iTunes 11 just came out, and if you’ve upgraded, you know that it has changed many of the familiar features and moved many of them to different places. Let’s take a look at the different ways to use iTunes 11 the right way, with the following tips and tricks.
Quickly Add Songs To iTunes 11’s ‘Up Next’ Feature
iTunes 11 has a new feature called Up Next. It’s a way to let you know what is going to play next, of course, which is cool when you’re shuffling iTunes tracks, but it’s also a way to set up a playlist of sorts, letting you manage what songs come up at a party, for example.
There are a couple of different ways to add songs to the Up Next queue as well.
The first way is simple — just drag an item from the iTunes library window onto the iTunes LCD area, right there at the top, where the song title of what’s playing now is. You can drag a single song, a whole playlist, an album, whatever you like. The iTunes LCD window will show a blue border around it to let you know that it’s being added, and the Up Next icon will flash with the cover art of whatever you’ve added.
The second, less intuitive way to add an item to the Up Next playlist is to press the Option key while you hover your cursor over an item in the iTunes library window. The track number right by the track name will change to a dark gray plus icon. Click that to add it to Up Next, and iTunes will play it next.
Change The Search Feature Back To The Older Functionality
iTunes 11 has undergone many different visual tweaks and changes, not all of which may be welcome. One of the big ones is how the Search field works. By default, when you type in your search term, a drop down menu appears under the Search field, listing the songs, albums, or apps that include those search terms. This can be handy for searching the whole of iTunes at once, but you might want to use the older style of search, using the sidebar to filter the search results within the different media types.
Here’s how to revert iTunes 11 to the older style.
First up, be sure to enable the search bar by going to the View menu selecting Show Sidebar. Alternatively, you can hit Option-Command-S on your keyboard to toggle the Sidebar off and on.
Now, type in a search term. Notice how iTunes 11 puts a list of all different media in a drop down menu? Click on the magnifying glass to the left of the Search field, and then click to deselect the Search Entire Library option. This will limit the search to whatever media type is selected in the Sidebar on the left.
Now you will get to decide how to search for things in your iTunes library, depending on how you’ve set up the Search function.
Find Your Genius Playlists Again
As you may have noticed, iTunes 11 has switched a few things around. One of them is how the Genius playlists work. Previously, once you started a Genius playlist, you could save it as a stand-alone playlist, or you could replace it with the next Genius list you created. That’s a bit different now in iTunes 11.
First of all, you’ll need to turn Genius on. In iTunes 11, the easiest way is to head up to the Store menu, and choose Turn Genius On with a click. Then enter your iTunes account information, agree to the terms and conditions, and iTunes 11 will send your song info to Apple to allow it to give you Genius suggestions.
Wait for iTunes to send the info to Apple, and receive data back from the mothership. You’ll then be ready to roll.
Now, right click (Control-click) a song in your iTunes library, and you’ll see you have a couple of choices. The first, “Start Genius,” creates a playlist of songs based on your seed song and places them into your Up Next playlist. The second option, Create Genius Playlist, will be more familiar to readers like James H., above, as it works similar to the older versions of iTunes.
When you choose Create Genius Playlist, your seed song will make a Genius list and place it in the Genius Playlists section of the Sidebar. You’ll either need to show the Sidebar with Option-Command-S and click on Genius there in the Sidebar, or you’ll need to click on the Music from the Library pop-up menu, then click the Playlist tab at the top, between Genres and Radio.
Bonus tip, when viewing a Genius playlist, you’ll see a gray arrow to the right of the name of the playlist, itself based on the title of the seed song. If you Command-click that gray arrow, you’ll add the entire Genius playlist to the Up Next playlist, which essentially does the same thing as “Start Genius” option does, above. This way, you can have your cake and eat it, too.
Find The Download Manager Again
Look, iTunes 11, I love you and all, but where’s all my stuff? First I needed to figure out the Up Next thing, retool my Search habits, figure out how to make a Genius playlist again, and now I can’t even find the Downloads window. What gives?
If you’re in the same boat, we’re here to help. If you have re-enabled the Sidebar, you’ll notice that there’s no way to click on Downloads any more. Even when there’s a download happening. Here’s the thing: the Downloads window will never be there. iTunes 11 has moved it. Here’s how to find it again.
Don’t bother looking for the Downloads window in any of the menus. It isn’t there. Nope. The only way to get to it, oddly enough, is when you’re actually downloading something. Odd, right?
Anyway, to test this out, find a free TV show or something, and get it downloading. You’ll notice a new little arrow, facing downward, showing up in the upper right corner of your (maximized) iTunes 11 window. It won’t show up in the mini-player.
Click on that arrow icon and you’ll get the Downloads window, complete with the ability to sort by kind, name, or status. You can use the buttons at the bottom of the Downloads window to Pause all the downloaded items, allow or disallow simultaneous downloads, or click on yet another downward-facing arrow to check for available downloads that are probably actually downloading at the same time, which is so comprehensive it’s almost redundant. Once your download is finished, the Downloads window stays up. Once you close it, however, it’s game over until you start a new download. Why? I don’t know. Because Apple, that’s why.
Anyway, now you can get to the Downloads Manager, manage your downloads, and do the things you’ve always done with them. Like watch that little blue line slowly crawl across your screen. I wonder how much of my life I’ve actually spent, cumulatively, staring at progress bars like that. I probably don’t want to know.
Use These Sweet Keyboard Shortcuts To Control iTunes 11
So, now that you’re becoming quite the iTunes 11 power user, it’s time to take that one final step: keyboard shortcuts.
Everyone knows that using the mouse when there’s a keyboard shortcut to be had is tre uncool. I’ve been on some friends’ case for years to get them to actually use Command-C and Command-V to cut and paste their text, sometimes to no avail.
But not you, no. You’re a power user in training. You’re ready to control iTunes 11 with the power of the keyboard. Here’s a few of them to get you started.
The obvious ones are Space to play or pause a song, Command-Right Arrow to skip to the next song, and Command-Left Arrow to skip back to the beginning of the current song as well as to skip back to the previous song.
But here are a few that are new, just for iTunes 11.
First up, you can switch between different types of media with the following shortcuts, a great trick when you’re not showing the Sidebar. Hit the Command key on your keyboard, followed by the 1 – 7 number keys at the same time to switch to any enabled media, which typically will show up in the left top pop up menu in iTunes 11, or down the left side of the Sidebar. Here’s the list:
Command-1 = Music
Command-2 = Movies
Command-3 = TV Shows
Command-4 = Podcasts
Command-5 = iTunes U
Command-6 = Books
Command-7 = Apps
Next, to add songs to the Up Next playlist, you can also hit Option-Return once you’ve selected the song in your iTunes 11 playlist. Click on the song with the mouse, or use the up and down arrows (power user!) to select the song you want to send to Up Next, then hit Option-Return. Simple, and effective!