Tuesday, June 2, 2009

iTunes Annoyances

There are many things about the iTunes interface that are irritating, but by far the most annoying is the fact that it does not maintain a 'live' library -- changes to your music outside iTunes are virtually impossible to propagate back to the library. One solution is to delete and re-scan completely, but then you lose playlists, play counts, etc. Another solution used to be to use the great program iTunes Library Updater, but it does not work with newer versions of iTunes.

I just followed a complicated process outlined on Paul Mayne's blog but it only worked for files that do not have a duplicate. If you delete one copy of a duplicated file, then the Smart Playlist method doesn't see the file as missing, because the duplicate is still there. So, you can't clear up situations like this, where an album was accidentally duplicated, then removed:

To make matters worse, you can sort the iTunes table by any column except the indicator column containing the exclamation point. So, it seems the only solution (at least for Windows users) is to ctrl-click every second song in lists like this. That would be a long and tedious process, prone to accidentally deleting the wrong lines. I guess I'll have to do the total delete-rebuild operation.

There are several possible easy fixes to this:
  1. Live monitoring of music folders, as in Windows Media Player
  2. A "remove missing tracks" button
  3. Allow sort on missing status to put all (!) files in a contiguous list
With mature software like iTunes, I don't understand why this feature has not been created. A simple web search yields many complex workarounds -- obviously it's not just me wanting to do this.


Ernie said...

I think that's because you treat iTunes as a music player/media library when in reality it is an interface between iPods and the iTunes Store.

Amarok FTW.

Peter Barney said...

Amarok FTL.

MANY people use iTunes as a music player. Heck, it even has visualizations, so that excuse doesn't hold up.

The truth is that iTunes is sorely lacking some critical features. While it handles many things well, it definitely has a "user is an idiot" feeling to it, so more advanced features tend to be lacking.

The best solution I've found is the free utility called iTunes Folder Watch. It can automatically remove dead entries from the iTunes database.

It is primarily intended to "watch" certain folders for any music that is added, changed or deleted, and update the iTunes database.

This should really be a built-in feature of iTunes.

Peter Barney said...

By the way, iTunes Folder Watch can be found here: