My podcast partner Doug Adams were chatting recently about the experience of listening to record albums – LPs – where you would flip a record after 20 or 25 minutes of music. So he made an AppleScript to reproduce this in iTunes.
Back in the day, LP record albums were experienced as pairs of “sides,” right?
A decent record side was about 22 to 27 minutes long. And so we got used to listening to chunks of music of this duration. These time constraints on a record would often affect how the album was programmed, such as the song order and perhaps other conceptual factors.
If you spent a lot of time listening to record albums this way, you may remember the convention of “flipping the record” after the first side was finished in order to hear the other side. It only took a few moments to do so, but this pause in the action is the sort of thing you don’t experience much with CDs and virtually never with hours-long playlists.
Many people with large media libraries store that media on external drives or network volumes. If you do this with iTunes, and the volume is not mounted when you launch iTunes, the app will change the location for its iTunes Media folder to the default. On the Mac, that’s in your home folder; on Windows, this is inside your user folder.
This has long been a problem, because when iTunes does this, it no longer finds your media, and it adds new media into that other location. Over time, if you don’t notice this, you’ll have media in two locations, defeating the purpose of using a network volume. And, in the past, when this happened, your media would be “dead” in iTunes: each item would be proceeded by ! and iTunes would not be able to find it. This caused all sorts of problems with the integrity of media libraries.
(Interestingly, my recent tests have shown that iTunes handles this a bit better now. If you spot that it’s pointing to the wrong volume, and change it back, iTunes doesn’t populate your library with ! tracks.)
Doug Adams has created a new AppleScript applet, Launch at Login, which ensures that your network volume is mounted before iTunes launches. (Sorry, Mac only.) You set up the app by adding an alias to your network volume to a specific folder, then add Launch at Login to your Login Items (in System Preferences > Users & Groups). When you start up your Mac, Launch at Login ensures that the volume is mounted, then launches iTunes.
There’s also extra protection. Since the default setting on macOS is to reopen windows and apps that were open the last time you shut down your Mac, Launch at Login first quits iTunes if it’s open. This ensures that iTunes doesn’t store the “new” iTunes Media folder location (which could be in your home folder). Launch at Login then continues with its task of mounting the network volume, then launching iTunes.
If you use iTunes on a network volume – and with a Mac – you should use Launch at Login. And if you use a directly connected external drive for your media, and that drive doesn’t always mount reliably, you should use this applet too.
I was chagrined to learn that Sal Soghoian, who was Apple’s Product Manager of Automation Technologies, was let go for “business reasons.” Mr. Soghoian had been with Apple for nearly 20 years, and was the keeper of the flame for technologies such as AppleScript, Automator, and more.
In my writings about iTunes, I have often explained to readers how they could extend iTunes’s feature set using AppleScripts. Most of these have been written by Doug Adams, proprietor of Doug’s AppleScripts for iTunes, a site that started out as a repository of tools to extend iTunes, but has become an essential resource for iTunes users.
Doug and Kirk discuss iTunes and AppleScript. This was bound to come sooner or later, since Doug is the AppleScript ninja. We look at what AppleScript does, and discuss more than a dozen of the most useful AppleScripts to use to manage your iTunes library.
Find out more, and subscribe to the podcast, at The Next Track website. You can follow The Next Track on Twitter at @NextTrackCast, to keep up to date with new episodes, and new articles from the website.
If you use any of the many AppleScripts that Doug Adams has written for iTunes, you know that you need to check his site to find out if there are any updates. Doug has (finally) released a tool that can help ensure that you have the latest versions of all his scripts.
Doug’s Check for Update is an applet that can check for the latest version of any script from Doug’s site. Just drag a script onto the applet, and it will tell you if an update is available. If so, click Visit Website to go directly to that script’s page, where you can download a new version.
You’ll need to do this for each script, one at a time, but it beats searching on the website.
“[This] folder […] is sort of like an “iTunes Media” folder for Apple Music. It stores the specially protected audio files that are downloaded when you play a track from Apple Music on your Mac, ostensibly so iTunes doesn’t have to re-download them if they are played again. They can’t be user-played and are only useful to Apple Music. (This cache folder doesn’t apply to Radio music. Or to Apple Music you’ve added to your library for offline use, which is stored in your official “iTunes Media” folder.)”
Doug also points out that we don’t know if iTunes will ever delete them, when your drive runs out of space, or what will happen if you quit Apple Music. In any case, use this script to free up space on your Mac.
iTunes 12 has made a mess of tagging media files; the new Info windows are hard to navigate, and, depending on the type of content you’re editing, the tags you see change.
Doug Adams, purveyor of the wonderful Doug’s AppleScripts for iTunes came up with an AppleScript-based applet that lets you edit all the tags in a single window. Using this, you not only can avoid the hard-to-manage iTunes 12 Info window, but also not have to switch tabs to edit multiple tags.
The $2 Multi-Item Edit gives you a single window where you can edit most of iTunes’ tags. (Album Artwork is one that’s not available.)
