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While we patiently wait for Apple to catch up with Google, Rdio, and Spotify and bring a music streaming subscription service to iTunes, there are still numerous ways we can get more out of the popular jukebox.
While some users complain that iTunes has gotten a little bloated, I personally don’t find that to be true. I focus on the features of the application that are useful to me, and pay little attention to those that aren’t. The recent 11.0.3 update of iTunes brings back even more cover art features, and there are some other tips I didn’t cover in my last iTunes tips round-up article you may find useful.
Create A Quick Playlist
The Up Next feature of iTunes 11 is handy for showing you songs that are coming up next in a playlist, but I also like to use the feature to create a new temporary playlist. When browsing your iTunes collection, you can drag individual albums, playlists, or songs to the Up Next list. This creates an instant temporary playlist based on the listening mood you’re in.
While the tracks on that list drop off as they are played, you can click the History button in Up Next to view all of your previously played songs.
If you want to create a new permanent playlist, you can now click on the plus “+” button at the bottom-left side of iTunes (in Playlists view), and a panel will open on the right-hand side. From there you can drag individual songs and album selections to the panel to create a playlist.
Song Album View
In Apple’s most recent update, they brought back album view in the Songs section of iTunes. If you’re a visual browser like I am, you’ll be thankful for this update. To get albums to show up, click on View > Show View Options, and enable Show Artwork and Always Show. Notice that you can also adjust the size of the cover art.
Now album covers will show up on the left side of the songs list.
More Up Next
Also in the new update, Apple expanded the features of the MiniPlayer. When you open it (by clicking on the tiny window icon at the top-right of iTunes), you may see the player with small cover art displayed. But now you can click on the cover art to enlarge it.
The updated MiniPlayer also includes a progress bar, alongside all of the other features including searching, browsing and adding tracks to a new playlist.
By the way, if you want to keep the MiniPlayer on top of all the other windows, open Preferences > Advanced, and enable that new feature.
This is not a new feature in the recent update, but if you tend to listen to entire albums rather than single songs, iTunes 11 enables you to rate a whole album, though the ratings you give to individual songs in that album may be higher or lower the album rating.
One way to quickly add an album rating is to select an album in Albums view, and then hover your cursor over the area right next to the release date for the album. From there you can set your rating.
Favorite Albums Playlist
If you like you using smart playlists, you might want to create a smart playlist that consists of your top rated albums in a genre. Just set it up like the screenshot below. This smart playlist will automatically collect all the albums you rate with 5 stars.
Clean Up Genres
Sometimes, Genre view in iTunes is a good way to browse music
; however, if you find that genre listing a bit messy, i.e. with several related genres, you can easily tidy it up. Sometimes songs and albums get genre labels embedded in them that are not what you agree with, or you may have added a similar label that only fits a few songs or albums.
For example, I had three slightly different “Hip-Hop” labels, though I only needed one. So I merged the other two that only had a few albums in them. To do this, right-click on a genre label you want to get rid of and select Get Info in the drop-down menu. Now just change that label to the one you prefer.
If you’re a fan of iTunes, I hope you found the above tips useful. Let us know if you have a few iTunes 11 tips of your own for getting more out of Apple’s 11 year-old music player.