Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iTunes 8 (Updated) | iLounge Article

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Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iTunes 8 (Updated)

One of the key announcements at yesterday’s “Let’s Rock” event was the release of iTunes 8, a significant new update that adds some key interface improvements and other interesting new features.

The major new features of iTunes 8 include a Genius feature, which automatically generates playlists of similar music from your iTunes library and recommends new titles from the iTunes Store, as well as a new “Grid View” library browsing feature, support for HDTV content from the iTunes Store and a “stunning new music visualizer.”

 

As usual, however, Apple has made a few other significant changes in more subtle areas of iTunes. In this article we will take a more in-depth look at the announced new features as well as some of the other significant changes that iTunes 8 brings to the table.

Downloading the Update

To update iTunes, either download the new version directly from Apple’s web site at http://www.apple.com/itunes/download, or choose the “Check for Updates” option in your existing version of iTunes, which will trigger the Apple Software Update application and scan for new Apple software.

The download itself is approximately 65 MB for Windows users, and 56 MB for Mac users. Quicktime 7.5.5 is also required by iTunes 8, which is included with the Windows version, but must be downloaded separately via Software Update for Mac users.

iTunes 8 will run without upgrading to Quicktime 7.5.5, but you may be unable to play back certain video content until the Quicktime update has been applied. iTunes will remind you of this when you first start it up or go to any of the iTunes Store video pages:

 

Initial Startup

Surprisingly, if you are coming from iTunes 7.6 or later, iTunes 8 does not perform any noticeable library database upgrades or maintenance during initial startup, suggesting that only minor structural changes have been made to the iTunes database.

That having been said, however, even though iTunes starts up without interruption, some background processes do appear to run. We suspect that these may be related to updating artwork caches for the new Grid View, since these thumbnails do not appear right away.

Further, iTunes does tag the version number within the iTunes database somewhere, so you will not be able to revert to an earlier version of iTunes without restoring your iTunes library database from an earlier pre-upgrade backup

Genius

One of the most significant new features in iTunes 8 is the new “Genius” feature, which analyzes the songs in your iTunes library in order to build playlists of recommended song groupings.

When you first run iTunes 8, a Genius Sidebar will be shown on the right-hand side of the screen when viewing your music library. From here you can enable the Genius feature, learn more about it, or hide this sidebar entirely. You can also enable the Genius feature by visiting the Genius section below your Party Shuffle playlist.

 

When you first enable the Genius feature, iTunes will ask you to sign in to your existing iTunes Store account or create a new one. iTunes advises you that although your library information is stored anonymously, an account is required to enable the Genius feature:

 

Once you sign on, you are required to acknowledge that you have read and agreed to Apple’s Genius Terms of Service, basically acknowledging that iTunes will anonymously collect and store information about your current iTunes library and your iTunes Store purchase history to aggregate with information from other Genius users in providing customized Genius playlists.

 

Once you have consented to this information, Genius begins the process of gathering information about your iTunes library:

 

This process can take anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes depending on the size of your iTunes library. In our 15,000 track iTunes library, the process took approximately 15 minutes. This process occurs in the background, however, and you can continue using iTunes while you are waiting for the analysis to complete.

Once this information has been collected, it is sent to Apple, and your Genius results are then delivered, followed by a notice that Genius has been enabled and is now ready to be used.

 

 

To make use of the Genius feature, simply select a track from your iTunes library, and then click the Genius button which appears in the bottom-right corner of the iTunes window:

iTunes will use the collected Genius information to automatically find 24 other tracks that are related to the selected track, and will display them in the main iTunes window:

 

A button bar at the top of this listing will provide information on which track the song listing is based, and options to limit how many songs are included (25, 50, 75 or 100), refresh the content, and a button to save the currently displayed list as a Genius Playlist.

Clicking Save Playlist will save the currently listed songs as a Genius playlist named after the original track. This playlist will be shown with the Genius icon next to it, and can be renamed or moved into a folder like any other playlist. Likewise, this playlist will sync to any iPod, iPhone or Apple TV as a normal playlist, at least with the current models and firmware versions (upcoming iPhone and iPod touch v2.1 firmware will support on-device Genius playlist creation, and may therefore specifically recognize Genius playlists rather than displaying them as normal playlists).

 

Selecting the saved Genius playlist will display the original menu bar, with options to change the number of included songs and refresh the Genius playlist.

With Genius mode enabled, iTunes can also provide recommendations on content available for purchase on the iTunes Store in the right-hand Genius sidebar. This basically replaces the iTunes Mini-store window first introduced in iTunes 7.

 

The Genius sidebar can be hidden from view simply by clicking on the hide Genius sidebar button in the very bottom-right corner of the iTunes window. Clicking this button again will show the Genius sidebar again.

Grid View

The other most visible change in iTunes 8 is in the new Grid View layout. While iTunes 8 has not done away with the traditional list view or Cover Flow views, the previous “Grouping” view has now been replaced with Grid View. This is now the default view when running iTunes 8 for the first time, but you can easily switch back to the traditional list view by choosing View, List from the iTunes menu, or clicking the list view button in the top-right corner by the Search field.

Similar to the way iPhoto’s “Events” layout works, Grid View presents your top-level information such as artist, album, genre, TV show, and so forth, in a grid layout represented by album artwork and title information.

