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November 1 '16 - 7:09 am
iTunes 12.5.3 Released

Hot on the heels of v12.5.2 on October 28, Apple has released iTunes 12.5.3. The description
in the App Store app is the same as the previous version, so perhaps there are just additional “stability and performance improvements” that were caught over the weekend.

[UPDATE: The 12.5.3 release is apparently for Mac OS X 10.11 and macOS 10.12 only.]

[UPDATE ALSO: Curiously, after I originally updated to 12.5.3.16, the App Store app notified me of another 12.5.3 update about a day later. This turned out to be version 12.5.3.17. Just sayin’.]

October 28 '16 - 12:49 am
iTunes 12.5.2 Released

Apple has released the latest version of iTunes, 12.5.2. It has fixes for an issue whereby Albums do not always play in order and for Lyrics not always being available over Beats 1. More as it develops.

October 22 '16 - 5:14 pm
No AppleScript Necessary

AppleScript is great for performing tasks that can be aggravatingly repetitive for humans (Mac-using humans, anyway). However, it is not always the best solution to a perceived problem with tag editing in iTunes.

It seems to me that some users are ignoring (or are perhaps anxious about using) several built-in features of iTunes that makes tag editing relatively fast and simple.

Multiple Item Editing – I am always surprised that even seasoned iTunes users don’t know about this which has been available since iTunes was Sound Jam. Select two or more tracks and choose “Get Info” from the iTunes Edit menu (or press Command-I). Unless you’ve turned the warning off, a dialog will appear that asks if you’re sure you want to edit multiple items. Yes! Press the “Edit Items” button. An Info window will appear that is similar to the Info window for a single track except it will not contain single-track specific tags, like Name-related tags.

Smart playlists – Creating temporary Smart playlists is the fastest way to assemble a batch of tracks that have similar attributes. Use them liberally. Select all the tracks that have been assembled (Command-A to Select All) and multi-edit them. You don’t have to keep a Smart playlist around when you’re done editing the tracks it contains. In fact, at my house I consider all playlists semi-temporary. On the other hand, keeping a live-updating Smart playlist around for track tags you occasionally want to edit (say for converting track ratings to some loved or disliked equivalent) is a good idea, too.

The Column Browser – The Column Browser is another feature that allows you to select only certain tracks by Album, Artist, Genre, Composer and (kinda strangely) Grouping while in Songs or a List view. With the Column Browser visible (Command-B, or View > Column Browser > Show Column Browser), click a particular Genre, for example, and only the tracks with that Genre will appear in the browser window. Press Command-A to select all of those tracks and do the multi-edit. The Select All does not, as you may fear, select all of the library tracks, only those displayed in the browser window by virtue of what’s chosen in the Column Browser.

No disrespectin’, but it sometimes seems to me that some users are trying to create a set-in-stone just-so library (emulating bookshelves of pristinely ordered CDs or LPs?) and are reluctant to use some of these techniques because things’ll get messed up. But the tools available in a digital media library actually make it very easy to quickly access anything at any time. Give in to their power.

October 7 '16 - 5:26 pm
The Next Track – Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Subwoofers

Kirk and I had been kind of winging it when it came to subwoofers, so we asked our pal Andy Doe to explain the basics and help Kirk decide if he actually needed one. Check out Episode #21 of The Next Track Podcast.

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October 6 '16 - 8:33 pm
Assign Keyboard Shortcuts to Avoid Ambiguity

Correspondent David K. turned me on to this trick, which I had never seen before:

As you may know, you can assign Keyboard Shortcuts to application menu commands in System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts. Conventionally, you would select the name of the app, the name of the menu command, and a keyboard shortcut combination in this preference tab. What I didn’t know is that you can designate the precise menu heirarchy for a command by entering something like Top Menu->Submenu->Command, with “->” between each menu title, instead of just the name of the command.

The reason I want to do this in iTunes is that I’d like to set a shortcut for the “Songs” playlist view. But, because the word “Songs” is also in the Controls > Shuffle submenu, simply entering “Songs” in the keyboard shortcut panel would invariably toggle the Shuffle Songs option.

But by entering View->View As->Songs, the keyboard shortcut knows I mean that “Songs” and not the Controls > Shuffle > Songs.

Hoy!

Then I did the same for Playlist view:

The shortcuts also appear adjacent to the commands in their menu. And an AppleScript could probably fire the shortcut via System Events.

September 23 '16 - 1:07 pm
The Next Track – Live Recordings and Studio Recordings

Kirk and I talk about the pros and cons of live recordings vs. studio recordings in Episode #19 of The Next Track Podcast.

September 15 '16 - 4:14 pm
Issue With Work and Movement Tag Text

(This post has been updated, see below.)

A Correspondent emaIed to point out that when text is entered in either the new Work or Movement Name tags and the text contains non-English characters they do not render correctly in Albums and Artists Views. Nor in the Info window:

So, watch out. This may be a display issue but I am not sure if Apple can fix it at their end or an update to iTunes is required.

UPDATE: FWIW, this is how it looks in the XML. Note that the Name tag is fine, but not the Movement tag:

UPDATE ALSO (September 16, 2016): This issue appears to have been resolved today after re-entering Work and Movement text.

UPDATE MORE (September 16, 2016): Spoke to soon. If the track is played then the NULL character returns. (Is that what that diamond-question mark character is called? Been a long time since I’ve seen it on webpages.)

September 14 '16 - 10:26 am
UPDATED: Loved Playlists v1.2

Loved Playlists will enable you to view the Love/Dislike status for “loveable” iTunes playlists and batch-edit these settings for one or more playlists at a time.

Apple has not provided a means to see what playlists have been Loved/Disliked; you’d have to click the ellipsis menu (“…”) or contextual menu (right-click anywhere in the playlist header) to see if Love is checkmarked or Dislike has a minus sign.

This latest version allows the Love/Dislike status of Playlist Folders to be changed. Pre-12.5.1 versions of iTunes had a bug that prevented this with AppleScript.

September 13 '16 - 1:38 pm
iTunes 12.5.1 Released

Apple released iTunes 12.5.1 today, no doubt to accommodate today’s forthcoming release of iOS 10. Changes include an updated Apple Music interface; new Work and Movement tags, new Dislike tag. Most of these features had been available to beta users of iTunes 12.5. Additionally, some AppleScript bugs got fixed, including a problem programmatically setting the loved and disliked properties of folder playlist, the ambiguous Music/music bug for the special kind property (to do this, the music value for media kind was changed to song), and all media kind values appear to work correctly when changed with set.

More as it develops.

September 3 '16 - 11:05 am
UPDATED: Multi-Item Edit

Multi-Item Edit v5.0 has been updated to accommodate the new Dislike, Work and Movement tags that are available in iTunes 12.5, currently in beta.

Multi-Item Edit will allow you to edit most tags (and some additional options) of the selected track(s) in a single floating window using single-edit mode (one selected track) or multi-edit mode, which emulates the pre-iTunes 12 “multiple items” format; that is, a checkbox adjacent to each tag allows you to select which changes are to be applied to the selection’s tags.

As I mentioned above, this latest version adds new tags that will be available in iTunes 12.5; makes UI adjustments to accommodate those additions; removes the “Played” option (which tapped the AppleScript unplayed track property and which I’m not certain still performs a pertinent function anymore); includes minor maintenance and security fixes.

Multi-Item Edit is free to use for ten days and costs $1.99 thereafter.

 
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