Entertainment Mac

How to Make iTunes Usable Again in 7 Simple Steps

Dan Price 09-03-2018

Back in the 2000s, iTunes was the premier app for playing and managing your music. It was lightweight, fast, and offered a range of features that were previously unheard of in common music software. Even steadfast Windows users downloaded the app in droves.


But over the course of the last decade, the app has been knocked off its perch. Apple has progressively attempted to transform it into a catch-all program for every type of multimedia.

Today, iTunes a bloated mess. Most people wouldn’t include it in their list of best music players.

But the situation is recoverable. Of course, much of the onus falls on Apple to rectify the underlying problems, but there are some steps you can take that will help to make iTunes usable again.

1. Turn Off Genius Playlists

iTunes Turn Off Genius

Genius playlists have been a part of iTunes since 2008. But they hark back to a pre-streaming era when music discovery was a lot more labor-intensive.


These days, there are lots of ways to find new music 8 Websites to Help You Discover New Music Genres Broadening your musical horizons by discovering new or niche genres can be beneficial. With that in mind, here are several essential websites for discovering music you've never heard before. Read More , and that’s without considering the native tools in services like Spotify How to Discover New Music Using Spotify: 7 Key Tips and Tricks to Know The main reason I love Spotify is that it has helped me find so much new music over the years. Here are the built-in Spotify features I used to discover awesome new music. Read More .

Aside from the on-screen clutter, the Genius tool also raises privacy concerns. It creates playlists by comparing your library with all the other Genius users in the world, then running secret algorithms.

To turn off Genius playlists, open iTunes and navigate to File > Library > Turn Off Genius.

2. Clean Up the Sidebar

iTunes Clean Up Sidebar


If you’re an audiophile Are You an Audiophile? These 10 Questions Reveal the Truth You might think you are an audiophile, but in reality very few music lovers tick all of the necessary boxes. Are you really an audiophile? Or are you just a great pretender? Read More , it’s vital that the music software you use provides you with sorting tools for every piece of metadata imaginable. In this regard, iTunes performs well. You can add a column for everything from beats per minute to bitrate.

But what’s going on in the sidebar on the left-hand side of the screen? By default, there are a barely-believable 11 different categories. Most of them are utterly useless; does anyone seriously use iTunes to manage locally-saved copies of music videos From MTV to YouTube: A Brief History of Music Videos While music videos are mostly viewed on YouTube these days, this is only the latest stage in the evolution of a medium that can be as elaborate as film and as personal as photos. Read More ? Perhaps in 2004, they did…

To remove unnecessary fields from the sidebar, hover your mouse in the upper right-hand corner of the panel and click on Edit. Clear the checkboxes accordingly. Most people only need to keep Artists, Albums, and Songs.

3. Remove Smart Playlists

iTunes Delete Smart Playlist


Look, smart playlists are a useful feature. Building your own playlists How I Build Music Playlists Using Reddit and YouTube Who needs a premium music service? Between Reddit and YouTube, you can get all the recommendations, playlists, and songs that you need. Read More and keeping them updated is a time-consuming task. Smart playlists can keep your music fresh by constantly tweaking lists to include songs which match a list of pre-determined criteria.

But if you have an extensive music collection, you should delete them all. Why? Because smart playlists are exceptionally resource-intensive. If you’ve noticed iTunes running slowly, your smart playlists are often the culprit.

To delete a smart playlist, scroll down to the Music Playlists section of the sidebar, right-click on the playlist’s title, and click Delete from Library.

4. Hide Unused Services

iTunes Disable Services


As part of Apple’s desire to turn iTunes into a one-stop media app, it has introduced an increasing number of services. Some of them—like podcasts—are useful. Others, less so.

You can disable any services you don’t regularly use in the restrictions menu. Technically, restrictions are Apple’s version of parental controls, but they double as a tool for cleaning up the bloated app. By disabling a service, you’ll remove the references to it in the other parts of the app.

There are six services you can hide: Podcasts, Internet Radio, iTunes Store, Apple Music, Music Profiles and Posts, and Shared Libraries.

