iTunes 7: Where’s My RAM?


If you were paying attention to the media event today the iTunes announcement is already old news. I apologize, but I’m not as quick as I used to be, so I’ve only just downloaded the update.

Hi, I’m iTunes 7. I look familiar, but I’m only kinda related to the iTunes you’re used to. I’m greyer. I have more eye-candy. And I hog memory. You weren’t using that, were you?

I am less than pleased with the new version of iTunes. To be honest, I was completely content with iTunes 6. Heck, even iTunes 5 was alright by my standards. As the older versions of WinAMP demonstrated (and my personal favorite Windows player, NAD), sometimes simpler is just better.

Where’d the RAM Go?

I’m not a cheap man, but I’m still not quite ready to step out on a limb and grab a MacBook Pro just yet. Until I’m ready for a 110° laptop, I’m stuck with my old 15″ Powerbook and it’s paltry 512MB of RAM. In general, 512MB has been fine. I can run Firefox, Safari, Photoshop, Mail, Quicksilver, and Cyberduck all at once without a single hiccup.

I used to be able to add iTunes to that list. No more.

Don’t get me wrong, the Coverflow disc browser is nice, but it only contributes to iTunes eating about 100MB of real memory and over 300MB of virtual memory. Nice. So as long as I don’t mind watching my Expose windows stutter, I can still listen to music. I swear the original was much faster. (Note: it gets a bit better with a mini-window, but that’s not really the point).

Not that some of the new features aren’t fun (iPod at a glance is brilliant). But entertainment at the expense of my system memory is a step in the wrong direction if you ask me. I don’t want a behemoth, just a nice player that syncs with my iPod.

Yeah, I’m whining a bit. I could always go buy more RAM — but I shouldn’t have to.

We’ve Painted. Again.

As is now becoming a tradition for Apple, they’ve gone ahead and revamped the iTunes interface as well. Those who remember the iTunes 5 release and the death of brushed metal, the pillaging continues. This time we’ve changed all of the sliders too. Sorry, Aqua, iTunes just doesn’t want to have anything to do with you.

Bye bye Aqua

I must say, iTunes continues to evolve into something that is looking more and more like Apple’s slow website redesign. I’m all for new design (heck, look at this place), but some consistency is nice. That’s what makes all of Apple’s hardware so unmistakeable: they carry design instruments through different pieces. Software, I guess, is completely immune to that rule.

Secretly, I’m a big fan of Apple’s new design elements. The column headers are clearer, the interface cleaner, and black-shininess is always appreciated. Oh yeah, and now we’re back to a blue icon.

That being said, I’m not sure why iTunes continues to be the only application that Apple continuously revamps. It’s a new version, Apple, I get it. There’s no need to change it completely for the world to notice that you’re now selling Disney videos and five flavors of iPod nano.



Yeah, Cover Flow can be disabled. But still. iTunes is not flashy software, it’s a workhorse. I expect to have to max my RAM for Aperture, but not for something that just organizes files and then pipes them out through CoreAudio or CoreVideo!


I assume that Coverflow can be turned off? – if it is does the amount of RAM used go down considerably?


so far I havent really noticed it slowing down my machine.
I have a macbook with 512 MB or RAM
and I was running Flash, Safari, Itunes iChat and messenger all at once without noticing a big difference.

maybe i shouldve tried running photoshop also.

But on a sidenote, the green icon in my opinion was alot better.

Jim Withington

I was worried that it would break my G4 iMac (1Ghz processor, 768 RAM), especially with all the problems I’ve heard about.

Awesomely, it didnt.

It might be because I keep my music collection hovering around 20 gigs; this means there are fewer covers to load.

The thing that’s been annoying ME more than anything is the amount of changes to familiar buttons. Things got shifted around, or they mean different things, or or or….

I know that each iTunes revamp means getting used to changes, but this is he first time that I have felt like I’ve had to hunt for old features. I figure I just have to get used to it, but it is still irritatating (I REALLY miss the buttons for artist, album, etc.).


