it matters much now since you’re no longer using iTunes 11, but in the “Add To” functionality I mentioned above (last screenshot), you can type in the first letter of the playlist you’re looking for, and it’ll jump to that letter of the alphabet. It’s kind of…convoluted…but it works. wink


Paul Goodwin

Thanks. That does make it a little more palatable. But without multiple windows, iTunes 11 is like remedial computing. How in the world some committee at Apple decided a Mac app shouldn’t have multiple windows I’ll never understand. Keep posting tips they’re always interesting.

Paul Goodwin

Here’s the feedback-to-Apple link for iTunes:

I urge everyone that thinks iTunes 11 needs improving to tell Apple. Posting in forums only makes us feel better.

Paul Goodwin

Oh. And bring your pitch fork. Haha

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