AppleScript Changes in iTunes 6.0.2

iTunes 6.0.2 was released on January 10, 2006 during MacWorld San Francisco, when the MacBook and the first iMacs with Intel processors, iLife '06, and iWorks '06 were announced; Mac OS 10.4.4 and QuickTime 7.0.4 were also released the same day.


New Features

iTunes 6.0.2 has a few additional control features and GUI changes. Most noticable will be the MiniStore window linked to the iTMS at the bottom of the iTunes window. You can toggle its display by clicking the new MiniStore button located at the bottom-right of the iTunes window or by choosing Hide/Show MiniStore from the Edit Menu. It will default to display a standard New Releases and Top Downloads list, and when you click on a track in your library it will attempt to show you other tracks and albums related to that track which are available from the Store. (This article questions the possible privacy issues involved.)

Control-clicking on a track brings up a contextual menu that includes a new "Add to Playlist" option. Clicking on this menu option will bring up another window listing all your playlists from which you can choose a single playlist to copy the selected track(s) to.

In Preferences, under the "General" tab, the "Show Radio" button has been removed.

Along with the "Show/Hide MiniStore" option in the Edit Menu there is also a new "Special Characters..." option. This brings up the System's Character Palette.

The Help system has been revamped to make it easier to find help topics and answers to specific questions. (Surprisingly, the Keyboard Shortcuts item in the Help menu has not been updated for some time. For example, many of the more recent Edit menu commands, like Show Duplicates, Show/Hide Artwork, Show/Hide Browser, Show/Hide MiniStore, and so on, are not listed.)

Also noted at The Unofficial Apple Weblog is that iTunes 6.0.2 can stream music to multiple AirPort Expresses, while still playing the music on the originating computer.

Right-clicking (Control-clicking) on selected video(s) will display an option to "Convert Selection for iPod" and convert the selected video tracks for use on the iPod (to "m4v"), without the need for intermediate software like QuickTime Pro. Or, select a video and go to iTunes Advanced menu to see the same command. Takes a little longer than you might like, but effective.

iTunes 6.0.2 has a bug in both Mac and Windows versions that prevents using rating stars properly as Smart Playlist criteria. The problem and (ahem) workaround are outlined in this Apple K-base article.

Right-click or Control-click a Podcast to show the contextual menu which now includes a "Do Not Auto Delete" option.

When "Export Song List..." is selected for the Podcast Source, you have an option to create an OPML file, as well as the Plain Text, Unicode, and XML Format options in the Save dialog that appears. (Thanks to Nathan Nutter for finding this.)

AppleScript additions

A new move command has been added to the Standard Suite. This command will allow you to move a playlist to a folder playlist. Which brings us to the new folder playlist class in the iTunes Suite. You know, I think I asked the developers about being able to do something like this since dragging playlists one by one to a folder was an enormous chore. Check out the script Move Playlists to Folder Playlist which will let you select playlists to move to a new or existing folder playlist. It uses move and folder playlist.

A new property of item is persistent id. This is the id used in the XML file for tracks and playlists. This id does not change, unlike a track's database id which can change from session to session. I am anxious to see how this can be used.

The track class has a new bookmark property, whose value is the position in seconds of the track's bookmark pointer. This is not read-only, so you can set as well as get a track's bookmark. This snippet zeroes the bookmark of a selected track:

tell application "iTunes"
	set sel to item 1 of selection
	set bookmark of sel to 0
end tell

This works on bookmarkable files (with "M4B " file type and the ".m4b" extension) as well as tracks whose "Remember playback position" setting has been enabled.

The script Zero Bookmark of Selected Tracks will set the bookmark pointer of the selected tracks to 0 seconds.

Ratings Now Have Half-Stars

I didn't notice this until after having iTunes 6.0.2 for a while (this update posted on January 30, 2006), but Ratings can display half-stars in a track's library entry, as in this screenshot:


Ratings are stored as integers from 0 to 100 and a full star is a factor of 20; thus, 1 star = 20, 2 stars = 40, 3 stars = 60, and so on. However, at some point—I assume as of version 6.0.2 of iTunes, but perhaps earlier—a factor of 10 will be recognized for a half-star, such that 50 is two and a half stars, 70 is three and a half stars, and so on. You can't drag a Rating half-way, though. You can set a track's rating with AppleScript. To this end, I have posted Add-Subtract A Half Star, a script that will increase or decrease the rating of the selected tracks by a half-star. Additionally, you can see four distinct scripts on the Missing Menu Commands page that increase and decrease ratings by a half-star for selected tracks or the currently playing track.

Half-stars do not show up in a track's "Get Info" window, nor do Smart Playlists recognize the half. (Perhaps this half-star-ability is related to the Smart Playlist Rating bug?) In any case, you will also notice that User Reviews at the iTMS can also display half-star ratings.

More as it develops...

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