How I Would Fix iTunes, Part 1: The Info Window

(This is one of a series of articles looking at elements of iTunes that I think need fixing. I’ll choose one element for each article, and offer a solution. See all articles in this series. If you have any particular gripes about what needs to be fixed in iTunes, drop me a line.)

Update: Apple has fixed the Info window, in an update released on April 9, 2014.

iTunes 12 changed the Info window, the window that displays when you select one or more tracks and press Command-I. You use this window to tag files; to edit the metadata, such as the track name, artist, album name, and more. But this window is poorly designed, for several reasons.

First, take a minute to think about how you tag files in iTunes. For most users, the tags you want to edit are the Name (song or track name), Artist, Album, Genre, and perhaps a couple of others. In the previous iTunes Info window, these tags were all grouped in the same area at the top of the window.

Info single

But the new Info window separates these tags. The Name field has become Song Name, which is perhaps clearer. The Artist field comes next. But then comes Composer, which you mostly use if you’re tagging jazz or classical music. The Album tag is near the bottom of the window, followed by Album Artist.

Itunes new info single

This means that, for most users, tagging will no longer involve typing and pressing the Tab key a few times, but looking closely at the window to find where the fields are, and manually clicking in different locations.

Why would Apple decide to put the Album tag near the bottom of the window? This is one of the most important tags for music. And why would they promote the Composer, and even the BPM tags? This design was clearly made by people who don’t tag music in iTunes.

In addition, they’ve stacked some of the shorter tags vertically, using up a lot of space, rather than, say, putting two per line.

Here’s a mock-up of what would be a much better layout for this window.

Info window copy

It not only puts the tags in a more logical order, but it is more economic. It’s perhaps a bit dense, but it’s a lot more useful.

Since the Info window is an essential part of iTunes, at least for those people who either rip CDs, or change tags for music that they’ve purchased or downloaded, it needs to be user-friendly and logically designed. That’s not the case with the current version of iTunes.