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Summary:

The one thing many people did not expect with a new version of iTunes was that Apple would use the opportunity to cause dissent among its fanbase by introducing another new user interface. Some classify the new styling as “needed” and “elegant and refined” while others […]

iTunes Icon

The one thing many people did not expect with a new version of iTunes was that Apple would use the opportunity to cause dissent among its fanbase by introducing another new user interface. Some classify the new styling as “needed” and “elegant and refined” while others have resorted to a variety of hacks to return to the UI of yesteryear.

We’ve gone through every corner of iTunes we could find and dug up all of the major changes in the interface. Here’s what we found.

Welcome to iTunes 9

The first thing many noticed is that iTunes 9 now launches with a Welcome to iTunes screen, offering quick links to videos showcasing some of iTunes features. Similar to apps like iPhoto and iWeb, users can disable this by ticking a checkbox.

Welcome to iTunes 9

iTunes Preferences

iTunes Preferences also featured a few notable changes, specifically adding support for grouping iTunes U content.

iTunes 9 General Preferences

iTunes 9 General Preferences

iTunes 8 General Preferences

iTunes 8 General Preferences

Parental Control also received a new icon (matching the icon in Snow Leopard) as well as some slight rewording.

iTunes 9 Parental Controls

iTunes 9 Parental Controls

iTunes 8 Parental Controls

iTunes 8 Parental Controls

Removed from iTunes 9 are references in the Store section to “adding to shopping cart” versus buying with Amazon’s licensed 1-Click technology. Added is an option to use the full window when browsing the iTunes Store.

iTunes 9 Store Preferences

iTunes 9 Store Preferences

iTunes 8 Store Preferences

iTunes 8 Store Preferences

Browsing Content

Browsing content within iTunes has also received a refresh. While browsing music in List Mode, the artists have been grouped along the left, making it easier to narrow down your selection rather quickly.

iTunes 9 Music List Mode

iTunes 9 Music List Mode

When browsing in Grid View, the first thing you will notice is that the dark black background is gone and now albums are scattered amongst an off white background. Badged content, such as Podcasts, TV Shows, iTunes U and Movies feature blue badges instead of the original red. Gone from this view are the tabs to sort content within an area (such as Music) by Albums, Artists, Genres and Composers. This can be re-enabled via the View menu.

ITunes 9 Podcasts

ITunes 9 Podcasts

Cover Flow view is pretty much the same, with the refining of the “full screen” icon.

iTunes 9 CoverFlow

iTunes 9 CoverFlow

The iTunes 9 Equalizer also received a refresh, styling the control knobs with blue accents.

iTunes 9 Equalizer

iTunes 9 Equalizer

iTunes 8 Equalizer

iTunes 8 Equalizer

Icons & Buttons

Buttons and displays in iTunes 9 have been overhauled to give them a more glossy, shiny three dimensional look. The toolbar has also been realigned, removing the ‘View’ label and moving the ‘Search’ label instead the Search field. The information area has also been updated, providing more useful information during syncing and downloading of content from the iTunes Store (such as time remaining).

iTunes 9 vs iTunes 8

iTunes 9 also brings about many refreshed icons, including many of the icons in the sidebar. Specifically, playlist icons have gotten the most attention, while TVs, Movies, Audiobooks, and Applications have seen slight refreshes as well.

Sidebar Icons

Syncing

Syncing is by far the area that received the most attention in this revision. Specifically, users now have the ability to sync content more selectively. When choosing a TV show, for instance, they can sync specific seasons or specific episodes. When syncing a podcast, they can choose to sync specific episodes. When syncing photos, users can take advantage of the iPhoto ’09 Faces and Places aspect to sync photos of particular people or a particular place. Many of these areas also provide a search field, making it easier to quickly narrow down and select the specific content you’re looking for.

TV Shows

Syncing TV Shows

Syncing Ringtones

Syncing Ringtones

Sync iTunes U

Syncing iTunes U

Syncing Music

Syncing Music

Syncing Photos

Syncing Photos

The biggest feature in the redesigned sync options is the ability to organize your iPhone and iPod touch apps directly within iTunes. Check the ones you wish to add, highlight to select them and drag them to whichever home screen you desire. Selecting multiple apps is a cinch and moving them between home screens is equally easy.

