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Do you use iTunes as your primary music management program/music player

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macrumors regular
Original poster
Jan 28, 2011
I see a lot of people saying that iTunes is a terrible application and needs seriously revamped. I don't really understand why people feel this way. Yes iTunes on Windows is terrible but on the Mac it works pretty well, the interface is easy to use, it sorts and keeps track of music well and has all the features you could need from a music management program. So what are your reasons for disliking it?
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macrumors 6502a
Apr 22, 2007
Lost in Space
It works for me as needed. No complaints. I think it's Apple Music that's a mess, but I only did the free trial and was not impressed.
I'm sure that any improvements made to iTunes would always be welcome, but my faith in Eddy Cue is somewhat diminished.


macrumors 68040
Mar 28, 2005
I have never hated iTunes like some seem to. That said, it's a shadow of its former self since version 11's redesign. Version 10.7 was the last one I actually liked. Now it's just perfunctory, it does the job.

I do think some of the criticisms are fair; but they can't make everyone happy, because some of the criticisms directly contradict other people's criticisms. And with very little effort a lot of stuff can be deselected or put in other modes.

I mean I have no interest in Apple Music - so I restrict that as much as I can - but I'm sure for others it's the aspect they use the most now.

Making a few different apps that hooked into the iTunes library might make sense though. They could have a lightweight general musicplayer, a purely local non-cloud one, a video-content-focused app... it's a little odd that there are separate podcast apps and video apps by Apple on iOS but not on the mac.

T'hain Esh Kelch

macrumors 603
Aug 5, 2001
I've always loved iTunes (Likely because I came from Soundjam MP before that - Look up that name kids!), but with the redesign of iTunes 11 and added bloat with Apple music in iTunes 12, I really don't like using it.

The GUI is a complete mess, that takes multiple clicks to navigate what used to be single clicks. The search function is awful to use now (Really, how can they **** THAT UP?). Editing metadata is wonky. iOS sync only works 25% of the time. Standard views provide much less information.

iTunes 11+ is for me, Cooks Apple. Adding stuff that isn't needed at all, and redoing things that were working perfectly, just to appeal to teenagers who wants new bling to look at every other month.


macrumors 6502
Dec 1, 2012
Example 1. Album art.
When I play anything I haven't played for a couple of years, the artwork often changes:
1. Randomly (i.e. not always)
2. Sometimes to a completely different, irrelevant album - e.g. The Flock by the Flock becomes Flock of Seagulls by A Flock of Seagulls
3. It does this in a manner where Time Machine thinks the file has changed but, for example, the modification date in Finder is unchanged.

Example 2. Play
Play Next - adds track to top of playlist
Play Later - adds track to top of playlist
And the difference is ...

Example 3. Ratings
Complete confusion through the app between track ratings and album ratings. So, I never set album ratings but when I play a few tracks the unplayed tracks set assigned a rating (grey not blue). Screws up smart playlists

Phil A.

Staff member
Apr 2, 2006
Shropshire, UK
I don't so much hate it as ignore it nowadays - I tend to just use my iOS devices or Apple TV for anything iTunes related (such as buying apps, listening to music, buying movies, etc, etc) - It's simply not a needed app for me any more


macrumors 6502
Nov 23, 2007
I sit here trying to back up and sync my iPhone 6S+ and it drags on then crashes. Again. Over the years of using iTunes, this inconsistent behaviour is something you get used to. Some days it is fine, others...

The interface has changed a lot over the years. It seems to lack focus on what users want to do and tries hard to push you to bend to its desires. "No I do not want to try Apple Music for 3 months. Just show me my local files!!!"

How can a program that has reached version 12 not have a better way to handle Playlists? I create a lot of them. I find the sidebar playlist an easy way to find albums quickly in a large library. However, you can't nest them. Even iOS lets you nest Apps. You end up with a long list of Playlists and it takes forever to drag one up to place on your iDevice. Why not a right click Copy To Device option?