 

Music can be viewed by either Albums, Artists, Genres or Composers. If more than a single album is represented within a category (for example, when browsing by Artist or Genre), only one artwork image is shown, but moving the mouse over the artwork will flip through the various album covers contained within that category, similar to the way Events work in iPhoto ‘08.

Update: For entries that have multiple album artwork (such as when browsing by artist or genre), you can choose which image you would like to use as the default by scrubbing through so that the proper image is displayed, and then right-clicking and selecting “Set Default Grid Artwork.”  The displayed album cover will become the default image displayed for that particular grid item.

Additional Grid View grouping and sorting options can be found on the iTunes View menu, or by right-clicking on the category headers at the top of the screen.

When browsing by Genre, iTunes has provided its own artwork covers to represent commonly-used Genres. Genres that do not have their own artwork simply display a selected album cover instead, in the same way the Artists view would.

 

Update: The artwork used for the Genre images can be customized with a bit of digging under the hood of iTunes. iLounge Discussions Forums member Germansuplex has posted an excellent thread on Custom Genre Artwork, detailing how to add your own custom genre artwork or replace the existing artwork used by iTunes itself. Some sample artwork images are even provided.

A slider found in the top-right corner of the Grid View display can be used to adjust the size of the album covers displayed. This slider setting is saved individually for each Grid View mode, so you could display large artwork in Genre view, for example, and smaller artwork when viewing Albums.

Selecting an item from the top-level grid view will open a listing of tracks for that particular item (ie, artist or album), organized similar to the Grouping View found in earlier versions of iTunes.

 

When viewing the tracks within a given category from Grid View, a title bar will appear at the top of the track listing, similar to what you would see in iPhoto or on the iPhone or iPod touch. Clicking the top-left arrow button will return you back to the Grid View listing, and clicking the left and right arrow buttons in the top-right corner will switch through each Grid View item.

The Grid View listing for Movies, TV Shows, Podcasts and Audiobooks works in a similar way, with content-specific categories to choose from. For instance, for TV Shows, instead of Artist, Album, Genre and Composer, your browsing options are Show, Genre, and New. TV Shows and Podcasts will also display blue “badges” indicating how many new episodes are available for each category.

 

In each of the various Grid Views, hovering over an album artwork image with the mouse will show a “Play” button. Clicking this will begin playing the content within that particular category (ie, Album, Artist, Genre, Show, etc). The tracks in that category will begin playing with the first track, unless Shuffle is turned on, in which case a random track is selected for playback.

Artwork Column

iTunes 8 now adds an “Artwork” column that can be shown or hidden from any track listing view. When this column is shown, the track listing is grouped by album, similar to the grouping view found in previous versions of iTunes.

 

The Artwork column can be hidden either by selecting the Show/Hide Artwork Column option from the iTunes {i]View menu, or by clicking the small triangle which appears at the very top left of the column headings:

 

Note that while the artwork column is visible by default when accessing track listings through the Grid View, but it can be turned off in here as well. As with all other column layouts and views, this setting is persistent, so if you hide the artwork column in Grid View, it will remain hidden until you choose to show it again.

Browser

Presumably to make space for the two new “Genius” buttons, iTunes 8 has now removed the Show Browser button from the bottom-right corner of the iTunes window. The View, Show/Hide Browser menu option can still be used to show or hide the iTunes Genre/Artist/Album browser when viewing your tracks in list view. The Browser is not available in Grid View or Cover Flow view, and selecting “Show Browser” in these views will automatically return you to List View.

Editing Track Info

A few changes have been made to how individual track information is edited in comparison to previous versions, including access to several new track properties.

iTunes 8 now offers access to the “Description” field for video files. Previously, this field was only accessible via Applescript (for Mac users) or via third-party tagging software such as AtomicParsley which could write directly into the MPEG-4 file headers.

 

Users familiar with the Video tab in previous versions of iTunes will notice that the “Video Kind” field is conspicuously missing from this screen. This has instead been moved to the “Options” tab and renamed “Media Kind.” As this more generic naming implies, this field is now used to change the kind not only for video files (between Movie, TV Show, and Music Video), but can also be used to set normal audio tracks to either Music or Audiobooks.

 

This provides a greatly simplified way of organizing your normal audio tracks into Audiobooks without having to go through the previously cumbersome process of converting them to AAC and renaming them to an M4B extension. Now, even MP3 files can be tagged as audiobooks, appear in the normal audiobook section in iTunes and the iPod, and take advantage of the variable playback speed feature for audiobooks on the iPod.

Multiple Item Editing

The ability to edit the information for multiple items in previous versions of iTunes was generally limited to audio-specific information such as album, artist and track. No method was provided to modify video-related information on multiple items such as Video Kind, and the handling of specifying Sort Order fields was also needlessly complex, requiring you to edit the Sort Order fields for one track and then apply those changes to others from a context menu option.

Thankfully, iTunes 8 has remedied these limitations with multi-page window for editing multiple items. The first tab is very similar to the multiple item editing options found in earlier versions of iTunes, except that the options for Volume adjustment, Equalizer presets, Compilations, Skip when Shuffling, Remember Playback Position, and Gapless Album tracks have been moved to the “Options” tab instead.

