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Ask the iTunes Guy: Importing single CD tracks, iCloud Download, Apple Music DRM, and status bar toggles

Kirk McElhearn | Aug. 10, 2015
Lots of readers are writing in with questions about iTunes 12 and its quirks. In this week's column, I explain how to import single tracks from CDs, which is different in the latest version of iTunes. I look at the iCloud Download column that displays in list views. I try and explain why Apple Music's music files have DRM. And I highlight a bug in the way iTunes displays some information about playlists.

However, if you quit and relaunch iTunes, that column will display again. The only way to hide it permanently is to turn off iCloud Music Library in iTunes' General preferences. If you do this, however, you won't have access to any of your music in the cloud. If all your music is on your computer, you can turn off iCloud Music Library, but then changes you make to your iTunes library won't sync to your other devices.

Confused about DRM

Q: I subscribe to both iTunes Match and Apple Music, and, from what I have read, songs that I download from Apple Music should be DRM free. However, that hasn't been the case. Can you explain?

There is a great deal of confusion surrounding Apple Music and digital rights management (DRM). Also, Apple has made it very hard to understand how iTunes Match works together with Apple Music. I have written about this here, explaining how the two services work together.

In short, music that you add to your library--music you have ripped from CDs, or downloaded from elsewhere--gets matched or uploaded to iCloud Music Library. If you have an iTunes Match subscription, the files you later download will not have DRM. If you only have an Apple Music subscription, however, your original files will not be changed, but if you download matched files later on the same computer after deleting them, or on a different computer, they will have DRM.

You can also add music to your library from Apple Music. You can play this music, add it to playlists, and sync it to iOS devices. However, you are only renting this music; you are allowed to use it only as long as your Apple Music subscription is active. As such, these files do have DRM, and should have DRM since they do not belong to you.

Seconds count

Q: Since iTunes 12.2, I can no longer toggle between showing the playlist length in minutes (rounded up) to minutes with seconds on new playlists. This is very important since I teach dance fitness and seconds count. Can you help me?

I assume that when you talk about the time toggling, you mean in the status bar at the bottom of the iTunes window. If you display the status bar--choose View > Show Status Bar in iTunes--it shows how many songs are in a playlist, its total time, and the space the files take up. If you click this text, it toggles, as you say, between a rounded time and an exact time with seconds.

I tested this and I can confirm that new playlists don't toggle the time. Playlists in my library that predate iTunes 12.2 toggle the time correctly, but new playlists I create don't change from the rounded times.

I assume this is a bug, and I really don't have any workarounds to offer. I've filed a bug report with Apple.


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