I own way too many iPods etc. Some have my only copy of tracks that have fallen off my iTunes library. But can I copy them back from the iPod? no... I know, copyright, but if an iDevice can only sync to one computer surely it should allow you do upload to that PC/Mac.

Books and magazines? Another mess.

With higher quality audio files being easier to buy these days, why not update iTunes to store them? Play them on your Mac and down-sample to iPod friendly format is need be? Why is down-sampling stuck at only 128kbs? Let the user choose! Why not let users filter their library on format or bit rate?

I've long ago given up on storing videos in iTunes. Too limited formats to be useful. Too big a library. Easier to store them in external drives and drag onto your device.

Bought stuff on iTunes Store but dont have a local copy stored anymore? Good luck finding an EASY way to quickly re-download missing purchased items. Yes it can be down but it's not as simple as it should be.

There's lot of "little straws" that are not huge deals but when there are so many of them...


macrumors 68020
Jul 16, 2013
The Netherlands
On the iPhone you have separate apps: Music, iTunes Store, Videos, Podcasts, (others I'm not aware of?). iTunes has all of this - plus iPhone/iPod syncing and that makes it just too crammed.

Personally I only use Apple Music and occasionally sync an old iPod. I don't need the rest, so if it where separate apps I could just use the one or two and tuck the others away in some folder.

I think that would result in much lighter and better apps.

Apple Music has changed iTunes and will continue to do so with original content like those TV shows. At least make the experience the same as on iOS devices...
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macrumors 604
Feb 4, 2004
Florida Resident
My movie / tv show library is too big. I create separate libraries across many drives. I would like iTunes to be like the old iTunes when it was more streamline and focused on music. My music would easily fit on my local storage. Maybe Apple should make it more bloated with integrated book reader, PDF viewer, Photos, Pages, Numbers. Just let it view everything and store the meta data in its XML database that could get corrupted.

When I go to my old iMac running OS 9, I can go back an experience iTunes as a streamlined music player.


macrumors 6502a
Oct 28, 2003
Philadelphia, PA
iTunes destroyed my carefully cultivated and obsessively tagged ripped library. I'm an iTunes Match subscriber, and this happened right around the time of the Apple Music launch.

I've been using iTunes since the OS 9 days, and have a PhD in engineering. If someone were to ask me how to do a simple thing in the app these days, I probably wouldn't be able to answer without sitting down and trial-and-error fiddling with it.

I think it's a nightmare app, and I go into it as little as possible.
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macrumors 6502a
Feb 4, 2010
My main issue with the iTunes interface is that it is less clean looking than it was in the past. My iMac has iTunes 10.7 installed, which in my view is the best version of iTunes. I am forced to use iTunes 12 on my MacBook Pro because that computer needs to remain up to date for certain apps and using iTunes 10 seems to break the App Store update and download process.
My other issue, removal of good features. Apple removed the iTunes Radio feature for paying iTunes Match subscribers and seems to have stopped updating Genius in 2015, which really sucks.
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macrumors 604
Aug 2, 2002
Cork, Ireland.
For me, it's fine as a music player, and I use iTunes Match to sync my purchases (from across my Macs.

But as an iPhone/iPad syncing programme, blech! I've had so much weirdness happen with Apple syncing solutions (going all the way to iSync, lots of my old phone contacts no longer have a phone number, or one contact now has another's number/email address!) I feel safer not using iTunes at all. I'm always being asked "Hey, you 'work in computers', if I sync this with iTunes will I lose my music/contacts/messages?". And my answer is always "I have absolutely no idea. I don't trust it."

T'hain Esh Kelch

macrumors 603
Aug 5, 2001
The interface has changed a lot over the years. It seems to lack focus on what users want to do and tries hard to push you to bend to its desires. "No I do not want to try Apple Music for 3 months. Just show me my local files!!!"
You can turn off everything Apple Music in Preferences.

