Viewing more iTunes data on the screen at once

Viewing more iTunes data on the screen at once 1

Q: I have a 12” iBook, and I often find its 1024×768 resolution too small to efficiently visualize the many data fields iTunes can display in the main Library window. In iTunes’ preferences, I found a font size setting, and can switch between “Large” and “Small” text, but even using “Small,” I find myself scrolling horizontally too often. Is there any way to see more of iTunes’ data at once?

– Anonymous

A: Sure – there are a few things you can do:

On either a Mac or PC, you can browse playlists (read: not your Library) in a separate window that doesn’t have the “Source” column, increasing the effective horizontal width of display. To do this, simply double-click on the playlist, and a new window will open, dedicated to it. Note that this also works for the Music Store, Radio, Podcasts, Party Shuffle, and Videos.

Second, you could export your Library’s data to another program that’s more flexible at data display, like Microsoft Excel. See this Ask iLounge column to find out how.

Finally – and this one only works on MacOS X 10.4 and above – you can scale the entire iTunes user interface down by a certain factor, using a somewhat hidden capability of the Mac’s Quartz Extreme rendering engine. To do so, first quit iTunes. Then, open “Terminal” from your Mac’s “Applications → Utilities” folder, type or copy in this line of text at the prompt, and hit enter when you’re done:

defaults write com.apple.iTunes AppleDisplayScaleFactor -string "0.5" 

 When relaunched, iTunes will scale to half its normal height and width, as shown below: 

   
Viewing more iTunes data on the screen at once 2
While this 50% scale is impressive and allows much more data to fit on the screen, many would certainly consider it a bit beyond the realm of usability. In our testing, we’ve found that 75% works best for readability and the functionality of all of iTunes’ features, but there are still plenty of bugs: using this trick makes the Mac’s menu bar render awkwardly as you switch from one application to another, and Exposé doesn’t properly understand the scaled window. If you’re comfortable with these compromises, a moderate scale factor adjustment can be helpful. If not, simply revert to standard behavior by re-running the above command in Terminal, changing the final part to a “1.0” scale factor.
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