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The iTunes Guy Looks at Managing an iTunes Library, Digital Booklets and More

itunesguy-thum-100004188-gallery.jpgThis week, I look at a few questions about managing an iTunes music library, dealing with liner notes, album artwork in WAV files, and correcting capitalization in song titles. I also suggest a way to download music from the iTunes Store with an old Mac.

Read this week’s Ask the iTunes Guy at Macworld.

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How to Display the Sidebar in Apple’s Photos App for OS X

When Apple released iTunes 12, they got rid of the useful sidebar that displays media libraries, devices, playlists, and more. I explained how to restore it, sort of.

The Photos app, recently released as part of the OS X 10.10.3 update, hides the sidebar by default. If you used iPhotos, the sidebar was a practical way of viewing a lot of top-level information about your photo library. For example, it displays entries for All Photos, Last Import, and your photo albums.

To display the sidebar in Photos, choose View > Show Sidebar, or press Command-Option-S. Your sidebar will display like this:

Photos sidebar

You can hide it again using the same menu item (now Hide Sidebar) or keyboard shortcut if you wish.

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Why iTunes Isn’t Bloated

ITunes iconThere’s a collocation that’s been going around for a while: the proximity of the words “iTunes” and “bloated.” Google those words and you’ll get about 370,000 results. As an author who specializes in explaining iTunes, I hear this often, yet many of the complaints I hear don’t go further than hurling that invective at the app. Few people actually explain why they feel the program is bloated, and those who do have reasons that aren’t easily justifiable. So I thought I’d take a look at this question, and the common answers, in an attempt to determine once and for all whether iTunes deserves to be called bloated.

First of all, how do you define “bloated?” Wikipedia offers the following in the introduction to its article about software bloat:

“Software bloat is a process whereby successive versions of a computer program become perceptibly slower, use more memory, disk space or processing power, or have higher hardware requirements than the previous version—whilst making only dubious user-perceptible improvements or suffering from feature creep. The term is not applied consistently; it is often used as a pejorative by end users (bloatware) to describe undesired user interface changes even if those changes had little or no effect on the hardware requirements. […] Most end users will feel they only need some limited subset of the available functions and will regard the others as unnecessary bloat, even if people with different requirements do use them.”

With this in mind, I asked the question “Do you think iTunes is bloated?” on my website back in June 2010, and I also asked the same question on several forums I frequent. I originally wrote this article for TidBITS that year, but realized that, now, five years later, with the many changes made to iTunes, it was time to revisit the question. Read More

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Some New Classical Box Sets, Spring 2015

While the end of the year is usually the time when there are plenty of budget classical box sets, the spring also seems to be a period when record labels release new bargains. Here are a few interesting box sets I’ve spotted. Note that some of these are not yet listed on

91bxRWV6pJL SX522First up is 111 The Piano – Legendary Recordings, from Deutsche Grammophon. (, Amazon UK) This set is a compendium of great recordings of piano music. On 40 CDs, the blurb says it contains 39 piano works (and not 111). The pianists include Pierre-Laurent Aimart, Daniel Barenboim, Emil Gilels, Hélène Grimaud, Wilhelm Kempff, Sviatoslav Richter, and many more. This is a nice collection, covering a broad range of works from Bach through the twentieth century.

51fjXEqqQiLNext is Itzhak Perlman’s Complete Recordings On Deutsche Grammophon, on 25 discs. (, Amazon UK) Due out in May, this includes a number of recordings from 1968 to 2001. Perlman was certainly not the most prolific violinist on record, and this set includes a lot of Mozart (10 discs), along with works by Berg, Brahms, Bach and others.

91umCLQpu1L SX522Sony Classical is releasing a big box of recordings by the Canadian ensemble Tafelmusik in May. (, Amazon UK) On 47 discs, it includes their inspired recordings of Haydn symphonies, alongside works by Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Handel and others.

71ViRJ+feoL SX522Finally, Decca is releasing the complete recordings by The Beaux Arts Trio, in July, on 60 discs. (, Amazon UK) Until now, the majority of these big box sets have been orchestral works, and it’s great to see a chamber ensemble getting their chance. (I’d love to see some string quartets get boxed.) This set includes a wide range of piano trios, by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Chopin, Ravel, and many others. This in perhaps the one that I’ll get out of this current crop.

So, pre-order or order now, or add them to your wish list. Lots of great music there.

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How to Rip a CD as a Single Track in iTunes

There are some CDs where the music all segues together, and you may not want to listen to individual tracks. These may be DJ mixes, operas, or other types of music. One example is Dysnomia, by Dawn of Midi, which I reviewed a couple of years ago. It’s a 46-minute piece of jazz, cut into nine tracks, but you should really listen to the whole thing in order.

Fortunately, you can rip a CD as a single track using iTunes, so you won’t get individual tracks in shuffle mode, and so it’s easier to listen to the whole thing. Here’s how.

Insert a CD into your optical drive, and select it in iTunes. Click Command-A (or Control-A on Windows) to select all the tracks. Next, click the Options button near the top-right of the iTunes window, and choose Join Tracks.

Join tracks

iTunes will display a sort of bracket to the left of all the tracks showing that they are joined. Click Import to rip the CD, and you’ll find that it shows up in your iTunes library as a single track.

If you’ve already ripped a CD, you can use Doug Adams’ $5 Join Together, which combines any group of tracks – even more than a single album’s worth – into one long file. This is designed mostly for audiobooks, but you can also use it to join music tracks.

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Writings about Macs, music and more by Kirk McElhearn