Ask the iTunes Guy: Movie metadata, authentication requests, and more

The iTunes Guy
Credit: IDG

Sometimes you have to scratch your head at the way things work on a computer, and even more so with iTunes. It’s frustrating to have such quirky problems when all you want to do is listen to your music or watch your movies. This week, I address questions about movie metadata, repeated authentication requests, excess data usage, and I discuss vanishing disk space that can be caused by Apple Music.

The wrong genre

Q: I have all of my movies organized by Genre in my iTunes library. I changed all the movies’ genres to make them more appropriate; for example, for superhero movies, I changed the genre to Superhero, and for animated movies, I changed it to Animated. It’s awesome; exactly how I like it. But when I look at my movies on the Apple TV, these genres don’t display. What am I doing wrong?

I asked this correspondent how he was viewing the movies: was he using Home Sharing, or was he simply viewing his purchases as displayed by the Apple TV? It turns out that he was doing the latter, but since we’ve gotten used to iCloud Music Library adopting our changes, both locally and in the cloud, he expected the same thing to happen with movies.

This doesn’t work for several reasons. First, you may have movies in your library that you didn’t purchase from Apple. You may have ripped DVDs or Blu-rays, or you may have home movies. While one could imagine a potential service to match those movies that have been released by studios, anything that doesn’t match would need to be uploaded to a cloud library, and given the size of movies, and the bandwidth required, this would be problematic. I don’t see this happening any time soon.

So be aware that it’s possible to tweak your Movies library, changing genres, even titles, but the only way to view it on an Apple TV is via Home Sharing. This Apple support document explains how to use Home Sharing.

Authenticate me, please

Q: I’ve got a 6th generation iPod touch running iOS 10.3.2, and I subscribe to iTunes Match. Every time I want to play music on the device, it asks me to log in with my Apple ID. Why is this happening?

Whenever you have problems like this, the first thing to try is to turn the device off and turn it back on again. If it persists, sign out of your iCloud account, then sign back in. In this case, the latter resolved the correspondent’s problem. I don’t know why this sort of thing happens, and it’s not just music related, but happens to a lot of iCloud services, from time to time.

Too much data

Q: My home network is on a fast but data-capped internet connection. With our multiple computers and four iOS devices (two iPads, two iPhones), iOS application updates are really eating into our data allocation each month. Is there any way to download iOS app updates once for all the devices on our network?

There is indeed. macOS Server has a built-in caching service which is designed to do exactly this. It would require setting up a Mac dedicated to running Server, but you could also use it for Time Machine backups on your local network. If the data really is an issue, and you have an old Mac, I’d consider doing this. Have a look at this article to learn more about how it works.

Where’s my disk space going?

Q: I have a MacBook Pro with a 256GB SSD. I have a lot of apps, photos, and other documents, but very little music. My disk space has been dwindling a lot; is it because I’m using Apple Music? Is iTunes storing the files I listen to? If so, how can I delete them?

This is becoming a common question as Apple Music usage is increasing. When you play a file from Apple Music, iTunes downloads the file rather than streaming it “live.” It stores it in a cache folder, under the assumption that you may want to listen to it again later; there’s no point in downloading the same file twice. However, it’s not clear if iTunes deletes the cache folder regularly, especially when your disk space shrinks.

You can delete this cache folder manually, and save a lot of space if you use Apple Music. On a Mac, it’s located at:


The ~ symbol is a shortcut for your home folder, the one with your user name and the house icon.

On Windows, the cache is stored at:

C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Apple Computer\iTunes\

The folder you want to delete is SubscriptionPlayCache; that’s the one that stores the audio files that iTunes downloads.

cache Kirk McElhearn/IDG

As I write this article, my cache folder contains 2.64GB of data. Yours may be substantially larger.

For a quicker way to empty this cache on Mac, use Doug Adams’ Flush Apple Music Cache Files AppleScript.

Have questions of your own for the iTunes Guy? Send them along for his consideration.

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