To disable a service, open iTunes and go to Preferences > Restrictions. Mark the checkboxes next to the services you want to remove.

5. Prevent Safari From Launching iTunes

If you need any more evidence to prove Apple is more interested in using iTunes to sell you content rather than letting you listen to music, you need to look no further than how Safari handles App Store links.

When you click on an App Store download while using Apple’s browser, it will automatically launch iTunes and the corresponding store page. This behavior spoils the surfing experience and makes you become even more irked with iTunes.

You can stop it from happening with a third-party Safari extension called NoMoreiTunes. Install it on your system and App Store links will start opening in Safari instead.

Download: NoMoreiTunes (Free)

6. Disable Apple Music Buttons

iTunes Disable Apple Music Features

Unsurprisingly, Apple has decided that Apple Music should also play a prominent role in the iTunes app.

On the primary music interface, the integration comes in the form of two tabs: For You and Browse. The For You section is Apple Music’s music recommendation tool; the Browse section lets you explore Apple Music’s collection of songs.

But if you’re not an Apple Music subscriber, both tabs are useless. The For You tab merely prompts you to sign up for the service without offering recommendations, and you won’t be able to play any songs in the Browse section.

Ultimately, the tabs are just unnecessary clutter.

To remove the Apple Music features from iTunes, go to Preferences > General and clear the checkbox next to Show Apple Music Features. When you’re done, hit OK.

7. Disable Automatic Downloads

iTunes Disable Automatic Downloads

If you’re tightly integrated into the Apple ecosystem, there’s a good chance you own lots of other Apple devices: iPads, iPhones, Apple TVs, and so on. By default, whenever you buy an album or movie on one of your other devices, it will automatically download onto iTunes on your Mac.

It’s undesirable behavior; do you really need a copy of a movie you just purchased on every device you own? Of course not, it’s just going to eat through your available storage space.

Instead, disable automatic downloads. You can still download content you own whenever you want it.

To disable automatic downloading of music and movies, navigate to Preferences > Downloads > Automatic Downloads and clear the checkboxes next to Movies and Music.

Share Your iTunes Cleanup Tips

We’ve given you seven different ways which, when combined, will help to make iTunes useable again.

But there are lots more ways that you can improve the app, and we want to hear about them. What do you alter that helps make iTunes a little more bearable?

Related topics: iTunes, Mac Tips.

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  1. Jon
    September 18, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    I love the Genius feature. I have more than 2000 CDs that I have imported over the last 10 years and Genius gives me some really excellent playlists.

    It's actually the one feature that keeps me using iTunes.

  2. Charlie
    May 30, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    I installed it but could not figure out how to sync my iphone. I had to go back to the original Apple mess.

    • Infopro
      June 26, 2018 at 2:59 am

      That post is spam.

  3. Andreas Toth
    May 27, 2018 at 5:08 am

    "Was once great"? When was it ever great?

  4. Keith
    March 28, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    Mostly good advice, but you should caveat the recommendation to turn off Genius playlists with the point that this can only be done if you don't use Apple Music or iTunes Match; otherwise, Genius is required for these services.

    Which brings up another point: for those seeking an alternative to iTunes altogether, don't plan on using the aforementioned music services if you don't want to use iTunes.

  5. Chip
    March 16, 2018 at 2:36 pm

    What would be a good alternative to iTunes? I can't stand all the issues with iTunes but haven't found a satisfactory replacement player (for Mac).

  6. Chip
    March 16, 2018 at 2:35 pm

    What would be a good replacement for iTunes? I can't stand the app, but have not found another that has all the features without the quirks of iTunes.

  7. Ben Gentle
    March 10, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    Buy a new computer and never install it. They can keep their ecosystem!

    • Gene Baker
      March 11, 2018 at 11:07 pm

      I agree with this gentleman. This is too much work, especially for a dying breed. Also, there are many other media players out there. Heck, I know people who still use the old version of Winamp. Whip that llama!