Check out Multi-Item Edit. It’ll definitely save you time tagging your iTunes library.
I write a lot about using AppleScripts with iTunes. Thanks to iTunes’ scriptability, it is possible to extend the app with numerous features and shortcuts. If not for Doug Adams, the master scripter and proprietor of Doug’s AppleScripts for iTunes, I would spend a lot more time managing my iTunes library.
I often mention AppleScripts in my Ask the iTunes Guy column over at Macworld, since Doug’s scripts make a lot of seemingly complicated maneuvers a matter of a few mouse clicks. In this week’s column, which I just finished writing, I mention two AppleScripts, and I thought it would be useful to talk a bit about AppleScript and discuss how you use AppleScripts with iTunes.
AppleScript is a scripting language that Apple developed for the Macintosh operating system in the early 1990s. It was first available on System 7.1.1, and it offers a way to take advantage of system functions via AppleScripts, short programs that are much easier to write than full-fledged applications.
AppleScript works with much more than just the operating system: many Apple programs (the Finder, iTunes, iPhoto, Safari, Mail, etc.) and third-party applications (Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite, etc.) support AppleScript to some extent. But none more than iTunes.
AppleScript support can be limited–supporting a mere handful of commands–to complex. iTunes is one of those programs that offers in-depth scriptability, notably by providing access via AppleScript to the tags in your media files.
When you add AppleScripts to your ~/Library/iTunes/Scripts folder (that’s the Library folder in your home folder, the one with your house icon and your user name), they display in a Scripts menu in iTunes, and you can run them by choosing them. To access this folder, in the Finder, press the Option key, choose the Go menu, then choose Library. Next, find the iTunes folder there, and open it. If you have any AppleScripts, you’ll have a Scripts folder; if not, you’ll need to create one.
When you download any AppleScripts from Doug’s site, you place them in the above folder. Once they are in that folder, iTunes sees them. You’ll see a script icon in the menu bar, right before the Help menu.
For some scripts, you select one or more tracks; for others, you select a playlist. After you’ve selected the items the script is to run on, you click the scroll icon and select the script’s name.
That’s all there is to it. Make sure to check out Doug’s AppleScripts for iTunes to see what you can do with AppleScript, and don’t forget to donate to Doug Adams, who’s written hundreds of AppleScripts to help make iTunes better.
You may occasionally want to re-rip one or more CDs that you own. One of the most common reasons for this is to rip CDs at a higher bit rate than you did back when disk space was more limited.
Wen you do this, you may want to ensure that you don’t lose metadata for the existing files. Not just the names of the tracks, albums and artists, but also information like play counts, artwork and ratings. If you do this carefully, you can ensure that when you re-rip CDs, you keep all the metadata.
The first thing you should know is that, if you rip a CD, and you already have the tracks in your iTunes library, iTunes will alert you to this, asking if you want to replace the existing tracks:
This is, in fact, what you want to do when re-ripping CDs. When iTunes replaces existing tracks, it only replaces the music. It retains all the other metadata, and it keeps the tracks in any playlists you’ve created. (If you re-rip and add the tracks to your iTunes library anew, then delete the old ones, these tracks will no longer be in playlists, though they will be in smart playlists.) But iTunes can only replace existing tracks if all the metadata matches.
So if you want to re-rip a CD, and have iTunes replace the music, you need to ensure that all the tags – the ones you can change – are the same. These are Name, Album, Artist, Genre, Year, Disc Number, Composer, Grouping, Album Artist and Comments. If any of these are different – if there’s even a comma or different capitalization – iTunes will think the track is different.
When you insert the CD, and examine it in iTunes, you can check the tags, comparing them to the existing files. You can correct any differences manually, or you can use Doug Adams’ Copy Tag Info Tracks to Tracks AppleScript. Read the information on Doug’s site to find out how to use this script.
I find it best to rip CDs by dragging their tracks to a “Temp” playlist; this lets me examine the tracks without having to find them in my iTunes library. If you want to re-rip CDs, I recommend making another playlist with their tracks, then checking that playlist after you rip each CD. You should see the tracks have been replaced. So, if you had tracks at 128 kbps, and you’re re-ripping them at 256 kbps, you’ll see the new bit rate in the playlist.
If you follow this procedure when re-ripping CDs, you’ll find that you save a lot of time: not only do you not have to manually update tags, but you also retain all the metadata that you can’t edit.
One of the things that irked many users when iTunes 11 was released was the inability to open more than one window. Some users kept an iTunes Store window open all the time; others liked to open playlists in their own windows, to make it easier to drag tracks to them and edit their contents.
AppleScript maestro Doug Adams has released the $5 Playlist Assist, a new tool which replicates some of the old iTunes playlist window features. Playlist Assist gives you a floating window that you can use to create and edit playlists. But you can also get track info, change tags, play tracks using Quick Look, and export playlists.
I’ve been using this for a while in beta, and I’m quite impressed by its flexibility. If you want a great tool for creating and editing playlists, you need Playlist Assist.