Set some missing iTunes 8 preferences

As noted in my recent iTunes First Look, iTunes 8 contains a number of new features, as well as some interface changes. Among the interface changes, the Preferences panel received a rearrangement (which it needed) and a trim (which I don’t think it needed). For example, don’t bother looking for the following preferences (that existed in iTunes 7), as they’ve been trimmed in iTunes 8:

  • Show genre when browsing: This preference controlled whether or not the Genre column showed up in the iTunes Browser (View -> Show Browser). In iTunes 8, the genre column is always there, with no apparent method of disabling it.
  • Show links to the iTunes store: These are the small arrows-in-circles that appear when you have an item selected in your library. Click the link, and you’re taken to that artist or album in the iTunes Store. In iTunes 8, you can no longer disable these arrows.
  • Play songs while importing or converting: As of iTunes 8, you can’t decide whether or not to automatically listen to the music you’re importing. (You can, of course, just click the Play button.)
  • Load complete preview before playing: If you have a slow network connection, this option would force the iTunes Store to load a complete song preview before playing—thereby insuring you’d hear the whole thing without any interruption to load more of the preview.

There were at least a couple of others that were removed, but the above all share one thing in common: they have a Terminal-based workaround that will still let you control the preference. I mentioned this briefly in the First Look for a couple of these preferences, but thought it’d be worth sharing those—and two more I’ve uncovered—here on the Hints Blog.

Each of these preferences can be toggled with a simple one-line Terminal command; just make sure iTunes is not running when you run the command (or the preference may not stick), and press Return after pasting the command. After executing the command, launch iTunes, and you’ll find the preference set as you indicated in Terminal.

With the ground rules out of the way, here’s how to handle each of the above non-existent iTunes 8 preferences in Terminal.

Show genre when browsing: This feature is set to “yes” by default, so if you’d rather only see Artist and Album in the browser, use this Terminal command:

defaults write com.apple.iTunes show-genre-when-browsing -bool FALSE

If you want to reverse this in the future, quit iTunes, and repeat the above command but replace FALSE with TRUE.

Show links to the iTunes store: This feature is set to “yes” by default, so if you’d rather not see these arrows, use this Terminal command:

defaults write com.apple.iTunes show-store-arrow-links -bool FALSE

If you want to reverse this in the future, quit iTunes, and repeat the above command but replace FALSE with TRUE.

Play songs while importing or converting: This feature is set to “no” by default, so if you’d like to automatically listen to what you’re importing, use this Terminal command:

defaults write com.apple.iTunes play-songs-while-importing -bool TRUE

If you want to reverse this in the future, quit iTunes, and repeat the above command but replace TRUE with FALSE.

Load complete preview before playing: This feature is set to “no” by default, so if you’d like to force the iTunes Store to load song previews completely before playing, use this Terminal command:

defaults write com.apple.iTunes load-complete-preview-before-playing -bool TRUE

If you want to reverse this in the future, quit iTunes, and repeat the above command but replace TRUE with FALSE.

Why Apple removed the in-program preferences for these options is a question I can’t answer…but at least there are some simple workarounds. (I would expect that, within a few days, you’ll be able to find any number of free applications on MacUpdate, VersionTracker, and so forth that will set these values for you, without requiring the use of Terminal.)

That’s it for today’s actual hint…but for Friday’s blog entry, I’m going to explain how I discovered these things, in case you want to do some exploring of your own (in iTunes or most any other application). It’s not overly difficult, though there’s some risk of breaking the program you’re experimenting with (though trashing its preferences generally fixes the problem).

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