iTunes 11

Author: Colin | Published: 18/1/13
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Although I love physical media, I listen to much of my music at home from my laptop and iPhone relayed through an Apple tv. I’m therefore pretty reliant on iTunes. It’s a reasonable music asset management and playback tool. As a way of viewing covers it was just about okay though it was only ever possible to view one element of the cover – there was no way to view the back or inside cover. However, there was the choice to display a grid of flat album covers flat against an optionally dark background and resize them up to a certain scale or, alternatively, view them even larger in coverflow mode with track details displayed below. Both views made it easy to see playcounts which is important to me so I could pick up listening to an album from the point I left off.

Then iTunes 11 came along, I read Daring Fireball’s positive appraisal and responded to his advice to “give it a go”. This was a mistake. It’s a nightmare to downgrade again and in the end I gave up trying. I dislike the latest version of iTunes because it removed both coverflow and the ability to resize covers in the grid display which now has a white background with no option to make it dark. These were replaced by the gimmick of the limited listing ‘reveal’ which displays a slightly larger version of the cover with the edges blurred out (this looks terrible to me) and the background colour determined by an algorithm that assigns a colour scheme made up of the cover’s dominant hues. I also have to change views to see playcounts which is silly. These design choices further reduce the visual experience of music and reduce ease of use, seemingly merely for the sake of change. Unfortunately, there’s no viable alternative in the Apple universe.

However, I’m writing this not to complain, but to point out that there’s a way to see a larger version of the cover art that is slightly hidden and might be of interest to cover art fiends like myself. If you click the miniature cover in the player window, it opens it up in a pop up window with a Quicktime player and window bar that appears and disappears on mouseover. You can even click the little green button to maximise the image and minimise the background iTunes window.



  1. Hello Colin,
    I’m also disappointed about iTunes 11 and its views. I don’t care much about cover flow, I never used it, and I find very bad looking the expanded album field too (the gradients, the arbitrary colour…), but the real problem for me is the “song” view.
    I always used the list view with separators between each album and the cover art on the side, and I liked the fact that I could sort the library for “playcount” or “date added”. I was quickly able to find the most played songs and see the “history” of the albums I added to the library back in years and years of listening on iTunes. The list view sorted by date added is my default view before picking a specific album.
    The “song” view now is pretty useless, featuring a plain list without covers or separations, and the “artist” view can not be sort by these fields. I can’t use the player the way I always used it because of this race for ipad likeness, and I can not change software because this would mean losing all the statistics of the library, so now I stick to the previous version, but I know someday I will have to update it.
    I find useful the “play next” queue, though.

    Sorry for the poor english :)

    Comment by Gabriele B. — January 18, 2013 @ 2:36 pm
  2. You know a good alternative ?

    Comment by christophe — January 18, 2013 @ 5:54 pm
  3. My biggest complaint is the removal of Coverflow. As an avid music collector, I have been meticulously adding artwork for my album collection for the past several years.
    ANyway, here’s a petition to bring it back:

    Love your blog, Colin.

    Comment by Tom — January 19, 2013 @ 7:37 pm
  4. Hello Gabriele, I used coverflow to display the cover of one or sometimes two albums as big as possible. I agree about the song view being very poor. I’m relieved they allowed users to restore the sidebar, but I fear it may be removed in the next iteration. People with large music collections really need flexibility. Oh and I don’t find the Play Next useful at all! I ended up just making a playlist to dump music I want to play next – this was because it didn’t seem easy or even possible at all to rearrange the order of the tracks queued up.

    Hello Christophe, no that’s the problem, there is no viable alternative. It’s just too complex a piece of software now for anyone to develop an alternative – who could do syncing to Apple TV and iPhone/iPods, iTMS, podcasts, etc, etc? Even if they could, it would break with the next update. Actually, there is Songbird, but it’s worse for just the thing I’m complaining about here – cover art.

    Tom, glad you like Hard Format :-) You could try my tip above – it actually displays the artwork bigger than iTunes 10, but with the downside that it obscures track titles, playcounts, etc.

    Comment by Colin — January 19, 2013 @ 11:39 pm
  5. • Expanded View – Cover Flow’s replacement is expanded view, which is a slick display of the contents of an album. iTunes picks a dominant color in the cover art and uses it as the background for this view. It reminds me of the display used in the Microsoft’s Zune media-management software, which has been tweaked and reworked as the media player in Windows 8.

    Comment by Hubert Spencer — February 1, 2013 @ 6:51 am


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