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iTunes overload

Kirk McElhearn | July 10, 2015
I've never flown a commercial airliner, not even in a flight simulator, but I imagine it's pretty similar to operating the latest version of iTunes. There are so many buttons, so many menus and menu items, that understanding what iTunes does has become extremely difficult.

itunes 12.2 mac icon

I've never flown a commercial airliner, not even in a flight simulator, but I imagine it's pretty similar to operating the latest version of iTunes. There are so many buttons, so many menus and menu items, that understanding what iTunes does has become extremely difficult.

I understand that you can do a lot with iTunes (yeah, I know, you may say it's "bloated;" I disagree), but it's so far beyond "intuitive," that average users hunt and peck to try and get things to work, and many just give up. Even I, who write Macworld's Ask the iTunes Guy column, have gotten confused by many of the changes in the latest version of iTunes.

Buttons, buttons everywhere

When iTunes 12 was released, one of the main interface changes was a new set of buttons in the center of the window. These buttons, together with the media library buttons at the top left of the iTunes window, work together, meaning that each of the buttons of one group is a state of each of the buttons of another group.

You can't do things simply in iTunes any more. Instead of enjoying our music, we're stuck in an endless loop of trying to learn new features.

So, if you're in your Music library, and you click iTunes Store, and then want to go to your Movies library, you click its icon at the top left. But you remain in the iTunes Store, in its Movies section; you need to click another button to get back to your library. Navigating iTunes used to be a one-click process; now it takes multiple clicks to get where you want.

And where is Apple Music? There's no Apple Music button, but four buttons that are all part of Apple Music.

Menus for everybody

iTunes has lots of different menus. Not just the ones in the menubar, but menus that display in the app's window. There's the standard contextual menu, which pops up when you right-click or Control-click an item. And there's the other contextual menu that displays when you click a "..." button after an item. Some of the menu items are the same in both menus, and some are different.

And there's a different one if you click the "..." button in the iTunes LCD at the top of the window, which is slightly different from the menu that displays when you click the "..." button next to a track name.

Don't get me wrong; many of these features are useful. But it seems more logical to have just one kind of contextual menu, or, if there really need to be two, to have the same menu items in each version. A contextual menu is designed to be different depending on what you're doing, or what you're viewing (its context), but in iTunes, menus activated in the same location have different features.

 

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