What’s New in iTunes 12.3.3

Apple released software updates to all its operating system today, along with an update to iTunes, ostensibly to add “support for syncing iTunes with iPhone SE and iPad Pro.” But, as they often do, there are minor tweaks in the update. Some of these may be bug fixes, but there are some visible changes. Here’s a brief overview of what’s new.

There’s a new option in the General preferences, which allows you to tell iTunes to add songs from Apple Music to My Music when you add them to playlists. Before, any time you added songs to playlists, they were added to your My Music library. Now, you have the option; if you don’t want songs to be added to your library, uncheck this option.

General prefs

The Store preferences have removed an option to Limit Ad Tracking. I never really understood this option, because the only “ads” you see are items from the iTunes Store store that are highlighted. That option was in the bottom section of the Store pane, which now looks like this. It might have something to do with the fact that Apple has killed of their iAds program…

Store prefs

In the Restrictions pane, you can now choose to block Apple Music. Previously, you could only hide it (which you can still do in the General preferences), but now you can prevent that a user has access to it.

Restrictions prefs

Finally, there’s a new tag in the Info window. Select an item, press Command-I, and you’ll see a checkbox labeled Show composer in all views.

Composer views

If you check this option, iTunes displays the composer’s name – if you’ve entered one – in all views. If you don’t check it, then it only shows the artist’s name. Here’s an example in Playlists view. The top screenshot shows how it looks with the option unchecked, and the bottom when the option is checked. Note the name of the composer – Charles Ives – below the track name.

Without composer

With composer

In Songs view, however, there is no difference; this change is only visible in views where, when you see a track or expand an album, iTunes displays the track info on two lines, as above.

You can now “love” a track from the standard contextual menu. Previously, you could only do so in certain views by clicking a ? icon. You can now choose Love, from the contextual menu, just above the Rating menu. Also, these ? icons now display in Playlist view, to the right of the star ratings.

Love rating

Finally, there is an expected change in the iTunes Store. As I reported recently, you can now re-download audiobooks that you purchased from Apple. When this change was first spotted, audiobooks didn’t show up in the Purchased list on the iTunes Store. Now, if you check your Purchased list (click the icon with your name at the right of the iTunes toolbar and choose Purchased), you’ll see a tab for Audiobooks.

Purchased audiobooks

Click the cloud icon at the top right corner of any book to download it to your iTunes library.

82 thoughts on “What’s New in iTunes 12.3.3

  1. The new add-only to playlist function should be useful for keeping music you add that’s christmasy or kiddie music to just a playlist instead of it polluting your entire library for when you shuffle everything in your library. yay!

      • Unfortunately, yes:

        “If you have songs in My Music that you want to move to a playlist and remove from iCloud Music Library, you first need to delete the song from your library, which will remove it from all playlists. Then, add the song back from the Apple Music catalog and add it just to a playlist.”

        https://support.apple.com/en-ie/HT206183

        If a song is in multiple playlists, this can be a pain. To be clear, I’m glad Apple added this feature, but adding it months after the service’s introduction sure makes things a bit more complicated for us early adopters too.

  2. The new add-only to playlist function should be useful for keeping music you add that’s christmasy or kiddie music to just a playlist instead of it polluting your entire library for when you shuffle everything in your library. yay!

      • Unfortunately, yes:

        “If you have songs in My Music that you want to move to a playlist and remove from iCloud Music Library, you first need to delete the song from your library, which will remove it from all playlists. Then, add the song back from the Apple Music catalog and add it just to a playlist.”

        https://support.apple.com/en-ie/HT206183

        If a song is in multiple playlists, this can be a pain. To be clear, I’m glad Apple added this feature, but adding it months after the service’s introduction sure makes things a bit more complicated for us early adopters too.

  3. “This was a bit confusing before; you could add songs to playlists, but unless you explicitly added them to My Music, they didn’t get added to your library.”

    Previously, my library had the opposite behaviour, whatever I added to a playlist was always added to my library. I’m glad this checkbox has been added,it is great for adding Albums to listen to later when you have time without getting them involved in any smart playlist set ups you may have.

    However, testing the new checkbox it seems the metadata of the track still behaves as though it was added to you library. (in effect, the tracks are just hiding from your library).

