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Archived entry | Matt Wilcox .net

Things that suck about iTunes

I have a love/hate relationship with iTunes. I love that it organises my large music collection, I love that I can have that collection with me all the time. But there’s a lot of room for improvement, and right now iTunes is in my bad books. Here’s a list of problems I have with it:


76Mb is a hell of a lot for what is essentially cataloguing and playback software. Now 76Mb isn’t enough to complain about on it’s own given the size of hard-disks now, but it’s an indicator of less-than-optimal programming, and it is a problem when combined with the next item:

Horrible updates

Every single time iTunes has a point release, or a point point release, I have to re-download the entire application again. Even if the update is just a feature enhancement for an iPhone that I don’t own. There have been weeks where I’ve had to download the entire of iTunes three or four times. Why is it that Apple can’t get their programs to incrementally update, downloading only what’s needed? Everyone else can.

Program bundling

Quicktime. I do not want it. I understand that iTunes runs on it, but regardless, I don’t want it. I have Quicktime Alternative already thanks, and it does a better job. Stop making me download Quicktime every time I get iTunes. It lost the race to be the provider of video on the web, and it lost the race to be the media player of choice on desktops. The application sucks, no one wants it. We just want the CODECs thank you.

No respect for me, and no memory of what I want

Every time I install or update iTunes it see’s fit to litter its shortcuts (and Quicktime’s too) in all of the following locations:

  • my start bar
  • my quick-launch
  • my desktop
  • my start-items folder

Apple never ask me about it, they just do it. And no matter how many times I’ve installed it, it never remembers that I want none of those things in any of those places. It gets very tedious and very irritating having to clean up iTune’s mess every time it gets an update, simply because it creates so much mess. It’s also tedious telling Quicktime to not start on system boot. (Who wants to load quicktime as a standalone either? It should only ever load when I click a video that only Quicktime can play. I never have and never will load Quitime itself, so get it the hell out of my way. Quicktime is a utility, not an application.

Slow loading

I click iTunes, and then I wait for ever and a day for it to load. On a dual core laptop with 2Gb RAM. I should not be waiting so long.

Pointless ratings

I’ve never rated a song. Why? Because what is a 4 star song today may not be a 4 star song next month. What is a 4 star song at work is not a 4 star song at home. “Is this song good” is what the rating system is asking, and that question is useless to me. The question I actually want to answer is ”when is this song good?” or “what about this song is good?”, I’ll come back to that with my next point:

Complete lack of tagging

Tagging is awesome, it’s been around for years, and it’s an invaluable idea for organising anything, be it your photo’s in Lightroom, your photo’s on flickr, your blog posts, or your bookmarks. But iTunes won’t let you use tags to organise your music. Why won’t it let me tag tracks? If I want to hear all the tracks I’ve tagged as ‘uplifting’ that’d be great. But I cant. And no, manually making playlists doesn’t cut it, it’s a different purpose. Know what would make ratings useful? Rating a track against a tag. Hey, Sol Seppy’s ”Farewell Your Heart” is beautiful and experimental. It’s 5 star beautiful and 3 star experimental in fact.

iPod syncing

I have a nano. It’s designed to be small. I like the Adobe Lightroom podcasts. But they litter (delicious) video tutorials in there every now and then. Those episodes are far too large to sync. And yet iTunes offers no way for me to sync the podcast while omitting video episodes. I’d really rather like that.

The mess that is the Genre column

Susannasonata mix dwarf cosmos” is Pop? hahahaaaa! I’ve yet to see an album under a realistic category in iTunes. It thinks everything is ‘pop’ or ‘rock’ and that’s about it. Which makes the entire exercise of organising by genre pointless and broken.

Track names

Why is it that one CD in a two CD set can get a different naming convention than the other? And thus live about a mile apart when seen in the music list? Why is it that you handle dance compilations so badly? No, Lisa Lashes is not the Artist for every song on her compilation. Likewise, when I buy DJ Shadow’s CD, he is the artist for all his tracks, and I don’t care about who he collaborated with on a particular track. Most especially when that means those tracks get split away from the album in the track list. Obey the album over the track, please.


I’m in the UK. I would like covers that I own, and not the American versions. You know I’m in the UK because you use that fact to push inflated overpriced songs at me when I could otherwise buy them in US $ and get the same thing for half the price.

I have a large Beatles collection. How is it that itunes has none of the coverwork for a band and a collection that large and popular?

Why have my LOTR albums got the artwork for “Lords of Bangrha”?

Why isn’t there an easy way of putting in my own artwork when your efforts fall short?

In conclusion

Do you know what the irony is with iTunes? Almost all of these problems are bad UI functionality and design, or Apple deciding that it knows best and not allowing you to make choices on how to use your own system and software. Now that’s the kind of problem Apple routinely tell us Microsoft have. Which isn’t to say they are wrong, but it you’re going to point fingers at least make sure you’re not being a hypocrite while you do it.

One of these days amaroK will get a stable port to Windows. One of these days Songbird will not be a complete mess of pre-release code. Oh happy days…


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  1. Rachael posted 8 days, 22hrs, 47mins after the entry and said:

    You have summed up perfectly how I feel about iTunes. Yes, it does the job in that it allows me to play music on my computer and put said music on my iPod, but it could do it so much better. *So* much better.

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