Apple explains iTunes changes in macOS Catalina

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Apple Music in macOS Catalina
So long, iTunes!
Photo: Apple

Apple’s plan to ditch iTunes starts this fall with the release of macOS Catalina, which will offer standalone apps for Music, Podcasts, and TV.

WWDC offered a brief glimpse at how other things — like syncing iOS devices — would work after the update. Now Apple has published a new support document that explains everything for those who are still confused.

The document promises that “all of your favorite iTunes features” will still be available in Catalina. And it tells you where they will be.

Catalina is months away from its public release, so you don’t have to worry about losing iTunes just yet. And if you’re a Windows user, nothing will change. But if you do plan to upgrade your Mac this fall, there are things you need to know.

What you need to know about losing iTunes

Apple makes the changes easy to digest with a bulleted list that tells you exactly where you’ll find all the iTunes features you rely on:

  • Music that you’ve imported or purchased will be in the new Apple Music app.
  • Music playlists and smart playlists that you’ve created in iTunes will be in the new Apple Music app.
  • The iTunes Store will still be available to buy music on Mac, iOS, PC, and Apple TV.
  • iTunes Gift Cards and iTunes credits will be maintained and can be used with the new apps and the App Store.
  • iPhone, iPad, and iPod backup, restore, and syncing will move to Finder.
  • Movies and TV shows that you purchased or rented from iTunes will be in the new Apple TV app.
  • Use the Apple TV app for Mac for future movie and TV purchases or rentals.
  • Podcasts that you subscribed to or added to iTunes will now be in the new Apple Podcasts app.
  • Audiobooks that you purchased from iTunes will now be in the updated Apple Books app.
  • Use the Apple Books app for Mac for future audiobook purchases.

You don’t need to do anything

There’s nothing you need to do to prepare for this change — other than take note of where everything will be. “Your entire media collection will find a new home and transition automatically” into the new apps, Apple explains.

What’s more, any purchases you’ve already made from the iTunes Store and any synched libraries will not change on any of your devices.

For new purchases after the Catalina upgrade, you’ll find the Music storefront is exactly the same as it was in iTunes. And if you subscribe to Apple Music and no longer buy tracks and albums, you can hide the store altogether.

To purchase movies and TV shows, you’ll use the TV app. Audiobooks will be available through the Apple Books app. Podcasts will obviously be available in Apple Podcasts. These apps will include all the content you previously found in the iTunes Store.

Syncing your devices

As Apple notes in its list, device syncing will be handled by Finder in Catalina. But again, all of the features you’ve come to expect from iTunes will be there — including the ability to backup and restore.

Previous backups made in iTunes will remain on your Mac after upgrading, and your sync settings will be exactly the same.

So long, iTunes

iTunes might be disappearing, then, but everything you used it for will still be there. Yes, you’ll have to get used to using new apps, but it was time for a change. iTunes has become a bloated mess over the years, and Apple needed to do something drastic to fix it.