    For Example: Add a song to a playlist (with the add to library check box off). Wait a few days (in my testing, i only waited half an hour), then add the the song to your library. The Date Added metadata will use the date and time from when you added to the playlist, not the date and time added to the library.

    I’m in two minds about this behaviour. Positives include the play count data will be included from the pre-library period, negatives include the fact that an album you may have kept hanging around for months in a “Listen to this later” playlist, will appear months old when you finally start listening and add to your library, and then will not be eligible for smart playlists based around how recent your music is.

    Additionally, there doesn’t seem to be any sort of button to add an album or set of songs to your library from your playlist. You can use the ‘…’ contextual pop over, but this only allows one song to be added at a time.

    • Good point about the last bit; I don’t see any way to add all the songs in a playlist. I just added a For You playlist to a playlist with the option to add to My Music unchecked. There’s no way I can see to add all those songs to My Music. If I drag them to the Music library, nothing happens. I thought that downloading all the tracks might add them to My Music, but it doesn’t. This is quite confusing; you can have music in your library, it seems, that you can’t access from your library; in other words, you can only access it from the playlist. I’ll try and figure this out later and write it up in a blog post.

      • Thanks Kirk, I’m interested in that followup blog post — did you get around to writing one? I am just now fiddling with this new setting and “converting” some of my previously-added tracks to be “Apple Music only” and not “in my library.” I’m glad to have this capability but have to say, it also adds new confusion, such as the inability to easily add a track/album to my library later on.

        Having to go back to “For You” and search for it in Apple Music, to add it again (?) feels really clunky. And since this change isn’t retroactive, the only way to convert previous tracks is to remove and re-add them. Manually to each and every playlist they previously were in. Which incidentally loses any preexisting metadata, like date added, and playcount.

        I also don’t like how downloaded Apple Music tracks (in .m4p format, naturally) don’t have a “Show in Finder” contextual menu item. Instead we have to manually navigate to ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Apple Music? Another pain.

        Anyway, this new feature addresses one of my biggest annoyances with Apple Music, even if the implementation isn’t perfect. Hopefully Apple will add collaborative playlisting sometime soon. That’s one feature in Spotify that I really do miss.

  4. “This was a bit confusing before; you could add songs to playlists, but unless you explicitly added them to My Music, they didn’t get added to your library.”

    Previously, my library had the opposite behaviour, whatever I added to a playlist was always added to my library. I’m glad this checkbox has been added,it is great for adding Albums to listen to later when you have time without getting them involved in any smart playlist set ups you may have.

    However, testing the new checkbox it seems the metadata of the track still behaves as though it was added to you library. (in effect, the tracks are just hiding from your library).

    For Example: Add a song to a playlist (with the add to library check box off). Wait a few days (in my testing, i only waited half an hour), then add the the song to your library. The Date Added metadata will use the date and time from when you added to the playlist, not the date and time added to the library.

    I’m in two minds about this behaviour. Positives include the play count data will be included from the pre-library period, negatives include the fact that an album you may have kept hanging around for months in a “Listen to this later” playlist, will appear months old when you finally start listening and add to your library, and then will not be eligible for smart playlists based around how recent your music is.

    Additionally, there doesn’t seem to be any sort of button to add an album or set of songs to your library from your playlist. You can use the ‘…’ contextual pop over, but this only allows one song to be added at a time.

    • Good point about the last bit; I don’t see any way to add all the songs in a playlist. I just added a For You playlist to a playlist with the option to add to My Music unchecked. There’s no way I can see to add all those songs to My Music. If I drag them to the Music library, nothing happens. I thought that downloading all the tracks might add them to My Music, but it doesn’t. This is quite confusing; you can have music in your library, it seems, that you can’t access from your library; in other words, you can only access it from the playlist. I’ll try and figure this out later and write it up in a blog post.

      • Thanks Kirk, I’m interested in that followup blog post — did you get around to writing one? I am just now fiddling with this new setting and “converting” some of my previously-added tracks to be “Apple Music only” and not “in my library.” I’m glad to have this capability but have to say, it also adds new confusion, such as the inability to easily add a track/album to my library later on.

        Having to go back to “For You” and search for it in Apple Music, to add it again (?) feels really clunky. And since this change isn’t retroactive, the only way to convert previous tracks is to remove and re-add them. Manually to each and every playlist they previously were in. Which incidentally loses any preexisting metadata, like date added, and playcount.

