Q: Does anyone know how I can set up iTunes on my Mac so it doesn’t automatically add any new audio/media track I play to my library? It’s a nightmare trying to catalog my music collection when I have to trawl through hundreds of unlabelled audio tracks that have nothing to do with music.

Preventing iTunes from automatically opening audio files

– via iLounge Forums

A: This is actually a feature of Mac OS X as opposed to iTunes itself and has to do with which application is assigned to open different types of media files. On OS X, iTunes registers itself to handle all of the file types that you would typically have in an iTunes library (e.g. MP3, M4A, WAV, etc), which has the unfortunate side-effect of meaning that it opens as the default audio player when double-clicking on any of these file types and imports the track in question to your iTunes library in the process.

The good news is that this can easily be changed to use whatever other audio player app you prefer. QuickTime is included with OS X so that’s a good alternative, but you can also use any other compatible third-party app that you prefer. To do this, simply select an audio file in Finder and choose File, Get Info to bring up the file information dialog box. You can then select an alternative application from the drop-down in the “Open with” section and use the Change All… button to apply that selection to all files of that particular media type.

Keep in mind that this setting will apply only to the specific file type you’ve selected (i.e. MP3), so you may need to repeat it for other media files that you commonly access directly from Finder, such as WAV and M4A (AAC) files.

Note also that you can also override this behaviour each time you open an individual file by right-clicking on the file and choosing a specific application from the Open With… sub-menu. Further, even if you’ve selected QuickTime or some other alternate player for your audio files, you can also continue to import media files into iTunes manually by dragging and dropping them into the iTunes window or using the File, Add to Library option from within iTunes.



Jesse Hollington was a Senior Editor at iLounge. He's written about Apple technology for nearly a decade and had been covering the industry since the early days of iLounge. In his role at iLounge, he provided daily news coverage, wrote and edited features and reviews, and was responsible for the overall quality of the site's content.