Do You Think iTunes is Bloated?

One of the common tropes I see on the internet about iTunes is the fact that the program is “bloated.” A lot of people who know very little about programming or computers in general repeat this in forums and on blogs, and I’ve always wondered why people say this. Granted, iTunes has a lot of features, but if you don’t use certain features, why would they bother you? For example, Microsoft Word has lots of features, one of which is a set of reviewing features for tracking changes, comparing documents, and more. This is something I often use professionally, but most people don’t even know about it. Does this make Word bloated?

I’m planning to write an article about this, and I’m looking for input. If you’re one of those people who accuses iTunes of bloat, I’d appreciate your posting a comment here to tell me exactly what you mean. Do you mean the size of the program? (This is 2010, so it’s not about hard disk space or even the size of an installer or updater that you have to download.) Do you mean that it has features you don’t need? (Well, what about the people who do need and use those features?)

I’ve looked at this article, and I find it a bit surprising. Sure, iTunes installs QuickTime; it needs QuickTime to play back media files. It installs Bonjour for iTunes library sharing. Mobile Device Support is for, well, mobile devices. And Apple Software Update is to make updates easier. Is 200 MB really that big an issue in the days of terabyte hard disks?

I’m especially interested in hearing from anyone who understands Windows internals and any memory issues that may exist. I’ve read a lot of people who complain about memory usage on Windows, and, while I run Windows using VMware Fusion, I only use iTunes there for test purposes, and have never seen problems. I’m wondering how much any memory issues could be caused by iTunes, and how much they are simply due to people using old PCs without much memory, or old versions of Windows. (To be honest, the “iTunes bloat” meme seems to come only from Windows users…)

In any case, feel free to comment below. Pass this on to others, as I’m really trying to get to the bottom of this question. Thanks!

73 thoughts on “Do You Think iTunes is Bloated?

  1. I just realized something that most people, well, don’t realize. I looked inside the iTunes 9.1 package. The actual code for the program is pretty lithe, coming in at about 30 MB. What takes up all the disk space is the different localizations and help files. For the 19 languages available on the Mac version, these resources are 146 MB. So suggesting that the application is “bloated” because of its size is ridiculous.

    I don’t know how to check such things on Windows apps, but I would guess it’s pretty similar. Now, you could say that Apple might want to provide individual versions per language, but that is pretty onerous to set up and maintain so many download links. So the size issue is truly a moot one, and only the actual code is loaded into RAM, as well as, perhaps, a few files that contain texts for the interface, and a handful of graphics files.

  2. If developers of desktop applications had to contend with the limitations of the mobile world they’d find a way to create more efficient code.

    Instead we’ve reached the point where nobody thinks twice about including a 10MB library to avoid writing 50 lines of code, a world where Word 2008 takes just as long to do simple rendering as Word 5.1 did despite the fact that today’s computers are a thousand times as fast as the ones we used back in 1992.

    An app like iTunes that has changed so much since its original incarnation has probably had feature after feature bolted onto a frame that was never designed for them. I bet the various parts do not communicate efficiently and I bet it’s full of redundant functions and other code that’s been commented out because it became obsolete over the years. It’s almost always less expensive and lower risk to leave old code in place than to try to rip it out.

    Only when a codebase gets so old that it becomes really difficult to modify will anyone do the right thing. Remember how Steve Jobs described iMovie 8? Something like one developer, one week and it did almost as much as iMovie 6.

    I’m skeptical about iTunes and the way it deals with growing libraries. We’ve had computerized inventory systems around for decades. Lists larger and more complex than those in iTunes were stored on machines with 386 processors.

    Don’t get me started on idiotic things like the fact that album art is stored on a per user basis in the file system while the music is stored in a central database or that each user has a unique index of that database. iTunes is no more ready for a networked, multi-user, multimedia world than Windows 95 was.

    • I agree that it’s likely that the code base for iTunes is not totally up to date, but it’s hard to tell. As for the actual libraries, iTunes made a huge improvement in version 8.1 that improved speed and greatly reduced their size.

      I’m skeptical about the album art stuff; why wouldn’t it be stored per user, if you’re networked? That reduces the need to fetch the art remotely, which clearly takes time. I also disagree that iTunes is not ready for a networked world – it’s library sharing is quite nifty. What you probably want is one single iTunes as a server, and others as clients. I think we’ll see this in a couple of years, whenever Apple releases a home server. But for now, that’s not the way the majority of people use iTunes.