 

The second tab, Videos, offers the ability to edit information for multiple TV Shows, a feature that has been conspicuously absent in the past two major iTunes releases:

 

The third tab provides a much simpler way to specify the sort order overrides for multiple items at once:

 

The fourth tab contains the additional options for Volume adjustment, Equalizer presets, Compilations, Skip when Shuffling, Remember Playback Position, and Gapless Album, as well as the “Media Kind” field, allowing the media kind to be set for multiple items; for example, setting multiple video items to “TV Shows”—again a feature that required third-party tagging software in previous versions of iTunes.

 

Preference Changes

iTunes 8 also incorporates some significant organizational changes to the preferences screens, generally simplifying and cleaning up from previous versions. Some preference settings have been removed entirely, while others have been moved elsewhere.

The General tab now contains an additional “Show” option for the new Genius feature, and the “Import” settings previously found under the “Advanced” tab. A number of other settings on this tab have been either moved elsewhere or removed entirely. For instance, Show genre when browsing is no longer available at all, while Show content ratings in library has been moved to the “Parental Controls” tab and Group compilations when browsing has been moved to the ‘Advanced” tab.

 

Update: The preferences which no longer appear in the iTunes preferences dialog boxes are actually still available under the hood as hidden preferences. These can be accessed via the Terminal command-line on Mac OS X or by editing an XML preferences file for Windows users.  For example, to turn off the Genre in the iTunes Library Browser on Mac OS X, you would open Terminal and enter the following command:

defaults write com.apple.itunes show-genre-when-browsing -bool FALSE

This is the equivalent of the iTunes 7 preference setting for “Show Genres when Browsing”

To change whether links to the iTunes Store are shown when browsing through your library, you can use the command

defaults write com.apple.itunes show-store-arrow-links -bool FALSE

Replacing “FALSE” with “TRUE” will toggle these options back on.

For Windows users, these hidden preferences are adjusted by editing the iTunesPrefs.XML file, which is buried in your “Application Data\Apple Computer\iTunes” folder (under your main username folder). Make sure you back up this file first, and then go in and simply add entries such as:

With thanks to Paul Mison for ferreting out the relevant information on these hidden settings on his blog.

 

Clicking The “Import” button opens up a second window showing the CD Import settings, also previously found on the “Advanced” tab. Note that options for Play songs while importing or converting and Create file names with track number are no longer available.

 

The Playback tab has been reorganized as well. The Keep movie window on top of all other windows option has now been moved to the Advanced tab, and the Smart Shuffle option appears to have been removed entirely, possibly deprecated by the new Genius feature.

 

The option to Shuffle by Songs, Albums, or Groupings can now be found on the main iTunes “View” menu, making it more convenient to change this shuffle setting on the fly.

On the Store tab, the Load complete preview before playing option has been removed.

The Syncing tab has now been renamed to “Devices.” In addition to showing a summary of iPhone and iPod touch device backups, the settings for AirTunes and iPhone/iPod touch remotes have been moved here from the Advanced tab.

 

The Advanced tab, which now appears at the far right-hand side, has been simplified with fewer options, and no sub-tabs.

 

Previous versions of iTunes had the Importing and Burning options located here, but in iTunes 8, Importing has been moved to the General tab, and the Burning options now appear each time you burn a new CD, rather than being set as global preferences.

 

Podcast Settings

Users familiar with previous versions of iTunes will probably notice that the “Podcasts” tab no longer appears in the iTunes preferences window. Instead, Podcast settings are now accessed from a button within the Podcasts section itself.

 

Clicking the “Settings” button which appears at the bottom of the Podcasts section will open the Podcast settings, similar to those previously found in the main iTunes preferences.

 

One notable new feature here, however, is the ability to choose the number of podcast episodes downloaded and kept on a per-subscription basis. Previous versions of iTunes simply allowed subscriptions (or individual episodes) to be excluded from auto-deletion on an individual basis. While this option is still available, iTunes 8 offers additional flexibility by allowing you to specify completely different retention settings for different podcasts.

HDTV Content

With the release of iTunes 8, Apple has now begun selling HDTV content on the iTunes Store. While earlier versions of iTunes will allow you to browse through the available HDTV content, you will need iTunes 8 and Quicktime 7.5.5 in order to view HDTV content.

 

When purchasing an HDTV show, iTunes actually downloads both a 720p HDTV version, and a normal standard-definition version. The HD version is used for viewing on the Apple TV and can also be viewed on your computer, while the SD version is used for syncing to your iPod or iPhone, which do not support high-definition content.

Note that there are higher system requirements for viewing HD content on your computer: A Dual-Core 2.0GHz CPU is required, and our own testing suggests that 1GB of RAM should be considered the minimum for acceptable HD playback quality on either Mac OS X or Windows XP/Vista.

HD TV shows are identified by a small “HD” badge at the right side of the Name column. This replaces the TV icon normally shown for TV shows, which is now only used for standard TV content:

 

Update: Many of the HDTV shows available from iTunes also include Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. The “Learn More About HD” page in the iTunes Store does mention this, but no clear indication is given on the iTunes Store page for each actual show.

Note that although iTunes will select the correct show to use for your iPod or Apple TV, you will see two entries for each HD episode: One for the HD version, and one for the SD version. These are separate files of course, and iTunes itself does not hide the SD titles.

