How to Fix iTunes 12’s Biggest Annoyances

iTunes 12, released with OS X Yosemite, features a new interface, which fits better with Apple’s overall desire for flatness, but changes a lot of the ways that users work with their media library. Apple's iTunes 12 is also controversial, since it changes many of the familiar ways we interacted with our media libraries.

There are a number of annoyances in iTunes 12; some features work differently than before, and some features are missing. Here’s a look at the biggest annoyances of iTunes 12, and how you can fix them.

The Missing Sidebar

The first thing that many people noticed in iTunes 12 was the absence of the long-familiar sidebar. This sidebar, present since the early days of iTunes, grouped all your media libraries (Music, Movies, TV Shows, etc.) and your playlists in one convenient location, giving you quick access to any of the content in your iTunes library.

You can bring the sidebar back, sort of, but it’s not called that any more, and it doesn’t give you access to the same content as it did in the past. When viewing any of your media libraries—accessible by clicking the icons at the top-left of the window—just click Playlists in the navigation bar at the top-center of the iTunes window.

The sidebar that displays shows the currently selected media library, plus all your playlists. You can choose this view in any media library, and you can leave it visible in each one if you wish to always see your playlists.

Note that if the sidebar is not visible, you can make it temporarily visible. Select an item and drag it to the left edge of the iTunes window. The sidebar will display, so you can deposit that item in a playlist.

The Annoying Info Window

You may simply dump your media files in your iTunes library and play them by searching for them, or in shuffle mode. Or, you may have a carefully-curated library, with all your files tagged so you can create smart playlists. If you’re in the latter camp, you are certainly familiar with the Info window, which lets you view metadata about your media files, and change much of it.

iTunes 12 radically changed the Info window. Select a track, then press Command-I, and here’s what you see now:

As you investigate this new window, you’ll find that some of the tags are no longer accessible, and you’ll also note that the tags are contextual; they depend on the type of media file you’ve selected.

If you’re familiar with the older window, and would prefer using it, you can still do so. Just select one or more files, press the Option key, right-click on the selected file(s), and choose Get Info. You’ll see a window almost exactly like that of iTunes 11 and earlier:

If you want a power tool to tag your files, check out Doug Adams’ $2 Multi-Item Edit. This AppleScript-based app gives you one window that displays most of the tags you can edit in iTunes, making it even easier to tag your files; you don’t even need to switch among the various tabs in iTunes’ windows.

The Pesky iTunes MiniPlayer

iTunes has a useful little window called the MiniPlayer. This control window floats above the iTunes window—and your other windows—giving you quick access to the play/pause button, the next and previous buttons, volume controls and more. It also displays how much time remains to be played in the current track, shows artwork, and you can even use it to search your iTunes library. Some people may find it sufficient to control music playback, and not even need the full iTunes window.

However, iTunes 12 changed the way this window is displayed, and it can be a bit confusing.

There are three ways to display the MiniPlayer. First method, you can choose the Window menu, selecting either MiniPlayer or Switch to MiniPlayer. If you choose the former, the MiniPlayer displays above the iTunes window; if you choose the latter, the MiniPlayer displays and replaces the iTunes window.

Or, second method, you can click the album art thumbnail in the iTunes LCD (the part at the top of the iTunes window showing what is playing). The behavior here is different from iTunes 11: when you click this album art thumbnail, this performs the same thing as when you choose Switch to MiniPlayer, hiding the iTunes window. However, if you hold down the Option key when clicking this thumbnail, then the MiniPlayer displays above the iTunes window.

In addition, Apple has reversed the keyboard shortcuts used for the MiniPlayer. With this third method, you now press Command-Option-M to view the MiniPlayer and Command-Shift-M to switch to the MiniPlayer.

You can still click the artwork thumbnail on the MiniPlayer to display album art, together with controls:

When you click the close button on the MiniPlayer, things are also different. Whenever you click this button, the iTunes window displays. If it was hidden, because you switched to the MiniPlayer, closing the small window brings back the full window, which wasn’t the case previously.

Missing Music Videos

In iTunes 11, when you were in your Music library, one of the buttons in the navigation bar—the buttons in the center of the iTunes window above your music—was Videos. This let you view all of your music videos. That button is gone now. So where are the music videos hiding?

Fortunately, they’re still in your Music library, and you can get to them easily. While in your Music library, click Playlists in the navigation bar; you’ll see an entry for Music Videos near the top of the sidebar.

Use these iTunes tips to make things work the way you want, and you'll get used to iTunes 12 in no time!

Would you have preferred Apple to keep the sidebar always visible in iTunes 12? Would it have been better if Apple had sold you the benefits of enabling new features, and invited you to turn them on, rather than leave it to you to retrospectively turn them off? What other annoyances or problems have you encountered in the new iTunes 12? Leave a comment below and have your say.