Ten great AppleScripts for iTunes 10

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While some people think that iTunes has ballooned with too many features, others might find it lacking the specific features they need to tag files more efficiently, manage files, or work with podcasts or videos.

But iTunes is one of Apple’s most flexible applications, offering a huge library of AppleScript commands and properties. AppleScript virtuoso Doug Adams has been running the Doug’s AppleScripts for iTunes Website for years, collecting scripts that he and others have written, and providing them for free. Here are some of the best AppleScripts that I’ve found on Doug’s site.

[Note: To use any of these or other iTunes scripts, you’ll need to put them in the [yourusername]/Library/iTunes/Scripts folder. If there isn’t a Scripts folder in that location, you’ll need to create one first.]

1. PDF Adder

This suite of scripts lets you add PDFs to iTunes and tag them the way you want. Add digital booklets for your music, or add any kind of PDF file for later syncing to an iOS device and reading on the go. Print a Web page you want to read later to PDF, add it to iTunes, then sync it to your iPad. All this in a few clicks.

2. Search Wikipedia

If you want to get some info about the music you’re listening to, this script will perform a search of Wikipedia using the Song Name, Album, Artist, or Composer tag of a selected or currently playing track. It can even look up info on music from a radio stream, if that music is tagged.

3. Have a Quick Look

Have you ever wanted to play a single track without playing the music following it in its playlist or in your library? Select a track, and run this script to play it using Quick Look. The Quick Look window will continue playing your media when you switch to another program, unlike Quick Look in the Finder. Or use this to view a PDF from your iTunes library without opening Preview.

4. Search YouTube

As with the Wikipedia search script above, this one will look up the currently selected song and artist on YouTube to see if there are any related videos, and switch to your Web browser to show you the results.

5. Change Hidden iTunes Preferences

Access some secret iTunes preferences with Change Hidden iTunes Preferences.
This AppleScript application lets you access a number of “hidden” preferences that you can change in iTunes. Hide the Ping buttons, show a global Library playlist, use half-stars in ratings, and much more by simply checking a few boxes. You could change most of these preferences via iTunes itself at one point, but they were removed from the interface at various points.

6. Remove n Characters From Front or Back

I use this one a lot to clean up tags. When I rip classical CDs, they often contain the composer’s name at the beginning of the track names. I don’t need this info, so I count how many characters there are, then run this script.

7. Update Expired Podcasts

If you haven’t listened to a specific podcast in a while, iTunes displays a ! next to its name. Normally, you need to perform several clicks in iTunes to tell the app to download new eps again. Running this script will do this for all your podcasts, saving you lots of clicks.

8. Embed Artwork

When you buy music from the iTunes Store, or when iTunes automatically downloads artwork for music you add to your library, that artwork is not embedded in your files, but is stored within your iTunes folder. If you move the music files to another computer, the artwork won’t display there. Running this script will copy the artwork and paste it into each track so it stays with the files.

9. Albumize Selection

Depending on where you get your music, it may or may not be tagged correctly. Some sites where I buy music don’t include track numbers for the files I download, and this script takes files in the order you’ve set, then adds track numbers in the form “1 of n,” so your albums are sorted in the correct order.

10. Spins

This last one isn’t a script per se, and, unlike those listed above, is not free (it’s $10, although you can try it out for free). For those curious about their music listening habits, Spins shows lists of your most listened-to songs, artists, albums and more. If you’re into stats, you’ll appreciate getting an overview of what you listen to most in your music library. Not only will it scour your library to show totals, but a Live Spins palette will give you figures for the currently playing track as well.

Spins shows lists of your most listened-to songs, artists, albums and more.

With all these AppleScripts, you’ll find that you can do much more with your iTunes library. There are nearly 500 scripts on the Doug’s Scripts Website, so have a browse to see what else you can do (and take a look at some stories where we’ve covered AppleScripts for iTunes in the past as well).

[Senior contributor Kirk McElhearn writes about more than just Macs on his blog Kirkville. Twitter: @mcelhearn Kirk’s latest book is Take Control of iTunes 10: The FAQ.]

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At a Glance
  • Pros

    • New social network for discovering music
    • HD TV show rentals
    • A few more customizable, useful interface options
    • Smarter album art list view
    • Noticeable performance improvements


    • Ping feels unfinished
    • Other headline features won't mature for some time
    • Senseless interface changes harm usability
    • Ringtone features removed
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