Further, since these are stored as separate entries, information such as watched/unwatched status, play counts and bookmark position are independent of the other version, although iTunes will try to sync up the actual played status when you finish watching an episode (marking both items as played), it does not do this for partially played episodes and current playback position.  What this means for practical purposes is that HD content watched on your Apple TV will show up as completely unwatched on your iPod or iPhone until you have actually finished watching it, and vice-versa. The same applies to playback position as well, so if you watch half of a TV show episode on your iPhone, you will not be able to pick up where you left off on the Apple TV. Basically, iTunes selects the correct version for your device, and will flag both versions as played at the same time, but doesn’t otherwise match up the HD and SD versions in any other way.

The unwatched items badge count shown on the Grid View for TV Shows will also be inaccurate for content that is stored in both SD and HD versions, as it will show an total count of unwatched episodes in both formats.

This same issue can also create complications for Smart Playlists, since playlists of TV Shows will end up including both types of content. Although no method for selecting ONLY HD or SD content is provided in the Smart Playlist criteria, you can work around this by using the “Size” criteria, since HD TV episodes are generally significantly larger than their SD counterparts.

Update: Dynamic selection of HD versus SD content does not work when synchronizing playlists to your iPod or iPhone.  A playlist or Smart Playlist which contains only HD episodes, for instance, will not sync properly, resulting in an error that the selected content cannot be played on your iPod or iPhone. You will need to either mix your SD and HD content together in your TV Show playlists, or create separate playlists to use for Apple TV syncing and iPod/iPhone syncing.

UPDATE: Device Screen Changes

While most of the sync settings have not changed from previous versions of iTunes, with iTunes 8 and iPhone or iPod touch OS v2.1, the Capacity bar now displays Apps as a separate category highlighted in green. Previously, iPhone and iPod touch apps were simply included in the orange “Other” category.

 

The addition of spoken menu support for the fourth-generation iPod nano has also yielded a new synchronization setting in iTunes, Enable spoken menus for accessibility. This option uploads the necessary voice data to your iPod nano and enables spoken menus. As noted in our Apple iPod nano Fourth-Generation Review, this is intended primarily for visually impaired users and will likely be distracting for users who do not actually require it.

 

UPDATE: New Visualizer

iTunes has been using the same basic visualizer for several years now with virtually no enhancements or changes, so it is of some significance that iTunes 8 now includes a “stunning new music visualizer.”

While the basic functionality of the Visualizer remains the same—it can be activated from the iTunes View menu or by pressing CMD-T on a Mac or CTRL-T on Windows—the actual new graphics used by the new Visualizer are a significant improvement over the previous one:

 

 

 

Our readers may recall that we recommended a visualizer called Magnetosphere about a year ago but that it unfortunately disappeared from availability soon after.  It turns out that Apple actually acquired Magnetsophere to use it as the new iTunes 8 visualizer, as acknowledged by The Barbarian Group, the original developers of Magnetosphere.  For comparison, the original Magnetosphere visualizer is shown below:

 

Although the iTunes visualizesr pretty much “just works” there are a few options to tweak it while it’s running:  Simply press the “?” key while the visualizer is running to bring up a help screen of options which can be used to control the visualizer display:

 

The keys listed can be pressed at any time the visualizer is running, regardless of whether the help screen is displayed.

Note that the old iTunes visualizer is also still available in iTunes 8 under the View, Visualizer menu: Simply select “iTunes Classic Visualizer” from the sub-menu which appears.

UPDATE: What hasn’t Changed—iPhone manual mode and Sorting

Some iTunes users may recall that back in iTunes 7.3 Apple chose to adopt a “numbers-last” sorting behaviour for most information, placing numeric album titles such as “2112” after the letter Z in the standard sorting order. This feature confused a lot of iTunes users, and many assumed that it was merely a bug, particularly since iTunes was the only media player or even general computer application that behaves this way by default. Almost every other application sorts lists by placing numbers first. In fact, even Apple’s own iWork ‘08 applications sort data numbers-first.

By the time iTunes 7.5 was released it was pretty clear that for whatever inexplicable reason this decision was actually intentional behaviour on Apple’s part. In our later iTunes 7.x articles we pretty much gave up on highlighting that this was still working the same way. However, due to overwhelming reader inquiries on this article, we felt that it should be pointed out that iTunes 8 does not change this. This still remains one of the oddest recent changes in iTunes.

(Note that these new sort orders can still be manually overridden with the various “Sorting” fields within iTunes itself, but this seems like a lot of unnecessary effort to return to what is expected default behavior).

One other significant limitation that many iPhone users were hoping iTunes 8 would address is proper support for manual mode. Unlike actual iPod devices (including the iPod touch), the iPhone does now allow content to be loaded onto it from more than one computer, even in manual mode. Setting an iPhone into manual mode will allow you to manage the music and video content on that iPhone via drag-and-drop from one computer, but you will not be able to access it from other systems.  This particular issue seems as if it’s a bug, particularly with a lack of specific documentation or even UI feedback about how manual mode is supposed to work on the iPhone.

Notably, however, iTunes 8 has not changed this behaviour. It is unclear whether such a change would need to be made in iTunes, the iPhone OS, or both, however, even with the iPhone OS v2.1 having been released earlier today, this behaviour remains the same.

