How to Work with the Sidebar in iTunes 12.4

Apple has resurrected the sidebar in iTunes 12.4, making it an essential element for navigation your media. At first glance, it looks a lot like the sidebar that was in iTunes back in the day, but there are some differences. Here’s how to work with the sidebar in iTunes 12.4.

First, to navigate among the various media kinds, you use what Apple calls the Media Picker. That’s the menu above the sidebar. Here, you can see that Music is selected; you can click it and choose Movies, Podcasts, etc.

Sidebar1

But you can also choose which types of media display in the Media Picker. Click the menu and choose Edit Menu. Check the media kinds you want to show in the menu. You can always access other media kinds from the View > Media Kind menu. Click Done to save your changes.

Edit menu

As for the sidebar itself, it displays a number of views. By default, for music, these are Recently Added, Artists, Albums, Songs, Genres, and Music Videos. You can choose which of these you want to see, and also add, if you wish, Composers and Compilations.

To edit the sidebar, right-click on that top section and choose Edit List. You’ll see this:

Edit list

Check or uncheck what you want, and then click Done.

You can choose to view all your playlists or only those specific to the selected media kind. To do this, click on, for example, Music Playlists and choose All Playlists. For other media kinds, you’ll have options for Movie Playlists, Audiobook Playlists, etc.

Choose playlists

There used to be buttons at the bottom of the iTunes window, below the sidebar, to create new playlists and folders. These buttons are gone, and you can create new playlists and folders from the File > New menu. You can also do this by right-clicking on the Music Playlist header, or at the very bottom of of the sidebar. If you have a lot of playlists, then you need to scroll down to get to what is a very small target.

Right click playlist

52 thoughts on “How to Work with the Sidebar in iTunes 12.4

  1. If you right-click/control-click on the Music Playlist subhead, you get the same “New Playlist” etc context menu. That is probably more easy and quicker than the way you suggest.

  2. If you right-click/control-click on the Music Playlist subhead, you get the same “New Playlist” etc context menu. That is probably more easy and quicker than the way you suggest.

    • If you’re using a Mac, you need to go to System Preferences > General, and change the Sidebar Icon Size. It applies to iTunes, Mail, Photos, the Finder, and a couple of other Apple apps.

    • If you’re using a Mac, you need to go to System Preferences > General, and change the Sidebar Icon Size. It applies to iTunes, Mail, Photos, the Finder, and a couple of other Apple apps.

  3. Thank you! I scoured all the menus in iTunes only and could not find anything. Now I know what to do. Thanks again!

  4. Thank you! I scoured all the menus in iTunes only and could not find anything. Now I know what to do. Thanks again!

  5. I seem to notice one strange behaviour: compilations are totally separate from albums – which I find a bit weird. Is there any reason for this, or any direct way to circumvent it apart from creating a smart list?

    • Compilations also display at the bottom of the Albums list, under Various Artists. I think it’s a way to offer another way to access compositions without having to scroll to the bottom of the list. You can remove it from the sidebar, of course, so I don’t really see it as a problem.

      • This is only true if you sort your albums by Artist. I sort albums by Title (if I wanted to browse by artist I’d use the Artists view :P), and compilation albums don’t show up *at all*. The only way to get at them is through the Compilations sidebar item, and I can’t switch that to use grid view (at least, not on Windows). I like a lot of the changes in 12.4, but this one is really, pointlessly bad.

        • You can also view compilations in Albums view; they’re at the very end of the list, as Various Artists.

          • That’s only true if you sort Albums view by artist. I don’t. When sorting by any other option (title, genre, year, rating),compilation albums don’t display in Albums view at all anymore. If I try to find Hamilton by using the search box to filter the Albums view, the results are blank *unless* I sort the view by artist.

            I don’t like having Albums view sorted by artist, because a) there’s already a view sorted by artist: Artists view, and b) if I want to play a specific album, I look for it by the name of the album, not the artist who produced it. If I want to listen to Hamilton, I go to H for Hamilton, not V for Various Artists. Only now I can’t, because Hamilton doesn’t exist in my Albums view. I have to go to Compilations view to find it.

            • I have my albums sorted by using numbers in front of the album names. Having 200 Christmas albums, and many other albums now loaded to iTunes, I like to play them in a preferred order. Having iTunes for some years now, in the early days I found using this method allowed me to play my albums in the order I wanted when loaded to my iPod, or in iTunes. I converted my vinyl 45’s to CD using another software application. Loaded the created 45’s CD albums to iTunes. What is weird is that some of my albums that have a tick in the compilation box are showing in “Albums” grid view, and most are in the “Compilation” grid view. I prefer to have all my albums show in “Albums” view and not have to click on “Complications” to view the rest. Judging from my internet search, reviewing other internet sites, it appears the majority of iTunes users are disappointed all there albums do not show up under the “Albums’ view, and are not happy having to click on “compilations” view to view the rest of their albums. This tells me Apple made this change and have either consulted by way of feedback, or have not consulted before release 12.4.0.119, where I have experience this change. “Not happy Jan” An Australian term that can be Googled to see it’s meaning.