        I also don’t like how downloaded Apple Music tracks (in .m4p format, naturally) don’t have a “Show in Finder” contextual menu item. Instead we have to manually navigate to ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Apple Music? Another pain.

        Anyway, this new feature addresses one of my biggest annoyances with Apple Music, even if the implementation isn’t perfect. Hopefully Apple will add collaborative playlisting sometime soon. That’s one feature in Spotify that I really do miss.

    • Where are you seeing that? I just looked in the Music app, at music that is among my most played, and don’t see anything.

      • I see in a few albums, thought not all, its appears on three or so songs that appear to the most popular from all users of apple music, not from an individual users most popular tracks. This is probably populated from the ‘Top Songs’ list in Apple Music artist views. Although it doesn’t seem to show on some artist most popular albums, even though less popular albums have these stars.

    • Where are you seeing that? I just looked in the Music app, at music that is among my most played, and don’t see anything.

      • I see in a few albums, thought not all, its appears on three or so songs that appear to the most popular from all users of apple music, not from an individual users most popular tracks. This is probably populated from the ‘Top Songs’ list in Apple Music artist views. Although it doesn’t seem to show on some artist most popular albums, even though less popular albums have these stars.

  5. “There’s a new option in the General preferences, which allows you to tell iTunes to add songs from Apple Music to My Music when you add them to playlists. This was a bit confusing before; you could add songs to playlists, but unless you explicitly added them to My Music, they didn’t get added to your library.”

    Umm, I think it’s the other way around. I have plenty of songs in a playlist that also got added to my library without me doing it personally. It’s also a HUGE complaint of mine. Spotify doesn’t do this and I prefer it that way, so I don’t have a library cluttered with tracks I may not want to see (for example, saving a curated playlist for later that I may not actually enjoy).

  6. “There’s a new option in the General preferences, which allows you to tell iTunes to add songs from Apple Music to My Music when you add them to playlists. This was a bit confusing before; you could add songs to playlists, but unless you explicitly added them to My Music, they didn’t get added to your library.”

    Umm, I think it’s the other way around. I have plenty of songs in a playlist that also got added to my library without me doing it personally. It’s also a HUGE complaint of mine. Spotify doesn’t do this and I prefer it that way, so I don’t have a library cluttered with tracks I may not want to see (for example, saving a curated playlist for later that I may not actually enjoy).

  7. All my rating-based smart playlist refuse to update under iTunes 12.3.3, they worked just fine for years up until Monday night. The option for Live Updating is selected of course, and the only way to get the playlist to update is to go into edit mode and save it without changing anything. My PC is fine on 12.3.3, only my Mac on OS X 10.11.4 is doing this, and it is extremely aggravating! Anyone else with a Mac seeing this?

    • Yes, several people have told me they have been having problems with smart playlists. I’m not, so I really don’t know what to suggest.

      • There’s a bug which happens if you use smart playlists but don’t use iCloud or Apple music. This is a report that I logged with Apple:

        1. Import a CD
        2. >> The songs you import are added to the music library but do not appear in any smart playlist.

        Note: the same problem happens if you convert existing files to a different format (e.g. AAC).

        Workaround (tedious): remove the files from your music library but don’t move them to trash. Then drag them from the Finder into iTunes.

        Note 2: I’ve selected 12.3.2 in the required “what version” field because there isn’t an option for 12.3.3 (which is what I’m using)

        Note 3: I’m not using iCloud or Apple music. This bug may be related to a new iCloud option called “Add songs to My Music when you add them to your playlists”

        • I’m not seeing this. On my iMac, where I have neither Apple Music, iTunes Match, nor iCloud Music Library turned on, I ripped a few CDs this weekend, and they all show in my Recently Added smart playlist.

          What happens if you quit and relaunch iTunes, does that add them to your smart playlists?

          What if you turn off live updating, then turn it on again?

          • I’ve tested this by converting an Apple Lossless song to AAC format. It’s at the top of my Music list when I sort by Date Added. It’s not in my recently added playlist or any other playlist, and there is no Show In Playlist option (after Add To Playlist). Quitting and restarting iTunes makes no difference. Turning Live Updating off and on again causes it to reappear in that playlist, as does OKing the smart playlist dialog without changing the Live Updating setting, but doesn’t cause it to appear in other smart playlists, unless you repeat the process for each playlist.

