iTunes 12: How to Display the Sidebar

It’s that time again: a new version of iTunes is available. And this time, the sidebar, as we knew it before, is gone for good. However, you can still display a sidebar with your playlists, and this duplicates much of the previous sidebar functionality.

To do this in any library – choose a media library by clicking the icons at the top-left of the window – just click Playlists in the navigation bar.


ITunes1

You can also use the Column Browser, if you are in Songs view (choose Songs from the menu at the top-right of the window), to approximate an older iTunes layout:


ITunes2


Learn how to get the most out of iTunes with my ebook, Take Control of iTunes 12:



94 thoughts on “iTunes 12: How to Display the Sidebar

    • Ugh, this is why I stopped updating my Mac after Mountain Lion. I’ve finally gotten everything work it as I like it, I don’t want an update to break everything again. Seriously, I miss the days of System 7 where all my apps didn’t break or radically change year after year due to some mandatory interface update. Heck, you can still buy software that runs on XP but if you’re on a Mac and you’re on 10.8 instead of 10.9 you suddenly find yourself locked out of anything new, especially games. It’s getting a bit stupid, really, and Apple needs to just leave things alone for awhile so we can get some work done. Maybe instead of mucking up what already works well, they can go back and address some of the thousands of issues that have been clogging up their help board for years. My work computer just updated to iTunes 12 and I can’t stand it. My home Mac will stay with 11 as long as possible.

        • Well said but they publicly stated they are not interested in user complaints i think its time to drop apple as they are worse than microsoft since steve jobs died

          • I agree! after 12 years, family of 4 about 25 apple products I have BANNED the acquisition of any more apple stuff. Over it!Why not let you you choose items you like and when you update software aloow you to keep your old settings… To finicky. and loosing the older generations (who who the first comp user BTW) who dont want new icon colours and othe bulls&%$#…. Let us have a choice.

    • Ugh, this is why I stopped updating my Mac after Mountain Lion. I’ve finally gotten everything work it as I like it, I don’t want an update to break everything again. Seriously, I miss the days of System 7 where all my apps didn’t break or radically change year after year due to some mandatory interface update. Heck, you can still buy software that runs on XP but if you’re on a Mac and you’re on 10.8 instead of 10.9 you suddenly find yourself locked out of anything new, especially games. It’s getting a bit stupid, really, and Apple needs to just leave things alone for awhile so we can get some work done. Maybe instead of mucking up what already works well, they can go back and address some of the thousands of issues that have been clogging up their help board for years. My work computer just updated to iTunes 12 and I can’t stand it. My home Mac will stay with 11 as long as possible.

        • Well said but they publicly stated they are not interested in user complaints i think its time to drop apple as they are worse than microsoft since steve jobs died

          • I agree! after 12 years, family of 4 about 25 apple products I have BANNED the acquisition of any more apple stuff. Over it!Why not let you you choose items you like and when you update software aloow you to keep your old settings… To finicky. and loosing the older generations (who who the first comp user BTW) who dont want new icon colours and othe bulls&%$#…. Let us have a choice.

    • When you select an iOS device in iTunes 12, by clicking the device icon at the top-left of the window, it displays a full sidebar, which I find better than the previous display of tabs and option screens.

    • When you select an iOS device in iTunes 12, by clicking the device icon at the top-left of the window, it displays a full sidebar, which I find better than the previous display of tabs and option screens.

  1. Kirk – thanks for this write up – I just had to consume the new update and yeah, what sort of test group were they using where the side bar, probably the most useful tool in the entire suite is removed for screen space. Doesn’t everyone have a monster monitor now?

    I guess if you only have one or two songs and an iPhone, it isn’t a big deal, but when you have tens of thousands of tracks, hundreds of videos and half a dozen or more devices, it is kind of a necessary piece of the code. I guess it is time to start looking for the next replacement for it.

    • Blame Bono, he reportedly once asked Steve Jobs why Apple, who is known for creating such beautiful things, would make their music player look like spreadsheet. I wish that guy would just go away already.

  2. Kirk – thanks for this write up – I just had to consume the new update and yeah, what sort of test group were they using where the side bar, probably the most useful tool in the entire suite is removed for screen space. Doesn’t everyone have a monster monitor now?

    I guess if you only have one or two songs and an iPhone, it isn’t a big deal, but when you have tens of thousands of tracks, hundreds of videos and half a dozen or more devices, it is kind of a necessary piece of the code. I guess it is time to start looking for the next replacement for it.