Syncing Apps

Syncing Apps

Everything Else

Upon a user’s first visit to a section, such as creating a new Playlist, or visiting the Podcast area, they are greeted with a new UI that discusses how that particular concept works.

iTunes 9 New Playlist

iTunes 9 New Playlist

While this overview is fairly exhaustive, there are likely many other features that users will continue to discover. If there’s one we’ve missed, please use the comments to let us know!

  1. I still cannot find the slider for zooming in and out (making larger or smaller), the albums artwork while being on thumbnail view.

    Is this not possible anymore in iTunes 9?

    Thanks! :)

    1. go to the grid view, then in the menu bar: view > grid view > show header. I just found that out today actually.

  2. Great article. Don’t forget home-sharing, dragging content from other libraries, and how iTunes categorizes it automatically. If in the info you change the genre to Podcast, the track is moved and listed in Podcasts. Very smooth. I also like the store redesign. The breadcrumb menu as you drill around in the store. Also, of course, the store navigation bar being at the top with kind of ridiculously small (my only gripe) diamonds to pull down menus. But overall the changes are nice. I like them.

  3. it is. I have the german version of iTunes but you can go View > Raster view > Show head area (or something like that). You have to be in Grid View.

  4. @ Panos:

    You have to “show the header” (with the genre controls and the slider). You have to be already in grid view, then go to view>grid view>show header. Took me a day or two to find it.

    The only thing I hate so far is the elimination of the shopping cart in the iTunes store.

    There is now an (almost impossible to find) “favourites” area that corresponds to it, but it’s obvious that a lot of people are going to buy things by mistake when they were really only trying to put them in a cart which is I guess not a problem for them, but it is kind of anti-customer IMO.

  5. I like the new UI but unfortunately all my music now has to be set to “part of compilation” for it not to be recognized as an individual album on my iPod Touch. Haven’t yet figured out how to mass edit songs rather than 1 by 1 as the option only appears on a song by song basis.

    1. “Part of compilation” is available for editing multiple items – check the Options tab. But I don’t think I understand your problem. You have to tell iTunes all your songs are part of a compilation? What problem do you have that is making you do this? I don’t get it.

    2. You just resolved my dilemma and thanks a bunch. I’m not sure how my problem actually existed. Its just after the firmware and iTunes 9 update my iPod decided it was going to recognize every song as its individual album. I concluded it from testing that my songs need to be marked “part of a compilation” for my iPod to recognize full albums again.

    3. I think I understand your problem now. That’s very strange. I have found that when iTunes turns one album into multiple albums like that, there’s something strange in the metadata separating tracks, and batch editing the tracks and clearing unused fields like Composter, Sort Artist, etc. will sometimes fix this. Try batch editing album tracks and clearing irrelevant fields and see if anything changes.

    4. Help!! My options tab doesn’t have an item called “Part of a compilation” can anyone help me with this? Please – it would really solve a problem for me. Thanks

    5. Jean, do you have multiple songs selected? The Compilations option only appears in the “Options” tab when you have multiple songs selected, not when you only have one song selected. When it’s only one song, you select “Part of a compilation” in the main tab.

      1. I just wanted to thank you, I never noticed that -…multiple songs selected- before and today considering, the option is removed from the iTunes 9, but obviously not…

  6. One thing I didn’t find is the ability to hide the iTunes Store arrow and still keep the store in the sidebar. It use to be a checkbox but I can’t seem to fint it anymore.

  7. @Stephane – Try following the commands here:

    http://theappleblog.com/2008/09/15/store-arrows-in-itunes-8/

    I use MacPilot to hide banish those store links!

  8. Am I the only one out there that would like to have the option of disabling Apple’s standard apps? Particularly, stocks and weather. I have no need for these for apps.

  9. missing Home sharing as an option to talk about seems to be missing this HUGE sleeper hit for students, or anyone on a shared network. DRM files can be shared to an extent, but it provides an amazingly useful way to share any non-DRM music (and presumably itunes friendly videos etc) between people on the network.

  10. the green zoom button maximizes from the mini player, but no longer minimizes into the mini player unless you option-click. pretty annoying! (os x version)

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