iTunes 12: Bringing Back the Library and Playlist Sidebar

| TMO Quick Tip

Apple seems hell-bent on making iTunes as painful to use as it can, and iTunes 12 really drives that point home by killing the Library and playlists sidebar. There is a way to bring the sidebar back to life and take away some of the sting that's the iTunes 12 interface.

This is no way to experience iTunesThis is no way to experience iTunes

The default album view Apple pushes in iTunes doesn't do much for me, so the first thing I did to make the app bend to my will was click the Albums drop down menu and choose Songs. That ditches the album view in favor of the old-school song list. Then I chose Column Browser from the iTunes View menu so I could see my Genres, Artists, and Albums columns above the list.

Use the Albums dropdown menu to switch to the song list viewUse the Albums dropdown menu to switch to the song list view

Once I gave a more familiar look to iTunes I clicked the Playlists tab to show the old and familiar Library and playlists sidebar. With that, iTunes 12 felt a lot more like iTunes 11, which still wasn't the greatest but at least was usable.

Less flashy, but more useful: My sidebar, plus music list and columnsLess flashy, but more useful: My sidebar, plus music list and columns

Here's hoping Apple has plans to start over with iTunes and give us an app that's easier to use.

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Comments

ctopher

Thank you for this tip!

I hardly ever use iTunes, but when I wanted to update to iOS 8.1, I had to and I searched for the “Show Sidebar” menu item but gave up quickly thinking I’ll look for it later when I have some time.

Now I know why I didn’t find it! - Thanks!

par7667

The best way to bring back the sidebar is to not upgrade to Yosemite or 8.1 and then let Apple know exactly why.  TC will not want to stand in front of the gathered press for the Apple Watch and explain that only 12% have upgraded to Yosemite and everyone will know why.  Don’t upgrade and don’t buy until Apple goes back to its true roots of productivity AND ease of use, neither of which are present in iTunes 12!!

geoduck

Apple seems hell-bent on making iTunes as painful to use as it can,

Oh ain’t that the truth. Big Bloated and Buggy. The irony is that when iTunes first came out I listened to more music just because it was so simple and easy to use. Now I use internet streaming sources and seldom listen to my own library to a great extent because of iTunes. Unfortunately its the only interface to the iTunes Store for video rentals and such.

par7667

geoduck “internet streaming sources and seldom listen to my own library” is exactly what they want!  Wasted $$ on the library and monthly fees for songs you probably already own.

Bart B

Jeff - you’re my hero smile

I launched itunes 12, saw they’ve ruined my layout again, and just quit it because I didn’t have the mental energy to have ANOTHER fight with iTunes.

If I didn’t have old DRMed stuff, I’d have left this garbage app behind years ago, but alas Apple has much of my music trapped :(

webjprgm

Even people inside Apple hate iTunes. But it is developed by a separate division under the control of Eddy Cue, rather than as part of the Mac division under Craig Federighi and Jonny Ive.

Frank0Mtl

And once you bring them back you’ll quickly note:

Library: no longer the “unified’ Library of past versions which listed *all* your content. Now you have to click on the content icon (Music, Apps, Tv Shows etc) to get the library listing for that category.

Devices: clicking on the device in prior versions would bring up the Summary Info for the device and other content tabs. With 12, nothing. To get the device’s Summary, you have to click the Device icon to then select the device which brings up its Summary and library (library can also be obtained with he disclosure triangle but, not the summary hmmm

gnasher729

I use iTunes quite a lot. When iTunes 11 was released, I reported about a dozen bugs to Apple, all bugs that should have been found just by inspecting everything the software does. Most things got fixed eventually. With iTunes 12, I’ve reported five bugs so far. What’s kind of embarrassing is that the “Feedback” menu item in iTunes goes to a page that only lets you select iTunes versions up to 11.2 as the one that you are using, so that gets added to every bug report. Maybe someone will get it and fix it.

For an idea what kinds of bugs there are, select any audio book, “Get Info”, and you’re shown a “release date” which is just nonsense, and you can’t edit the year. That’s basic functionality that should just work.