Performance

Generally, iTunes 8 does not seem to have any significant performance improvements over iTunes 7.7. With support for new features like HD video, Grid view, and the Genius feature, it is more likely that iTunes 8 would perform slightly less efficiently than iTunes 7.7. That having been said, the only serious performance delays we noticed in iTunes 8 on the Mac platform were when downloading large items (ie, HD content) from the iTunes Store. The downloads themselves are quite fast, but the point at which iTunes saves the downloaded files into the iTunes library seem to result in “freezes” of approximately 10-30 seconds. This is less noticeable with music tracks, as these are generally much smaller files.

The typical delays were also observed on both Mac and Windows platforms when connecting an iPod or iPhone. This does not appear to have changed for better or worse since iTunes 7.7.

Generally, the Windows version of iTunes 8 in our lab environment performs a bit more slowly than our Mac version when dealing with the same library database, but these performance issues in our testing environment are not as significant as the reports we have had from some readers, suggesting that iTunes continues to have odd performance issues on certain platforms that are likely the result of the wide variety of Windows hardware and software configurations that exist.

Bug Fixes

Other than those changes noted above, no significant bug fixes were noted in iTunes 8, however our testing platforms have not traditionally had any performance problems with either the Mac or Windows versions of iTunes.

If any readers have noticed that iTunes 8 has fixed any other problems with iTunes 7.7 or other previous versions, we would certainly like to hear from you, either in our comments section below, or in our iTunes Discussion Forum. Likewise, please let us know if iTunes 8 has introduced any new problems for you.

Update or wait?

iTunes 8 provides some significant new features, but users will need to decide for themselves if these new features are worth the risks of upgrading to a first release of a completely new version. Users of the new iPod models introduced yesterday will likely be required to use iTunes 8, as will users upgrading to the iPhone or iPod touch v2.1 firmware coming out later this week.

For other users, however, iTunes 7.7 should remain completely functional, with the only significant additions in iTunes 8 being the new “Genius” feature, support for HD TV content, and some new layout views. Users who are not interested in any of these features or the new iPod models should certainly not feel compelled to upgrade.

On the other hand, the good news is that from our testing thus far, iTunes 8 doesn’t appear to have broken anything significantly compared to previous versions. Performance in our testing environment is generally no better or worse than iTunes 7.7, with the exception some of the new features which are slightly more processor-intensive, such as loading album artwork images in Grid View and viewing HD content in iTunes.

Although each user’s mileage may vary this seems to be a relatively safe upgrade. Be aware, however, that this upgrade is a one-way process, so be sure to keep a copy of your old iTunes library database somewhere safe in case you wish to revert back to iTunes 7.7 (iTunes 8 itself will back up your iTunes library database to the “Previous iTunes Library” folder when you first launch it, but we strongly recommend making an additional backup of your iTunes library database files prior to even installing iTunes 8 just to be safe.

 

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Comments

1

The bug where custom CD view options were not remembered between CDs has finally been fixed.  I don’t think that has worked since version 5!
Also of note is the fact that Grid View uses the Album Artist field when available.  There are sorting options available in you right-click any of the header buttons.

Posted by Galley in Greenville, SC on September 10, 2008 at 9:20 AM (CDT)

2

I know that the HD content won’t play on the iPod directly (based on what I’ve read so far), but if you upload it to the iPod, and then set the iPod to play to the Video out, will it play on the TV, when the iPod is connected to the TV?

Just curious.

Posted by kmichalec on September 10, 2008 at 10:27 AM (CDT)

3

@Galley: Thanks for pointing that out. I’ve updated the article accordingly. Note that grouping and sorting options can also be found on the View menu.

@kmichalec: The short answer is no. Not only is the iPod incapable of outputting any resolution greater than 480p at this point, but iTunes will simply not transfer the HD versions of TV shows to the iPod in the first place. It will transfer the SD version only (if available). If you have removed the SD version from your library, iTunes will simply inform you that it cannot transfer that episode, as it would for any other unsupported video file.

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on September 10, 2008 at 10:34 AM (CDT)

4

Thanks, Galley in Greenville! I have been carefully bringing along a copy of my iTunes prefs originally used with the older versions just so I had one with my preferred CD view columns. Now I can safely create a fresh pref file if I need to (might not be a bad idea, actually).

Posted by ckd on September 10, 2008 at 10:38 AM (CDT)

5

So…any provision to let me pay to upgrade shows to HD that I already purchased in SD?

Posted by Quix on September 10, 2008 at 10:40 AM (CDT)

6

I have been trying to figure out how to turn off the genre section in the triple panel up top.  Anyone figure out how to do it?

Posted by Aaron S on September 10, 2008 at 11:03 AM (CDT)

7

Just a small thing but I’ve noticed that on the summary page it now shows my white iPhone in its true colour instead of a generic black one.

Posted by Alex on September 10, 2008 at 11:09 AM (CDT)

8

Is there still a way to remove the arrow links to the iTunes store in the list view ? ? ?

I sure hope so these are annoying..

Posted by Dzign on September 10, 2008 at 11:40 AM (CDT)

9

What about the new visualizer?