      • Remember that Apple is still constrained by the demands of music companies regarding networking, sharing, and so on. (Ahhh! the month of sharing heaven between v4.0 and v4.0.1! Windows users did not experience that.)

  3. Hi Kirk,

    honestly that’s the first time I hear about iTunes being ‘bloated’. I have a Macbook 5,2 2Ghz with 2GB of Ram, my iTunes library contains 16,242 audio files and 14 movies. iTunes launches in approximately 7 seconds, uses 87MB of Ram at launch; 91MB when playing an audio files and around 130MB when playing a film. I don’t think it’s slow, neither for cd ripping (which I only occasionally do in iTunes, preferring XLD which uses accurate rip database and cd paranoia mode) or launch. However, the display of cover art is actually a bit slow in grid and cover flow modes.

    I don’t really understand people who would like the different features of iTunes being replaced by independent applications, I find it more practical to have all media files in one place (except for pictures). I would find more complicated to use a finder window to communicate with my ipods, iphone, ipads or whatever and browse through the multiples libraries without all the information that is displayed in iTunes.

    Actually I think that iTunes lack features that are likely to get more important in the years to come, the first one is the automatic sample and bit rate set-up when you play files of different qualities. For now, let say that you have a 24bit/96Khz audio file, if you don’t manually change the midi/Audio preferences manually iTunes will downsample and it to 16bit/44.1Khz. Inversely it will upsample everything if your set-up is on 24bit/96Khz.
    The second one is the support of FLAC, but I guess that won’t change; and I’ve already mentioned Accurate rip and cd paranoia, which would be nice to have supported in itunes.

    There only change of the last update that annoys me on a daily basis is the need to go in the advance menu to convert a file, I got used to doing it through the contextual menu.

    If there’s a reproach to address to Apple, is rather the redundancy of some of its applications, DVD player, Front Row and iTunes overlap in some ways. It is not really a big deal because it is just a matter of setting the preferences right, if one has a macmini as media centre, it makes sense to automatically launch Front Row when the computer starts up; but using different applications to do the same thing can be a bit confusing I guess.

    the weak part of iTunes to me is the store, I tend to use more and more platforms like Qobuz and I would use HDtracks if I was in the US (there are plenty of other providers of high resolution and lossless files such as Linn, Naim, B&W’s Society of Sound…), but otherwise I am very happy with iTunes but there’s always room for improvement.

  4. Apple software always installs like a herd of elephants charging in. I avoid anything from Apple like the plague. Unless and until Apple can come up with a simple, easy, and unobnoxious way to sell their music (cf. Amazon.com), I just will not use iTunes. That zdnet article you reference seems right on the money, to me. I mean, what part of “it can and will install software you have explicitly rejected” seems good to you?

  5. I actually like and use most of the features in iTunes, so I don’t call it bloated for features. My library is about 40,000 music tracks. I find it slow to load and slow to perform any operations. It uses a larger amount of system resources than any other music player (and I’ve tried most of them), and always seems to bog down the whole system.

  6. Well, I disagree that it’s bloated. I use many features of iTunes, and for many things, such as tagging, I have to rely on features added by AppleScripts from Doug’s Scripts.com because iTunes is too lacking to do it with any kind of efficiency. I know there are many features that I don’t use (such as Genius and the equalizer), but these are easily turned off and hidden from my view. Maybe it is “bloated,” because there aren’t any features that I can think of that I would want that it doesn’t have with those AppleScripts taken into account. Really, the only think I would like Apple to see do with iTunes at this point is port it to Cocoa.

    Frankly, I’m impressed that it can handle libraries as large as yours. As a programmer, I can tell you that It’s very easy to write a program that makes poor assumptions about the size of the data it will be working with and do preloading that would normally make things faster for smaller sized data, but makes it unbearably slow for large data. I bet that many of the lesser used music players out there would choke on such library sizes. I’m just saying, because clearly Apple has taken into consideration different use cases for iTunes.

    I think the perception probably comes from the Windows version in particular, where they have to download a 200 Mb installer and install Quicktime Player in addition, like you said. Yes, Quicktime Player is obviously needed as the backend, and 200 Mb isn’t really that much. But people don’t realize this. Quite a few people are still caught up in the not too distant past where installing more programs than you need could cause a problem with running out of hard disk space. Also, my experience with computer illiterates is that they were told at some point that their computers were slow because they did not have enough memory (RAM), and they confuse this with hard disk space.

