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. 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.
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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, Artwork Gofer, 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.
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.
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 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!