            • Compilations also show up at the bottom of the Albums view, under Various Artists. But you may want to make a playlist for these items.

  6. I seem to notice one strange behaviour: compilations are totally separate from albums – which I find a bit weird. Is there any reason for this, or any direct way to circumvent it apart from creating a smart list?

    • Compilations also display at the bottom of the Albums list, under Various Artists. I think it’s a way to offer another way to access compositions without having to scroll to the bottom of the list. You can remove it from the sidebar, of course, so I don’t really see it as a problem.

      • This is only true if you sort your albums by Artist. I sort albums by Title (if I wanted to browse by artist I’d use the Artists view :P), and compilation albums don’t show up *at all*. The only way to get at them is through the Compilations sidebar item, and I can’t switch that to use grid view (at least, not on Windows). I like a lot of the changes in 12.4, but this one is really, pointlessly bad.

        • You can also view compilations in Albums view; they’re at the very end of the list, as Various Artists.

          • That’s only true if you sort Albums view by artist. I don’t. When sorting by any other option (title, genre, year, rating),compilation albums don’t display in Albums view at all anymore. If I try to find Hamilton by using the search box to filter the Albums view, the results are blank *unless* I sort the view by artist.

            I don’t like having Albums view sorted by artist, because a) there’s already a view sorted by artist: Artists view, and b) if I want to play a specific album, I look for it by the name of the album, not the artist who produced it. If I want to listen to Hamilton, I go to H for Hamilton, not V for Various Artists. Only now I can’t, because Hamilton doesn’t exist in my Albums view. I have to go to Compilations view to find it.

            • I have my albums sorted by using numbers in front of the album names. Having 200 Christmas albums, and many other albums now loaded to iTunes, I like to play them in a preferred order. Having iTunes for some years now, in the early days I found using this method allowed me to play my albums in the order I wanted when loaded to my iPod, or in iTunes. I converted my vinyl 45’s to CD using another software application. Loaded the created 45’s CD albums to iTunes. What is weird is that some of my albums that have a tick in the compilation box are showing in “Albums” grid view, and most are in the “Compilation” grid view. I prefer to have all my albums show in “Albums” view and not have to click on “Complications” to view the rest. Judging from my internet search, reviewing other internet sites, it appears the majority of iTunes users are disappointed all there albums do not show up under the “Albums’ view, and are not happy having to click on “compilations” view to view the rest of their albums. This tells me Apple made this change and have either consulted by way of feedback, or have not consulted before release 12.4.0.119, where I have experience this change. “Not happy Jan” An Australian term that can be Googled to see it’s meaning.

            • Compilations also show up at the bottom of the Albums view, under Various Artists. But you may want to make a playlist for these items.

  7. In addition to the contextual menus for creating playlists, I should point out that iTunes offers Cmd-N for New Playlist, Cmd-Shift-N for New Playlist from Selection, and Cmd-Option-N for New Smart Playlist.

    • Yes, and that’s not new. But people who use buttons and menus were probably not using the keyboard shortcuts.

  8. In addition to the contextual menus for creating playlists, I should point out that iTunes offers Cmd-N for New Playlist, Cmd-Shift-N for New Playlist from Selection, and Cmd-Option-N for New Smart Playlist.

    • Yes, and that’s not new. But people who use buttons and menus were probably not using the keyboard shortcuts.

  9. One feature that was removed from 12.3 is the ability to view “Recently Added” while in Artists view. Unless I am missing something, when in “My Music” – Recently Added- it defaults to Album View. I used to be able to choose Artists View and see my most recently added. Now, that defaults to alphabetical order.

    In a playlist, to see most recently added, I have to go to “Song View” then use column “Date added”. Again, 12.3 could use Artist View and see most recently added music. This was one of the features of iTunes 12 that I actually liked.

  10. One feature that was removed from 12.3 is the ability to view “Recently Added” while in Artists view. Unless I am missing something, when in “My Music” – Recently Added- it defaults to Album View. I used to be able to choose Artists View and see my most recently added. Now, that defaults to alphabetical order.

    In a playlist, to see most recently added, I have to go to “Song View” then use column “Date added”. Again, 12.3 could use Artist View and see most recently added music. This was one of the features of iTunes 12 that I actually liked.

  11. This is definitely an improvement, but….

    When they going to make the search function stick to the media you specify? This is particularly relevant for the iTunes Store where you may be looking for a specific app or song, and you get everything in the store. (You can then choose what you want with the list down the right side, but why do we have to select it twice?)

  12. This is definitely an improvement, but….

    When they going to make the search function stick to the media you specify? This is particularly relevant for the iTunes Store where you may be looking for a specific app or song, and you get everything in the store. (You can then choose what you want with the list down the right side, but why do we have to select it twice?)

