Take advantage of secret features in iTunes

You might think that you know iTunes quite well, but there are some not-so-obvious features that you might have missed. This article takes a look at some functions that can be useful for managing your music collection and for playing music. You might know some of these tips, but do you know them all?

Duplicates and exact duplicates

There is a fairly obvious feature in iTunes that enables you to find duplicate tracks of music. It is easy to end up with more than one copy of a track, such as when you buy an artist’s album and then later on, buy a greatest hits compilation album. There can then be two or more identical tracks on your Mac. Your music library might be littered with duplicate tracks that are consuming valuable disk space on your Mac, and your iPhone and iPad too if you sync your music to them.

This does not apply to people who subscribe to Apple music of course, because tracks are stored online and are streamed when they are played. This applies to people that store music on the disk drive of their Apple Mac.

Duplicates can be removed to free up disk space, so go to the View menu and select Show Duplicate Items.

Find duplicates in iTunes

After a quick scan of your music library, a list of tracks is displayed (give yourself a pat on the back and skip to the next tip if the list is empty).

Find duplicates in iTunes

In the screen shot above are six tracks – three tracks each with a duplicate. This sort of search is a simple one that only looks at the track name. Look at the first two in the screen shot above – Birdman Of Alcatraz. They are the same track with almost the same length, but looking in the Album column you can see that one is a studio version and the other is a live performance.

In this case you would want to keep both tracks because they are not identical and live versions can be very different to studio versions. If the two tracks were the same, one could be right clicked and then deleted from the menu that is displayed.

It is the same story with the other duplicates and they are the same track, but are different performances. Forever Autumn appears twice because the first is the original album and the second is the modern version with different artists. The Hocus Pocus versions are clearly different because one is nearly twice as long as the other.

Related: Move iTunes music to another drive and free up disk space

So I have duplicate tracks, but they are not really duplicates. Go back to the View menu in iTunes and this time hold down the Option key on the keyboard. The menu changes and now it says Show Exact Duplicate Items.

Find duplicates in iTunes

This is a more powerful search that can detect that two tracks may have the same name and even the same length, but they are really different performances. If there are any tracks listed when you perform this search, go ahead and delete them (right click for a menu). They really are the same.

Monkeying around with MiniPlayer

If you want to listen to music while you do some other activity on your Mac, such as writing, web browsing, photo editing and so on, the full iTunes screen is too big and it gets in the way. If you minimise it you cannot see what is playing or use the play/pause and other controls.

One solution is to put iTunes on a different desktop, but an alternative is to use the MiniPlayer. This is on the Window menu and you can either show MiniPlayer in addition to iTunes or select Switch to MiniPlayer, which hides iTunes and just shows the MiniPlayer window.

iTunes MiniPlayer

When you switch to MiniPlayer, all you see is the album artwork in a small window on the desktop. It takes up very little screen space and you can easily see what music is currently playing.

iTunes MiniPlayer

Let the mouse hover over the window and a title bar and controls appear. This is the large artwork display. There is a button in the top right corner just below the Close button that can be used to Hide Large Artwork.

iTunes MiniPlayer

Click the button and you get an even smaller music player window. It contains just the basic controls you need and it leaves the rest of the screen free for whatever other application you want to run. This is very useful one small screens like a MacBook, although it not quite so essential if you have acres of desktop, such as on a 27in iMac.

iTunes MiniPlayer

Returning to the large artwork MiniPlayer window, the borders can be dragged to resize it. You could make it smaller and have a mini MiniPlayer window like this.

iTunes MiniPlayer

Some of the controls are dropped when it is this small, but it is still functional. Move the mouse away and the controls are hidden leaving just the album cover in the mini MiniPlayer window.

The small MiniPlayer window could become buried beneath the windows of whatever application you are using and then when you want to skip to a new track or pause the music, it is hard to find. Open the full iTunes window, go to the iTunes menu and select Preferences.

iTunes preferences

Select the Advanced tab at the top and down near the bottom of the window is Keep MiniPlayer on top of all other windows. Tick the box and MiniPlayer won’t be hidden.

Related: Stop iTunes advertisers tracking your activities





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