While I can’t speak to the speed that some other users report, I am running iTunes 7 on a g5 imac with a gig of ram. I have never had speed problems in the two years that I have had this machine, but now, having installed iTunes 7 there is system wide lag. Even now, typing this I’m getting lag from the keyboard input (i type a letter and wait before i see it on screen). Finder windows are taking seconds to close etc…

This never happened with iTunes 6 or earlier. I popped open my activity monitor and lo iTunes 7 is eating – get this: 800 megs of REAL memory with a 1.5 gig swap.

Now granted, my machine is not the latest and greatest, but I would hope that I don’t have to buy a new computer every year just to use current, mainstream software.
I don’t really understand what’s wrong where other users are reporting memory consumption of itunes at only 40 megs, but it is worth noting, also that I have like 5000 songs – so maybe that has something to do with it, but this was never a problem for itunes 6.

That being said, it’s great to look at cover art but it’s not 800 meg of ram great – i’m going back to itunes 6.


356 Mb of Ram for iTunes I think that’s a lot. I’ve a 2Ghz Core Duo Black Macbook with 2Gb and in my computer runs perfectly but it’s indisputable that 356 Mb of my precious RAM for an audio player it’s too much.

stop yer whining

Whatever. Any serious Mac user should have a minimum of 1GB RAM, if your machine can hold that. And the rest of us who do have adequate RAM shouldn’t be punished by “backward compatibility” for those who don’t want to shell out a little cash for a 512MB stick of RAM (it ain’t THAT expensive nowadays). It’s not like you own a clamshell iBook, for crying out loud…


OK, so I’m on a Windows XP system with over 2gb RAM and plenty of kick in my SATA drive… so here’s my technical question I hope someone can answer:

Why does my music stutter terribly when I go to a new playlist while it’s playing, or when I go to a different window? I’ve tried the “waveout” thing, didn’t help (made things worse)

c. wess daniels

yeah i think itunes 7 is a big let down. hey drop coverflow into itunes 6 – and I would be happy again – it’s too much for my 800mhz ibook.


I have no problems with iTunes. A great job! i like it and hope Apple continues to evolve the app. Great job Apple!

Murray Todd Williams

There may be another explanation for the extreme use of resources:

Recall just a few weeks ago (at the WWDC keynote) the demonstration of the new Core Animation framework. This cover art flipping looks EXACTLY like those demos. My guess is that iTunes is sort of an “early adopter” of that entire technology/framework. Since a new animation framework has to be bundled into the application, iTunes suddenly looks resource-bloated.

Once Leopard is released, the animation framework will be a function of the OS and not the application. Granted, it very well might use 100M of memory again, but that 100M will be used by all the apps and maybe even the core OS X UI and improve the user experience. That might make it a bit easier to justify the new hungry resource requirements.

On the other hand, I would argue the entire iTunes UI is getting more complicated and less intuitive to use. I think Apple needs to remember the KISS principle


I’ve now put iTunes 7 on 3 machines, from a Quicksilver to a new Mac Pro, all packed with about 2Gb ram each, and have found no lag from any except during the first ten minutes when it was converting for gapless playback. After that it was smooth as silk.

I have to politely disagree about the “eye-candy”. The interface just keeps getting better and tighter. I don’t see them throwing in unnecessary features and they are following accepted interface guidelines quite well, especially in the store section.


“Strange thing, but it’s actually faster on my mini than 6.0”

Is it an Intel mini? If so, that might be a sign that Apple added multicore optimizations to the code. I certainly hope they did.

Suresh Kkumar

iTunes is NOT bloated, my machines is flying…

I think your a bit behind the times dude, upgrade your Mac, they don’t overheat as much as you think.

You need to upgrade, otherwise you will be left behind, and postings like this will seem more and more out of touch with your readership.

I agree that the coverflow implementation on iTunes 7 is not as good as the original CoverFlow, they need to improve the caching, and yes it does increase the memory requirements.