    Also, another thing that I often personally felt that maybe Apple should split out some of the iPhone/iPod/iPad management into other programs. It made sense for iTunes to be the single avenue to the iPod when all it did was sync music, but it almost feels out of place using iTunes to sync things like photos, movies, and Apps. But I wouldn’t describe it as “bloated,” just misplaced, i.e., if I were new to the game and wanted to sync contacts to my iPhone, I would probably look for it in Address Book before looking in iTunes. So maybe Apple should make a separate program just for syncing. I don’t know, maybe they could call it “iSync” or something.

    (Sorry for the kind of long comment)

  7. “Microsoft Word has lots of features, one of which is a set of reviewing features for tracking changes, comparing documents, and more. This is something I often use professionally, but most people don’t even know about it. Does this make Word bloated?”

    Not the one feature, but, yes, Word is ‘bloated’, which is evident in the long time it takes just to load the program.

  8. As a “non-Mac” user, I’ve made considerable progress in
    using iTunes (Ver. 9; Windows XP) but seem unable to
    make the final breakthrough to use it as a player in ways
    that make sense to me.

    An example: With an “album” loaded into the “Library”
    (with artwork displayed), is it possible to go directly
    to a specific track within that album? That’s something I’ve
    not been able to do, assuming that it can be done.
    Clearly, I don’t wish to creat a “playlist” for every single
    track.

    • …Or: in “cover flow” view, all the songs are accessible in the list situated in the lowest part of the window. In “grid” view, just double-click on the cover art and you’ll see the list of the album of all the albums, depending on whether you started from the album or artists tabs.

  9. it seems that the main critic against iTunes and meaning behind the bloated qualification, is that it is not fast enough. I don’t use iTunes under Windows so I can’t tell, but using Snow Leopard on a macbook that was the entry level at the time I bought it (a bit more than a year ago), I think iTunes is quite responsive. Of course it should be appropriately measured and compared to the performances of other softwares, but in my experience, it is quicker at launch than Pages (I won’t talk about Word because my version boots under Rosetta, so it would not be fair), similar to Play, faster than SongBook, but a lot slower than VLC (which does not have to load a library though), Safari and a lot of other applications.
    You’ll say it’s like comparing apples and oranges. Yes, but my point is that we’ve been used to softwares that launch almost instantly and I have the feeling that our perception of iTunes performances are biased because of that. It should be compared to other alike-players, but is there any on Mac really?
    I admit though that scrolling through the library is pretty slow, in grid and cover flow view and there are improvements to be made in the display of covert art in list view too, but again my macbook is an entry-level, it certainly must be faster on a Macbook Pro, iMac or Mac Pro.

    Other comments explained that iTunes is “bloated” because of all the added features that took it too far from its original purpose. iTunes had to evolve alongside Apple’s portable devices and their new functions (films, Books, Apps…you name it). In my opinion it is still convenient with a handy UI. Perhaps Apple should revise its mini player, to give it a straightforward access to the library, hence providing the basic functions of a music player.

    It’s was nice to see how fast Snow Leopard booted when I upgraded, but every time things are going faster we are getting used to it and also getting more impatient in consequence.
    I don’t use all the functions of iTunes, I bypassed Genius for instance, Books, TVShows, Ringtones…that what preferences settings are made for, adapt the software to one’s use. But maybe, with all the stuff going around, Apple should go back improve its player’s basic functions, then it will look much “thinner”.

    • Apple could make iTunes so much faster (on the Mac) if they rewrote it using Cocoa. Look at the Finder in Snow Leopard. Not only will this make it faster, but it will also make it more reliable, and make all the obscure Cocoa features the don’t work in iTunes right now start working. There are only 3 programs bundled with Snow Leopard that aren’t Cocoa (I believe): iTunes, DVD Player, and Front Row. I will be very disappointed if iTunes 10 isn’t Cocoa already.

  10. I found this blog post while googling “itunes 9.2 bloat”. I have been a software engineer for 15 years. In my mind software bloat is a real phenomenon I will explain.

    Software bloat is unnecessary use or requirement of resources (e.g. disk space, memory). The operative word here is clearly: unnecessary. There is a judgment here that probably cannot be scientifically evaluated or proven. It depends on how the software is to be used, and the method of construction of the software which affects the amount of resources it will use.