            • So did you test with ripping from a CD, as you said in your comment, or not?

              It’s possible that iTunes doesn’t consider a converted track to be recently added, since it was already there before (even though the Date Added is new).

            • This blog seems to have a limit on nested replies, and won’t let me reply to your reply to my previous reply. In answer to your question “did you test with ripping from a CD” – yes, that’s how I originally tested it, but I got the same results for ripping and for converting (I first noticed the problem when converting). When I re-tested I did it by converting because I didn’t have any unripped CDs available. All I found was what Garry Meyer already reported – you can fix an individual smart playlist by opening its dialog and OK-ing it, with or without turning Live Updating off and on. Quitting iTunes doesn’t do anything to help.

            • iTunes does consider a converted track to be recently added – I’ve been relying on this for ages because I sometimes import my own recordings and convert them from lossless to AAC in iTunes. Before iTunes 12.3.3 broke smart playlists, the converted tracks always showed up in my Recently Added playlist.

  8. All my rating-based smart playlist refuse to update under iTunes 12.3.3, they worked just fine for years up until Monday night. The option for Live Updating is selected of course, and the only way to get the playlist to update is to go into edit mode and save it without changing anything. My PC is fine on 12.3.3, only my Mac on OS X 10.11.4 is doing this, and it is extremely aggravating! Anyone else with a Mac seeing this?

    • Yes, several people have told me they have been having problems with smart playlists. I’m not, so I really don’t know what to suggest.

      • There’s a bug which happens if you use smart playlists but don’t use iCloud or Apple music. This is a report that I logged with Apple:

        1. Import a CD
        2. >> The songs you import are added to the music library but do not appear in any smart playlist.

        Note: the same problem happens if you convert existing files to a different format (e.g. AAC).

        Workaround (tedious): remove the files from your music library but don’t move them to trash. Then drag them from the Finder into iTunes.

        Note 2: I’ve selected 12.3.2 in the required “what version” field because there isn’t an option for 12.3.3 (which is what I’m using)

        Note 3: I’m not using iCloud or Apple music. This bug may be related to a new iCloud option called “Add songs to My Music when you add them to your playlists”

        • I’m not seeing this. On my iMac, where I have neither Apple Music, iTunes Match, nor iCloud Music Library turned on, I ripped a few CDs this weekend, and they all show in my Recently Added smart playlist.

          What happens if you quit and relaunch iTunes, does that add them to your smart playlists?

          What if you turn off live updating, then turn it on again?

          • I’ve tested this by converting an Apple Lossless song to AAC format. It’s at the top of my Music list when I sort by Date Added. It’s not in my recently added playlist or any other playlist, and there is no Show In Playlist option (after Add To Playlist). Quitting and restarting iTunes makes no difference. Turning Live Updating off and on again causes it to reappear in that playlist, as does OKing the smart playlist dialog without changing the Live Updating setting, but doesn’t cause it to appear in other smart playlists, unless you repeat the process for each playlist.

            • So did you test with ripping from a CD, as you said in your comment, or not?

              It’s possible that iTunes doesn’t consider a converted track to be recently added, since it was already there before (even though the Date Added is new).

            • This blog seems to have a limit on nested replies, and won’t let me reply to your reply to my previous reply. In answer to your question “did you test with ripping from a CD” – yes, that’s how I originally tested it, but I got the same results for ripping and for converting (I first noticed the problem when converting). When I re-tested I did it by converting because I didn’t have any unripped CDs available. All I found was what Garry Meyer already reported – you can fix an individual smart playlist by opening its dialog and OK-ing it, with or without turning Live Updating off and on. Quitting iTunes doesn’t do anything to help.

            • iTunes does consider a converted track to be recently added – I’ve been relying on this for ages because I sometimes import my own recordings and convert them from lossless to AAC in iTunes. Before iTunes 12.3.3 broke smart playlists, the converted tracks always showed up in my Recently Added playlist.

  9. Replying to Jeremy above. The blog limits nested comments to 5, because of the indent.

    I would recommend you test again with a CD. I’m seeing CD tracks show up in my Recently Added playlist, as well as files added from downloads. So the question is what’s the difference in configurations. I’m running OS X; are you on Windows, by any chance?

