Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iTunes 10 | iLounge Article


Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iTunes 10

During Apple’s annual fall iPod event yesterday, the company unveiled iTunes 10, a significant update to iTunes that arrives only a year after version 9.

iTunes 10 makes some very significant changes to the look and feel of iTunes, introducing everything from a completely new icon to an updated interface and iTunes Store enhancements. Despite the sweeping cosmetic tweaks to the application, the major new feature is Apple’s new Ping social network, integrated into the iTunes Store and the Store section of iTunes’ left-hand column. Other changes include support for TV show rentals, updates for the new iPod models introduced yesterday, under-the-hood performance enhancements, and a re-branding of Apple’s AirTunes technology as AirPlay.


As usual, the release notes only tell part of the story, and a number of other changes are buried within iTunes 10. Here’s an in-depth look at the changes iTunes 10 actually delivers.

Downloading and Installing the Update

You can update iTunes either by downloading the new version directly from Apple’s web site at or simply choose the “Check for Updates” option in your existing version of iTunes. Mac users should also see iTunes 10 appear as part of the normal Software Update process.

The iTunes 10 download comes in at approximately 87MB for Mac users and 75MB for the Windows version, which is actually smaller than iTunes 9 and 9.2 were upon their respective releases. Quicktime 7.6.6 is required for Windows users but is bundled with the Windows iTunes 10 installer. iTunes 10 is compatible with Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista and Windows 7, however users of the 64-bit versions of Windows Vista or Windows 7 will also need to download the iTunes 64-bit installer separately.

Initial Startup

As with prior major updates, iTunes 10 will take a few minutes to convert your existing iTunes library database the first time you start it up. A typical iTunes user can expect this to take no more than 1-2 minutes; users with larger iTunes libraries may require 10-15 minutes. The process does seem to run considerably faster than in prior major iTunes version updates, with our largest iTunes library taking just under 20 minutes to process.


Unlike previous major updates, there appears to be no additional background processing that continues afterwards. Once the initial update process completes, iTunes 10 should be ready for use.

As always, however, the key point to remember is that you will not be able to revert back to iTunes 9 after installing the update. iTunes does make a copy of your previous iTunes library prior to the conversion, but we’d strongly recommend doing so yourself if you’re concerned about the possibility of downgrading.

New Look and Feel

Although it retains the same basic layout as in prior versions, iTunes 10 introduces some of the most significant UI design changes that we have seen in years. The most significant of these that you’ll notice right away is the new “monochrome” look for icons in the source list. Gone are the colorful icons for your library categories and playlists found in previous versions—now everything is rendered as a simple greyscale icon, including the icons for your Devices. We’re not fond of this change, as it makes the application constantly look like it’s running in the background, dimmed.


The monochromatic icon design is carried over into other areas such as iTunes’ Preferences. Note that an option can also be found in here on the General tab to disable the source list icons entirely.


iTunes’ main window has also undergone a number of other smaller design changes. In the Mac version, the “iTunes” window title is now completely gone, and the window control buttons have been moved to a vertical orientation in the top-left corner of the iTunes window. The volume slider has also been enlarged and uses a more metallic look, complete with a swirled metal nub.


The bottom of the iTunes window also decreases in height and replaces the obvious buttons that were previously found there with simple icons.


A new icon in the bottom-right corner is now used to represent the AirPlay feature and replaces the drop-down menu previously shown in this position. We’ll discuss the AirPlay settings in a bit more detail later.


Also notably absent from the bottom-right corner is the “Burn Disc” button previously used to burn a playlist to CD or backup DVD. The option for burning a disc can still be found on the File menu, and has been moved up to the main level rather than below the Library sub-menu where it was moved in iTunes 9. This option can also be found by right-clicking a playlist in the source listing.

Categories in the iTunes 10 sidebar have also lost the old expansion triangles that appeared to the left of each. This is instead replaced with a “Hide” or “Show” button that appears when hovering the mouse over the category heading.


The tabs found in the Grid view and on your device sync settings have also been significantly redesigned, replaced with a slimmer button bar more akin to the bookmarks found in Safari.


iTunes’ main list view has also undergone a slight redesign. Column divider lines have been removed and the alternate-row shading that was barely discernible in prior versions of iTunes now has an increased contrast. Arrows for linking to the iTunes Store now appear immediately to the right of selected items, rather than than being right-justified within the column.


