How To Use iTunes 11’s Awesome New Features

How To Use iTunes 11’s Awesome New Features

Apple released its newest version of iTunes yesterday, and it’s a complete overhaul to the entire program. As you would expect, that means there’s a few cool (somewhat) hidden features. Here are a few we’ve found especially helpful.

With any new iteration of software, you’re bound to have a bit of a learning curve as you get used to it. iTunes 11 is no different, and the first thing you’re greeted with when you launch it is a completely different main screen. The big news with iTunes 11 is the new interface, but hidden beneath that is some pretty cool functionality you might not notice at first glance.

Yes, You Can Get the Old iTunes Look Back (Sidebar and All)


Let’s start with what we’re guessing is most people’s main gripe: it looks different. It’s true, it does, and if you’re not a fan of browsing your music library with giant covers and navigating drop-down menus, iTunes 11 is a bit annoying. The good news? You can get the old look back:

  • Get the sidebar back by clicking View > Show Sidebar (or hitting Alt+Cmd+S).
  • Get the status bar back by clicking View > Show Status Bar (or hit Command+/).
  • Click Songs in the top bar, and sort by Artist for the traditional list view.

Now, iTunes 11 should look about the same as iTunes 10.

Scan iTunes Gift Cards with Your Camera


Entering in the code from a gift certificate is always a bit annoying. With iTunes 11, all you need is a camera:

  • Head into the iTunes Store, and Click “Redeem” at the bottom of the screen under the “Manage” list (or click this link)
  • Click “Use Camera”
  • Hold your gift card up to the camera and wait for it to register.

That’s it! No more fumbling around typing a random string of letters and numbers together.

Expanded View Replaces Cover Flow


Cover Flow has been replaced with the new “Expanded View”. When you’re viewing your library by Albums, simply select an album, and you get an expanded view right there with all the album info. It works a lot better than Cover Flow and allows you to quickly view album info. You can either click the album art again or the “X” in the right corner to make it go away.

Expanded View also uses the album artwork as a background for the view (see image at right), so it creates a different background for each album. You can disable this if you want under iTunes > Preferences > General Preferences. Just uncheck the “Use custom colours for open albums, movies, etc” box.

The “Up Next” Feature Is Actually Awesome


Ever have those moments where you’re listening to a song and it reminds you of another song? You don’t want to stop the song playing, but you do want to cue up the song you’re thinking of. That’s what “Up Next” lets you do. Instead of creating playlists for everything, you can create on-the-fly playlists of songs or albums.

You can do this from anywhere. Just right-click an album, artist or song, click “Add to Up Next” and it’s added to the queue. You can also click “Play Next” instead to add it to the top of the queue. To see what’s in your queue, click the list button in the middle of iTunes, and to view the previously played tracks, click the little clock icon. “Up Next” replaces iTunes DJ/Party Shuffle, so if you’re looking for those, you won’t find them. [clear]

Your Place Is Now Saved Across Devices


If you use a bunch of Apple products, say, an iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, one of the best new features in iTunes 11 is that it saves your progress in your media across all devices through iCloud. So, if you pause a movie, TV show, podcast, audiobook or iTunes U file on your desktop, you can pick up right where you left off on another device.

MiniPlayer Is More Functional


In older versions of iTunes, the MiniPlayer didn’t do much except allow you to pause or skip tracks. Now, MiniPlayer allows you to search for new tracks, add new songs to the “Up Next” queue, and even control AirPlay volume.

To enable MiniPlayer, just click the window icon in the top right corner and iTunes will shrink down. When you mouse over the window, you can control playback or search for new tracks. Otherwise, it displays the currently playing track.

Preview History Tracks What You Listen to In the Store


The iTunes Store now tracks everything you listen to in its preview history panel. When you’re in the store, click the list icon in the top right corner, and you’re shown all the stuff you listened to recently. You can hit “Clear” to get rid of everything in the list. Your previewed tracks on all your devices will sync here as well if you’re signed into iCloud. So, if you preview a song on your iPhone, it will show in your preview history in iTunes. [clear]

Search Is Now Universal


This isn’t the most earth-shattering news, but in iTunes 11 you have two main search areas: the store and your library. That’s it. In previous versions you had to search separately for video, music or podcasts. Now, it searches your entire local library or the iTunes store for everything.