    An example of the first using iTunes.

    I have an iPhone and my main PC for syncing with it is Windows. I also use my iPhone with a Windows laptop for 3G tethering. (I have a MacBook Pro in case you are wondering if I am a Windows fanboy. But I am more familiar with how iTunes is bloated on Windows. So let’s just talk about Windows.) I do not sync my iPhone using the laptop because of the higher risk of damage or loss generally for laptops. But just to use the iPhone for tethering, I have to install the whole iTunes! At least Apple have not published a way to do it with less. So for this use of iTunes (iPhone tethering), it takes up unnecessary resources. A solution for this particular case is for Apple to separate out the components needed for tethering, and let people install just those. If you google this topic, it seems to be quite feasible technically as a hack has been mentioned, though it didn’t work for me when I tried it more than a year ago. I didn’t bother to try again and I ended up just installing the whole iTunes. From my experience as a software engineer, this should be feasible for Apple engineers. Hacking after the fact without the source code is not a reliable way to change software.

    An example of the second using iTunes:

    In Windows, iTunes keeps a copy of its installation package(s) after all the program files have been installed. If you delete the copy, iTunes will say that the installation is broken and won’t start. Because the installation package is compressed data, the extra space it takes up is about 40% of the actual in-use program files. I don’t know why it was done that way. There are ways to check whether the program files have been corrupted without accessing the originals in the installation package. And if they are corrupted we can just tell the user to point us to a copy of the package if he chose to keep one, or download the package from Apple again, right?

    Now one can argue that modern computers have too much disk space and memory anyway. Who cares if some of it is wasted? The problems illustrated by bloat actually points to inefficiencies in the design or the product itself. The first example, I think, can be regarded as a failure in matching form to function. I don’t need to elaborate on the second.

    If you care about Apple’s designs, you should care about iTunes’ bloat.

    • First point: I don’t get it; what does iTunes have to do with tethering? And I thought only a handful of providers even allowed tethering (unless you’ve jailbroken yours).

      Second point: If I read this correctly, this is a Windows problem, not one specific to iTunes. Or are you saying that only iTunes does this? And in any case, the download is, what, 90 MB I think for the latest version. If you’re worried about 90 MB on your hard disk, you have other worries to look at first.

      • I already told you iTunes have to be installed on the PC before one can tether iPhone to the PC as a 3G modem. My iPhone was purchased outside of the US. It is an official unlocked version. I also used tethering outside of the US.

        As disk space goes, it appears that I can delete the MSI package with iTunes 9.1.1. Perhaps Apple made an improvement. I hope this is a trend. If you don’t mind wasting disk space, that is your choice. I just told you in what way iTunes was bloated as you had asked and you just went ‘who cares?’ You’re welcome, man!

        • I’m sorry, I don’t understand the tethering thing. You’re saying you need to be running iTunes to tether your laptop to your iPhone?

          As for disk space, meh. If you were talking about gigabytes, sure, that’d be an issue. (As, for example, when you install Adobe Creative Suite.)

  11. I’m probably too late to this party, but to me iTunes feels bloated. As a user I’m unconcerned with the size of the app, but I do care about whether the application helps me do what I want without getting in my way.

    Software that isn’t bloated responds to mouse clicks and text input instantly. It has a visual interface that doesn’t distract me. Menu choices and other options are intuitive; they are arranged in a manner that almost feels like I created them myself. The software doesn’t try to do too many things.

    On one extreme, Notational Velocity is lean and mean. It’s wicked fast, and it just does a few things. With it I can create notes and nearly instantly find them. It serves my needs, not the other way around.

    For me iTunes has come to represent the other extreme. It manages my iPhone apps and my music library. It handles my downloaded and rented movies. Ah, but here’s something odd: When I import video from my camera, iPhoto manages it, not iTunes.

    The iTunes app is also a store for purchasing music, movies, and even apps, which have nothing to do with music or movies. I can use it to download podcasts and even digital books and audiobooks.

    With iTunes I can share my digital files with other folks wirelessly. Oh, I can edit songs in the store to create my own ringtones. Wait, I almost forgot! I can also listen to Internet radio and purchase TV shows.

