How to Set Up iTunes as a Minimalist Music Player

Note: This article is an update of one I posted last year. Since the iTunes interface has changed considerably in the areas I mention in the previous article, I’ve decided to write a new article with updated screenshots.

iTunes is often criticized for having strayed from its initially intended use, that of playing music. Lots of people like to say that iTunes is bloated, but I disagree. If you’re not using the other features, they don’t get in your way.

But you may be irked by even seeing the features you don’t want to use. If you want to use iTunes just for playing music (and, perhaps, syncing iOS devices), then you can hide many of the unwanted features and turn it into a lean music-playing app. Here’s how.

Hide other media libraries

At the top left of the iTunes window, you see the Media Picker menu. You can choose a type of media to view in iTunes from this menu. If you only want to use music, click the menu, choose Edit Menu, and uncheck all the other media kinds. Click Done.

Media picker

Hide the iTunes Store and Apple Music

You can hide the iTunes Store and Apple Music, freeing up the navigation bar at the top center of the iTunes window. To do this, choose iTunes > Preferences, and then click Restrictions. Check iTunes Store, and then click OK. You’ll see that this also hides the Apple Music and Connect button.

Restrictions prefs

Hide iCloud Music Library and Apple Music

When you turn off access to the iTunes Store, you also hide Apple Music, even though it is technically still turned on. You can turn off Apple Music and iCloud Music Library if you wish. You may want to use either or both of these features; in that case, skip this step. If you use iTunes Match, you need iCloud Music Library to be active.

If you want to turn off iCloud Music Library, choose iTunes > Preferences, and then click General. Uncheck iCloud Music Library. You’ll note that if you hide the iTunes Store, then, even if Apple Music is checked in these preferences, it won’t display. So you can leave this checked or not; it won’t change the way iTunes looks.

If you want to retain access to the iTunes Store, but hide Apple Music, then don’t turn off the iTunes Store in the Restrictions pane, and uncheck Apple Music in the General pane.

General prefs

Edit the Sidebar

You may also not want as many sidebar entries. By default, there are entries for Recently Added, Albums, Artists, Genres, etc. If you only use a couple of these, hover over the word Library and click Edit, you can remove or add the views you want to use.

Sidebar

Click Done when you’ve checked on unchecked what you want.

What minimal iTunes looks like

After making the above changes, here’s what iTunes looks like (I’ve chosen to only keep the Recently Added, Albums, and Songs views):

Minimal itunes
As you can see, with the Music library selected, there’s only one button in the navigation bar: Library. The iTunes Store doesn’t get in the way, nor do the sidebar views or the entries in the Media Player.

So, if all you want to do is play music, and not have to worry about accidentally clicking any of the many buttons, this minimal iTunes layout may be exactly what you need.


Learn how to get the most out of iTunes with my ebook, Take Control of iTunes 12:



5 thoughts on “How to Set Up iTunes as a Minimalist Music Player

  1. Kirk – thanks for updating this extremely useful how-to.

    What I would really like to know now is how to permanently stop the constant and persistent nagging on all of my devices to “log in to the iTunes Store”. I wasn’t planning to access the iTunes store just now, thank you very much. Cancel. “Please log in to the iTunes store…” … #@#*&#(%&^@#)*&@!

    Rinse, repeat, tear out hair… Next device: “Your iTunes session has expired, please log in to the iTunes store…” Argggh!

    • Alas, no. iTunes always connects to the iTunes Store, even if you turn the store off, to display purchases.

  2. Unfortunately, it looks like the latest version of iTunes no longer supports editing the media picker menu, as far as I can see.

Leave a Comment