How can a program that has reached version 12 not have a better way to handle Playlists? I create a lot of them. I find the sidebar playlist an easy way to find albums quickly in a large library. However, you can't nest them. Even iOS lets you nest Apps. You end up with a long list of Playlists and it takes forever to drag one up to place on your iDevice.
You can do nested folders, with playlists, which helps quite a bit with organizing stuff. You can even do smart playlists that only contain stuff from other playlists, so in essence, you can also nest playlists.
I'm an Apple guy through and through.


iTunes is a bloated mess. Audiobooks and podcasts need to have their own applications.
I agree. Syncing Audiobooks is a HUGE pain if you have a lot. You get a tiny view that displays 6 books at a time (!), which out of a library of hundreds, is so inefficient that I can only assume the iTunes engineers never actually used the feature themselves.

I am hoping that they go back to the iSync approach they started out with, and put Audiobooks into iBooks, movies into whatever-app, strip out Apple Music, and be done with it. Give me back my bare boned music centered iTunes please.
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Analog Kid

macrumors 604
Mar 4, 2003
iTunes needs to be razed and rebuilt from first principles.

Because it's the thin edge of the Apple wedge, it's been tasked with carrying a lot of completely unrelated functionality that has been added, partly removed, combined with other ideas, compromised and stirred.

iTunes is a holiday dinner for the Apple family. None of the functions really have anything in common with the others, nor do they particularly want to be there, but they all share a common patriarch.

iTunes manages, in one way or another:
  • Music
  • Movies
  • Books
  • iOS applications
  • Photos
  • Media store
  • Ringtones
  • Podcasts
  • iOS app store
  • Multi-device rental management
  • University course videos, handouts, slides, etc.
  • TV shows and subscriptions
  • Internet radio streams
  • all aspects of Apple's cloud music initiative
  • iTunes connect and developer services
  • Contacts and calendars
  • iOS device management (backup, update, carrier settings, device unlocking)
  • Audiobooks (which apparently aren't books but also aren't music)
  • Music videos (which apparently aren't music but also aren't video)
  • iOS file transfers
  • music library sharing over LAN
  • etc, etc, etc...
  • iOS device synchronization
Some of these things it manages the database and sync functions for, some it just manages sync and the database is somewhere else, and some used to be managed locally and are now managed outside. There's not a lot of rhyme or reason to which is handled how.

For me, the single most important function of iTunes is to sync my devices from my desktop-- and it is the most frustrating. Every time I travel, I either need to start preparing my devices a week in advance to ensure I've had time to get the content installed that I want, or I head out the door with half of my applications grayed out because the system thinks they're still being installed and a random subset of my desired movies and music.

"1200 items couldn't be installed." Sync. "1080 items couldn't be installed.' Sync. "957 items couldn't be installed". Sync. "743 items couldn't be installed." Why do I have to keep pushing that button? The whole reason man invented software was to automate repetitive tasks. I get it, I'm tight on space-- do the best you can. It's crazy that doing the same thing over and over keeps making incremental progress though.

Music management is a nightmare. The "compilation" flag is the most confounding thing I've ever seen. Most of my library is ripped lossless and transcoded to AAC on sync and there are a handful of songs that play fine on the Mac but refuse to transcode. I can not, for the life of me, figure out what all the various meta data tags do or how they control the organization of music files, I just know getting all the right songs in their proper albums listed under the proper artist is an endurance sport. When I change metadata, it won't get sync'd across until I delete the item from the iOS device and then resync (haven't actually tried this for a while, I'm now in the habit of waiting until I have enough changes to justify the effort and then remove all my music, make the changes, and then sync)

They removed the "rebuild library" option, presumably because it made what should be a mature piece of software look fragile, but that also means that when this fragile piece of software loses it's mind I have to go through some gymnastics to recreate my library.

