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iTunes is already a rich and feature-packed music management application, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement. In fact, some simple changes and additional features can make the application twice the joy to use.

If you’re a Mac user, the possibilities are near limitless. There are an incredible amount of scripts that extend and improve iTunes’ feature set. Below are some of the best tricks of the lot.

How To Use iTunes & AppleScripts

Most of the tricks below use AppleScripts Learn to Automate Your Mac with AppleScript [Part 1: Introduction] Learn to Automate Your Mac with AppleScript [Part 1: Introduction] Read More . These are small programs written by other people to influence iTunes’ behaviour. To get these scripts to work, you’ll need to put them in ~/Library/iTunes/Scripts, with the tilde (~) pointing to your home folder.

In Finder, select Go > Go to Folder… and enter ‘~/Library/iTunes/Scripts’, without quotes.

If the folder can’t be found, you’ll need to create it first. Go to ‘~/Library/iTunes’ and create a ‘Scripts’ folder manually. Now you should be able to access the folder directly.

1. Enable Half-Star Ratings

In iTunes, you can designate a rating of one to five stars to your songs. Although the five-star system is widely used, it’s inadequate for many. It’s easy to distinguish between a good and a bad song, but not so easy to tell apart songs if the difference in quality is less expressive.

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itunes-half-star

You can solve this issue by enabling a hidden and little-known feature of iTunes: the half-star rating. With this enabled, you’ll be able to be twice as picky in your ratings.

It’s one of the easiest, but most essential iTunes tricks around. Start by opening the Terminal application from Applications > Utilities > Terminal. Copy-paste the following command, and press enter to execute:

defaults write com.apple.iTunes allow-half-stars -bool true

terminal-half-star-itunes

That’s all. You’ll need to restart iTunes for the changes to kick in. If you ever want to reverse this option, change the last word in the command from true to false and run it again.

2. List MIAs to Find Dead Songs

It’s not a scenario you’ll like to contemplate, but sometimes music files go missing. Especially if your music library isn’t consolidated in iTunes’ music folder, you might accidentally lose a file or two when you’re cleaning sorting your the files on your computer.

list-mias

List MIAs helps you find those songs that have gone missing in action. Just execute the script, and List MIAs searches for orphaned songs, listing the decrepit file paths and the names of the songs. From there on, you can either show the songs in iTunes, delete the file references for once and for all, or export the list to a text file.

It’s worth noting that this script needn’t be located in the Scripts folder to function properly. However, for ease of use, you might just want to keep all your scripts in one place.

3. Rate Me! Rate Me!

If you’re one of those people who would like to have all of their songs to be properly rated, but can’t find the energy to do it, a script like Rate Me! Rate Me! might help you out. Instead of relying on your own initiative, this script will remind you to rate your songs at just the right times.

rate-me-itunes

While you’re playing a song that’s not yet rated, Rate Me! Rate Me! throws a pop-up reminder. You can rate the song then and there, or skip it for the time being. Once you’ve had enough, you can stop further pop-ups by pressing Quit.

4. Make Bookmarkable

Some longer audio tracks can be a hassle to play. One particularly nasty specimen is the audiobook that’s contained in a single track. If you got it off a CD, it’ll just be listed between the other songs in your library. When you close iTunes, you’ll need to remember your position, or spend the next ten minutes skipping through the track to find where you left off.

make-bookmarkable

This script changes the filetype of the selected AAC tracks to M4B, iTunes’ audiobook format. The tracks are made bookmark-able and added to the iTunes Audiobooks library. The next time you close and reopen iTunes, it will remember your position in the audio file. If you ever need to reverse the process, you can use the Make UN-Bookmarkable companion script.

5. Search YouTube

Listening to a song is one thing. Watching the music video is a whole other experience. If you’re enjoying your music and want to check out the accompanying music video, or maybe even cover videos, this script can help you along.

search-youtube

With the relevant song highlighted in iTunes, select the Search Youtube script from the Scripts menu. Your default browser will open with a YouTube search query for the song’s artist and title.

6. Find Album Artwork with Google

There are few things so vexing as missing part of the album art for the songs in your library. Unless you can enlist the help of an application like TuneUp Sort Out Your Music Collection with Tune Up for Windows and Mac [Rewards] Sort Out Your Music Collection with Tune Up for Windows and Mac [Rewards] If your iTunes collection is measured in the thousands rather than hundreds, you’ll no doubt understand the need to keep it under control. The best way to do this is to correctly classify tracks, make... Read More , Artwork Gofer Artwork Gofer - Get Free Album Cover Art for iTunes [Mac] Artwork Gofer - Get Free Album Cover Art for iTunes [Mac] Read More , or load the album art through the iTunes store, finding these missing pictures will take a lot of time hopping to and fro between iTunes and Google.

search-album-google

If not eliminate, you can at least speed up the process with this nifty script. Running the script will automatically search for album artwork on Google.

7. Search Wikipedia

Instead of album covers or music videos, you might be interested in the name of the lead singer. Complementing the previous two scripts, this one aims to satisfy a thirst for information.

search-wikipedia

Running the script with a track selected will help you search Wikipedia. First, you’ll be able to select the topic of your search; the song, artist, album or composer, for example. The script will then open the search query in your favourite browser and, if the result is clear cut, immediately open the page you were looking for.