The list checkboxes are now displayed in their own column and have a softer, more subtle design. A setting under iTunes’ General Preferences now allows the checkboxes to be removed from the listing display entirely for those users who don’t use them at all.


Album List View

iTunes 10 introduces a fourth view for your library alongside the traditional listing, Grid and Cover Flow views. The Album List view is actually something of a return to the similar view originally found in iTunes 7. In iTunes 8 this view was replaced with the Grid view and users could instead toggle an artwork column in the normal detail list to provide an album view. The main limitation in both of these cases, however, is that the artwork column remained a display feature and did not provide any grouping or sorting by itself; users needed to keep the actual album name column present in order to keep their albums appropriately sorted.


iTunes 10 returns to the older iTunes 7 style Album List view with a twist. Users can now choose a sort based directly on the artwork column, eliminating the need to display album and possibly even artist columns separately. Sorting/grouping options include Album by Title, Album by Artist and Album by Artist/Year—the same options that can be cycled through by clicking on the Album column heading. Users can also choose from three different sizes for the displayed artwork.


In Album List view, artwork is only displayed for albums with five tracks or more; shorter albums are still grouped and display the album and artist name in the first column but simply omit the artwork.



The key new feature in iTunes 10 is Apple’s new music-centric social network, Ping. iTunes 10 fully integrates Ping into the application and the iTunes Store, with a new “Ping” section prominently displayed in the iTunes sidebar immediately below the iTunes Store. Selecting the Ping option, or responding to a Ping friend request from outside of iTunes will open the main Ping page in the iTunes Store, giving you the option to enable Ping.


Setting up Ping

Enabling Ping will require you to sign in with your iTunes Store Apple ID and password and then prompt you to set up your Ping profile. When setting up your user profile, Mac users can choose a photo from their existing iChat buddy icons, take a new photo with the iSight or simply browse for an appropriate JPG or PNG file.


As noted below the Name fields, the process of setting up a Ping profile will also replace your nickname from any previous iTunes Store reviews that you may have posted with your actual name. You can manage your reviews either before or after setting up your Ping profile to remove any reviews that you may not want associated with your real name.


After filling in your personal details, you are then prompted to choose your privacy preferences. You can choose to allow anybody to follow you, allow other Ping members to make requests to follow you that require your approval, or simply choose to not allow other users to follow you at all. Users who choose to not allow followers will not appear in the Ping user listing, although their names and photos may still show up in other areas such as product reviews. This setting can also be changed later from your user profile page.


You will also be asked to choose how to display music that you like, with options to automatically select any music that you rate, review or purchase, only display music that you specifically choose with the “Like” button or display no music that you like on your profile page.


Once you’ve set up your Ping user profile and options, you are then taken to a Ping homepage, providing some recommendations on artists and other users to follow, recent activity and the ability to search for and invite friends by taping in names or sending out e-mail invitations. At initial launch a Facebook Connect button was also available to search your Facebook contacts for Ping connections, however this was removed shortly thereafter, and it is uncertain when or if it will return.


Friends and Followers

Following other users and responding to follow requests works much as you would expect, with iTunes 10 handling all of the details within the Ping section. When following a user who needs to approve your request you’re shown a dialog box indicating that they will see your details in order to determine whether or not to approve your request.


You can view the users that you follow, the users that follow you and the users making requests to follow you, as well as approving follower requests, all from within the “People” section within Ping in iTunes 10.


Your e-mail address will also receive notifications of follow requests and new followers. E-mail messages include a link to view the follower request which will automatically open the Follower Requests page in iTunes 10 in much the same way that other iTunes Store links work.

Getting Social

Your Ping home page will display a list of recent activity from anybody that you’re currently following, including other users that are being followed, comments being made by other users, and items that they have recently indicated that they like. As noted earlier, depending on their preferences, users’ likes may be indicated by their manually clicking the “Like” button or simply by purchasing or reviewing/rating an item.


Albums on the iTunes Store now include “Like” and “Post” buttons beneath the album artwork and purchasing options on the left-hand side. The “Like” button simply allows you to indicate that you Like a specific album, while the “Post” button brings up a dialog box allowing you to make a comment on the album that will appear in your Ping stream to your followers. Like and Post options can also be found on the drop-down menu for the “Buy” button, and you can like or post about individual tracks by clicking on the “Buy” buttons for the track rather than the album as a whole.