Posted by jandsroberts on September 10, 2008 at 12:03 PM (CDT)

10

Got a couple of problems - my Vista machine is hanging half way through my collection at the gathering information stage (for Genius).

The other problem/bug/oversight is that (as far as I can see) when you browse artists in grid view there is no drop down or right click option for which album to select, so it just goes from the top of the list when you press play.

Posted by philbury on September 10, 2008 at 12:28 PM (CDT)

11

#5: There does not yet appear to be any way to upgrade existing shows into HD. Whether this is coming in the future or not is unknown.

#6 & #8: The preferences for these still exist, but are no longer accessible through the user interface. There will be an update to this article coming shortly to describe how to set these from the command-line.

#9: The new Visualizer is there, and works as expected, but other than a cool new look there’s really nothing new about it in terms of features or settings.  You turn it on the same way you did in previous iTunes versions..  It just looks different.

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on September 10, 2008 at 1:29 PM (CDT)

12

@10 if you are looking for a specific album to play, you should browse in album view, or click through to pick a specific song to start with.

Alternatively click through the artist and resort, then go back and start playing.

Posted by studogvetmed in Loveland, CO on September 10, 2008 at 2:04 PM (CDT)

13

Your 15,000 tracks took only 15 minutes? Lucky you. My 18,000 track library took four hours.

That being said, it is an amazing feature.

Posted by CF on September 10, 2008 at 5:22 PM (CDT)

14

The individual podcast settings are, IMO, a great thing.  I’ve been hoping for something like that for a couple of years now.  The next step would be to allow different import options for different types of media.  For example, I’m perfectly fine with iTunes copying audio into the music folder, but I keep video on an external drive.  The settings for copying are global though, and changing them every time is a PITA.

Posted by Jacob on September 10, 2008 at 11:00 PM (CDT)

15

“Your 15,000 tracks took only 15 minutes? Lucky you. My 18,000 track library took four hours.”

Yeah, only 15 minutes? My 8,500 track library took about 45mins-1hour to generate the library.

Posted by andrew harrison on September 11, 2008 at 3:08 AM (CDT)

16

Can someone please explain to me the sorting function i.e Sort Artist, Sort Album etc?

Posted by jahbronie on September 11, 2008 at 5:49 AM (CDT)

17

Follow up - I now see that if you are browsing in the grid view , artist tab, if you click on the artwork (avoiding the play button) the view changes to a list of the albums for that artist.

Still waiting for a fix for Vista - seems there are others with BSOD problems if they have HP printers attached. (USB related). Mine just gets to 50% information gathering in genius setup and then becomes unresponsive.

Posted by Philip Bradbury on September 11, 2008 at 6:08 AM (CDT)

18

I believe you are correct that the initial processing when your first load up iTunes 8 involves processing album art.  My G5 told me as much with a pop-up box saying something to the affect of “Creating thumbnails of album covers.” It included a progress bar and took a few minutes to complete.

I suspect that newer machines are able to run this as a background process, but I was unable to use iTunes until it finished with this process.

Posted by Rob E. on September 11, 2008 at 8:29 AM (CDT)

19

My question is concerning the anonymity of the data collection for Genius. It is NOT “collected anonymously” as they require you to have an account which means your identity has been verified by credit card and linked to your computer and library. They claim that it is “stored anonymously” and yet they are able to provide “personalized” recommendations based on your data. Therefore there is a link and a way of retracing whose data is whose. I trust Apple BUT I foresee the Music labels going to court to obtain these data bases after they have time to accumulate. No one I know legally owns 18 000 songs. Never before have people authorized a distributor in the Music Industry, which Apple is, to take a complete inventory of their music collection and even how often we listen to each track. I can see why Jobs pushed this so hard. Jobs is the new face of Big Brother.

Posted by David Jones on September 11, 2008 at 12:31 PM (CDT)

20

I noticed something new in v8: the ctrl-click/right click “Convert to AAC” option now says “Create AAC Version” instead.  As far as I can tell it does the same thing, not sure why they changed the wording

Posted by Mark on September 11, 2008 at 12:45 PM (CDT)

21

@19 I don’t think that it has to remain connected to your account ID to send you recommendations. It compares it to your library on the fly.

I think that the terms and conditions are pretty straight forward and we can feel confident in the level of privacy it takes as the genius information is held under the same apple privacy policy according to the T&C;I can’t see the music labels winning a court order to get this information. Though I trust Apple that the statement that “This information will be stored anonymously and not associated with your name or iTunes account.” is true, I wouldn’t be surprised if it can’t be traced in some way via IP or something else, but if Apple is smart they are not keeping records of IPs and other things to prevent this.

And I think you are off in saying no one owns 18,000 songs legally. What is the cutoff for legal ownership number? I have 5,297 songs in my music library. What is the likihood that most of this is legally obtained? Where is the cutoff (I’m 30 years old to give you an idea of time to obtain legal music).

Posted by studogvetmed in Loveland, CO on September 11, 2008 at 3:28 PM (CDT)

22

one feature that is STILL missing from iTunes is the abilitiy to transcode Apple’s own lossless format into a lower bitrate AAC file when importing it onto an iPod or iPhone. I really can’t understand why this feature can’t be apart of iTunes. Even more so seeing as the Shuffle allows this when importing lossless files on to it. It’s a simple simple feature that still aludes us lossless / iphone users. As a result I can’t have anywhere near the amount of music on my 8GB iPhone as I would have wanted. Please Apple make this a feature of 8.1

Posted by robertoctavius on September 11, 2008 at 4:09 PM (CDT)

23

#22: Definitely agree with you on that point, although I’m not surprised Apple hasn’t added it yet.