    All of these capabilities are great; I use many of them regularly. But there are frequent updates to iTunes. It seems like I’m always waiting for my iTunes library to update. Even though my wife and I use a shared library so we can each manage which media goes on which iPod or iPhone, from time to time I find the library has somehow been switched back to its default location.

    There is a tremendous amount of functionality in iTunes, which is great. It feels bloated to me when I have to wrestle with it. My expectation with a mean and lean app is that it might not have all the bells and whistles, but it certainly won’t require fiddling.

    In the early days of the iApps, they all were relatively lightweight. They felt sprightly, they didn’t try to individually do too much. Instead they worked together as relatively small, relatively sharp tools. That feeling is gone.

    As an aside, your line of questioning in these comments leads me to believe that you’re wondering about the sanity of anyone who complains about iTunes bloat. The fact that people may not be able to crisply define why it feels bloated seems immaterial to me. The perception is the reality. The trick for Apple is to find out how to make a Swiss Army Knife tool feel less bloated, or perhaps to break it up into a core synching app and two or three additional apps, each handling different media types.

  12. I don’t think itunes is bloated at all. If you think about us as human beings, we all have our own ways, likes and dislikes. Typically if you put 100 people in a room you will get different results for different tests. The ‘random’ factor plays a lot whether people like certain features in certain programs. In the most case we learn what we need first, and then lots of the other features are learnt as we need them. For example, I’m buring my collection of cd’s to itunes, and discovered there is a ‘eject cd after cd is ripped’ option which saves a lot of time. I would never have heard about it unless I was mass-ripping many cd’s.

    So yes, some might say it’s bloated, but I don’t think so. People always tend to complain about something – I guess that’s just our nature. If apple will write extra code in a free product that gives me the option to do more, then why complain about it? If all the features physically interfere with the daily operation of my workflow, yes – maybe it is time to streamline it. Currently this is not the case – and in the same way someone mentioned MS Word, there’s a lot of stuff you might not use now – but might end up using later.

    Personally I think that people complaining about itunes being bloated probably only use it for simple tasks, such as uploading to a device, or ripping the odd cd. But there are a lot more ‘hardcore’ users who use itunes a lot more than that. In the end it’s not really bloated, it’s just the people who use either use the product a lot or not at all. If you take a look at ALL the people who use itunes and did a survey of all the features it has, you would probably find that all features are used, just some are used a lot more than others.

    I’m pretty sure that when Apple writes something like itunes, they do have ideas and add things from time to time. I’m also sure that if they try something that isn’t used or was a ‘bad idea’ they would eventually remove it if people end up complaining about it.

  13. I don’t know that I can answer your question with the kind of specificity that you’ve been demanding of other commenters who came down on the ‘yes’ side of things, but for what it’s worth…

    I do feel that iTunes is bloated. I switched to a (Windows OS) laptop early this year and moved over every program I commonly used on my desktop…except iTunes. I love my iPod and use it all the time, but I’ve been enjoying the speed and responsiveness of my shiny new machine and have been loathe to gunk it up with iTunes. I have gone literally months without updating podcasts or changing out playlists because I did not want to deal with the prospect of iTunes on this computer. No, the program itself won’t take up much room on the hard drive (though my laptop does not have anything near a terabyte of space!), but on a system with only 2 Gig of RAM, the memory demands made by iTunesHelper, iTunes, etc concern me. Especially since iTunesHelper running in the background was often the highest memory hog on my desktop — coming in above Firefox at its worst.

    My sibling removed iTunes from a desktop PC and reinstalled it on a flash drive because iTunesHelper was using enough memory on the machine that it interfered with online gaming. That work around seems to have worked, but I was curious if there were any better ways to finesse iTunes — which is how I found your article.

  14. I’m getting really sick of iTunes because I use it for music, movies and Podcasts–period!! They haven’t fixed numerous bugs nor made improvements to the music player portions for years. I’m looking around for a replacement.

      • Hi Kirk, thanks for your interest.

        Every bug below has been reported to Apple, and not one of them has been fixed. I can only conclude that the Apple Feedback form that I (and you) fill out is never read. They have never contacted me for more information. To the contrary, upon startup, after I’d sent in feedback asking for artwork enhancements (see below), my iTunes system started asking me if I wanted artwork downloaded from the iTune store! This would persist for several weeks and then suddenly go away. Very annoying. It only happens on the exact same system from which I’ve sent the feedback, so I know it’s a result of the feedback.

        iTunes/iPod Bugs:

        (1) when viewing a movie, the single arrow buttons should take you either to the beginning or end of the movie, whereas, the double arrow should take you to either the previous or next video. This is a well-established convention. In fact, both sets of arrows take you to the previous or next video, neither takes you to the beginning or end of the video. In other words, single and double arrows that point in the same direction do the same thing. This is a bug. Doesn’t work in Windows 7 or XP.