    • I’m running OS X Yosemite. Tracks that I import by dragging them onto iTunes DO show up in Recently Added. Tracks that I import by ripping them from a CD and tracks that I convert from existing tracks do not show up.

  10. Replying to Jeremy above. The blog limits nested comments to 5, because of the indent.

    I would recommend you test again with a CD. I’m seeing CD tracks show up in my Recently Added playlist, as well as files added from downloads. So the question is what’s the difference in configurations. I’m running OS X; are you on Windows, by any chance?

    • I’m running OS X Yosemite. Tracks that I import by dragging them onto iTunes DO show up in Recently Added. Tracks that I import by ripping them from a CD and tracks that I convert from existing tracks do not show up.

  11. I just converted a track from Apple Lossless to AAC, and it shows up in my Recently Added playlist, but it didn’t display immediately; it took about 10 seconds after the conversion was complete.

    • I just did the same, and initially it didn’t show up in any playlists (control-clicking on it in Music didn’t display a Show In Playlist option). Five minutes later, and it hasn’t shown up in Recently Added but it’s showing up in another playlist whose dialog I opened and OKed earlier today. It’s not showing up in other smart playlists (Show In Playlist gives just the one option).

  12. I just converted a track from Apple Lossless to AAC, and it shows up in my Recently Added playlist, but it didn’t display immediately; it took about 10 seconds after the conversion was complete.

    • I just did the same, and initially it didn’t show up in any playlists (control-clicking on it in Music didn’t display a Show In Playlist option). Five minutes later, and it hasn’t shown up in Recently Added but it’s showing up in another playlist whose dialog I opened and OKed earlier today. It’s not showing up in other smart playlists (Show In Playlist gives just the one option).

  13. There seems to be some sort of corruption at the .itl level. I started a fresh, blank library, added some songs and then tested some rating-based smart playlists. Guess what, they updated just fine.

    But my current .itl library file, and ones I’ve recovered from Time Machine going back to last September all fail to live update when song ratings change. Last Played seems to have no problem, for me anyway (and at the moment!) but song Rating changes will not cause a change to a rating-based smart playlist no matter how simple I make it.

    I’ve also tried removing iTunes entirely and reinstalling 12.3.3 with current and older .itl files, same result. Thus far the only thing that makes smart playlists update is going into edit mode and OK w/o changes, or start a fresh library from scratch.

    To re-cap, I do not use Apple Music, iCloud Music Library, or iTunes Match. I did try iML when it first came out, but quickly turned it off when I saw it duplicating every single playlist in my library, but since then iTunes 12 has been solid for me. Just the update to OS X 10.11.4 and simultaneious iTunes 12.3.3 threw me into this state, which seems to have caused some corruption within my .itl library file(s).

    Tonight I’ll try deleting some songs and re-adding them to see if that makes them behave, but I may have to wait for a 12.3.4 update, or face rebuilding my carefully curated library from scratch.

      • Thanks, I was thinking about doing something like that … thanks for spelling out the step-by-step, should save some drama. I’ll give it a shot tonight, hope it works!

        • Knock on wood, but this method seems to have worked! I’ve checked some smart playlists that were not updating and they are now. Resetting all my playlist views will be a bit of a hassle, but far less than the alternatives. Thanks Kirk!!

        • Well, I spoke too soon … but I learned something. Rebuilding my .itl file from my .xml file seemed to help, but it turns out that many of my smart playlists were damaged in the process. I have several smart playlists built upon others, and they all had a source playlist nulled out (I went back confirmed that my old .itl file was not like this). Once I repaired all my smart playlists, then the simple rating-based smart playlist I was testing with failed to update.

          So that got me thinking … what if iTunes can no longer keep up with my 30+ smart playlists which are built upon others? (some are 3 levels deep) I use a lot of smart playlists to shape and select the population of songs from my library to fit my iPhone, and rotate out of my iPhone each time I play a song and re-sync. So I started pruning several smart playlists which I felt I did not need anymore, then magically my test playlist started updating (as did my others).

          The problem now seems that the 12.3.3 update did something to iTunes’ ability to manage complex smart playlists, or a least a lot of them. These playlists have been with me for years and I’ve never had such a problem, not until 12.3.3. Mystery solved? I hope so …

          • That’s interesting. I have a lot of smart playlists, but only a few that depend on other playlists. I can’t imagine that iTunes can’t handle them; I’d think, rather, that something got corrupted. What if you try and recreate the ones you pruned?

