iTunes 12.1 Brings Changes to Info Windows, Adds Notification Center Widget

iTunes 12.1 has been released, the first major update to the latest version of this app. Apple claims that this update improves sync performance, and there is a new Notification Center widget that you can use to control your music.

Notification center itunesThe Notification Center widget displays when you invoke Notification Center, if you choose to add it. It shows what’s playing, and gives you simple controls: play/pause, previous and next. It also shows the time elapsed, and the time remaining in the current track. Unfortunately, it doesn’t show album art; this would be a good touch.

To add this widget, invoke Notification Center; you can do this by clicking the icon at the far right of the menu bar, or by swiping with two fingers from the right edge of your trackpad. Click Edit at the bottom of the sidebar, then click the + icon next to iTunes in the Items list.

There’s another big change in iTunes 12.1, and that’s the way Info windows display. These are the windows you use to edit tags, that display when you select one or more tracks and press Command-I.

Here’s the previous window:

Info single

And here’s the window now:

Itunes new info single

This corrects one of the elements of iTunes 12 that I was critical of in my Macworld review:

“I find the lack of borders around the text fields make it a lot harder to visually scan the window, like trying to use a spreadsheet with no borders. It’s also hard to tell which fields are editable. I’m also disappointed that not all available fields appear by default. To add extra fields you have to click Add Field at the bottom.”

All the fields are now visible, with borders, making it easier to navigate this window. However, for some reason, Apple felt it wasn’t necessary to have the window display all the tags, and has it set to be scrollable. This is unfortunate. You can resize the window, if you wish. In my first tests, the new size wasn’t retained when I re-opened the window, but I changed it again, and it was saved.

iTunes 12.1 has also removed the possibility of displaying the old-fashioned Info window. You could do this by selecting one or more tracks, pressing the Option key, right-clicking, and then choosing Get Info. Now, this operation displays the same window. But the main reason to display the older window was to have access to certain fields that weren’t available in the new window; you no longer need this.

Also, this new window is poorly designed: read why, and see a mockup of my ideal Info window.

56 thoughts on “iTunes 12.1 Brings Changes to Info Windows, Adds Notification Center Widget

  1. Although it was not as user-friendly, I feel the borderless version was more visually appealing. I do appreciate having all fields displayed by default, however.

      • As far as I can tell, they use the standard textfield border colours. I agree that it looked nicer before (12.0.1), but it was harder to understand – and sometimes hard to find out where to click to activate the field; that ambiguity is now gone.

  2. Although it was not as user-friendly, I feel the borderless version was more visually appealing. I do appreciate having all fields displayed by default, however.

      • As far as I can tell, they use the standard textfield border colours. I agree that it looked nicer before (12.0.1), but it was harder to understand – and sometimes hard to find out where to click to activate the field; that ambiguity is now gone.

      • Perhaps, but the gradient seems to be more distinct. If you have it, it is especially noticeable on Bangles’ Greatest Hits.

      • Perhaps, but the gradient seems to be more distinct. If you have it, it is especially noticeable on Bangles’ Greatest Hits.

  3. And a serious bug fix your didn’t mention: the “traffic light” bug is also fixed, something that drove me completely crazy. (with iTunes 12.0.1, if you had the graphite theme enabled in System Preferences > general > appearance, the close/minify/zoom-fullscreen controls on the iTunes window would still display in red-yelow-green instead of graphite grey. And related the ‘zebra’ background in table listings, like songs, also displays correctly now).

  4. And a serious bug fix your didn’t mention: the “traffic light” bug is also fixed, something that drove me completely crazy. (with iTunes 12.0.1, if you had the graphite theme enabled in System Preferences > general > appearance, the close/minify/zoom-fullscreen controls on the iTunes window would still display in red-yelow-green instead of graphite grey. And related the ‘zebra’ background in table listings, like songs, also displays correctly now).

  5. I used the old info window because (at least on my Windows PC) there was a bug when entering a field: the space bar acted as a selection key. For instance, if you entered “Johann” and then pressed the space bar to start typing the family name, iTunes selected the first entry starting with “Johann” in the list of memorized entries (and most composers in my library have a name starting with Johann…).

    cf https://discussions.apple.com/thread/6614085
    or https://discussions.apple.com/thread/6670490 among others.

    Can anybody who encountered this bug confirm this is fixed in this version?

  6. I used the old info window because (at least on my Windows PC) there was a bug when entering a field: the space bar acted as a selection key. For instance, if you entered “Johann” and then pressed the space bar to start typing the family name, iTunes selected the first entry starting with “Johann” in the list of memorized entries (and most composers in my library have a name starting with Johann…).

    cf https://discussions.apple.com/thread/6614085
    or https://discussions.apple.com/thread/6670490 among others.

    Can anybody who encountered this bug confirm this is fixed in this version?

  7. Does anybody actually use the Notification Center? I keep forgetting it’s there. It’s a lovely thought, but it’s too hidden away. Firstly you swipe to open it, then you have to scroll to the item you’re interested in. Would be great to have the option of pinning it open permanently on large screens.