Also nice is the instant search results you get. Start typing a search, and iTunes starts delivering you results. Select what you want, and you’re taken there directly. It’s simple, but it works really well. [clear]

Apps Get a List View for Easy Trimming


One of the most annoying things to do in older versions of iTunes was trimming down the apps downloaded on your computer. You had to do it in the Apps panel with large icons that seemed to take forever to load. Now you can do it in a List View, and it supports the same basic sort options you get with music, including Date Added, Purchase Date and Size.

All you need to do is select the Apps tab, then click “List”. This should come in really handy when you’re cleaning out old apps you don’t use anymore.


  • Updated iTunes, appletv and remote app for iPad yesterday. The ‘up next’ functionality from the remote app is fantastic. I can create a genius from a song, then edit the genius track listing on the fly to add/delete tracks.

  • I want the dark background back and the ability to re-size the artwork in the grid view. Then it will look like the older version.

    I’ve found that even when I hide the cloud synched tracks I still have multiple versions of some tracks and albums.

    Like windows 8 xbox music, this cloud thing is more of a pain that a blessing.

  • So glad they let you turn sidebar back on. I LOVE the “up next” feature, it’s utterly brilliant, there have been so many times I’ve wanted something like that in the past. And I’m so so so happy that colour has returned to iTunes, the grey icons of iTunes 10 were so depressing…

  • When arranging apps on your iGadget, hold down the apple key to choose multiple items. This makes it easier to group similar items. I don’t think it used to work that way.

  • “Up Next” – So they’ve finally caught up with the 90’s and added a play queue!!! Must’ve noticed that people have been asking for it for years. Just need it on the iPhone/iPod. Maybe they were just waiting until they could think of a funky new name for the feature before using it.

    • I use Music+ for that. It’s almost the same as the stock iOS 5 App, but it has queue support. Worth a look, at least. You can add entire albums to a queue or individual songs with a swipe.

    • Agreed. Hitting J in Winamp has done the same since forever. My iRiver H340 also had a similar feature. Very handy when you’re listening to an intro track to the following song.

    • Didn’t the old Party Shuffle mode allow you to see what was queued and choose what played next?

      I’ve installed iTunes for the first time in years and it’s a huge pain.
      -Opens whenever I open my music folder, even though iTunes is NOT set as my default music player
      -No longer shows duplicates, so after finally importing my old iTunes backup, I’ve got to manually hunt them down
      -It didn’t recognise my old playlists
      -I couldn’t find anything at first, not intuitive at all

      EDIT: Another one
      -Won’t copy multiple tracks. I select items on a smart playlist that I’m making, drag to my mp3 player (which is not an iPod/iPhone, Toshiba Gigabeat F20 with Rockbox ftw) and it will refuse to copy them all. Individually doing it works, but drag a whole list and items will be dropped without so much as a whisper. CRAP!

  • I wish I could have the same album view grid, but for Artists instead, even it it then opened a smaller box with all albums, then you click the album and the big picture thing shows with all the tracks, I have a lot of music thats not completely organised and single songs etc, i don’t want a whole new box for that one song

  • While it’s great to be able to get the “old look” back, unfortunately the new iTunes keeps defaulting to the Album view. For example, I start with the list and sidebar view, then put a CD in to import it. When the import is finished, the CD ejects and the view goes straight to the Album view, not the list view that I had it at before! Very annoying! Give us back control of iTunes!

    • I find this the absolute most annoying thing about Itunes 11. I tuned into this discussion just to see if there is a remedy for this

  • Thanks for the tips, some helpful information. I was finding the search function excruciatingly slow, if anyone else is having that problem I found if you uncheck “Search entire library” from the Search dropdown menu box it stops looking in the itunes store and only searches in your library – and it’s a lot quicker.

  • iTunes local and online operations are still the slowest of any music management/streaming/purchase that I know of.

    iTunes Store was always a mess for Classical and jazz releases, and they’ve managed to make it worse. Now the truncated track listings make everything look the same. Looking for something by a specific composer is still a shitfight as Apple doesn’t consider that information relevant, and what little was there before is now gone.

  • Very disappointed with the loss of Coverflow. I used to use it all the time and I find the new album cover view less functional. Why remove such a great feature?

  • I’ve got a new Mac and at the same time itunes updated to version 11. Problem is, my ipod playlist doesn’t come up as a playlist I can add music to (ie, new purchases) It shows the ipod playlist as grey and I can’t copy songs from there onto the music library. I’m wondering does anyone know how to make a new playlist of my ipod tracks so I can safely sync them? I don’t dare hit the export button as I don’t know what it will do!

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