What’s New in iTunes 12.5

iTunes 12.5 (or more precisely 12.5.1) was released yesterday. There are some major changes to the interface, and to Apple Music, as well as some minor changes to the app. Here’s a brief list of what’s new. Note that I’ll be linking to a couple of Macworld articles I’m writing about the main new features in the coming days.

  • Apple Music refresh: Not specific to iTunes, but also affecting the Music app in iOS 10, Apple Music has been refreshed, with a new, more legible, and more easily navigable interface.
  • Works and movements: New tagging options for classical music let you define tracks as part of works, naming the work and the individual movements. I’ll have a full explanation of this on Macworld soon.
  • Love and Dislike: Apple introduced Love ratings a while ago; they now add Dislike ratings. These are essentially for Apple Music, so the recommendation algorithm can fine-tune the music it displays. But you could use them for your own music as well. More here.
  • Star ratings gone in the iOS Music app: This doesn’t affect iTunes, but it suggests that iTunes may deprecate star ratings in the future. See some discussion of star ratings here.
  • Lyrics: You can now easily display lyrics during playback, and iTunes can search for lyrics on the fly. I wrote about this last month, and it hasn’t changed much. Note that there’s a new Custom Lyrics checkbox on the Lyrics tag of a track’s Info window; this tells iTunes to use the lyrics you’ve added to a track, rather than to search for them.
  • Custom Colors for albums and playlists are gone: I think this is a good thing, but I agree that offering the option would probably have been better. This was an option in iTunes, but never in the iOS Music app.
  • No more random album artwork to illustrate artists: Previously, iTunes would choose an album to illustrate an artist in Artists view. Now, it just uses a boring picture of a microphone in a circle. I wish this was something that users could configure; it looks ugly, seeing all these microphone in Artists view.
  • Playlist icons in the sidebar: Playlist icons now contain little overlays showing the library in which they were created. If you make a new playlist in the Music library, it shows a small musical note; create one in the Movies library, and it shows a couple of film frames.
  • Blue: The dominant color of iTunes is black, white, and gray, but there are a number of blue accents: buttons, stars, tab highlights, and more. The blue they’ve used seems to be at odds with the spartan nature of the rest of the interface, but given the way iTunes design has been approached in recent years, any color is good. There’s also the red Love icon to add another splash of color.
  • New AirPlay button and menu: The AirPlay button and menu have been revamped. The button isn’t a big deal, but the menu makes it easier to stream to multiple speakers:
  • Simplified tag editing in Albums view: You can now edit tags, such as the name of an album or artist, by clicking a text in Albums view. Click the name of an album or artist, and it highlights, so you can change its text. This tag editing is not available in Artists or Genres view. You have long been able to do this in list views, but only for item names.
  • Quickly go to an artist’s recordings from Albums view: In Albums view, when you click an album to expand its contents, the artist’s name displays in blue. Click the artist name to see their other music in Artists view.
  • Quickly view an item in either the iTunes Store or Apple Music: If you right-click a track, you can choose Go To, and then choose to view it in either the iTunes Store or in Apple Music. Previously, you could only view their content in the iTunes Store, and you would have to search manually for it in Apple Music.
  • New Library menu: If you hide the sidebar (View > Hide Sidebar), the Library button in the navigation bar becomes a menu, giving you access to your different media libraries, and to your playlists. As has long been the case, when the sidebar is hidden, it pops out if you drag something from anywhere in your library to the left edge of the iTunes window. So with the sidebar hidden, you can still access your playlists, and add items to them. (Screenshot below.)
  • And the rest: There are a number of minor interface tweaks throughout the app.

Playlist menu
Have I missed anything? Let me know in the comments.

80 thoughts on “What’s New in iTunes 12.5

  1. Thanks for that summary Kirk.
    i’m not sold on the bright blue ratings stars, or the red love heart. Maybe if there was an option for a dark theme, like on the Apple TV, they would be less jarring.

  2. Too much white now. Not a huge problem in retina displays, but it is difficult to read the text in normal ones. Dark mode needed.