But please remember, iTunes is Apples digital media portal, its a critical element to tie their hardware devices to their content services. It will continue to evolve.

It doesn’t get a 88% marketshare by being iTunes 2.0.

Thijs van der Vossen

On my machine the new iTunes uses 55MB real and 224MB virtual while playing music with the cover browser view open and 49MB real when minimized.

Let’s take a look at the other apps I’m running. Safari takes 49MB real and 213MB virtual with one window and a few tabs, NewsFire 40MB real and 194MB virtual, Mail 28MB real and 185MB virtual, Quicksilver 22MB real and 177MB virtual etc…

I don’t think iTunes’ memory usage is not very much different from the other OS X apps. Are you sure iTunes wasn’t updating your library or downloading cover art?


I’m seriously hoping that the interface enhancements will be reused in 10.5. I absolutely love the new plastic feel and more ProKit interface-looking things. I’d make sense for them to reuse these designs because that way iTunes would fit right in with 10.5, instead of looking a tad out-of-place in 10.4.


iTunes gets constant overhauls because it is the most widely used apple created piece of software from folks on both platforms. The fact is, it isn’t a simple music player anymore. It’s going to keep getting updated as long as it enjoys the market share that it does. Besides, if you’re a mac user, shouldn’t you have every possible meg of ram crammed into your machine? I’ll run a bloated iTunes over media player ANY day.

I’m glad someone else noticed the recycled icon though. Considering they ditched the aqua features, I’m surprised they went back to the blue.


“That being said, I’m not sure why iTunes continues to be the only application that Apple continuously revamps.”

iTunes seems to be a testbed for design change feedback. That said, I think the new look is fine, with the exception of the rewind/play/fast-forward buttons. I really don’t like those.

RAM usage is about the same to me. iTunes has always used a large amount of memory. At least this time around they’ve managed to add features that at least put that RAM to good use (like Cover Flow), and the good old plain text view seems to scroll more smoothly.

I wonder if iTunes 7 has any multi-core optimizations. This is something those with Intel Macs should report on.


First i like to say i agree that you should expect software to require more and more memmory.
But it depends on the program, i would expect photoshop or any video editing program to “eat” memmory, but this is a music player, its suposed to run in the background while you are working, not in the front eating at your resources.

But in any case next to the eye candy iTunes is like the media player for windows, an utterly useless player you have to use when you first get your mac and youre installing something else to replace it.

Todd Baur

I don’t think Yasser was looking for comments like these. It’s more a question of why, why does an app like iTunes need to consume as much memory as it does? It does a lot, granted, for being a media player/manager. To any programmer out there, this question makes one wonder if the code isn’t as efficient as it should be.

Honestly, I’m saddened at the video addition to iTunes, it breaks a logical organization Apple started in OS X. I get that from a market perspective, Apple went the route any company in their position would take. Yet, I harken for the day when my photos where handled by iPhoto, my tunes were in iTunes, my movies were in, they were in…

See the problem that we have here? When did iTunes suddenly need to be the end all be all for iLife media management? How about some breaking up, because it’s becoming the WMP of OS X.

Yasser Dahab

All hastiness aside, I’m still going to continue to use iTunes because it’s still the best manager out there, even if I think it’s a bit bloated. I simply question why an application that at it’s core plays music requires as much of my system as my RAW image processor.

You guys are right, though, I do need an upgrade. And I will — eventually.


I really dont complain if you have 512 RAM u are at the minimum i use 2 GB as i like flow in the machine. The thing is that we (the users) always want more and more requier better HW this is how it is and always will be.

Chris Griffin

If you haven’t noticed the trend since the beginning of computing, as software progresses so does the hardware requirements, including memory. I don’t think they are going to stop development of their product just because a few people are whining about memory. This rant just seems more of a personal problem rather than a fault in iTunes 7.

Sounds like its time for a much needed memory upgrade.


Personally, I like the continual revamps of iTunes… I think the product continues to evolve for the better.

And lets be honest here… if you want to run the newest flashy software, you’re gonna need the newest flashy hardware.

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