As Ping is intended to be a music-centric social network, the Like and Post options are, for now at least, limited to music content. Other content such as Movies, TV Shows, Podcasts and Apps do not have any Like or Post options available, although reviews that you post on any item on the iTunes Store will be displayed with your full name and listed in your “My Reviews” page. Names in reviews, even for non-Ping users, now appear as clickable links that allow other users to view all of your iTunes Store reviews gathered together.

For the time being, Ping is an interesting feature of iTunes that appears to be Apple’s trojan horse effort to challenge Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks with an initially limited music focus that will surely expand over time to encompass other media. Additional tweaking will clearly be necessary to make it more than just a place to promote music and musicians, but we have little doubt that Apple will take that step as soon as the current network is stable enough to support it.

TV Show Rentals

Announced yesterday as a feature of the second-generation Apple TV, iTunes 10 also provides support for Apple’s new TV show rentals. Note that this feature is currently only available on the U.S. iTunes Store.


Renting a TV show in iTunes 10 works in much the same way as purchasing or renting any other type of content. TV shows eligible for rental will show an additional button that can be used to rent the show instead of purchasing it. Rentals are $1 regardless of whether you choose to rent the show in HD or standard-definition, making it almost pointless to rent the show in the lower quality unless you plan to watch it on an older iPhone or iPod touch device that does not provide HD video support.


Rented TV shows are downloaded to the “Rentals” section in iTunes 10 which appears directly below the Music section in your source list whenever any rental content is stored in your library. iTunes 10 has renamed this heading from “Movie Rentals” to simply “Rentals” to reflect the new support for TV show rentals. Rented TV shows and movies are mixed together in this section by date.


Like movie rentals, TV show rentals can be stored in your iTunes library or other compatible device for up to 30 days before they expire whether you’ve watched them or not. Unlike movies, in the U.S. at least, TV show rentals expire 48 hours after you begin watching them, rather than the 24-hour limitation on movie rentals. This is similar to the restrictions for movie rentals in Canada and the U.K.


TV show rentals are notably more limited in terms of device support. Whereas standard-definition movies can be viewed on just about any video-capable Apple device since 2007, TV show rentals are limited to being played back on iOS devices running iOS 4.1 or later, or the second-generation Apple TV. This notably excludes the iPad, at least until iOS 4.2 arrives, the first-generation Apple TV and all of Apple’s Click Wheel iPods. Standard-definition TV shows can be transferred to any device capable of running iOS 4.1, while HD TV shows require the iPhone 4, fourth-generation iPod touch or second-generation Apple TV. It is also unclear at this point whether TV Shows rented in iTunes 10 will be available to stream to the second-generation Apple TV.

Transferring rented TV shows to other devices works in much the same way as it does for movies. A list of available TV shows appears on the “TV Shows” tab for your device and you can move TV shows back and forth by clicking the appropriate buttons. Like movie rentals, TV shows are moved between iTunes and the device, and you must be connected to the iTunes Store in order to update your authorization information.


It’s also worth noting that like the movie rental restrictions discovered earlier this month, TV shows rented directly on the iPhone 4 or fourth-generation iPod touch cannot be transferred off of the device, regardless of whether they were rented in standard or high-definition.


At yesterday’s event, Apple announced an expanded version of its AirTunes feature, re-dubbed “AirPlay.” The improved feature allows users to stream not only music but also video and photo content between devices. In iTunes 10 this feature continues to work similarly to AirTunes in previous versions, although the lack of AirPlay client devices make it unclear at this time whether the video and photo streaming capabilities are present in iTunes 10.

The most significant changes with AirPlay in iTunes are the redesign of the icon in the bottom-right corner, which still opens a pop-up menu of available AirTunes/AirPlay speakers for you to choose from. Unlike prior versions of iTunes, a speaker name or number is only displayed when selecting remote speakers, not when using the local computer’s speakers.


Selecting the “Multiple Speakers” option now presents an expanded dialog box that shows more descriptive information about the device hosting each set of speakers and allows for individual, per-speaker volume controls, with a master volume slider at the top.


The AirPlay settings under the Devices preferences in iTunes now also omit the option to Disable iTunes volume control for remote speakers, presumably connected to the individual per-speaker volume controls that are now available in iTunes 10.


At this time, the only AirPlay client devices available continue to be the Apple Airport Express and the first-generation Apple TV, and these continue to work in the exact same manner as they did previously. Apple has announced plans to license its AirPlay technology to other companies such as Bowers & Wilkins and Denon to allow speakers and AV receivers to act directly as AirPlay clients—an alternative to Bluetooth streaming, presumably with considerably better audio quality and now video and photo support as well.