        (2) when a movie window is size-reduced, such as one would do when wanting to view another file while watching the video, e.g., looking at an instructional PDF while watching a video demo, then the slider bar is frozen and cannot be moved. So, if you wanted to reposition where you were in the video, you can’t do it. There is no way around this, except to watch the video in full-screen mode, where the slider bar works and print-out the PDF or DOC file. Don’t know if this is a bug, but it is a very stupid design. Doesn’t work in either Windows 7 or XP.

        (3) Podcasts don’t play one after the other on the iPod. When a Podcast ends, you are kicked back to the main iPod menu. And, if you’re driving, as many people are when listening to Podcasts, then it becomes outright dangerous to try and find the next Podcast–lots of thumbwheel action as you speed down the highway. A safety hazard that Apple has stupidly ignored. This is such a crummy design, there are no words for it. Many of my Podcasts are short and I want them to play in series, like my music does. Is this too much to ask for?

        (4) Join Tracks doesn’t work in iTunes 9 on Windows 7–it’s grayed-out. Whether or not this has been fixed in iTunes 10, I don’t know, and I’m not about to find out until Apple does something to either entice or force me to upgrade. If I need to join tracks when I rip a CD, then I use my XP system where the feature works. Is it too much to ask that Apple test everything before they release an upgrade?

        (5) Occasionally (randomly), iPod songs are not updated when that song is replaced in iTunes. For instance, I notice that a song skips on my iPod. I locate the CD, clean it, and replace the song. I then resync my iPod, and, guess what? The old song that skips is still on my iPod. To solve this problem, first, I need to know there is a problem and sometimes it’s many months before I notice the defect. Then, after I re-rip the song, I need to uncheck it when I do the sync. This ensures that it’s deleted from the iPod. Then I sync again, with the song checked.

        (6) When ripping a CD and replacing songs, the song name is altered and the number “1” is appended to the song name. Why? The replacement song should be ripped to a temp file, and, if the rip is successful, then the song should be replaced and renamed to exactly match the iTunes Name field. Is this a bug? I don’t know, I only know that this change started around iTunes 8, or was it iTunes 7? It’s hard to keep track of the bloat. I would like to blame bug #5 on my list for this, but it’s not the reason why the replacement sync doesn’t always work.

        (7) Occasionally, artwork on the iPod is found to be either missing or mismatched to a song. Sometimes, it has affected as many as 20 songs at a time and I have been worried about a cascading corruption. Luckily, I’ve been able to remedy the problem. The only solution to this mini-corruption, is to sync with the song uncheck to flush from the iPod and then resync with the song checked. I’ve noticed the problem about 1/2 dozen times over the years and I could have the problem right now and not know it because I don’t look at the artwork everytime a song plays on my iPod. It is a spurious problem and I can’t replicate it at will, so I can’t tell if it’s been fixed. I’ve never seen Apple list it as a fix, but they never list all of their bug fixes anyway. They always just say “bug fixes and performance enhancements”. The only customer outreach they have is through their sales and marketing departments.

        The following isn’t a bug but the enhancement request that I sent to Apple that precipitated the iTune startup “virus” that I spoke about in my opening paragraph:

        (a) I have some songs that need artwork and I have an “administrative playlist” where I drag songs for which I’ve been unable to find artwork. This might be because I copied the music from a tape or LP or maybe it’s a home recording for which I haven’t had time to match a digital photo to the song. Whatever, the reason, I shouldn’t have to manually keep track of missing artwork. I should be able to create a Smart Playlist that finds songs for which there is no artwork. (b) I have some songs that have more than one picture associated with it, sometimes erroneous duplicates. I should be able to create a Smart Playlist that finds these anomalies. The only alternative to finding missing or duplicate artwork is to slog through thousands, maybe tens of thousands of songs, looking for these things.

        • Well, let me see if there’s anything I can answer here…

          (1) For me, the single arrows with lines go to the beginning or end, and the double arrows, when you click and hold, do fast-forward or rewind. I think that’s pretty standard.