  3. Just out of interest can anyone tell me whether there are still issues with iTunes 12.x corrupting playlists or has that been fixed? I also found that skipping through tracks to demo them in 12.x was very slow often involving the spinning wheel and as someone who receives lot’s of promotional music that needs skipping through for suitability was a deal breaker. Any updates on these issues would be gratefully received.

  4. I have noticed itunes now marks a files as ‘modified’ if you go through the get info box using the arrows, even if you haven’t actually modified the files. My back up now thinks loads of files have been changed when they haven’t, if that makes sense. It did NOT do this before todays update. Why is itunes such a nighmare!!

    • Wow. That date-modified change is awful. I use that value as a rule in a smart playlist to highlight albums with new/changed artwork.

        • Toggling “Skip when shuffling” also changes the modification date!!! This must be a bug. For the time being I changed my backup script (rsync) to doing checksums and provided Apple with feedback.

    • FIX. THE. BUGS.

      Apple is not the worst for this (looking at YOU, Adobe… I digress) but I don’t care for the trend of packing in new features while not addressing bugs, problems, and bad behaviors that go unaddressed version after version.

    • Well i downloaded itunes 12.5.2 today and it appears to have fixed that particular problem which is great. However now there is a new issue. It has stripped all the artist tags from all the podcasts I have saved, and will not download any new ones either. The refresh just hangs forever. GOOD OLD ITUNES!!!!!!!!!!!!!HOPELESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. You now have the choice to browse either Apple Music or the iTunes store using right click. Previously, you had no choice and were always directed to the iTunes store.

  6. I’ve noticed something weird about playback.

    So the normal bit: Double clicking an album or clicking the large new blue play button plays the whole album from the start. Double clicking a song in an album will play that song and then all of the songs after it until the end of the album.

    The weird bit comes when you use the blue play button to play 1 song. I’ve found it might play a couple more songs from that album and then go into a mix of other songs from your entire library. It looks like it’s related songs, so you’ll get more songs from the same artist and similar.

    Anyone else noticed this or is it just me? Seems very weird to have different functions for double clicking and clicking the play button.

    • It’s not just you.

      The song order is based on the sorting in the “Song” view.

      Steps to reproduce:

      1. In iTunes, select “Songs” in the left sidebar
      2. Sort by song name
      3. Select “Albums” in the left side bar
      4. Play the first track (using the blue play triangle)
      5. Click the “Up next” button (up in the bar immediately to the right of the song being played) and observe that the next song to be played isn’t (necessarily) the next song on the album.

      I’ve submitted a bug to Apple.

    • Thank you, I thought I was the only one with this problem. It is weird indeed to have these two different behaviours and feels like bug.

  7. The Info dialog box for videos/movies/TV Shows now finally admits that there is both a short and long description for a file, but will only let you edit the short description (the AppleTV uses only uses the long description). You still have to use a third party tagging app to edit the long description.

    I don’t know if this is new, but iTunes now lets you enter “0” for an episode number (dead common for a preview, introductory, or prequel episode), but changes it to “9” when you hit “OK”.

    It’s nice to see some improvements for tagging for classical music, but it still has a VERY long way to go. (I won’t go into all the “obscure” tags that are missing like writer, actor, etc. or the weird ones like TV episodes have a release date, but movies only have a release year.)

  8. I’m very sad about the loss of stars – I’ve got several thousand of my own songs rated with stars, and I use that info when making smart playlists too.

  9. Hey, I’m just happy I can see my Compilations again. In the last two versions of 12.5, I had lost them. They appeared in the Recently Added menu, but not Albums. Now, them seem to be back in all menu options!

  10. Sorry, uh, one more thing…

    My favorite feature of 12.5 is clicking on the blue text of the artist’s name, when in Album View, and having iTunes take you to the Artists View.

    • I like that too, but then I should be able to click the album name in the Artists View to go back to Album View.

  11. For me, iTunes 12.5.1 display littlepictures rather than those ugly microphone icons for artists for those artists of whom I have purchased music. These are not artwork images nor the images used in the iTunes store (at least for David Bowie).