Syncing Changes

In addition to the cosmetic changes to the device sync options noted earlier, iTunes 10 provides a few other small refinements in this area, with some steps forward and at least one step back.

Sadly, the Search fields that previously appeared for content such as Apps, Artists, Movies and Books are now completely gone, forcing users to scroll through potentially long lists to find and select specific items for synchronization rather than being able to quickly search. This is particularly disappointing for the Apps listing, where the icon rendering for each app makes scrolling through a long list sluggish at best.

Update: As noted in the comments, it turns out that the search feature is actually still there. It has now been integrated into the main iTunes Search field at the top-right corner of the iTunes window, which will become active on any sync settings screens where search was available before: Apps, Music, Movies, Books and Photos. It also has the additional benefit of simultaneously filtering the Artists, Genres and Albums listings on the Music screen and both Events and Faces on the Photos screen.  While this new placement unifies the Search field behaviour in iTunes, in our opinion it’s somewhat counterintuitive compared to the previous design.  In the past, the Search field has always applied to the main window content, however on the sync settings it is being used to filter only part of the displayed information. This makes it far less obvious that any search capabilities are available at all, and it is not entirely clear exactly which sections the search applies to until you actually start typing.  Further, it is not consistently available across all categories—TV Shows, Podcasts and iTunes U could all benefit from having the same filtering capabilities, yet the Search field is greyed out when those tabs are selected in the same way that it simply wasn’t there at all in iTunes 9.

The Apps tab now provides the ability to group apps by Kind of app—iPhone, iPod touch and/or iPad. For iPad devices, an additional filtering option is also now added in the drop-down menu to limit the listing to only apps designed specifically for the iPad.


The Books tab for synchronizing with iOS devices using iBooks now provides a drop-down menu to choose to display only Books, only PDF files, or both.


Users can now choose to sync specific Albums in the Music sync settings.


Capacity Bar

The Capacity bar found at the bottom of the sync panes has been redesigned with a slightly new layout and the colors for Photos and Other now switched—Photos are now represented by an orange bar, and Other space is now represented by a yellow bar. Some of the other colors have also taken on a lighter, more pastel shade.


Interestingly, the Capacity Bar also now updates in real-time as you modify your sync selections, even before clicking the “Apply” button. This allows you to quickly and easily see if you will have sufficient capacity on your device for your selections. An Over Capacity warning is also displayed when you exceed your device’s capacity, allowing you to deselect items before syncing rather than waiting until the end of the sync only to discover that not everything fits, a great change that should reduce error messages from stuffed devices.


The “Cancel” button previously found above the “Apply” button now reads “Revert” more accurately reflecting its intended purpose—to revert or undo your sync preference changes rather than applying them.


A running tally of the number of selected items for a given category is now shown at the top of each category screen.


Improved Sync Progress

The sync progress indicator has also been improved in iTunes 10 to provide better feedback to the user on what is occurring. Sync operations are now divided into six possible “Steps” and the current step is indicated as part of the sync progress.


There appear to be six possible steps, depending on the content selected for synchronization, starting with backing up your device, preparing to sync, finding and transferring purchased content from your device, transferring apps to your device, transferring media content to your device and syncing photos to your device. The type of content being synced is also now displayed as part of the status allowing users to more easily determine whether they are syncing Movies, TV Shows, Music, etc, without having to identify the content merely by its title.


Selecting Photos for Second-Generation Apple TV

A new menu item, Choose Photos to Share… is now found on the Advanced menu to allow users to choose which photos from their library will be available on a second-generation Apple TV.


This mirrors the option previously found on the “Photos” tab for first-generation Apple TV devices that were streaming, rather than syncing with the iTunes library, suggesting that the second-generation Apple TV may not even appear in the iTunes Devices listing.

Other Changes

There have been a few other subtle changes that we’ve discovered that are also worth mentioning:

You can now play and rate tracks via iTunes on a connected iPod, iPhone or iPad even when using automatic sync. For iOS devices this works regardless of other settings; Click Wheel iPods must have Disk Use enabled for the tracks to be accessible. This will be of particular benefit for iPhone users, where enabling manual management on a second computer is still not an option.


