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Apple simplifies navigation with iTunes 12.4

Kirk McElhearn | May 17, 2016
Apple has thankfully made iTunes simpler to use.

It’s interesting that iTunes now gives you more options for artwork size; in non-list views, you can choose from five sizes, up from three previously.

Another confusing interface element that has been improved is the Back and Forward buttons at the top left of the iTunes window. In iTunes 12.3, these buttons only displayed when you viewed the iTunes Store, and only affected navigation in the store. Now, they affect all your actions in iTunes: whether in your own library, Apple Music, or the iTunes Store. (There are also keyboard shortcuts for these buttons: Command-[ and Command-].)

Apple has thankfully merged the two different types of contextual menus, in most locations. Instead of one menu displaying when you click the ... button, and another when you right-click an item, the menus are the same, and work in the same way. I never understood why Apple wanted these two menus to be different, but it’s good that they’ve realized how confusing they were.

Unfortunately, there are some locations where the “new” contextual menu exists; click the ... button next to an artist or album name, and the new menu is still there. There’s also a new Song menu in the menu bar, which reproduces the menu items from the contextual menu. 

Now, in most of iTunes, there's just one type of contextual menu.

The iTunes LCD—the display section at the top of the window—has been simplified, removing the Up Next button (it’s now to the right of the iTunes LCD), bringing back the repeat button (why had that ever been removed?), and adding a visible ♡ button. You could ♡ a track previously by hovering the cursor over the iTunes LCD, clicking the ... button, and then clicking ♡. See how much of an improvement this is?

Even the iTunes LCD has been simplified.

One change that’s a bit surprising is the removal of the buttons below the sidebar that let you create a new playlist or smart playlist. These functions are now in the File > New menu, as is Genius. There is no longer a way to start Genius from the contextual menu, and no more Genius suggestions; now, you select an item, and choose File > New > Genius Playlist. This is a bit obscure; could it be a hint that the Genius feature will be deprecated? (Genius also hasn’t been working well for a while; even for many popular songs, it is unable to create playlists.)

There are still some elements of iTunes that need a refresh. Apple Music Connect is still present, even though Apple has hinted that it would be removed. You still cannot get from the iTunes Store to Apple Music; if you want to stream a track you see in the former, you have to manually search for it in the latter. But this may change when Apple Music is refreshed, most likely next month.


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