            • That may take a bit of time, I hacked out quite a few. The clue to me was a fresh library would live update, a library of damaged smart playlists would live update (if I created a new playlist), and then my original library would live update if I removed some layered smart playlists. The ones I pruned were all defined correctly and had been working, but maybe the act of pruning reset something?

              In any case, my mid 2015 rMBP was easily handling lots of complex smart playlists before 12.3.3, so I have to wonder if the new iTunes is wired differently due to how it now handles the option to save Apple Music locally or not (along the lines of what Jeremy was suggesting). I’ll try to re-create some of the SPLs I deleted, will report back in a few days.

            • Replying to Garry: I think it’s a bug in iTunes 12.3.3. My smart playlists are working fine, except for the fact that music I rip or convert in iTunes 12.3.3 doesn’t show up in them (everything else does). My workaround for that is:
              1. Rip or convert tracks
              2. Locate the new tracks in the Finder using Show In Finder
              3. Delete the new tracks within iTunes but don’t let it move them to the Trash
              4. Drag the tracks from the Finder back onto iTunes
              Any tracks that are “added” (rather than ripped/converted) work just fine with smart playlists. What I think is happening is that the rip/convert process is mistakenly setting a flag on the tracks to prevent them from showing up in smart playlists (possibly a bug connected with changes in the way Apple Music is handled). This flag doesn’t get set if you add tracks. The fact that the bug doesn’t happen for everyone probably means that it is also sensitive to other details in the way the iTunes is configured, and there is something different about my/your configuration compared with Kirk’s.

    • Deleting songs and adding them back will solve the problem. I mentioned this as a (tedious) workaround in the steps I gave Apple. You only need to do this with songs that you’ve ripped or converted using iTunes 12.3.3, and it’s less painful than re-importing your entire library!

      • Thanks, I’ll test that out, starting small.

        Song ratings and check/uncheck status are important to me, butI think I can preserve that by creating static playlists for each category, then export the playlists for later re-import after cycling the songs out of/back into iTunes.

        But Last Played date is important to me too, and I don’t know how I could preserve that if songs are removed and re-added to my library. I may have to give up on that criteria having any meaning for awhile until play history builds back up … I suppose I can live with that if I have no other alternative.

        But I’ll first give the .xml import a spin to see if that does the deed. Thanks for the suggestions guys!

        • I did some experiments on this Live Updating issue last night. I set up a simple “Rating is 5 stars” smart playlist, with no other criteria, and timed how long it took for a song to drop out once I changed it’s rating. It took 8 seconds when I started.

          Then I re-created some of my complex smart playlists, those which rely on the results of other smart playlists and/or static playlists, as well as Last Played date. As I added these playlists to my library, I could see that my test playlist was updating slower when I made a rating change. After adding 10 complex playlists to my library, my test playlist then took ~15 seconds to update. Adding 20 playlists bumped the delay to ~30 seconds, and by the time I added 30 complex playlists, the test playlist stopped updating entirely (well, I gave it over 10 minutes and it did not change).

          So it seems that 12.3.3 is having a much harder time managing a complex library, one which had no such trouble in past iTunes versions. I’m OK with this, for now, since many of my playlists were unnecessary. But if this performance gets worse with later iTunes updates, I may be in trouble …

      • It seems that the smart playlist bugs have been fixed in 12.4, although it sometimes takes half a minute or so for smart playlists to be updated when music is added.

  14. There seems to be some sort of corruption at the .itl level. I started a fresh, blank library, added some songs and then tested some rating-based smart playlists. Guess what, they updated just fine.

    But my current .itl library file, and ones I’ve recovered from Time Machine going back to last September all fail to live update when song ratings change. Last Played seems to have no problem, for me anyway (and at the moment!) but song Rating changes will not cause a change to a rating-based smart playlist no matter how simple I make it.

    I’ve also tried removing iTunes entirely and reinstalling 12.3.3 with current and older .itl files, same result. Thus far the only thing that makes smart playlists update is going into edit mode and OK w/o changes, or start a fresh library from scratch.

    To re-cap, I do not use Apple Music, iCloud Music Library, or iTunes Match. I did try iML when it first came out, but quickly turned it off when I saw it duplicating every single playlist in my library, but since then iTunes 12 has been solid for me. Just the update to OS X 10.11.4 and simultaneious iTunes 12.3.3 threw me into this state, which seems to have caused some corruption within my .itl library file(s).