          (2) I don’t have this problem on my Mac. Could it be a graphic card issue?

          (3) Yes, I don’t know when this started, but this happened some time ago. Previously, playing a playlist of podcasts worked as expected.

          (4) For this to work, the tracks need to be sorted by the left-most column. What happens is people click a different column one day, and don’t realize that the sort column has this effect. Check yours.

          (5) Hmm, never seen that one…

          (6) You’re saying that you then have two copies of the same tracks? I’ve only ever seen iTunes replace tracks when doing this, but I’ve not done it often.

          (7) I recall this happening several years ago with iPods, but I’ve never seen it since. Which iPod model does this happen with? The solution is to restore and recopy everything.

          (a) Yes, or a playlist for songs that have no lyrics. If you use a Mac, there are AppleScripts that can do this.

          (b) Agreed, that an annoyance. I find the ability to add more than one image to a track to be odd to start with.

          • For 2, it sounds more like a Windows bug to me (whether from Apple or Microsoft). Basically, in Mac OS X, Quicktime is built right into the core of the system, but in Windows it is not so integrated. So it tends to be more robust for the Mac for that reason (that and the fact that Windows isn’t particularly robust in the first place).

            I have seen 7 on my 1st gen iPod touch, at least with the artwork not syncing. I think I might have seen one incorrect one once, if memory serves me right.

            For 7a, you can do it on the Mac with some AppleScript from Doug’s Scripts, I believe (like Kirk said). 7b: The ability to add more than one image is very useful, like if you also want to add a picture of the back of the CD where the track listings are, or some images from the booklet.

          • Kirk,

            Just a few comments on your comments:

            (2) doubt that it’s a graphics card issue, because I have the same problem on two different machines, different OS, different graphics cards, different everything. What they have in common is iTunes 9.
            To be clear, if you reduce the size of a video using the Video Size option on the View Menu, then the slider bar on the smaller window doesn’t work (on either of my systems). No problem on a Mac?

            (4) Ha! I wish it was a simple as me making that beginner’s error! The way that I got around the problem, was to do the join on the XP system and transfer the joined file to my Windows 7 system. I installed it to where it should be in the filesystem, and then imported it into iTunes. Can you do this on a Mac? Mac users can’t access the files directly, as they can do with Windows Explorer, can they? So, for instance, you can’t move a song that was incorrectly marked as “compilation” when you ripped it, into the non-compilation directory portion of where the files are stored. You can only uncheck the compilation box in iTunes, so it will be correctly listed in the Browser window. But it will still be “wrong” in the filesystem. I guess a Mac user wouldn’t even know that songs marked as a compilation are physcially stored differently than non-compilation songs, but a power Windows user would know, and could fix these inconsistencies. Why fix it? No glaring functional reason, except that it could make music files more difficult to find if you’re used to moving things around in the filesystem. Also, I have found, that a discrepancy between the name of the song in the iTunes Name field and the actual song name in the filesystem often leads to porting problems, that is, if you move your system to another PC with a different directory structure (could just be a differently-named drive) then iTunes may not be able to find the file and you’ll have to manually import it.

            (6) no, not two copies of the same song. Say, for example that the file name was originally called “LaLa.m4a”. After replacing it, it will be called “LaLa1.m4a”. A minor annoyance, but it bothers me that Apple made this change which seems to serve no purpose.

            (7) Yes, a total restore and copy might solve the problem, however, maybe not, because I don’t know what caused it. A restore of my 75 GB would take several hours. Anyway, it hasn’t happened, or I haven’t noticed it for about a year. Fingers crossed…

            I forgot to mention two other bugs, and I’d like to know if you have the same issues on your Mac:

            * when playing a song in iTunes, the sound will become fuzzy and distorted. I must exit iTunes and go back in to solve the problem. All of my sound apps are affected when this happens, not just iTunes, but the problem always originates with iTunes. This only started with Windows 7.

            **after deleting a song from a playlist, a blank row is left in the listing where the deleted song was. If I exit and then go back into the playlist, the problem will be gone. Also, if a song is playing, and I use the “goto song arrow” at the right-top of the screen, then the gap will close. The anomaly is random, happens often, but I can’t find a pattern.

            In general, I like iTunes and I love Windows, however, I wish I had the power of Apple scripts at my disposal. For instance, I created a pseudo 6-star rating which I use to construct Smart Playlists, but I can’t graphically display 6 stars as I think you could do with an Apple script.