    • Blame Bono, he reportedly once asked Steve Jobs why Apple, who is known for creating such beautiful things, would make their music player look like spreadsheet. I wish that guy would just go away already.

  3. “There is nothing wrong with your iTunes. Do not attempt to adjust the display. We are now in control of the transmission. We control the menus and the sidebar. We can deluge you with a thousands choices, or expand one single to cover your entire display. We can shape Your vision to anything Our imaginations can conceive. For the rest of Your life, We will control all that You see and hear.”

    Just seemed appropriate. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. “There is nothing wrong with your iTunes. Do not attempt to adjust the display. We are now in control of the transmission. We control the menus and the sidebar. We can deluge you with a thousands choices, or expand one single to cover your entire display. We can shape Your vision to anything Our imaginations can conceive. For the rest of Your life, We will control all that You see and hear.”

    Just seemed appropriate. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Losing the sidebar is a bummer. So is burying “Internet radio” and calling Apple’s Pandora knock-off “Radio.” So is the confusing podcast UI, both in iTunes and on iPhone/iPad, which changes with every new version but never gets better. So is the whole cloud thing, which remains as foggy and frustrating as it ever was. I could go on, but there’s no hope.

  6. Losing the sidebar is a bummer. So is burying “Internet radio” and calling Apple’s Pandora knock-off “Radio.” So is the confusing podcast UI, both in iTunes and on iPhone/iPad, which changes with every new version but never gets better. So is the whole cloud thing, which remains as foggy and frustrating as it ever was. I could go on, but there’s no hope.

    • I completely agree! I’m ready to throw my iPod in the trash and go back to a Walkman. About had it with these people.

    • I completely agree! I’m ready to throw my iPod in the trash and go back to a Walkman. About had it with these people.

  7. Why does apple insist on reinventing the horse every time with a new version of iTunes?

    They should allow a “classic” set up in the menu options.

  8. Why does apple insist on reinventing the horse every time with a new version of iTunes?

    They should allow a “classic” set up in the menu options.

  9. Here! Behold! a new version of iTunes where they take away something that people used! creating an extra step and having to choose between tabs to select your playlists, or anything else that was in the side bar! from the days of being able to see your music as a list! and being able to see your playlists on the same page!

    WITNESS! Apple’s way of the future! forget how you would like to do something! They shall change it to what they feel is necessary! They are the most wise! If they changed they way that I do something it was because I was wrong to do it so! THANK YOU APPLE! THANK YOU!!

    btw I have uninstalled iTunes and have started using another form of music player…

  10. Here! Behold! a new version of iTunes where they take away something that people used! creating an extra step and having to choose between tabs to select your playlists, or anything else that was in the side bar! from the days of being able to see your music as a list! and being able to see your playlists on the same page!

    WITNESS! Apple’s way of the future! forget how you would like to do something! They shall change it to what they feel is necessary! They are the most wise! If they changed they way that I do something it was because I was wrong to do it so! THANK YOU APPLE! THANK YOU!!

    btw I have uninstalled iTunes and have started using another form of music player…

  11. Thanks for saving my time Kirk. I have to use Windows at work and this just reminds me of the frustration experienced when that changed. Shame because Apple was nice and simple and are now in line with Windows as far as this goes anyway. Why, why why????

  12. Thanks for saving my time Kirk. I have to use Windows at work and this just reminds me of the frustration experienced when that changed. Shame because Apple was nice and simple and are now in line with Windows as far as this goes anyway. Why, why why????

  13. Let’s say I want to drag a ringtone from my Tones into my iPhone. In iTunes 11, I can see both Tones and the iPhone in the sidebar. So I click Tones in the sidebar, see the ringtone, and drag it onto the iPhone in the sidebar.

    Now tell me – with no sidebar, how do I do that?

    • Click on the iOS device in the top navigation bar, and that displays a sidebar showing the device, its contents, and gives you access to your iTunes library. you can then select a tone and drag it to the device.

  14. Let’s say I want to drag a ringtone from my Tones into my iPhone. In iTunes 11, I can see both Tones and the iPhone in the sidebar. So I click Tones in the sidebar, see the ringtone, and drag it onto the iPhone in the sidebar.

    Now tell me – with no sidebar, how do I do that?