    Tonight I’ll try deleting some songs and re-adding them to see if that makes them behave, but I may have to wait for a 12.3.4 update, or face rebuilding my carefully curated library from scratch.

      • Thanks, I was thinking about doing something like that … thanks for spelling out the step-by-step, should save some drama. I’ll give it a shot tonight, hope it works!

        • Knock on wood, but this method seems to have worked! I’ve checked some smart playlists that were not updating and they are now. Resetting all my playlist views will be a bit of a hassle, but far less than the alternatives. Thanks Kirk!!

        • Well, I spoke too soon … but I learned something. Rebuilding my .itl file from my .xml file seemed to help, but it turns out that many of my smart playlists were damaged in the process. I have several smart playlists built upon others, and they all had a source playlist nulled out (I went back confirmed that my old .itl file was not like this). Once I repaired all my smart playlists, then the simple rating-based smart playlist I was testing with failed to update.

          So that got me thinking … what if iTunes can no longer keep up with my 30+ smart playlists which are built upon others? (some are 3 levels deep) I use a lot of smart playlists to shape and select the population of songs from my library to fit my iPhone, and rotate out of my iPhone each time I play a song and re-sync. So I started pruning several smart playlists which I felt I did not need anymore, then magically my test playlist started updating (as did my others).

          The problem now seems that the 12.3.3 update did something to iTunes’ ability to manage complex smart playlists, or a least a lot of them. These playlists have been with me for years and I’ve never had such a problem, not until 12.3.3. Mystery solved? I hope so …

          • That’s interesting. I have a lot of smart playlists, but only a few that depend on other playlists. I can’t imagine that iTunes can’t handle them; I’d think, rather, that something got corrupted. What if you try and recreate the ones you pruned?

            • That may take a bit of time, I hacked out quite a few. The clue to me was a fresh library would live update, a library of damaged smart playlists would live update (if I created a new playlist), and then my original library would live update if I removed some layered smart playlists. The ones I pruned were all defined correctly and had been working, but maybe the act of pruning reset something?

              In any case, my mid 2015 rMBP was easily handling lots of complex smart playlists before 12.3.3, so I have to wonder if the new iTunes is wired differently due to how it now handles the option to save Apple Music locally or not (along the lines of what Jeremy was suggesting). I’ll try to re-create some of the SPLs I deleted, will report back in a few days.

            • Replying to Garry: I think it’s a bug in iTunes 12.3.3. My smart playlists are working fine, except for the fact that music I rip or convert in iTunes 12.3.3 doesn’t show up in them (everything else does). My workaround for that is:
              1. Rip or convert tracks
              2. Locate the new tracks in the Finder using Show In Finder
              3. Delete the new tracks within iTunes but don’t let it move them to the Trash
              4. Drag the tracks from the Finder back onto iTunes
              Any tracks that are “added” (rather than ripped/converted) work just fine with smart playlists. What I think is happening is that the rip/convert process is mistakenly setting a flag on the tracks to prevent them from showing up in smart playlists (possibly a bug connected with changes in the way Apple Music is handled). This flag doesn’t get set if you add tracks. The fact that the bug doesn’t happen for everyone probably means that it is also sensitive to other details in the way the iTunes is configured, and there is something different about my/your configuration compared with Kirk’s.

    • Deleting songs and adding them back will solve the problem. I mentioned this as a (tedious) workaround in the steps I gave Apple. You only need to do this with songs that you’ve ripped or converted using iTunes 12.3.3, and it’s less painful than re-importing your entire library!

      • Thanks, I’ll test that out, starting small.

        Song ratings and check/uncheck status are important to me, butI think I can preserve that by creating static playlists for each category, then export the playlists for later re-import after cycling the songs out of/back into iTunes.

        But Last Played date is important to me too, and I don’t know how I could preserve that if songs are removed and re-added to my library. I may have to give up on that criteria having any meaning for awhile until play history builds back up … I suppose I can live with that if I have no other alternative.

        But I’ll first give the .xml import a spin to see if that does the deed. Thanks for the suggestions guys!

        • I did some experiments on this Live Updating issue last night. I set up a simple “Rating is 5 stars” smart playlist, with no other criteria, and timed how long it took for a song to drop out once I changed it’s rating. It took 8 seconds when I started.