            Yes, I think iTunes is bloated, and 90% of the things it can do are of no use to me. I only play music, import instructional videos in from various sources and listen to Podcasts. But I have 16 GB of memory and 2 TB of hard disk so it will never pinch my resources. To digress a bit, I think that the only thing genius about the Genius feature is the brilliance of the marketing guys who have convinced people that they need Apple’s help to find more music to buy in their already over-priced music store.

            I’d be interested in comparing notes with this group on how iTunes works on a Mac compared to Windows.

  15. (2) No, this doesn’t happen to me at all.

    (4) You don’t need to move anything. Just make sure the Keep iTunes Media Folder Organized option is checked in the Advanced preferences and iTunes moves the files whenever you change such things as compilation tags, artist names, album names, etc.

    (6) Odd. Again, I’ve never seen this.

    (7) Restoring an iPod is actually a Good Thing to do every once in a while. I consider it standard maintenance. 75 GB? That won’t take more than a few hours to copy.

    Fuzzy sound: the only time I’ve had that is when I’ve used the equalizer. I don’t use it any more.

    Deleting a song from a playlist: never seen this problem.

    To sum up, it’s hard to tell if these are Windows problems, iTunes problems, or some combination of the two. I’ve seen bugs in iTunes, but I’ve never had the kind of problems you describe, nor have I heard them described before, for your specific issues.

    • In (6) you say you’ve never seen this. Can you “see” Mac files at all? What is shown as the file location when you view Get Info/Summary tab for a song?

      • Of course you can see files. Do you think they’re invisible? You see the full path on the Summary tab, and you can show the file by right-clicking and choosing Show in Finder (or Show in Windows Explorer on Windows).

        • How would I know, I’m not a Mac user?! That’s why I asked you. I figured you could see them, but I’ve been told that they can’t be directly manipulated as they can be in Windows, e.g., move, copy, rename.

          • You have a strange misconception of Mac vs. Windows here. On the Mac, all files are visible easily, whereas in Windows, you have to dig down to even find where they are, and even then you have to coerce Windows to let you see them (like you say, you have to be a power user to do it).

            (OK, technically the exception for Mac are the UNIX files, but those don’t come into play here)

            Of course, if you move/rename a file, you might cause iTunes to loose it, because it won’t automatically be updated in the xml file, but even then, iTunes will ask you to re-find the file if you try to play the song, and at that point it (should) work just fine.

  16. I have been using iTunes on Windows in 2006 and 2007, gotta say it was a nice enough experience that was heavily hampered by the unbelievable shortcomings of Windows (first months working amazingly fast, then one wrong installation, one wrong exe file will mess everything up, immediately). But when Windows was working I had no problems – Vista got a really good RAM management system and allocator so I had absolutely no RAM issues even with a huge library of 20k+ titles.

    While it’s true that iTunes for Mac is more efficient – it’s working flawlessly and fast on an iBook 800 MHz! – I definitely would believe any Windows person that is having problems with it. Unfortunately these problems may have to do with the way Windows is handling the files, processes and disk access rather than with Apple having screwed up the programming.

    Having said that, I’d definitely be for a iTunes-rewrite for Windows AND for Mac. Cocoa iteration of iTunes is long long LONG overdue.

  17. definitely bloated. but i have to use it!! because of my ipod. everyweek thee is a new version & the strange thing is we have to download atleast 75 mb to install only 1 item (i.e. itunes + quick time). i never opt for the other things. updates should be small file . each every update you have to go through user agreement, new icons on your neatly managed desktop! i find them disgusting. i wonder how many people use ‘genius’ to manage their playlist, leaving everything to a software? in 99% of updates i never find any new feature that has eased my daily activities in itunes. probably most updates are related to app store. i do not even have an app store account!

  18. To me, iTunes is bloated because it’s full of things I’ll never use. All I want is for my music to be organized, and iPod sync. I’m never going to use Genius, the Store, AirPlay, video playback, Ping, the cloud, etc.

      • That makes no sense. You can’t compare a music-player with an operating system.

        Apple is all about simplicity and elegance. All of their products scream elegance… except iTunes. iTunes installs numerous services, programs etc. on my pc – that’s pure bloat.

        As Zeke writes – a tool for syncing and listening to music. That should be iTunes.

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