    As it is, I usually have the MiniPlayer open and expanded to show album artwork as well as the list of Up Next, down the right hand side of my smaller screen. I like that I can always see it.

    • Yes, I use the Notification Center several times a day at minimum.

      BTW: In System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > Mission Control you can set a keypress to open the Notification Center, so you don’t necessarily have to swipe to see it.

  8. Does anybody actually use the Notification Center? I keep forgetting it’s there. It’s a lovely thought, but it’s too hidden away. Firstly you swipe to open it, then you have to scroll to the item you’re interested in. Would be great to have the option of pinning it open permanently on large screens.

    As it is, I usually have the MiniPlayer open and expanded to show album artwork as well as the list of Up Next, down the right hand side of my smaller screen. I like that I can always see it.

    • Yes, I use the Notification Center several times a day at minimum.

      BTW: In System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > Mission Control you can set a keypress to open the Notification Center, so you don’t necessarily have to swipe to see it.

  9. It annoys me immensely that they removed the old info window. I simply liked the layout of it better. While the new one is more visually appealing, I also find it more confusing and less efficient… And most annoyingly, I can’t add images to songs without first saving them on my hard drive. Before I could just copy-paste them straight from the internet and into the edit window.

  10. It annoys me immensely that they removed the old info window. I simply liked the layout of it better. While the new one is more visually appealing, I also find it more confusing and less efficient… And most annoyingly, I can’t add images to songs without first saving them on my hard drive. Before I could just copy-paste them straight from the internet and into the edit window.

  11. The old info window had a “Sort Programme” option which I used as a user defined sort field. I can still see it as an optional column, but can no longer get to it – unless anyone else knows a way?

      • So if I reinstall 12.1 (I had rolled back to await a helpful update or just stick with old model) and set the music files I want to be able to sort of TV Show I should be able to access this field. Then once done set kind back-to music?
        If so, it is a bit clunky, but worth considering if some whizzy improvement comes in with a future version of iTunes.
        Thanks for your advice
        Richard

  12. The old info window had a “Sort Programme” option which I used as a user defined sort field. I can still see it as an optional column, but can no longer get to it – unless anyone else knows a way?

      • So if I reinstall 12.1 (I had rolled back to await a helpful update or just stick with old model) and set the music files I want to be able to sort of TV Show I should be able to access this field. Then once done set kind back-to music?
        If so, it is a bit clunky, but worth considering if some whizzy improvement comes in with a future version of iTunes.
        Thanks for your advice
        Richard

  13. You are not right that the new Info window makes it unnecessary to have access to the old one. The new Info window does not provide access to all of the information that one could get to in the old Info window. Missing is the ability to edit or enter track number, album name and sort album name among other things. This makes it impossible for those of use who record episodes and then want to put them into iTunes to do so. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The old Info box was not broken. Grrrrr!

  14. You are not right that the new Info window makes it unnecessary to have access to the old one. The new Info window does not provide access to all of the information that one could get to in the old Info window. Missing is the ability to edit or enter track number, album name and sort album name among other things. This makes it impossible for those of use who record episodes and then want to put them into iTunes to do so. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The old Info box was not broken. Grrrrr!

  15. I really liked the border-less fields and the ability to hide the ones you didn’t use! Why did you have to complain about it? Now we have to scroll down on every single track just to make sure they are numbered correctly. Dang-it.

  16. I really liked the border-less fields and the ability to hide the ones you didn’t use! Why did you have to complain about it? Now we have to scroll down on every single track just to make sure they are numbered correctly. Dang-it.

  17. Since getting the update I added a new album from an existing artist that I have multiple albums of on my ipod but it will not group it with them so when I search through my ipod I have the same artist twice, spelt the same with one album! I’ve tried to fix it but can’t! This sucks!

    • Yesterday, I imported Duran Duran’s 1981 debut, forgetting that I already had their 1993 album of the same name. I was able to fix the tags by changing the latter album to “Duran Duran (The Wedding Album)”, as it is commonly known, but the 1981 album does not appear in the Recently Added section at the top of the Artist column. Bizarre.

      • I worked out how to fix it. Just highlighted all the albums from the artist and re typed in the name as a group and it fixed it!

  18. Since getting the update I added a new album from an existing artist that I have multiple albums of on my ipod but it will not group it with them so when I search through my ipod I have the same artist twice, spelt the same with one album! I’ve tried to fix it but can’t! This sucks!

    • Yesterday, I imported Duran Duran’s 1981 debut, forgetting that I already had their 1993 album of the same name. I was able to fix the tags by changing the latter album to “Duran Duran (The Wedding Album)”, as it is commonly known, but the 1981 album does not appear in the Recently Added section at the top of the Artist column. Bizarre.

      • I worked out how to fix it. Just highlighted all the albums from the artist and re typed in the name as a group and it fixed it!

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