          Then I re-created some of my complex smart playlists, those which rely on the results of other smart playlists and/or static playlists, as well as Last Played date. As I added these playlists to my library, I could see that my test playlist was updating slower when I made a rating change. After adding 10 complex playlists to my library, my test playlist then took ~15 seconds to update. Adding 20 playlists bumped the delay to ~30 seconds, and by the time I added 30 complex playlists, the test playlist stopped updating entirely (well, I gave it over 10 minutes and it did not change).

          So it seems that 12.3.3 is having a much harder time managing a complex library, one which had no such trouble in past iTunes versions. I’m OK with this, for now, since many of my playlists were unnecessary. But if this performance gets worse with later iTunes updates, I may be in trouble …

      • It seems that the smart playlist bugs have been fixed in 12.4, although it sometimes takes half a minute or so for smart playlists to be updated when music is added.

  15. Anything new on the duplicates front, either within iTunes or from a reliable 3rd party? From a bad migration by Apple Store on an iMac upgrade years ago, I have thousands of songs iTunes flags as duplicates, because they have same title and artist, but many are not because performers re-recorded under new contracts or for technology upgrades, or, often in times past performing the same song in a Broadway cast album then later, differently in the movie. (just a few examples, but there are many more such situations in a collection of popular music going back a century!)

    I’ve been told “audio fingerprint” is the answer, but where do I find Mac software that can detect that, then, importantly, separate into a list those tracks where the artist and title match, but the music is different. (BTW, length doesn’t work, because sometimes the very same track has been distributed in slightly varying lengths, mostly due to silence at the beginning or end.)

    • Also, the “Show Duplicates” feature in iTunes only matches song name and artist to identify a duplicate, but if you hold the Opt key the “Show EXACT Duplicates” feature is used, where it adds track number and album name to the duplicate match criteria. Is that what you need?

      • There is also subtle new UI to accommodate “exact duplicates” in iTunes. Now when you run the “Show Duplicates” command, the main window has two tabs/buttons at the top for Display Duplicates: one for “All” and the other for “Same Album.”

        Clicking on the “Same Album” tab produces the same results as holding the option key and selecting “Show Exact Duplicates.”

  16. Anything new on the duplicates front, either within iTunes or from a reliable 3rd party? From a bad migration by Apple Store on an iMac upgrade years ago, I have thousands of songs iTunes flags as duplicates, because they have same title and artist, but many are not because performers re-recorded under new contracts or for technology upgrades, or, often in times past performing the same song in a Broadway cast album then later, differently in the movie. (just a few examples, but there are many more such situations in a collection of popular music going back a century!)

    I’ve been told “audio fingerprint” is the answer, but where do I find Mac software that can detect that, then, importantly, separate into a list those tracks where the artist and title match, but the music is different. (BTW, length doesn’t work, because sometimes the very same track has been distributed in slightly varying lengths, mostly due to silence at the beginning or end.)

    • Also, the “Show Duplicates” feature in iTunes only matches song name and artist to identify a duplicate, but if you hold the Opt key the “Show EXACT Duplicates” feature is used, where it adds track number and album name to the duplicate match criteria. Is that what you need?

      • There is also subtle new UI to accommodate “exact duplicates” in iTunes. Now when you run the “Show Duplicates” command, the main window has two tabs/buttons at the top for Display Duplicates: one for “All” and the other for “Same Album.”

        Clicking on the “Same Album” tab produces the same results as holding the option key and selecting “Show Exact Duplicates.”

  17. The “show composer in all views” tag was fantastic: at last, when playing a track on the iPhone, the Music app would display the composer on the second line (and thus you could tell e.g. which of the many string quartets on a particular album was being played). But alas, with iOS 10 this seems to have disappeared again: I still have the tag ticked in iTunes, but my iPhone only displays the Artist and Album. Aargh. Do you know how to get it back?

  18. The “show composer in all views” tag was fantastic: at last, when playing a track on the iPhone, the Music app would display the composer on the second line (and thus you could tell e.g. which of the many string quartets on a particular album was being played). But alas, with iOS 10 this seems to have disappeared again: I still have the tag ticked in iTunes, but my iPhone only displays the Artist and Album. Aargh. Do you know how to get it back?

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