Get The Most Out Of iTunes 11 With These 10 Tips

Bakari Chavanu 15-12-2012

I recently wrote an overview of Apple’s new iTunes 11, covering most of the main features of the media player. But now after a few more days exploring iTunes, I have discovered a handful of other features that might be useful to fans of iTunes.


A few of these tips are work-arounds for features Apple left out in iTunes 11, like iTunes DJ, while others point out a few new handy features you might overlook. iTunes is not a perfect media player, and it still may be a little confusing for some users, but the key to getting the most out of iTunes is to focus on the features you need and ignore the ones you don’t, as I heard iTunes expert Kirk McElhearn once say.

Alpha Navigation

If you like to browse iTunes in say Album view, and your collection runs into the thousands, you can scroll content a little faster using the alpha keys on your keyboard instead of just the mouse to scroll in Album view.

itunes tips

So, say you’re at the top of Album view and you want to scroll down to an artist or group whose names starts with “M.” Well, just click the “M” key and the user interface will jump to that part of Album view. If you quickly type  an artist’s first name, it will jump to that artist’s album(s).

Good Old Command+L

One of my most used keyboard shortcuts in iTunes is Command+L. If you’re browsing around in iTunes and you want to get back to the currently playing song, clicking Command+L will get you there  clickety quick.


Note however, if you have the traditional Sidebar view open (View > Show Sidebar), Command+L will take you to the playlist of the currently playing song, not directly to the song itself.

Missing Artwork View

You may or may not have noticed that Apple took out the Show Artwork in the sidebar of iTunes. It looked like this in iTunes 10.

itunes tips and tricks

Well, if you still want to view artwork, you simply double-click on the album icon at the top of the iTunes player.


itunes tips and tricks

It will open the artwork in a separate window that now includes the iTunes player controls.

itunes tips and tricks

Bringing Back iTunes DJ

One of the features I wish Apple had kept in iTunes 11 is iTunes DJ. When I use iTunes I often play songs randomly. iTunes DJ worked perfectly for that. Well, one way to get that same functionality is to use the Shuffle feature (Controls > Shuffle) in iTunes. Just select a playlist or your entire iTunes library, and use Shuffle to make iTunes your DJ player.


apple itunes how to tips

Organize Your Movies and Videos

If you have videos and DVDs stored in your iTunes library, you can switch to the Movies view and see your content broken down into Genres. However, you may have several videos that are put into the “Unknown Genre” category.

apple itunes how to tips

Well, if you want to keep your videos organized, make their genre known by selecting and right-clicking on one or more videos, and then select, ”Get Info”. In the pop-up window, select the appropriate genre. If one doesn’t exist, like “Home Video”, just create it.


Importing Content Anywhere

Most of the content you import into iTunes probably comes directly from the iTunes Store or some other online outlet. But when you need to manually add media files from your Finder into iTunes, it seems you can drag and drop media into any part of the iTunes interface, and the song(s) or video(s) will get copied to your iTunes library. From there you locate the imported content and label it accordingly.

apple itunes how to tips

The same can be done for dragging and dropping appropriate content to one of your iDevices. If you want to quickly copy a group of songs to your iPhone, simply select the songs and drag them to the DEVICES drop-down window near the top of the user interface.

Add to playlist

Burn CDs and DVDs

Thankfully Apple brought back the ability to burn CDs and DVDs in iTunes. There are people who still play their music that way. This feature can be found under File > Burn Playlist to Disc; or when you select the Playlist section of iTunes, the burn feature is at the bottom of the sidebar.

ITunes burn playlist

If you want to simply burn a CD that can be played in a CD player, you will want to use the default option of disc format, Audio CD. The process involves inserting a CD into your computer if it has a writeable disk drive, and then selecting the playlist of songs you want to burn.

Be sure to have View > Show Status Bar enabled in iTunes so you can see the size of the content you need to burn. If you’re trying to burn over say 350MB worth of songs, it may not all fit on one CD.

Status bar

Share Photos to AppleTV

If you have AppleTV as part of your home network, iTunes 11 includes another handy feature for quickly selecting albums of photos in your iPhoto library that will show up on your AppleTV. Just click File > Home Sharing > Choose Photos to Share with Apple TV…. From there a window will pop up in which you can select the photo albums, and/or events you want to show up on AppleTV.

Photo sharing

Create Version Copies

In iTunes 11, Apple has also made it easier to convert the format of media content to mobile version or smaller player format. So for example, you can create an AAC version of an MPEG or MP3 formatted track(s). Or you can convert a large movie file to smaller size for mobile players like the iPhone or iPad.