And then there's the UI, which I find absurd. The iPod was wonderful: Artist->Album->Song. iTunes has some weird mode-centric interface. Sometimes there's a sidebar, sometimes there's not. Sometimes I can pick from a drop down and go to Music or Videos, sometimes I can't until I say "done". If I'm trying to go back and forth between an iOS device and my library to compare, I can't leave anything half done, I need to either throw away my changes or apply them. There's a half dozen places I need to look for options that control the visibility and format of controls and information in various views. When I attach a new device, it puts it in one place in the device list (which pops out from a button for some reason) and then it reorders the list when the connection is complete. The UI refers to "checked items" in various places, but there isn't a check box to be found in the music listings-- we need to figure out that black means checked and dark grey means not checked. Half of my artists have random portraits that I didn't and can't choose, and half have a pink microphone that I can't replace. The info pane is modal, so I can't open it and then select different songs to compare.

Video and TV management is even worse, particularly when selecting what to sync to an iOS device. Scrolling panes within scrolling panes that are all too small and fidgety to really be able to manage more than a dozen items or so. Mixing personal content with purchased content is awkward, and there's no way of organizing beyond one big long list of movies. The number of times I've rented movies and then had them disappear is particularly frustrating. I don't know if it's because of a failed sync and the DRM handoff goes wrong or what, but I can't re-rent it because iTunes Store thinks I've already got it, but I also can't watch it. I either need to find time to deal with Apple support on my way to the airport or wait 30 days to rent it again.

And then, of course, is the sadistic iOS app management functions that take all the joy out of having bought more than a couple dozen apps. It's just a dump of all the .ipa files I have on the system, but no way of learning more about what the app is, how old it is, what the full name is if it's more than the few characters that fit in the list, what the App Store description is or anything else.

Any error messages are presented in a box too narrow to read which would be more of a problem if the messages made much sense to begin with. Same with the messages that give status of a sync: "waiting for changes to be applied"?

I miss the simpler days of "Rip. Mix. Burn."

Give every database it's own manager app (Photos, Music, Videos, Books, Contacts, Calendar, App Store etc) and then give iOS devices a central point of contact specifically for synchronization.
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macrumors 604
Mar 11, 2013
I don't get it honestly. Now, I haven't used it on Windows in some time so I'm sure that it is subpar there, but on macOS is splendid.

It loads within 2 seconds with a 300GB library across two drives. It manages all of my music, movies, and TV Shows. In fact, I think it would be a hassle if all of those were not in one place. It serves it's purpose and has a decent UI and the best organizational features of any software out there.

The only component that is terrible and I wish would be spun off is device Sync. This has become a slow and laborious process. My devices always show a different music count (but I can't find a difference), there's always "Other" generated rapidly, etc. That needs serious work. It's just copying files, so I don't see why it should be so terrible.


macrumors 6502a
Jul 4, 2013
while i can understand all the complaints you guys have i've never experienced them. in my house i use itunes exclusively to listen to all my music. it's always worked perfectly for me. i run a hard wire from my earphone port straight to my receiver. all of my music is ripped from cd's into itunes. the data is stored on a firewire hard drive and is backed up on another. i use a 1.25ghz imac to play itunes with. i also have an extra imac of the same spec. i use an older version of itunes and see no reason to upgrade and from what i've read here plenty of reasons not to. i'm not bragging or poking fun, just letting you guys know that there are alternatives. i've used this method for years. for movies i rip dvd's as video_ts folders and watch them using the dvd player app. again, external hard drives. i realize that these files are rather large but i have plenty of space. because of the ripping software i use i use an intel macbook to rip the dvd's. again i use itunes to play my music and i use a different program to play my movies. now while my imac was made in 2003 the external drives have much more capacity than back then so i no longer have the need to compress my data. i do however have a different library compressed on a different user account that i use to transfer my music to an old ipod classic. several of you people have expressed desires to return to the old ways of doing things. well you can. by the way i'm typing this from my macbook as i no longer use my imac for internet.
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