Intruder

Plus, either iTunes or Yosemite broke playing surround sound in movies or tv shows played through iTunes. Both ripped and purchased material. Selecting stereo works fine, but selecting surround produces no sound.

kevinlane

I’ve heard a lot of people freaking out about the look of iTunes 12, but I like the emphasis on album art. That’s probably because I still think of my music library in terms of LP’s. Most of the time, I listen to an entire LP. If I want to hear a song or two, I usually know which LP it is on. Thus, the album art because very helpful to me. I realize most people don’t do that anymore, but it works for me.

When looking for songs not associated with an album, I’ve gotten the habit of simply using the search field.

I really don’t understand all the fuss about iTunes. Sure it’s changed a lot since I got my first iPod (the first one with a color screen - still works!), but I’m not even remotely thinking about using something else.

Lee Dronick

Apple seems hell-bent on making iTunes as painful to use as it can

I sent them feedback and asked if it was designd by someome who had been fired by Facebook for making things too difficult for users.

There also seems to be some sort of requirement, at least in my case, that Safari has to be open with cookies enabled in order for iTunes to display search results, make purchases, and some other things.

Blissmonkey

iTunes has gone from being friend to foe, helpful assistant to nefarious villain, from something that “just works” to something that just doesn’t.

If the Beats acquisition is for anything, dear god, make it for an improved iTunes experience.

Lee Dronick

I’ve heard a lot of people freaking out about the look of iTunes 12, but I like the emphasis on album art. That’s probably because I still think of my music library in terms of LP’s. Most of the time, I listen to an entire LP. If I want to hear a song or two, I usually know which LP it is on. Thus, the album art because very helpful to me. I realize most people don’t do that anymore, but it works for me.

Some of that album art is, in my opinion, horrid. So I often replace it with stuff that I have created. In many cases different songs, tracks, in an album will have different cover art. Note to do that you need to delete the album name in the info pane of the track, otherwise the new art will be on all tracks of the album.

par7667

Eddie Cue?!?!?  No wonder.

brett_x

“Apple seems hell-bent on making iTunes as painful to use as it can”

Agreed. I try not to complain about changes. I really try. But it’s clear that iTunes has a motive other than to design and maintain useable software.

hledgard

I agree. iTunes is one of Apple’s most poorly human-engineered pieces of software.  And the search function is brutal.

“Apple seems hell-bent on making iTunes as painful to use as it can”

Jamie

Agreed. iTunes 12 is crap, fix it, Apple. :/

MacDaddy

I gave up on iTunes some time ago. Haven’t purchased so much as a single song in over a year. I abandoned iTune first to Pandora but now I’m a complete convert to Spotify. Listen to anything I want, build my own custom playlists, and the UI is beautifully designed and easy to use. Love everything about Apple hardware and software including Yosemite and OS8.1, but not iTunes. The horrid UI and lack of compelling organization contributes to that. iTunes radio also pales to Pandora and Spotify radio. Maybe Beats will fix that aspect but why would I go back to see if it does?

BurmaYank

[qoute][i}“Even people inside Apple hate iTunes. But it is developed by a separate division under the control of Eddy Cue, rather than as part of the Mac division under Craig Federighi and Jonny Ive.”[/i}[/qoute]
Oh how I wish Tim Cook has been hearing all this desperate anti-Cue/iTunes feedback from us inside & outside Apple, so that he might try using iTunes himself & then discover first-hand how nightmarish trying to use it for everything iTunes must be used for (besides impulse-buying promoted music) really is. Then, he might realize why everyone needs Apple to give Eddie Cue & all his staff nice Golden Parachutes IMMEDIATELY, & to start all over again, designing from the ground up, all the myriad iTunes functions in (a) new more ergonomic/appropriate UI(s).