    • Click on the iOS device in the top navigation bar, and that displays a sidebar showing the device, its contents, and gives you access to your iTunes library. you can then select a tone and drag it to the device.

  15. What is Apple’s motivation behind these changes? I’m wondering if their marketing and product management teams spend hours scheming on ways to subtly discourage ripping music and making it seem the lesser of evils to buy from them. I can’t think they are doing user research because the software gets crappier with every release.

  16. What is Apple’s motivation behind these changes? I’m wondering if their marketing and product management teams spend hours scheming on ways to subtly discourage ripping music and making it seem the lesser of evils to buy from them. I can’t think they are doing user research because the software gets crappier with every release.

  17. For DAYS I’ve been trying to bring that sidebar back. I had it showing then it went away. I knew you had written an article on this but I was stubborn and thought “I CAN FIGURE IT OUT”. Finally gave up and googled and found this article.
    I f(*^(^&^^9 hate this new feature.

  18. For DAYS I’ve been trying to bring that sidebar back. I had it showing then it went away. I knew you had written an article on this but I was stubborn and thought “I CAN FIGURE IT OUT”. Finally gave up and googled and found this article.
    I f(*^(^&^^9 hate this new feature.

  19. Thank you! Wish I knew why this is such a bug in Apple’s &$** that they have to mess around with the sidebar—it is so usefull. Thanks again.

  20. Thank you! Wish I knew why this is such a bug in Apple’s &$** that they have to mess around with the sidebar—it is so usefull. Thanks again.

  21. I’m with the sentiment here in wishing I had ready access to the playlist when in the My Music mode but โ€” jeeshโ€” what a bunch of spoiled comment-babies! It’s basically free software that comes with your Mac, an app that Apple has bee updating and working away on for over a decade. Ok, maybe there are issues of aesthetics or functionality that you find lacking, but if you don’t like it go find another player. There are tons to choose from โ€” actually, I’ve found MediaCenter by JRiver to be the best of the alternatives. Does a ton of things iTunes won’t or can’t.
    Of course, it costs $149, which means it won’t meet the expectations of the petulant music lover here, who insist on a player that divines every one of their demands, and is free, to boot.

    • Free? iTunes free? Yer kidding right? If you have an apple device you are just about forced to use iTunes. I have THOUSANDS of dollars worth of apple devices. But iTunes is free. My fat white ass it is. All they had to do was NOTHING, but instead they make an already shitty program, worse.

  22. I’m with the sentiment here in wishing I had ready access to the playlist when in the My Music mode but โ€” jeeshโ€” what a bunch of spoiled comment-babies! It’s basically free software that comes with your Mac, an app that Apple has bee updating and working away on for over a decade. Ok, maybe there are issues of aesthetics or functionality that you find lacking, but if you don’t like it go find another player. There are tons to choose from โ€” actually, I’ve found MediaCenter by JRiver to be the best of the alternatives. Does a ton of things iTunes won’t or can’t.
    Of course, it costs $149, which means it won’t meet the expectations of the petulant music lover here, who insist on a player that divines every one of their demands, and is free, to boot.

    • Free? iTunes free? Yer kidding right? If you have an apple device you are just about forced to use iTunes. I have THOUSANDS of dollars worth of apple devices. But iTunes is free. My fat white ass it is. All they had to do was NOTHING, but instead they make an already shitty program, worse.

  23. You’re insane, right? That isn’t a sidebar, it’s a useless hack. Yes, I tried it. Total waste of time.

    We need the original sidebar back. It was useful.

  24. You’re insane, right? That isn’t a sidebar, it’s a useless hack. Yes, I tried it. Total waste of time.

    We need the original sidebar back. It was useful.

  25. A bit late to the party but thanks for this tip which has been most helpful! Not freaking out so badly anymore ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. A bit late to the party but thanks for this tip which has been most helpful! Not freaking out so badly anymore ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. I am dumbfounded by how stupid the Apple GUI designers are. These idiotic changes just make the application more difficult to use. Steve Jobs must be rolling in his grave. I used to be a Mac fan. But, they have dumbed down their apps to the point of stupidity.

  28. I am dumbfounded by how stupid the Apple GUI designers are. These idiotic changes just make the application more difficult to use. Steve Jobs must be rolling in his grave. I used to be a Mac fan. But, they have dumbed down their apps to the point of stupidity.

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.