    • Noticed the same thing. Works great for artists where I purchased a track from iTunes & have also ripped albums (CDs), but those microphones are ugly. Everything (imported from my own CD collection) looks the same, no easy visual cue as to artist. Terrible.

    • Yep -same here. Don’t like the way it looks – there NEEDS to be an option to customize/replace that horrible rainbow circle with blue microphone image.

    • I think the source is Apple Music, but in the case of the Beastie Boys for example, it’s not the same image as the header image on their Apple Music artist page.

      • Looks like the images are being pulled in from the iTunes Music Store artist image in some cases, and from Apple Music in others.

  12. I truly do not give a flaming crap about new features to this bloated swiss army knife software pain in the butt – DID THEY FIX THE BROKEN STUFF??? Is it any easier to use, the last several versions, the interface has become ever more user-difficult. I’d like to see the trend reversed – and would love to have SYNC, hived off to it’s own app.

  13. I am waiting to update to iTunes 12.5.1 for Mac. I do NOT have Apple Music. All of my 239,200 tracks are mp3 with artwork embedded (via a Dougscript) in the tags, and I keep the library and folder on an external USB3 drive (with many clones).

    1. I found several unresolved comments about missing artwork on Macrumors and Apple discussions. Are people with mp3s with embedded artwork having the images removed in the tags by iTunes? Or are the images just not shown? Is iTunes actually modifying every mp3 file in people’s folders?

    2. I also saw unanswered queries about problems with updates for people whose libraries and folders are on external drives.

    Has anyone had these problems with iTunes 12.5.1?


  14. My library is also on an external FWIW. It’s mostly jazz & classical from rips and downloads, all paid for if anyone cares. I can’t stand all those pastel mikes in Artist view. Previously iTunes chose artwork from one of the artist’s albums to illustrate the artist’s list entry. That was fine with me, I knew those images well. Now I only have the artist’s name as a guide, and those unattractive mike icons wasting space. Waiting for an update that fixes this for me. Or does Apple maintain an icon database of classical musicians ?

  15. Why, oh why did they move the shuffle button in playlists all the way over to the right hand side of the window???
    Does Apply actually have UX designers, or is it all just change for the hell of it??
    Perhaps they should have done some usability studies before making these changes

    • I was thinking about that this morning. I ripped some CDs on my 27″ iMac, and the eject button is alllllll the way to the right, rather than where it used to be next to the CD’s name.

  16. I just noticed:

    Lyrics support is totally screwed up. I have added custom lyrics to a lot of my music. These lyrics show up on my iPhone and iPad. When I then re-download the tracks to a different iTunes library (on another computer) the lyrics do not travel with the file. They are gone, the custom lyrics switch is empty. If I switch it back on the lyrics field is empty. (I also looked at the meta data on file level – the lyrics are definitely not there).

    Nice work, Apple. I really lose all my interest in maintaining my library when with every other iTunes release you screw up my work. With this the iTunes Match cloud library no longer works as a backup of my music library.

  17. “No more random album artwork to illustrate artists” — Up until this release of iTunes, my collection showed album art, selected from the library by iTunes. Now all I have are “microphone” icons. What is the reason for this “improvement”? All of my hard work and effort devoted to making the interface look great gets thrown out by some anonymous programmer, wether it be by a mistake in code or purposefully done, it is not appreciated.

  18. “Home Sharing: You can no longer copy media from one iTunes library to another using Home Sharing.”

    What do you mean? It still allows you to import media from a shared library.

    (Here’s hoping they have finally fixed the bugs in the “Show: Items not in my library” option.)

  19. Assuming Kirk’s reply was posted to wrong message…

    OK, I’m probably confusing “Home Sharing” with the library sharing turned on iTunes > Preferences > Sharing > Share my library on my local network. I have both turned on.

    When I select the other computer’s library, and then select something, the bottom of the window has a Show control, Settings…, and an Import button. This is working for Music, Apps and Podcasts. I don’t have any movies or TV shows to test with.