BruceL

Thank you Jeff for this and everything you do at TMO.

iJack

Changing to show the sidebar and column view doesn’t ‘stick.’ If you click on My Music, or any other view, it’s all gone, and you have to go through the settings again. There must be an easier way….

joelgs23

100% Agreed!! iTunes 12 is a huge piece of CRAP!!! I’m pulling hair out trying to do things that were intuitive and easy in 11! . . . . and also, 12 LOOKS like crap. The UI is terrible!! As is all of Yosemite . . . . :(

joelgs23

Bug or feature??? I imported 11 TV shows that I ripped from a DVD. iTunes 12 gave them each a name . . . the SAME name, even though the files were named differently. Now I don’t know which episode is 1, 2, 3, etc. . . . . Also took about 10 minute just to find out they were in the movies—> home video, and then another 10 minutes to figure out you have to change the media type to TV, then GO to TV, get info a 2nd time, to add season, year, etc. . . . you can’t do it all at once . . . no, you have to get info, change media time, close window, go to the other media list, find the files again, get info again, then apply the rest of the meta data!

RIGHT NOW, AT THIS MOMENT, I HATE YOU APPLE!!!!

gwbeckett

What happened to drag-and-drop to update album artwork??

I just imported two CDs and of course it could not find the album art in the Apple database.  So I found an album cover image via browser search so I could apply it to the tracks.

I used to be able to drag-and-drop the image right from my browser into the properties tab for the album art.  That no longer seems to work.  Instead, you have to save the file locally, and then open an interface and locate the image to import!!!  Seems very un-Mac-like.  Drag-and-Drop is one of the oldest gestures/features from the earliest days of Macintosh.  How could they get rid of such a useful feature???    ((Or am I missing something???)

gnasher729

gwbeckett: I usually find the album art on some website, click on “Copy Image” in Safari, and then paste it. Usually not enough space for drag and drop, so I never tried that.

mmsfo

I agree completely with FrankOMtl about the “devices” handling in the new iTunes.  Whatever compelled the designers to insist that you click on the “device” icon at the top of the bar rather than simply clicking on the device as it appears in the playlist column?  Completely counter-intuitive and confusing.  I still use iTune to sync so that a full backup of each device is safely stored : you only get a partial backup if you use iCloud.

mapletree

I think the designers were on drugs when they did this. It really makes no sense to remove the visibility of the sidebar, create white blindness, have a tiny menu font, and ultimately create confusion. There are so many missteps with the UI in OS X Yosemite, I am beginning to doubt if Apple will admit to the goof ups with iTunes and hope that users will eventually stop complaining. I’m sticking with Mavericks.

apauling

I’m unable to replicate one aspect of your last screenshot—the total number of items/days/GB of content in the iTunes library—at the bottom of the column view. I’m running version 12.0.1.26.

Stephen Marks

Beautiful. Just what I was looking for.
Thanks.

Rob Dire

I’ve been using iTunes since it was released way back on OS 9. I think my favorite version was 10.x (which i still use on my ppc dual G5). I DESPISE 12! The problems are too many to list. While itunes match is great for upgrading old, low quality rips into HQ, often remastered albums, iTunes 12 is SO buggy that it often crashes, and i lose my originals of the files i happened to be re-downloading at the time. Luckily, i have everything backed up thrice. I wish to god someone would make a skin that had options to make 12 look & behave like 10. or even 11. One day it was so bad, i even called apple. The guy told me they’ve gotten many complaints and take any suggestions seriously. Hopefuly the next version will give us a “show legacy view options” in the menu or something. Everytime i go to an album to edit track titles, art, etc, it randomly kicks me back to the whole library. No rhyme or reason. a royal pain!!!

Asomatous

I was happy as a clam with this tip. I loved having the Genre, Artist, Album columns up top. Then today, I inadvertently clicked something and the top columns disappeared. For the life of me, I cannot figure out how to get them back. Any ideas?

Varsha Bilolikar

I just cannot figure out how to create playlists on my phone, transfer music without losing what i have on my iPhone or do anything on this stupid stupid stupid, did i mention stupid version of iTunes!  why did you have to change it? it was perfectly functional from the beginning !
CHANGE IT BACK!’

Benny Teague

There is a much easier method th retrieve your old library configuration. Go to this link.
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT203225

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