  13. What’s irking me the most (but this isn’t anything new), is that Remote Libraries don’t remember view state. With the removal of the view buttons, however, this is now even more cumbersome than before.

    Sidenote, how can i create custom shortcuts for these menu entries (View > View As > Albums)? I can’t simply call the menu entry “Albums”, as it’s also used in Controls > Shuffle > Albums.

    • Never mind, i just found out how to do this: You have to literally type “View->View As->Albums” in that Menu Title field in System Preferences to remap this.

  14. What’s irking me the most (but this isn’t anything new), is that Remote Libraries don’t remember view state. With the removal of the view buttons, however, this is now even more cumbersome than before.

    Sidenote, how can i create custom shortcuts for these menu entries (View > View As > Albums)? I can’t simply call the menu entry “Albums”, as it’s also used in Controls > Shuffle > Albums.

    • Never mind, i just found out how to do this: You have to literally type “View->View As->Albums” in that Menu Title field in System Preferences to remap this.

  15. Is this a bug? Choose Podcasts as the media. Go the the playlists part in the sidebar. It was showing “Podcast Playlists”. I right clicked in the blank part of the sidebar below the playlists. There are options for new playlist, new smart playlist and new playlist folder. None of them do anything. Nothing is created. No dialogue boxes appear. Nothing happens if I select any of these from the File menu.

    Then change it to “All Playlists”. There doesn’t appear to be anywhere I can right click to create a new playlist. I have to use the menu to do it.

    Then I change back to “Podcast Playlists”, and right clicking brings up the dialogue box to create the playlist.

    I have also noticed that various aspects of the new iTunes do not seem to always update properly. I cannot reproduce an example, but it seems as though the right side does not always update top reflect what I have chosen in the sidebar.

    • I’m not seeing the same thing. However, I am seeing some weirdness with the sidebar. I have a lot of playlist folders, and if I switch from Music to another media kind, when I switch back, often all the folders are collapsed, whereas some of them were expanded before the switch.

      • When i connect to my remote library (that also has a LOT of folders), they keep collapsing, too. And i don’t even have to click around, sometimes they collapse after 5 seconds of me staring at them.

      • This is my only compliant so far about the changes — I have a lot of playlist folder as well, some usually collapsed, some usually expanded — every time I open iTunes they default collapsed, so I have to re-expand. Any way to change that default?

  16. Is this a bug? Choose Podcasts as the media. Go the the playlists part in the sidebar. It was showing “Podcast Playlists”. I right clicked in the blank part of the sidebar below the playlists. There are options for new playlist, new smart playlist and new playlist folder. None of them do anything. Nothing is created. No dialogue boxes appear. Nothing happens if I select any of these from the File menu.

    Then change it to “All Playlists”. There doesn’t appear to be anywhere I can right click to create a new playlist. I have to use the menu to do it.

    Then I change back to “Podcast Playlists”, and right clicking brings up the dialogue box to create the playlist.

    I have also noticed that various aspects of the new iTunes do not seem to always update properly. I cannot reproduce an example, but it seems as though the right side does not always update top reflect what I have chosen in the sidebar.

    • I’m not seeing the same thing. However, I am seeing some weirdness with the sidebar. I have a lot of playlist folders, and if I switch from Music to another media kind, when I switch back, often all the folders are collapsed, whereas some of them were expanded before the switch.

      • When i connect to my remote library (that also has a LOT of folders), they keep collapsing, too. And i don’t even have to click around, sometimes they collapse after 5 seconds of me staring at them.

      • This is my only compliant so far about the changes — I have a lot of playlist folder as well, some usually collapsed, some usually expanded — every time I open iTunes they default collapsed, so I have to re-expand. Any way to change that default?

  17. For the life of me I cannot figure out how to sync tunes to my ipod. I upgraded iTunes to 12.4 and now the screen is totally unfamiliar and when I found sync I got a message saying there was not enough space. I know that, but I can’t see how to remove the stuff I had ticked on it so that I can put new playlist on! I have watched various YouTube videos on how to sync but none are for 12.4. Can you help me please?

  18. For the life of me I cannot figure out how to sync tunes to my ipod. I upgraded iTunes to 12.4 and now the screen is totally unfamiliar and when I found sync I got a message saying there was not enough space. I know that, but I can’t see how to remove the stuff I had ticked on it so that I can put new playlist on! I have watched various YouTube videos on how to sync but none are for 12.4. Can you help me please?

  19. Back to a big problem: Whenever I’m switch between playlist, they always scroll back up. This means, that If I’m in the middle of a playlist, visit to another and then go back to the original playlist, I’ll get lost. This is so freakin annoying.

  20. Back to a big problem: Whenever I’m switch between playlist, they always scroll back up. This means, that If I’m in the middle of a playlist, visit to another and then go back to the original playlist, I’ll get lost. This is so freakin annoying.

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