That having been said, the best way to make Apple aware of feature requests is to submit them at http://www.apple.com/feedback/itunesapp.html

There’s no guarantee that this will be enough to see them implement the feature, but somebody does read this stuff, and I’m sure features that are demanded highly enough are given serious consideration.  This one doesn’t seem like it would be at all difficult to implement.

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on September 11, 2008 at 6:48 PM (CDT)

24

Turn off track numbers when importing:

defaults write com.apple.iTunes create-filenames-with-tracknumber -bool FALSE

Posted by f1rehead on September 11, 2008 at 7:02 PM (CDT)

25

Can someone explain in more detail how to use terminal on Mac OS X to change preferences? I opened the Terminal, the app, selected New Command from the Shell menu, copied in “defaults write com.apple.itunes show-store-arrow-link -bool FALSE” (without quotes) and hit enter, it said process completed, and when I reopened iTunes, nothing had changed…can someone tell me what I’m doing wrong?

Posted by Nick Yates on September 11, 2008 at 7:51 PM (CDT)

26

Unfortunately, there was a small typo in the original article.  You’ve got the Terminal procedure right, but the preference is show-store-arrow-links (note the “s”)

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on September 12, 2008 at 8:14 AM (CDT)

27

It seems that iTunes no longer synchronizes my .mp4 videos. Is this a new “feature” of iTunes 8. Previously, I could synchronize mp4-videos up to 640x480 with 2500 kbs. Now the manual claims that it will handle h.264 mp4 videos up to 320x240 with 768 kbs (when did that happen?) but since upgrading to iTunes 8 even after converting them to 320x240 with 600 kbs iTunes will not synchronize them to my 5th gen iPod nor my 1st gen iPod touch :-(

Posted by Marc de Oliveira on September 12, 2008 at 8:54 AM (CDT)

28

After I downloaded the new iTunes 8, Iam not able to play iTunes through my Bose using my airport. (using Mac os x 10.4.11) never had a problem before. Think I found a BUG.Help me play my music again.

Posted by Michael LaValle on September 12, 2008 at 11:45 AM (CDT)

29

It seems that holding down the Option button when selecting “Show Duplicates” will now show only EXACT duplicates.

Posted by Galley in Greenville, SC on September 12, 2008 at 12:05 PM (CDT)

30

“one feature that is STILL missing from iTunes is the abilitiy to transcode Apple’s own lossless format into a lower bitrate AAC file when importing it onto an iPod or iPhone. ... As a result I can’t have anywhere near the amount of music on my 8GB iPhone as I would have wanted.”

While iTunes can’t do this automatically, there’s no reason for you to face this limit on iPhone music. Just set your import settings to a lower bitrate AAC format, highlight all your tracks (ctrl or command-A) and use the “convert to AAC” option to make a parallel set of tracks at the lower bitrate. This won’t expand your collection’s size that much (maybe 25%). Then, use a couple of smart playlists to separate your music into the two groups: lossless and AAC. If you autosync, use the smart lossless-format playlist to select and de-check those tracks so that they won’t be included in the sync. When you rip new music, just remember to convert to AAC after ripping lossless and to de-check the lossless tracks (easy to do while you’re making the AAC conversion since you’ll already have those tracks highlighted).

Posted by NameisDavid on September 12, 2008 at 12:17 PM (CDT)

31

“The View, Show/Hide Browser menu option can still be used to show or hide the iTunes Genre/Artist/Album browser when viewing your tracks in list view.”

Or just go the easy route: use control- or command-B to toggle.

Posted by NameisDavid on September 12, 2008 at 12:19 PM (CDT)

32

Can anyone tell me how to turn off the annoying sound that iTunes 8 makes everytime you click on something…the “swooshing” sound?
Its really annoying!

Posted by stretch3144 on September 12, 2008 at 12:36 PM (CDT)

33

How to move the itunes library to a external hard disk? I try to do it as before but nothing happens. Thanks

Posted by gonzalo on September 13, 2008 at 1:31 PM (CDT)

34

What happened to the eject your ipod button in the lower right corner?

Is it OK now to simply unplug?  Or should I use the Eject ipod in the drop down menu?

Also, even after a re-install the app store is still funky.  If I rest the mouse cursor over an app screenshot the app title flickers and it won’t load until I move the cursor off the screenshot slightly?  What’s up with that or is it unique on mine?

Posted by Stephen Horlick on September 13, 2008 at 5:05 PM (CDT)

35

When using the windows version i can edit my tags for songs or video.

Posted by Angie on September 13, 2008 at 8:40 PM (CDT)

36

I’m using windows xp media center with SP3 and since updating itunes to itunes 8 i can’t use Itunes in the windows toolbar.

is any one else having this problem. I HATE using itunes when its not in that little mini player in my windows toolbar

Posted by ATM743 on September 15, 2008 at 8:35 AM (CDT)

37

Has anything been posted yet to answer the question posed in comment #6?

