Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Archive for July 6th, 2007

Simple features missing from iTunes

Posted by shannonclark on July 6, 2007

I use itunes – abuse it is perhaps the more accurate description.

But there are some really simple features MISSING from iTunes. Features which have been missing in every version of iTunes and which I have utterly no clue as to why they have not been added and why these bugs (for I think these really are bugs) have not been corrects.

Feature One: Those helpful “!” symbols showing tracks which have problems, usually meaning iTunes can’t find the file, but iTunes DOES NOT LET YOU SORT BY THAT COLUMN. Absolutely unforgivably obnoxious and beyond annoying. Every other column allows for some type of sorting (though in many cases very poorly) but this first and vital column does not.

Feature Two: There is no way to display in the main screen WHERE YOUR FILES ARE. This means, no way to SORT BY WHERE THE FILES ACTUALLY ARE. i.e. “sort and then find all the tracks which are on your external drive”. Perhaps this is a mac vs. pc thing, but I REALLY want a way to find all the tracks which are on my f: drive (and not my main internal c: drive).

Feature Three: if iTunes loses track of your files (say that f: drive is not connected), iTunes then cannot recover if you plug in the missing drive, you have to correct the files, by hand, selecting “get info” on each track with a missing file (which is then usually found without a problem).

Note: sometimes closing iTunes and restarting it will fix this problem, but that is beyond clunky

Feature Four: There is no, at least that I have found, way to export all of your play history, playlists, and ratings so you can, for example, import that data into another installation of iTunes on, for example, your new laptop. You can, of course, move those files (see above use of external hard drive), but will have to recreate your playlists – and more vitally – your play histories, skip history, ratings, history of which podcasts you have already downloaded etc.

I really need a solution to this last missing feature. Currently I have THREE installations of iTunes. One on my mac (mostly totally unused, though I do subscribe to a few video podcasts there which I don’t much care about). One on my new, Windows Vista laptop (truly unused at the moment for the most part). And my “real” installation on a Parallels  installation of my old Windows XP laptop (the hardware for which is now dead). This real installation links to an external 120GB HD which holds most of my actual media collection, this is also where my real podcast subscriptions live (both iTunes and via an external podcatcher), and this is what I use currently to sync my iPods.

I use a variety of really complex smartplaylists to accomplish my syncing with iPods. Since my collection of media is some 15500+ tracks and nearly 130GBs in size (and actually more like 200+ GB’s, I have a lot of media that instance of iTunes doesn’t yet know about), I could never sync it fully to one iPod. Instead I have various smart playlists which I sync – almost all of which are done in a two step process. First I have a playlist which takes some cut of the whole collection (a large collection I added all on one day for example). Then I have a second playlist which selects from that first playlist all the unplayed tracks, up to some fixed size (say 3 GB’s).

My actual system is more complex – I have playlists for everything which is unplayed, for new & unplayed (limited to a manageable size), playlists for songs which have been played but not yet rated, playlists for songs over a certainly file size (for management purposes), playlists of all the tracks with a given rating, a playlist which combines all the various types of media iTunes manages (so I can, in fact, see at a glance my true “full library”).

Actually that is a my Feature Five: Why oh why did the more recent versions of iTunes remove a working view that shows you ALL of your content in one view. By working view I mean a non-playlist view, where if you delete a track it is removed from your library, not just that playlist. For that matter, I do not understand why when you delete a podcast you are prompted if you want to also delete that file, but you do not (at least I don’t) get this prompt on deleting other tracks from iTunes.

I really want to be able to have a single view where I can find all of my tracks which I have rated 1 star, select them all, and delete them – and have it REALLY HAPPEN. Not just have them deleted from some playlist.

Feature Six: while I like seeing the long descriptions of podcasts on my iPod, WHY CAN’T I RATE PODCASTS ON MY iPOD!!! It seems the assumption is that you would have no reason to want to rate podcasts. But that is emphatically not the case. I have many podcast subscriptions which I routinely want to save select tracks from, the best solution for this is to make it possible for me to rank them when I am listening, so when I resync I can easily find the tracks I really liked.

Feature Seven: Why can’t I get a full list of all of the episodes of a podcast (even I have previously downloaded them and deleted them so I can re-request them if I decide at a later date that I want them. And related to this, I have often had iTunes fail to fully download a podcast – when this happens there is NO simple solution. I have to go by hand to that website (side note – impossible to cut & paste from iTunes to make this task feasible) and find the track which failed and download it by hand – and then if I’m really lucky figure out a way to get iTunes to put it where it should be.

Feature Eight: Perhaps other people use their iPods and iTunes differently than I, but the fact that ALL PODCAST SUBSCRIPTIONS have the “DO NOT SHUFFLE” option selected for them – and that there is NO way to change this default setting is really, really really annoying. I WANT TO SHUFFLE my podcasts. But more to the point, I have in the past wanted to put podcasts on my iPod shuffle something which has not been possible with tracks with this “feature” selected.

And I could go on. I use iTunes and do like my iPod (though I really wish the battery life was better – mine sucks the battery dry far far too quickly). But I am also constantly annoyed by iTunes.

Posted in geeks, mac, mobile, podcasts | 5 Comments »