  20. It’s also so buggy!! Crashed on me four times in the past 12 hours, sometimes I don’t know why I put up with it

  21. I’m having a problem with how songs show up against composers, since downloading this update. The first couple of songs for a composer will show up under the previous artist or composer (alphabetically speaking) eg first two songs by Mozart show up under Mouton, while the first two songs by Mudarra show up under Mozart, and so on through the composer list. I had this problem with an earlier version of iTunes under windows 7, but the problem repaired itself when I moved to Windows 10 (without me updating iTunes). It’s been ok until this latest update. Very frustrating – being able to sort by composer is extremely important for us classical nerds! Anyone else having this problem, or know of a fix?

  22. Is anyone else able to drag songs into playlists?? For some reason, now I can’t drag anything around. Can’t drag a song or movie into a playlist. Can’t drag it to my desktop. Nothing! I’ve rebooted and everything. Please tell me they didn’t take that functionality away!!!

  23. Yes Kirk. You missed something(s) BIG!!! 1. Spaces between songs in iTunes have been increased. Whereas we used to see 16 songs, this has been reduced to 11. It’s annoying because it doesn’t seem to be changeable 2. It takes a while to click different things on iTunes (for Windows) e.g. if you playing in Songs list in ‘Libraries’ if you change to Artists List it will take a while before you will be able to click on any of the artists listed. I have resorted to clicking on a DIFFERENT file on my Taskbar (say Excel) then I go back to iTunes (via Taskbar) to be able to Click on the Artist I want. It’s a shame for a Company we used to hold in High Esteem to stoop so low, but off-course a people-centered Executive (Steve JOBS) is no more. The current GURUS think too highly of themselves and nix about Customer! Case in point, why don’t they (Apple Executives) read whats’ in their own Discussion Forums for them to see how frustrated people really are!! Why do I need iTunes using Windows? For syncing my iPhone and also playing my Songs off-course…

  24. Some of my podcasts are tagged with an E and some with a C (grey box, white letter) in the Library list…I have no idea why, and I can’t seem to find any info in any of the ‘What’s new in iTunes 12.5.1…’ articles.
    Any clues, anyone?

  25. Thanks Kirk…I had missed out the last few updates and didn’t see it before. Of course, that makes sense, it actually said ‘Explicit’ and ‘Clean’ rather than E and C.

  26. When you right-click a song in a playlist (or click on the 3 dots), one of the drop-down menu items is Show in Playlist. One of the options there WAS the main music library. That seems to be gone. (The other playlists the song appears in are there.) I used that feature a lot. How do I quickly go from a song in a playlist to that same song in the main music library? Is that feature gone? Am I missing it somewhere else? Did Apple fix something that wasn’t broken again?

    • No, I think they did remove that. I can’t think of any way to get to a track in the library other than searching or browsing.

      • Hi. After playing with this a bit, I found a workaround, but it’s extra steps. They left “Go to Artist” and “Go to Album” in the drop-down menu. If you go to artist or album, it switches the Library categories to either Artists or Albums. The song is still highlighted. Then, change the Library category from Artists or Albums to Songs and there it is. A little extra work, but… I will file a request with Apple regarding reinstating Show in Playlist to point to the Songs Library. Maybe enough users will do the same and they might bring it back.

  27. Any tips on adding and removing books to my iPad? With the old version of iTunes, it was super easy – just check or uncheck the books I wanted and then synch. Now I have no clue… thanks

    • Huh, people have written me to say how much faster iTunes 12.5 is for them. I don’t see any difference.

  28. The sidebar with the playlists disappears until I click the View option to show it. I have to do this every time I open iTunes. Is there any way to make this a default choice?

  29. I’m getting frequent crashes – can reproduce 100% of the time if I use iTunes remote to change airplay outputs. Happens sometimes even doing an output change directly on the computer with iTunes, also had it sometimes crash while playing songs with my Yamaha receiver RX-V579 that 12.4.3 didn’t have issues with, at least I have an AppleTV connected that I can work around that issue with… but annoying still.
    2 of my outputs are Airport Express (one older design, one is the newest model) connected to stereos. A 3rd is a Teac receiver, then the already mentioned Yamaha (with AppleTV also connected) playback to the airport express has never crashed, but using iTunes remote from any of our iOS devices will crash with 1 or 2 selections.