The “Look for Apple TVs” setting has now been removed from the Apple TV preferences and is now simply enabled by default. It is unknown at this time whether this has been moved to a hidden preference as Apple has sometimes done in the past with removed preference settings.


Ratings for a 13 new countries have been added to the Parental preferences, including Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. This seems in line with Apple’s announcement yesterday of plans to expand its Movie and TV Show sales into additional countries in the near future.



In the release notes, Apple has promised “performance improvements which make iTunes faster and more responsive.” Our preliminary testing bears this out with iTunes appearing noticeably more responsive in specific areas such as synchronization settings and scrolling through long lists.

Unfortunately, it seems that this has come with an increased memory footprint for the application, with Activity Monitor (Mac) and Task Manager (Windows) showing iTunes 10 to be taking up about 300-500MB more RAM than iTunes 9 did when performing similar tasks on a similarly-sized iTunes library. For modern computers with 4GB of RAM or more this shouldn’t be a killer difference, but it does suggest that iTunes 10 will be a tighter fit for users on more constrained platforms such as netbooks or older PC and Macs.

Update or Wait

The main thing that iTunes 10 brings to the table is Apple’s new Ping social network. Whether it is worth updating to iTunes 10 for this feature alone is simply a matter of personal taste; an iTunes Store integrated network is a nice idea, but it is certainly no replacement for Facebook and for the moment, there’s not much in here that would attract users in droves once the novelty wears off. Additional artist and user participation will obviously change this over time.

Another typical requirement that would necessitate upgrading to iTunes 10 is for those users who purchase any of the new iPods announced at yesterday’s Apple event. As is always the case with new devices, a new version of iTunes will be required to support them; older versions will likely refuse to connect or simply ignore the newer iPods or the Apple TV.

Just about everything else that iTunes 10 offers is cosmetic. The performance improvements seem nice for users with higher-performance computers, but users of older machines may see diminishing returns or possibly even worse performance than iTunes 9 offered. Our general recommendation at this point is anybody with a computer older than a year or two might be better off staying with iTunes 9 for now unless there is a compelling reason to update due to the newer iPod or Apple TV models, interest in renting TV shows or a desire to get involved with the Ping network.

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Found a new feature in iTunes 10. When playing music, you can normally click the album art to view a larger version of it. Now when you do that and hover above the album art work in the larger view, you can control music directly from there.

Posted by Neel Sunil Shah on September 2, 2010 at 5:12 PM (CDT)


While Ping seems decent enough, I was disappointed that it doesn’t keep track of what we are listening to, like does.

Posted by Galley in Greenville, SC on September 2, 2010 at 5:17 PM (CDT)


When you synch your apps, the field to select/search an app is gone…not sure why…you have to scroll thru all of them to find the want you want to select/deselect.

Posted by JC Landau on September 2, 2010 at 5:39 PM (CDT)


The thorough description of Ping has convinced me to never activate it. Thanks!

Posted by camembert on September 2, 2010 at 6:05 PM (CDT)


@JC Landau (#3): Thanks for pointing that out—you actually reminded me that there was a section that got missed in the syncing changes, as there have been a few other subtle changes in there.  The removal of the search field is definitely a big step backward, and seems to have affected all of the areas where it was previously available—Artists, Movies and Books as well as Apps.

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on September 2, 2010 at 6:35 PM (CDT)


#3 and #5: This change for the worse is clearly explained in the article.

Posted by sallenmd on September 2, 2010 at 11:16 PM (CDT)


Yes, I know.  I’m the author of the article :)  My comment in #5 was thanking JC for pointing that out and noting that I had updated the article to reflect this along with a few of the other minor sync changes that hadn’t been included.

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on September 2, 2010 at 11:52 PM (CDT)


The search field for apps has been removed because Apple have shifted the search function to the main search field at the top right. The results now differentiate between iPhone/iPod Touch apps, and those which also work on iPad. You can invoke it with cmd-opt-f.

Posted by marjar on September 3, 2010 at 4:28 AM (CDT)


Thanks for pointing that out.  I get what they’re trying to do here with making the search field universal across all screens, but it’s somewhat less than intuitive on the sync settings screens since it’s not available for all tabs and it’s displaced from the content you’re actually searching.

The results differentiating between the types of apps is based on the new “Kind” option in the drop-down sort field already noted in the article. This now defaults to Kind but can be changed back to Name, Category, Date or Size as before.

