Random Thoughts – Randocity!

How to make iTunes 12 look and act like iTunes 10

Posted in Apple, botch, business, california by commorancy on January 17, 2015

iTunes 12 has been out since just about the release of Yosemite. In the fall, out of the box iTunes 12 looks like iTunes 11, with that horrible all new interface that Apple foisted onto us. Well, all is not lost. You can now make iTunes 12 look and act a whole lot more like iTunes 10. Though, keep in mind that it’s not a perfect reincarnation of iTunes 10, for most purposes it is still very functional. Let’s explore.

The New Interface

When you first kick off iTunes 12 (or 11 for that matter), you’ll see that it shows your albums as large icons. If you click an icon, it expands and shows track listings below it in a split screen setup.

Here’s a tutorial video that shows what can be done. This video is HD, so you should expand it full screen to see the detail.

How to set up iTunes 12 like iTunes 10


Obviously there are still differences between iTunes 12 and iTunes 10, such as the row of buttons moved to the top rather than in the left playlist sidebar. But, these are more cosmetic than a problem. As long as I can get to list mode that I am most familiar with using, this was my biggest gripe with the the new iTunes views. I’m glad they’re back.

Searching, Movies and Playlists

Searching has changed somewhat. When you search, you will get search results by song and by album. This is relatively handy when creating a new playlist. You simply drag the album over and drop it on playlists and it will create a new playlist. Though, the playlist info is shown on the right including renaming it. Once you click ‘Done’, it will be saved into the playlist sidebar and you can edit it there the normal way.

You can also create playlists that now contain movies. So, you can drag your favorite trilogies over and create a playlist of these films. It will them play the playlist in order. These will also show in the left sidebar under Playlists when on Movies. The Playlists view is in the center section.

Changing Art

If you highlight all of the tracks in list view then right click and ‘Get Info’, you can paste the art in the upper right corner with the keyboard (as long as it’s on the clipboard already) and then save. It will then apply the art to every selected track. This is not much different from iTunes 10 if you used the get info panel. However, if you used the drag and drop method in the lower left of the window, that method is no longer here.

Cover Flow

Unfortunately, Cover Flow is still not back in iTunes 12. It’s funny too, because Cover Flow is still available as an option in MacOS X Yosemite in Finder. I don’t fully understand why it was removed from iTunes 11, but for whatever reason was left in MacOS X. This is inconsistent and odd. Apple is usually very consistent in UI design, mirroring whatever is in the OS in the applications. For whatever reason, the iTunes engineers have inexplicably removed Cover Flow from iTunes. I know that there was a lawsuit against Apple for the use of Cover Flow. So, it’s possible it was removed from iTunes 11 to satisfy that patent lawsuit. Apple, just pay the friggin’ patent trolls off and put Cover Flow back in.

iTunes 10

While I still like iTunes 10 for many reasons (full screen artwork), the small art panel in the lower left, etc. These are small concessions when considering an upgrade to iTunes 12 when you need to manage your library and you need to sync your latest iOS devices. Most all of the functionality I used is now back in iTunes 12 and I’m glad that it’s there. The ugly horrid album view is, mostly, a memory for me. I use that view only for films because it makes sense. I want to see the movie poster to know that’s the movie I want to watch. For albums, I want the track lists in the original way that made it easier to manage.

So, there you go. It’s now easy to get your iTunes 12 install very close to the way iTunes 10 use to work. Of course, there are still some things that haven’t been added back in. Though, the list view that looks like iTunes 10 is the thing that allowed me to finally upgrade to this this latest version.

Update for iTunes 12.4+

As of iTunes 12.4, Apple has once again rearranged the UI interface in Apple’s never ending revisionist tendencies. So now they’ve have added more buttons and buried some functions. They also removed the drop down available on playlists to make for easy configuration. The option is still there, but it’s now buried in a menu.

To change the playlist look-and-feel, you must now use the View=>Show View Options menu selection or use the J keystroke to bring up the options window.

iTunesViewOptionsAs you can see in the image to the left, the top most portion is what is most important for playlist setup. Click ‘View As’ to change the way the playlist looks. This drop down was formerly at the top of the playlist bar, but has now been removed. The only place where this option is now is in the View Options panel.

I guess Apple is now taking pages from Microsoft’s book of UI design. Meaning, they are now choosing to bury things under tons of mouse clicks which is extremely inefficient from a movement and time perspective. This does not in any way make moving around in this UI interface any faster. It is now firmly more cumbersome and pointless.

I just don’t even get what Apple is trying to accomplish here with these stupid and unnecessary design changes. If Jobs were alive, he’d be not only bringing some of these people to tears, but some of them might even see the door. It’s quite clear, there is no clear direction at Apple. If this is the work of Jony Ive, then please, let’s walk him to the Apple Campus door as fast as physics allows.

There seems to be no bad design depths to which Apple will now reach. I shake my head at just how far this malus domestica has fallen.

3 Responses

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  1. G said, on February 21, 2018 at 11:05 am

    Thanks for this guide – most useful. Finally considering reluctantly moving from Mountain Lion (will now have to be to Sierra or High Sierra) which I have resisted manfully for many reasons, not least Apple’s “revisionist tendencies”, in the OS look and feel and in embedded apps, including taking away functions in iTunes and constantly messing with the UI. iTunes 10 was the last decent one for me, and does everything I need apart from sync my later iOS devices. Sadly the one place iTunes 12 seems not to allow artwork resizing is in the key place I want it – album/artwork view. With over 8000 tracks all organised by album (even ‘singles’ are categorised as ‘albums’ in the way I have it set up) I am very familiar with fast scrolling up and down until my eye sees the artwork it is looking for/recognises, even at 8 or 9 albums across the screen. Being limited to 6 is – well, seems like pure spite to me! ;-)
    Revisionist tendencies are likely a reflection of too many developers and designers eager to justify their employment. Apple could save a lot of bucks and improve user happiness by sacking a lot of those people.
    Anyway – thanks for the guide, even though it is 3 years on. I may now make the move permanent and just live with the losses.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. tommi said, on May 24, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    you have not explained how to achieve this result. could you please give instructions as to how to do it. your video just show the finished product… not very helpful


    • commorancy said, on May 27, 2016 at 5:07 pm

      Hi Tommi,

      The video shows step-by-step procedures all along the way if you watched it from beginning to end. It does not just show the finished product. It sounds to me like you may have skipped directly to the end or didn’t actually watch the video? Within the video, each of the steps are, in fact, documented at the bottom of the screen at each important step.

      If you’re looking for these steps in a written format within this article, these aren’t documented in the article for a very good reason. With each successive iTunes release, Apple updates the UI and can and will change the placement and look and feel of buttons. Were the steps written in the article exactly for a specific version, they would be outdated by the next iTunes release. This would require updating the article about every six months or less. The video remains much more relevant because you can apply what is shown in the video to each new UI update that Apple makes to iTunes. This is the reason the article relies on the video to document the steps rather than using the written word.

      When Apple completely changes the UI to no longer offer any of what is in this article, I will take down the article and the video. However, the current version of iTunes (while slightly updated to what’s shown in the video) still functions in the same way.


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