Create new version

Getting Status Reports

One last little feature that I discovered while writing this article, is that if you are burning a CD in iTunes while at the same converting a track or movie to some other format, plus on top of that playing a song, there are two up and down arrows that will appear in the Player window, which allow you to click to the progress status of each task being done in iTunes.

itunes tips

Well, that’s it for this round of iTunes tips. If you have other useful tips, feel free to share them.

Related topics: iTunes, Media Player.

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  1. jerry thompson
    June 2, 2013 at 5:36 am

    My Ipod touch won't shuffle

  2. David
    March 4, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    Thanks for the Command/Ctrl L tip, I'll be using that a lot.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      March 4, 2013 at 10:18 pm

      You're welcome.

  3. Dez
    January 8, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    Had to revert back to iTunes 10 after I realized iTunes 11 no longer showed duplicate files. A feature I use most in organizing and moving my music from drive to drive. This was a major disappointment since I had to rebuild the library files to revert back to i10. Also i11 is a nasty piece of business to remove. I luckily found some scripts online to help with that other wise I might have had to erase and install everything. I miss the usability of the old school stuff.... Sigh. Did I just say that? Sheesh... I'm getting old if my favorite OS is 8.6 huh?

  4. Christopher Webb-Orenstein
    January 2, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Nice post, I will definitely try a few of these.

  5. shaurya gupta
    December 18, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Itunes 11 is quite cooler than ipad mini for sure!!!!!

  6. Thomas Petrucha
    December 18, 2012 at 7:11 am

    First I was very irritated of the new look and chanced usabillity, but now I´ve found everything I need and love it.
    ... the CD/DVD burning feature was really missing in version 10 ... I never used it but on my second mac I looked up for it ;)

    • Bakari Chavanu
      December 18, 2012 at 5:14 pm

      I never used it much either, but it's those times when you want to archive or share some songs, you should be able to do it in iTunes. It's good they bought that feature back.

  7. Michael Hillier
    December 16, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    I uses external programs to work on my music files - simply use Itunes to play back and transfer music to my Ipod....

    • Bakari Chavanu
      December 17, 2012 at 11:59 pm

      Cool Michael, what type of external programs do you use? I'm curious.

  8. Darth
    December 15, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    I wish i could also change the genre os an ios app. Its just stupid that we cant edit the, unlike music and movies

    • Bakari Chavanu
      December 15, 2012 at 11:08 pm

      Darth, I don't quite understand what you mean.

  9. Rohit Jhawer
    December 15, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Finally something new on eyes. Need to get used to it now, not that bad afterall.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      December 15, 2012 at 11:07 pm

      Rohit, I pretty much just keep iTunes open to album view or smart list sidebar.

  10. Mac Witty
    December 15, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Thanks this makes iTunes much more usable

    • Bakari Chavanu
      December 15, 2012 at 11:07 pm

      You're welcome. I'm sure there are other features I overlooked.

  11. Salman Johnson
    December 15, 2012 at 5:20 am

    iPad Mini is the dumbest idea yet, but I LOVE the new iTunes!

    • Bakari Chavanu
      December 15, 2012 at 11:06 pm

      What do I not like about the iPad mini? It's nearly the perfect size for me. Not as small as the iPhone, and not as large as a regular iPad. Since I started using my mini, I may have picked up on my old iPad 1 about three times.

  12. Saurav Azad
    December 15, 2012 at 4:16 am

    its better than itunes 10!!!

    • Brian Burke
      December 15, 2012 at 4:25 pm

      How so?

  13. Anonymous
    December 15, 2012 at 1:19 am

    "Thankfully Apple brought back the ability to burn CDs and DVDs in iTunes."

    It was gone?

    • Bakari Chavanu
      December 15, 2012 at 11:04 pm

      Yep, when I tried to use it in version 10, I don't it was there.

      • Anonymous
        December 16, 2012 at 4:38 pm

        Incredible! It never left for me, although I don't doubt you. Crazy.

      • p
        June 11, 2013 at 8:09 am

        I had that issue but resolved it (I forget how). However I have tried 11 twice now and have reverted back to 10 each time. I'm Windows user by the way with 5th and 7th gen iPods.
        I've tried many incarnations of iTunes and also WMP (most versions), WinAmp, Songbird, MediaMonkey, FooBar, and more but to be honest I can't see why so many have hated iTunes (until 11 that is), though I really didn't want to like iTunes I kept coming back to it. I find the interface pretty good, if a few things are in the wrong menus, and generally it does everything I want without trying to take over (like WMP), though the video playback in full-screen is poor even on a high-end PC. On the major plus side, I code a bit and iTunes is about the only program I can 'talk' to (success in C#, javascript, vbscript & VB) to do some heavy 'playing' with my iTunes library so I'm definitely sticking with it.