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on September 3, 2010 at 8:03 AM (CDT)


I found a new feature!  I haven’t seen this mentioned anywhere yet.

When you click on the “Now Playing” album art box you get a big pop-up version, but now it has Quicktime-style controls when you hover over it.  I’m pretty sure it didn’t do that before.

Posted by Jacob on September 3, 2010 at 4:02 PM (CDT)


Great screenshots! Love seeing someone else with a huge Rush collection like me!

Posted by Scott on September 3, 2010 at 5:05 PM (CDT)


Just me or you guys noticed that, if you click on the artwork (bottom left corner) you get new controls for music? This is just awesome to me!

Posted by José on September 3, 2010 at 9:44 PM (CDT)


I found a bug in the capacity bar. If I have both my iPad and iPhone 4 connected, the iPhone will show the proper amount of free space after a sync. However if I then select the iPad, and go back to iPhone, it will add a few GB of free space to the bar that doesn’t exist. Only re-syncing the iPhone will fix the indicator. I reported this to Apple.

Posted by NeedCreative on September 4, 2010 at 5:32 PM (CDT)


If I rent a TV show via iTunes 10, shouldn’t I be able to stream that rental directly to my original Apple TV?

Posted by Plan_K on September 4, 2010 at 9:18 PM (CDT)


When I use the remote app the cover flow on the computer screen does not follow suit to currently playing. Is there a way to get this to work?

Posted by Frip on September 4, 2010 at 9:45 PM (CDT)


#11, Doesn’t everybody in Canada have a huge Rush collection? ;-)

Posted by pdypdy on September 4, 2010 at 11:16 PM (CDT)


@Plan_K (#14): The short answer is no. Not only has Apple made it pretty clear that only the second-generation Apple TV and iOS 4.1 devices will be supported for TV Show rentals, but right now you can’t even stream rented movies to your Apple TV—they must be moved to the Apple TV’s internal hard drive and watched from there.

In fact, at this point I have a sneaking suspicion that TV Shows rented in iTunes 10 won’t even be watchable on the second-generation Apple TV, since Apple’s FAQ on TV Show Rentals makes no mention of this possibility—it only mentions your computer, iPhone and iPod touch as options for TV Shows rented in iTunes 10, and of course iTunes requires that such shows be moved to whatever device you want to watch them on—something that will not be possible with the storage-less 2G Apple TV.

@Frip (#15): Are you playing back your tracks from a playlist or from the main iTunes library?  You may need to start playback in iTunes itself, or at least ensure that you’ve manually selected the appropriate playlist to match whatever you’ve selected from the Remote app.  The Cover Flow changes to follow the playing track just fine for me under these circumstances.

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on September 4, 2010 at 11:28 PM (CDT)


I have updated two computers - one new laptop with Windows 7 and one old XP machine. With the laptop, I’m seeing a performance boost in terms of things seeming working a bit faster than in 9. But the update has pretty much killed iTunes on my old XP computer. Music stutters when using any other programme. Oddly, it doesn’t seem to be eating up noticeably more resources but it doesn’t like me doing anything else at all.

Not enjoying the new look on either machine, however. It feels bigger, clunkier. I guess I’ll get used to it quick enough.

Posted by BeefJerky on September 6, 2010 at 2:23 PM (CDT)


I also noticed that when you click the album art in the bottom left corner, the preview has music controls when your mouse hovers over the album art

Posted by JOE on September 6, 2010 at 2:24 PM (CDT)


Removing the disable volume control for remote speakers is a major regression.  If you accidentally have itunes volume set low, then forget and turn up your receiver that’s connected via an airport express (with speakers attached to the receiver) so that you can hear the music, then turn up the volume in itunes, you’ll blow out your speakers.

Why on earth would they have removed this?

Posted by Doug on September 8, 2010 at 6:00 PM (CDT)


Is it possible to use an iPod formatted for PC on a Mac?  I tried this once, and upon connection to iTunes on the Mac, all of my iPod content was erased.

Is there somewhere in the menus wherein I can tell the Mac that the iPod connected is formatted for PC, and thus make the Mac usable with the iPod???

Posted by WILIAM HARTMAN on September 11, 2010 at 9:22 AM (CDT)


I own an iPod classic (late 2009), and before I update, I was wondering if updating to iTunes 10 will cause any harm at all with using and syncing my classic. I am looking forward to utilizing Ping (at least while it is still novel), however, I don’t want to make anything else less usable between my iPod and iTunes.


