iTunes Tip: Use the iTunes Sidebar, or The Old Way is Better

One of the changes Apple made when the company released iTunes 11 was to deprecate the iTunes sidebar. This isn’t the short-lived sidebar that showed you content from the iTunes Store, which displayed at the right of the app, but the one at the left which has been in iTunes since the beginning.

They didn’t remove the sidebar, of course, but they turned it off by default. When you look at iTunes now, with the sidebar off, you see the following:


From a user’s point of view, the main problem here is that all of the navigational elements are spread across the top navigation bar. On the left is a popup menu that lets you select a library to view: Music, Movies, Apps, etc. Next across are tabs for that library’s content. Above, you see the Music library, so there are tabs for Radio, Songs, Albums, etc. The one that many people use often, Playlists, is all the way to the right, whereas it should be the first one.

But other elements are even further across. The iPod menu you see comes just before the Wish List button, then the iTunes Store button. While I’ve taken the above screenshot with iTunes’ window fairly small, these buttons are far away from the rest of the content on a larger screen, such as my 27″ monitor.

Compare that with the view when the sidebar is visible. You can show the sidebar by selecting View > Show Sidebar.


Here, with the exception of the navigation tabs above the content, everything is easily accessible in one column on the left. You see the different content libraries, the iTunes Store, any connected devices (here, an iPod touch), the Genius section, followed by playlists. You don’t need to scan the window to find different elements; they’re all grouped, and they’re all on a different colored background as well.

If you’re flustered by the default iTunes view, try using the sidebar. You may find it a lot easier to work with. It’s especially practical if you manually manage an iOS device, as you can more easily drag music to it from playlists or your library.