Also, I’m having another problem.  In the artist box on the top of iTunes, I’ve lost a number of the artists I have loaded.  I didn’t lose any songs; they are still in the bottom half of the iTunes screen.  They don’t show up on my iPod either.  You can find the song by doing a sort by album title though.  Anyone else have this problem?

Doug

Posted by Doug R on September 15, 2008 at 7:40 PM (CDT)

38

#19 I’ve been buying CDs since the late ‘80’s and ripping them to my computer since around 1998. Even with less than half of my 5,000+ CD collection ripped, I still have over 20,000 legal track in my iTunes library. I’ve known a couple other people that have had similar large legal music libraries.

#33 As before, you can set your iTunes Music folder location under the Advanced pane in iTunes 8’s preferences. (I also echo other people’s comments that I wish i could set the audio and video files locations independantly.)

#37 That question’s actually been answered by an edit made in the main article. Launch Terminal and type the following:

defaults write com.apple.itunes show-genre-when-browsing -bool FALSE

Posted by Lun Esex on September 16, 2008 at 1:44 AM (CDT)

39

After the update to iTunes 8, it now is asking for Artist name and album name!  I only sort my music by the file name and don’t use any other info in my id3 tags.  It won’t recognize anything in the name field as it did before.  Why, now, is it wanting artist and album info?  How can I get it to only recognize the file name info?  Thanks!

Posted by Todd W. Negley on September 17, 2008 at 10:29 AM (CDT)

40

To #38…While I appreciate the response to my question, those kind of answers are really no help at all.  I have no idea what “Launch Terminal” means; if you know the answer, could you just let me know what it is?  I’ve gone back and skimmed the article, and I don’t see an answer to my question there.

If I didn’t need the help, I wouldn’t be asking…

Posted by Doug R on September 17, 2008 at 9:07 PM (CDT)

41

One thing I haven’t seen mentioned, but to me is the biggest bug fix, is now you can select to synch “least recent unwatched” tv episodes..it took apple years to fix this but thank God they finally did.  Not sure why anyone would want to watch a tv season in descending order, but previously the only option was “most recent unwatched episodes”.. thanks for the fix apple, now my 40 gig Apple TV is usable a year and half later for watching tv shows :)

Posted by scott on September 18, 2008 at 2:48 AM (CDT)

42

One other thing that appears to have been fixed is the sorting of most recently added files in Smart Playlists.

I have numerous episodes of an audio broadcast and previously when bulk adding them the logic was not intelligent enough to realize which was added last.  It appeared to only verify down to the minute timestamp.  This now appears to be more precise as it now adds them as expected.

Posted by Mark on September 22, 2008 at 5:49 PM (CDT)

43

Hi. Has anyone else lost their ability to click to next song and have it actually go to the next song? My itunes will now only play the song that is selected and will not automatically rotate to the next song…any advice on this would GREATLY appreciated…

Posted by Alex on September 28, 2008 at 11:43 AM (CDT)

44

I’ve just up-dated to I-Tunes 8 and am trying to burn an audio book with multiple cd’s into my audio books library.  Each time I burn the cd it goes into my music library and when I add additional CD’s it doesn’t show the disc #?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by Cheryl on October 21, 2008 at 10:57 AM (CDT)

45

The upgrade to iTunes 8 (Mac) has wrecked more logic in the smart playlists.  The behavior of the “Live update” option has reversed, making a time-limited list unending unless that box isn’t checked.  If it is, the smart playlist won’t refresh for another iteration.  They have previously broken (and fixed) a problem with “any” and “all”.  I wish they put some more work into the music player part—it’s become “the red-headed step-child.”

Posted by Don on October 27, 2008 at 7:48 PM (CDT)

46

i just bought a new ipod nano and tried connecting it to my mac the first msg i got was this ipod needs the new version of itunes once i did that it said cannot run without quicktime 7.5 or later when i downloaded that it says i cant intall it on my computer…
Now this is annoying because i already had another ipod connected to that, and now i just cant use itunes… tried deleting itunes and downloading it but nothing seems to work… PLEASE HELP!

Posted by maha on December 29, 2008 at 12:32 PM (CST)

47

Something of note:

In iTunes 8.0.2, each time a song gets played that does not have the “album artist” field filled, iTunes automatically fills that field with the “artist” (in the background). But in doing so, it also clears out the total tracks field (ie the “14” in track # “5 of 14”). This is an automated process with no preferences. I guess they’d rather have “complete, yet redundant” data than fields inheriting from non-parent fields - which is fine by me so long as they don’t write over unrelated data!

Posted by marty on January 18, 2009 at 1:59 PM (CST)

48

You mention that “The option to Shuffle by Songs, Albums, or Groupings can now be found on the main iTunes “View” menu, making it more convenient to change this shuffle setting on the fly”.

Not true, my SHUFFLE is in the CONTROLS window and I do have the latest update to iTunes, verison 8.1.1.10

Either my update had some later changes or your information is not up to date.

NOTE:  I am a fairly new iTunes user and for sure a new iPod user.

What I cannot find is any way to back up to an external hard drive.

I used to use Music Match and they had that option, why not iTunes?

Posted by Jon on May 8, 2009 at 1:44 PM (CDT)

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