Posted by Iz on September 11, 2010 at 9:39 PM (CDT)


@Doug (#20): In iTunes 10 each set of AirPlay speakers gets its own volume control setting in iTunes, rather than relying on the “master” volume control for the application as a whole, as illustrated in the “Multiple Speakers” section above. The individual volume levels are relative to the master volume in iTunes, so if you leave one of your AirPlay speakers set at half volume, for instance, then it will never go above that level, even if you turn up iTunes to full. 

Since volume levels are now per-device rather than a single master volume for iTunes, remote speaker volume control will now adjust the volume for that specific device, without affecting the master iTunes volume.  This is actually a step forward, as you don’t have to worry about balancing multiple speakers manually.  In the past, the same problem that you describe could easily occur with multiple speakers:  If you were listening to music in multiple rooms and turned up the iTunes volume remotely from one room, you could easily blow out speakers in another room, since the volume control applied everywhere.

@WILIAM HARTMAN (#21): Normally it is possible to use a PC-formatted iPod on a Mac, although this is not supported by Apple.  The reason your content was erased likely had nothing to do with the PC/Mac format, but rather simply the fact that you were connecting to a different iTunes library—an iPod can only automatically sync with one library at a time, regardless of format or platform.

@Iz (#22): I have not had any issues syncing my 160GB iPod classic with iTunes 10. That said, I never had any issues in the past with iTunes 9 either, despite problems reported by other users.

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on September 12, 2010 at 7:49 AM (CDT)


No, Doug is correct; from HIS user perspective.  You’re making the assumption the user wants to control, or ever did control the volume at remote speakers from iTunes.

I’m assuming Doug uses AirPlay/Airport Express the same way I do, or used to before iTunes 10.  I only used AirPlay to stream the audio signal, the data, from my Mac to my stereo receiver, and controlled the playback using my iPhone as an iTunes remote.  I did not control the volumes using iTunes.  That is what the feature, “Disable iTunes volume control for remote speakers.” provided: an unadjusted audio signal for devices which have their own amplifier.  The iTunes volume had no effect - at all; and that’s exactly what I wanted.

Without the “disable” option the audio signal is now adjusted/processed twice, by iTunes and by the remote device.  This greatly decreases the audio quality.  Put it this way, if you have a CD player as part of your home stereo/theater do you connect the headphone-out of the CD player to the CD audio-in of your receiver?  No, you don’t.  You connect the CD player’s non-adjusted audio out.

From my perspective removing the “disable” option now forces me to deal with a useless and irritating layer of micro-managing two volume controls.

And no, simply setting the remote device’s volume in iTunes to 100% and only adjusting the device’s volume is not a solution.  Any distortion caused by 100% amplification in iTunes is sent to the receiver, only to be amplified yet again.  The converse, setting the iTunes volume low, is not a solution either.  All amplifiers, no matter how expensive, introduce distortion.  But the distortion (in most cases) is imperceptible once the volume is increased because the ratio of distortion to actual audio source is so low.  However, amplifying a low-level source is like zooming in on a small digital image; it looks great small, but it’s a pixelated mess at 300%.

The moment I played music after upgrading to iTunes 10 I knew something had changed, and for the worse.  Even if I do set the remote device’s slider to 100% I still have to turn up the receiver at least 50% than before to achieve the same level of volume.  And the quality of audio is garbage; flat and muddy.

I have not played music using AirPlay since upgrading to iTunes 10.  I’m simply too disgusted with the results.

There is no reason the “disable” option had to be removed and/or replaced with individual volume controls.  Leave the “disable” option as it was.  If selected, no individual volume controls, and only an unadjusted signal is sent - as it functioned before.  If not selected, then each device has a volume control.

And everyone is satisfied.

Posted by Mike on September 26, 2010 at 11:51 PM (CDT)


This is not quite accurate as you’re still thinking in analog terms.  The signal sent to the AirPlay device from iTunes is a digital signal, and any volume adjustments applied in iTunes are applied to this digital signal, not by sending them through an analog pre-amp that would otherwise degrade the quality. 

