A collection of tips for iTunes 11

iTunes 11 is the most radical update for iTunes in a long while. It’s a fairly comprehensive redesign, although it’s quite clearly the same app under the surface. Here’s a collection of cool new things you can do in iTunes 11.

Up Next

Up Next is the headline new feature that is a great improvement on iTunes DJ which it replaces. For any song you can right-click and choose Play Next to add it to the top of the Up Next List, or Add to Up Next to add it to the end. You can also just drag a song up to the centre display in the top toolbar. Alternatively, just hold down the Option key and click the plus (+) icon that appears next to the song, or press Option-Return while the song is selected.

iTunes 11 Up Next

All of the above applies to entire albums and playlists as well as individual songs, or an arbitrary selection of multiple songs. It even works with songs from a shared library on another Mac or on a connected device.

Unfortunately the rarely used song voting features that were part of iTunes DJ have gone, but Up Next is much simplified and will undoubtably be more widely used.

Click and drag

Since the sidebar is now gone, you could be forgiven for thinking you can no longer just drag songs into a playlist or onto a connected iPhone, iPod or iPad. But if you try it, you’ll find a sidebar slides in from the right as soon as you start dragging a song — allowing easy access to all your playlists and devices.

The new miniplayer

iTunes has had a miniplayer for years, but it has been completely redesigned in iTunes 11 with a few new features. Firstly, the way you switch to and from the miniplayer has changed: Instead of clicking the green zoom button, there’s now a small rectangular icon in the top right of the iTunes window, next to the full screen button. You can also use keyboard shortcuts - Command-Option-M will switch to the miniplayer, and Command-Option-3 will open up a separate miniplayer in addition to the regular iTunes window. The benefit of having both is that you can have the main iTunes window full screen, with the miniplayer still present on other desktop spaces.

The miniplayer displays the song and artist until you place your mouse cursor over it, when it switches to display playback controls. Be aware that if you have full keyboard access enabled in the Keyboard section of System Preferences, the miniplayer will only display the controls. You can tell this is the case if you have a blue “halo” around one of the control buttons that moves when you press the Tab key.

iTunes 11 Miniplayer InformationiTunes 11 Miniplayer Controls

The best new feature of the miniplayer is that you now have access to your entire music library without having to switch back to the full size iTunes window. Just click the magnifying glass search button (or press Command-F) and begin typing the name of the artist, album or song you want to play. You can play it right away by selecting it and pressing return, or add it to the “Up Next” list by pressing Option-Return.

iTunes 11 Miniplayer Search

If you find yourself wondering where the volume controls have gone, try clicking in the AirPlay button. This should display a popup that allows you to control the volume on your Mac and separately for any connected speakers.

Navigate with the keyboard

With the sidebar gone, navigating to the different areas of your library can feel a bit harder, even though it’s only one extra click away. To make things easier, you can use the Command key with the numbers one through seven to access different areas:

  • Command-1 : Music
  • Command-2 : Movies
  • Command-3 : TV Shows
  • Command-4 : Podcasts
  • Command-5 : iTunes U
  • Command-6 : Books
  • Command-7 : Apps

You’ll need to make sure none of these sections are disabled in the iTunes Preferences otherwise the shortcut won’t work.

Another cool trick is navigating with the arrow keys in the album view — up, down, left and right will move the selecting from album to album, sliding out the song lists as the selection moves. Press Tab to move the selection to the song list, then Escape to go back to the albums.

Redeem gift cards with your camera

While in the iTunes Store, clicking Redeem in the menu on the right now brings up a camera view in addition to a simple text field. This allows you to hold up your gift card and the code is inserted automatically. I haven’t been able to test this as it doesn’t seem to be available for me, possibly due to being outside the USA. Also, interestingly this feature was the result of a collaboration with a 3rd party app developer named Geppy Parziale, who may have got a telling off from Apple for blogging about the work.

Search your entire library

The search feature in iTunes used to just act as a way to filter the list you were currently looking at. Now, as you type in the search field, items from your library appear in a popover, no matter what you are currently looking at. The order does change depending on where you are — the media type you are looking at (movies, music, podcasts, etc.) appear higher in the list.

Typing a search term and pressing return will filter the current view, just like older versions.

iTunes 11 Search

Change it back!

So you hate everything new? It’s not too tricky to get iTunes back to roughly the same as it used to be. First, click Songs in the navigation bar across the top to return to the classic song list. Next, chose Show Sidebar and Show Status Bar in the View menu to bring those elements back. You might also want to choose Hide Music in the Cloud in the View menu.

Show duplicates

It’s gone! Walt Mossberg assures us though that it will be back soon in the next minor bug fix update of iTunes. It is also likely that minor bugs with missing album artwork and marking a song as a podcast will also be fixed. On the other hand, apparently Apple has no intention of restoring the Cover Flow album art view.

Home videos

There’s a new Home videos classification for movies. This prevents the awkward situation where any videos stored in iTunes had to be shown alongside either your movies or TV Shows from the iTunes Store. Videos imported to iTunes from elsewhere automatically get this classification. To change the classification on a movie, just choose Get Info (Command-I) and change the Media Kind drop-down menu under Options.

iTunes 11 Home Videos

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