8. Quick Convert

There are many ways to store your audio files on your computer. The most popular lossy encoders are AAC (M4B for audiobooks) and MP3. Audiophiles might prefer WAV or any specific lossless encoder. Whatever the case, switching between different encoding options is often a chore.

quick-convert

Quick Convert lets you jump between different encoders, well, quickly. Simply highlight the relevant tracks and run the script. For encoding, you can choose between AAC, AAC (M4B), AIFF, lossless, MP3 and WAV. The script gives you the option to delete the original tracks (effectively replacing them) and to create a playlist with the newly converted files.

What tricks do you use to make iTunes better? Share your tips in the comments section below!

  1. Prosthetic Lips
    December 17, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    #2: "...when you’re cleaning sorting your the files..." Did you write this in another language and then send it through Google Translate?

    To stay on topic, though, I agree, a better title may be, "8 Mac iTunes Hacks for Improved Functionality."

    I have used iTunes on Windows, and it is the worst. I think some of it stems from Quicktime; I had to uninstall Quicktime at one point because it kept stealing focus when playing sounds in my browser (Facebook chat, maybe?). I'd be typing, and then I'd be somewhere and not typing. Spaces would page down -- frustrating.

    I love foobar2000 (http://www.foobar2000.org/) for playing under Windows (minimizes to a small tray icon with an easy popup), and has several plugins for things like psx music and other encodings. I don't think it has anything like "smart playlists," but I'm more of a "play the whole album" kind of person -- yeah, one of those guys.

  2. Fred
    March 7, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    Seriously, if you don't use iTunes, then why read the article. . . for listening to mp3s, iTunes is so far ahead of any other other software....

    Smart playlists. . . nuff said!

  3. John Galbraith
    December 8, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    I find iTunes to be slow. That is a major annoyance to me. Especially when I plug my phone into my MBP to charge it and iTunes launches. ARGHH.. I shut that function off. The half stars thing I find to be a fun little change but how about some actual performance hacks?!?! How can we shut the junk off that we NEVER use?

    • shape
      January 10, 2014 at 7:53 am

      yeah, most of these aren't hacks, though it's a good list of useful scripts & feature additions. i was searching for a hack to re-implement the embedded artwork window that Apple tossed out in the move to iTunes 11 (bastards) along with other crucial features they make sure to always permanently remove with version upgrades in every app (thanks Apple).

  4. Keith C
    November 15, 2013 at 11:48 am

    If you are going to write an article about cross-platform software that only applies on one platform, you should make that clear in the the title

  5. likefunbutnot
    November 15, 2013 at 3:01 am

    iTunes is criminally bad software. If I could push a button that made everyone who developed any part of itunes develop afflictions that start with the word "malignant" and end with the word "prolapse", I would press that button and not stop pressing it. Pushing that button would be a service that I would be doing for the whole world.

    • Simon S
      November 18, 2013 at 7:28 pm

      I'm sorry you feel that way. On Windows I think iTunes is (or used to be) quite bloated, but it's always worked very well on Mac OS X.

      Take a look at Media Monkey if you're on Windows, it's pretty good. What do you use yourself?

    • Like Fun B
      November 18, 2013 at 8:08 pm

      @Simon S,

      itunes on OSX is still god awful. I actually deleted it from my Mac as well.

      I am familiar with MediaMonkey, though I don't find it to be ideal either. On Windows I primarily use WinAmp 3 for music playback; I'm not interested in library functions or video playback. Most tools that try to organize content for an end user operate from the dubious assumption that all music should be organized by single track from a given album by a given artist.

      I actually built my own system for organizing music. It's only about 80% automated, but it relies on metadata pulled from Gracenote and Amazon and the ability of decent operating systems to generate symbolic links in a filesystem to create multiple filesystem level paths to the same content, e.g. linking to the same directory of files with top-level listings by composer, conductor, ensemble or soloist. This makes a great deal of sense because of the wide variety of organizational structures surrounding "serious" music such as classical music or jazz and has the added benefit of minimal overhead for indexing and search since I don't rely on anything but operating system tools for those things. As I said, it's not entirely perfect, mostly because even "official" metadata sources are either missing or misuse common data fields for some recordings, but it's robust enough to handle well over a terabyte of content for me.

  6. Andrew N
    November 15, 2013 at 1:38 am

    can an article like this be written for windows users?

    • Simon S
      November 18, 2013 at 7:26 pm

      Hi Andrew,

      The problem is that most of these fixes rely on Apple's AppleScript platform. There's not a lot you can do on Windows except install third-party tools.

      There also used to be some scripts that tweaked the iTunes experience on Windows, but I can't vouch for these. They might also be outdated. I'll check with the other MUO writers if someone wants to take a shot at these.

      Cheers

  7. Faith Talbot
    November 14, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    How about a hack that makes it not crash every ten seconds?

    • shape
      January 10, 2014 at 7:39 am

      hmm, this is actually been the most stable Apple app for me, for years now. can't say the same for Safari!

  8. Jeffrey H
    November 14, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    Do people really spend the time to rate their music on iTunes?

  9. Brian George
    November 14, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    People still use this bloated mess?

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