Sure, if you turn down the volume in iTunes you’re getting a lower-amplitude signal that would then have to be re-amplified by your speakers or pre-amp, thus affecting quality at that point. However,  you don’t need to turn down the volume in iTunes if you’re concerned about that. Simply leave the appropriate slider at the maximum setting. You can leave the master slider at the maximum setting, in fact if you’re not listening at your computer. There should technically no difference between doing this and using the “disable volume control” option, since it’s not like enabling volume control is causing your PC or Mac sound card to process the signal through it’s DAC or pre-amp, nor is turning the volume to 100% amplifying the signal—it’s simply sending it out without reducing it.

The only amplification that would be occurring is on the AirPlay devices themselves.  Airport Express units don’t provide any kind of pre-amp—that port simply is a line-out. Technically speaking, if you use an optical cable you’re actually getting an identical digital signal to what comes from iTunes. If you use an analog cable it goes through a basic DAC on the Airport Express to produce the analog signal, but there’s no other amplification or attenuation that occurs at the device level.  AirPlay speakers when they start arriving will likely behave differently, of course, since they will need their own amp.

There definitely appear to be some implementation issues with AirPlay in iTunes 10 at this point (even iTunes 9.0 had some bugs that took time to sort out), so sound quality issues you’re having with iTunes 10 are more likely due to problems with the new AirPlay technology and have nothing to do with the fact that you can’t disable the volume controls.

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on September 27, 2010 at 10:29 AM (CDT)


Now if only there were a way (under Windows) to remove the silly little “Ping” menu button that appears next to every track that I click on.  I can show/hide all the *relevant* parts of the iTunes interface, just not this intrusive useless annoyance.

Posted by slightly frustrated on September 27, 2010 at 4:13 PM (CDT)


I’ll start by saying I may be the only person on the planet who cares about this. 

ITunes lets you drag album art from the album art window to a folder in order to modify it.  Before this update, iTunes saved the dragged album artwork as a .bmp file(lossless).  Now, it appears, the dragged album artwork is saved as a lossy .jpg file.  This is a major change for those of us who like to fix or improve poor quality album artwork.  Does this affect anyone besides me?

Posted by RedRaider on September 28, 2010 at 4:18 PM (CDT)


Sad. They disabled the cmd-R function to see the file in Finder.

Posted by isatemple on October 11, 2010 at 3:11 PM (CDT)


I have a 30 GB ipod and when I upgraded to itunes 10 all was fine on my laptop, however, on my ipod I have lost my song selection. So my only options are photos, videos, playlist, extras setting an shuffle songs.
I can’t randomly select any song I like or make a playlist, it all has to be done through my laptop. Anyone else have the problem?

Posted by koukla243 on November 15, 2010 at 8:02 AM (CST)


I have been having porblems with the album art on my ipod touch. any music added after i last updated it doesn’t show cover art when locked. it is driving me INSANE. does anyone know how to fix this????

i dont know if this is caused by itunes 10, however, in theory if i check and ucheck the include album art box and resync it should work again, but with otunes 10 the check box has gone missing!!! *sigh* itunes annoysme.

Posted by Ronnye on December 7, 2010 at 5:09 AM (CST)


I am producing podcasts for English learners (ESL etc.) and I upload them to iTunes from my website, but I have two problems: I include artwork “my icon” for “5-Minute TOPs” for example and it never shows up on my iPod on the series listing or in the episodes. This used to work two years ago and it doesn’t any longer.
Second question: iTunes now offers you two formats MP3 and M4a. I put them both on my website but iTunes only picks up the MP3 without the artwork.
Sorry I am not savvy about tech things. I am only good at producing text and recordings for students. I would love to get some advice.

Thank you from the French Alps with lots of snow!

Posted by mariray on December 27, 2010 at 6:16 AM (CST)


A quick question about burning a CD.  Playlists used to burn in the order that you created them, but after this new version things changed.  What do I need to do to burn a playslist to CD in the order in which I chose the songs to burn in….without getting scrambled by itunes?

Many thanks!
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Posted by Randy Eckardt on February 26, 2011 at 9:32 PM (CST)


removing The disable volume level was a Very very stupid move and seriously impacted the multiple Airport express systems in a negative way.  I have 6 systems fed from my itunes library via airports but also use my computer as a direct digital output into digital monitors in my home office - so when I turn the volume down everybody in my house screams ” something happens to the sound dad”  and this drives me crazy. I plan to buy a new computer with the older version of itunes to correct this rare Apple screw up. Apple - I love you- but don’t let some uninformed staffer that has zero knowledge of audio distribution screw things up - please fix this.

Posted by justsoundsoknow on May 14, 2011 at 12:21 PM (CDT)

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