    I used to be able to easily use iTunes remote to select the output options then playlist… now I have to connect remotely or go directly to the computer to select outputs – and even then sometimes have to startup iTunes again – with my computer being on the 3rd floor what used to work was very convenient.
    Other than airplay output, 12.5.1 has worked fine.

  30. I’m running iTunes on the new MacBook, and there is not an option to select/unselect songs anymore. EVERYTHING is selected. That doesn’t help much considering I went through it with a fine tooth comb previously and unselected seasonal and stupid music I made the mistake of downloading during my teenage years. So… are there ANY options to add this feature back? Is there an option that requires an obnoxious number of steps, is there a simple fix, or is this impossible now?

    • For those of you who may have had the same question as I did, the fix can be found here…

      1) Go to iTunes Preferences;
      2) Under “Show,” select the check box next to “List view checkboxes,” and it will bring back the select/unselect option.

      Thank God!

  31. The playlist field appears to be broken when making smart playlists. The only entry is Playlist = Music (your full library) and the field will not drop down to show other playlists, and can’t be deleted and replaced with a different playlist name. This makes it impossible to build a playlist that includes (or excludes) another playlist. I just sent Apple some feedback about this, but wondering if there is any workaround.

      • Thanks for taking the time to check and comment on this. I had just updated to iTunes 12.5.2 about an hour before this problem surfaced and thought it might be related to the update. But I don’t actually recall the last time before the update that I made use of the playlist field, so it may actually have happened a while ago.

        I just checked the other fields I typically use when creating smart playlists, and they all work fine. The rest of iTunes also seems to be working normally. I realized I can use the other fields to work around the playlist issue, so I guess this won’t have a practical effect when I’m creating a smart playlist.

    • This used to be fine in iTunes 12.5.1 (and earlier) for me, but i’m having this issue now in 12.5.3. It’s not just when making new smartlists, but editing old ones as well. I use this feature A LOT, and it’s definitely new. I’m on Windows 7, by the way.

      As for a workaround, you can select other playlists with the arrow-up/down or page-up/down keys, but it’s quite the pain.

      • rotane – Your suggestion works for me in terms of managing the playlists. The idea to use the up/down buttons hadn’t occurred to me, so I greatly appreciate that you took the time to share that information. It’s tedious, but it does work.

        I’m also on Windows 7 and on iTunes Perhaps the latest update for iTunes isn’t compatible with older Windows versions? At any rate, glad to have your tip so I can continue using the playlist field when creating or editing smart playlists.

  32. Is there a way to change the view in the “Recently Added” section to how it used to be: just one, continuous grid of album covers? Instead of separating it into “Today,” “Yesterday,” This Week,” etc.?

    • I don’t think there is, but you could always make a smart playlist to do exactly what you want.

      Well, not “exactly”, as you can’t sort album view by “date added” (for whatever reason), but it works in songs and playlists view. Mind you, that when you do sort by “date added” in one of these views, this might ignore the correct flow of an album, depending on how iTunes imported your music.

      The way i do it, i have a few smart playlists that contain my most recent additions, one of the previous month, another of the previous 2 months, etc. These lists themselves are sorted by artist.

  33. Just converted an old Mac to iTunes 12.5.4.


    Ability to set the default for all Podcast playlists viewing to “Episode List”.
    Ability to set the default for all Music playlists viewing to “Songs”.
    Ability to ditch the banner at the top of playlists. I know what playlist I am looking at and I do not need the artwork, I’d rather have the space for a longer list to manage/sort, etc.
    Ability to get rid of the Artwork column the when viewing Movies/Home Videos in “List” mode. I know what the movies look like based on the title. The single frame pic is totally useless. Is there a “Classic List” mode I cannot find?
    They need to restore the ability to make and transfer to iOS playlists of Movies, Home Videos, and video Podcasts. Very hard to organize. This work great in older versions of iTunes and iOS.

  34. I had to step back to 12.5.3. Latest version removes “Go to Artist” and “Go to Album” pop-up menus (save for Purchased songs), which I use all the time. Deal-breaker.

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