Ask the iTunes Guy: A look at new features in iTunes 12.6

Apple recently released iTunes 12.6, and it addresses some issues that readers have been writing me about for some time. In this week’s column, I answer a couple of those questions and explain some of the changes in iTunes 12.6. Apple has—finally—brought back the ability to open playlists in their own windows. And the MiniPlayer, that small floating window that lets you control iTunes, has been updated. Read on to find out what’s new in iTunes 12.6.

Playlist windows

Q: I remember that, some time ago, I could open playlists in iTunes in their own windows. Will Apple ever bring that feature back?

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Ask the iTunes Guy: Syncing audiobooks, and why Apple Music tracks suddenly become unavailable

Some of the questions I answer for this column are fairly simple, and only require a paragraph or two of explanation. But others are more complex. In this week’s column, I examine just two questions. In the first, a user asks how he can easily sync only his most recent audiobooks. I explain how one can use a smart playlist and selective syncing to make this possible. The second question wonders why some Apple Music tracks are not only “no longer available,” but also deleted from an iTunes library. I explain that Apple’s not up to no good, but it’s still not an ideal situation.

How can I sync my most recent audiobooks?

Q: My audiobook library is pretty large, and it is difficult to find my most recently downloaded or purchased titles. iTunes sorts audiobooks by name so I have to scroll like crazy, and visually search for a title. Is there an option to sort by most recently purchased or downloaded? It would keep me from having to scroll all over the place to find the titles to transfer to my iPhone, and delete old titles that I’ve finished.

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Ask the iTunes Guy: Better ways to view your iTunes media

When your media library grows, you need better ways to view your content in iTunes. In this week’s column, I answer two questions about viewing media. The first discusses a better way to view music by genre. The second explains why some TV shows aren’t separated by season and how to fix this issue. With a little bit of work, you can view each of your media kinds more efficiently.

A better way to view music by genre

Q: I have a large music collection that includes many genres. I’d like to be able to see all my artists and albums in a particular genre. For example: I’d like to listen to some jazz but I’m not sure which album, so I’d like to be able see at a glance which artists I have to choose from. The current choice seems to be an album cover shot along with a list of songs on the album. This limits the information in the screen to about one album at a time. Is there any better way to view albums by genre?

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Ask the iTunes Guy: Buying music from Apple Music, ripping noisy CDs, file names

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately from people who would rather own music than rent it from Apple. In this week’s column, I look a question about how to quickly find Apple Music tracks in the iTunes Store. I also look at The Case of the Noisy Track from a ripped CD; answer a question about funny file names; and look at how iTunes sorts the names of artists and albums that begin with the word “The.”

Buying music from Apple Music

Q: I enjoy listening to music through Apple Music, and regularly come across something worth keeping. I know I can just add Apple Music tracks or albums to my iTunes library and even download them, but I’m old-fashioned; if I’m going to have something in my library and listen to it regularly, I like to own it. There doesn’t seem to be a “Buy This” or even a “View this in the iTunes Store” option for Apple Music tracks and albums. I end up having to manually search the iTunes store for the same music that I already had open in iTunes (Mac) or Music (iOS). Am I missing something obvious, or is Apple this uninterested in selling me the music it thought I’d like to listen to?

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Ask the iTunes Guy: iTunes libraries on the new MacBook Pro, orderly audiobook playback

Did Santa bring you a new MacBook Pro for Christmas? If so, you may have a problem that a number of readers have been asking about lately. With no hard drive option in these new Macs, what do you do if you have a large media library and don’t want to pay the SSD tax? After a long examination of that question, I also look at a problem with ripping audiobooks and playing their tracks in order.

Where can I store my iTunes library with a MacBook Pro?

Q: I need to replace my 2008 MacBook Pro, which has a 1TB hard drive. But none of the new MacBook Pro models offer a hard drive option, and it would cost a lot to get the same amount of storage on an SSD. I’ve got about 400GB of media files on my Mac, and it’s my only computer. I don’t stream music, so what solutions do I have? Can I put my iTunes library on a network drive and access it via Wi-Fi? What effect will this have on performance, and how do I ensure that it’s backed up?

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Ask the iTunes Guy: A look at the major changes in the iOS 10.2 Music app

This week’s release of iOS 10.2 saw a number of changes to Apple’s mobile operating system, as well as some tweaks to the iOS Music app. In this week’s column, I tell you what’s changed, so you can be up to date: I explain the new way to sort albums and songs by artist or title, and I show you how you can (finally) rate your songs again on your iPhone or iPad. I then answer a question about music disappearing from the iTunes Store, and discuss what to do if you’re tired of renting music from Apple.

Sorting songs and albums

Q: I just updated my iPhone to iOS 10.2, and there isn’t an option to sort music in the Settings. How do I alphabetize my music by song title now?

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Ask the iTunes Guy: Consolidating iTunes libraries and library track limits

In this week’s column, I answer just two questions, both of which require fairly long explanations. The first asks about consolidating iTunes libraries on two computers, and the second asks if a large iTunes library slows down the app. You may be surprised how easy it is to accomplish the first, and how quirky iTunes can be regarding the second.

Consolidating two iTunes libraries

Q: I have two laptops, and both have iTunes. About 95% of each library is the same songs; the rest are different. I want to consolidate the two libraries into one that includes all the songs in both libraries. Then, I want that one consolidated library to be shared by these same two computers. How can I do this?

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