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Still not loving iTunes

December 24th, 2008

It’s a year since I got my iPod and iTunes still doesn’t have the ability to watch folders for updates. It’s so aggravating!

I use Windows Media Player to rip my CDs to a folder called New then drag my files into my directory structure (sorted mostly by Artist, then Album with the exception of Compilations which get their own directory). I do not allow iTunes to rip my music because I despise the way it names the files and sets up the directory structure. Contrary to what Apple clearly believes, not everyone wants iTunes to manage their files for them. You should see what a mess my brother’s MP3 directory is thanks to iTunes. Thanks but no thanks.

It just irks me that pretty much every other program out there (such as WinAmp) can watch folders for updates and automatically remove files from the library if their location has changed, but iTunes can’t won’t. You have to manually delete missing files or point them to where they were moved. Why? Why does iTunes make this so difficult? There’s no doubt in my mind they are able to design a feature to keep your library updated automatically. They just don’t want to. They want you to remain dependent on them for all facets of maintaining your media library. All fine and good until you need to back up or move those files and/or you try to find a file via the explorer. Good luck!

I was searching Google this morning for a third-party add-on for iTunes that might accomplish what I think it should have been doing several version ago. I found one, but it requires messing with code and I’m not comfortable with that.

During my search, I came across this post, talking about this same frustration, and I couldn’t help but laugh at one of the comments someone left after someone else suggested that the reason iTunes on Windows sucks is because Windows itself sucks:

I’ve tried iTunes out on a few Mac’s too, and they actually perform pretty badly even on their native platform. I’m sure it’s slower on Windows but either way, Apple just does NOT listen to their market. They have no idea what they’re doing, they’re just confidently releasing more and more crap while pulling Microsoft’s products. Unfortunately, all the pre-pubescent teenagers listen to the guy in jeans that looks like that guy from Blues Clues, and not the guy wearing a suit and glasses (who is clearly more intelligent).

That Blues Clues comment had me actually laughing out loud. I wouldn’t go so far as to say Apple releases crap products. I think the iPod is fantastic. It’s iTunes that I have my beef with. It could be sooooo much better if Apple would just stop and listen to their users. Who here can honestly say they prefer manually dragging music into iTunes and deleting missing files as opposed to letting the software scan your music directory and make the updates automatically?

If you rip all your music directly into iTunes and allow it to organize your music, you’re not going to be able to relate. I refuse to hand over the controls to iTunes because it lacks the flexibility to dictate exactly how I want everything organized, therefore I don’t trust it. Not to mention that it has ripped tracks before and gave them all the wrong names and tags. I’ve yet to run into that problem with Windows Media Player.

This commenter put it nicely in respect to the way iTunes changes filenames:

Why does itunes change filenames of songs? Could it be because they’re greedy and they try to make it as hard as possible to share music? Yeah, like that extra twenty bits of info used to include the REAL SONG TITLE in the file name makes a difference. If that was the case then why not let it be an option? APPLE’S GREED, that’s why. Why randomly place songs into different folders? GREED, that’s why. It makes no sense why you can drop an entire folder of an album into itunes to have it move around the files in to eleven different folders names f00, f01, f02, f03…etc. GREED, that’s why.

Oooo and here’s another article with an even better comment about the file management, or more like lack thereof:

#15 Peachboy says:

I totally agree, Judaschrist. For how mainstream and almost cult-like Ipod and Itunes has become, I rarely hear people mention the GLARING, incredibly obvious fact that Itunes library manipulation options not only suck, but are pretty much nonexistent. For those of us who would rather manage our music folders ourselves than let Itunes organize them for us (which I assume most users would like to do), there is no way to rescan music folders, import new songs and clean up dead links short of reimporting one’s music library. And for someone who is constantly rearranging his music library like myself, it just doesn’t cut it. The ability to refresh one’s library is so basic and integral to most other media players. Winamp’s library scanning function is great. Even WMP has a far superior library manipulation layout. Why is Apple so dense about this? Honestly, to me it always seems that Apple assumes their users are complete morons. Sorry Apple, I don’t want you to decide how my music folders should be arranged… Does that mean I shouldn’t be using Itunes?
What a pain in the ass.

How sad is it that these posts are 2+ years old and yet still relevant? Come on iTunes, get with the program already! I don’t want Genius, I want you to manage my library effectively and unobtrusively. Really, is that so much to ask?

  1. December 24th, 2008 at 14:59 | #1

    I’ve been saying that about iTunes for years now. I even dumped my Nano for the very reasons you talked about. No kidding. But people continue to drink the Koolaid. My kid has a Nano and our library is on a server. That just about gives iTunes an all out hissy fit. The only thing I’ve found to keep things close to order is the iTunes Library Updater. Surprise surprise … doesn’t run on a Mac.

    Knot

  2. December 24th, 2008 at 20:32 | #2

    What do you mean by “watch folders for updates”?

    Funny thing is that when I’ve changed song name properties or artist names in iTunes, it has updated the file name itself on my harddrive.

  3. December 25th, 2008 at 00:37 | #3

    kapgar » If iTunes is changing your file names, I suspect you’re allowing iTunes to manage your files. I don’t want iTunes changing my file names. It likes to name stuff “Track Number” and then “Song Title”. I like it “Artist Name” and then “Song Title”. The track name is typically in the tags already so I don’t really need that as part of the file name.

    In regards to the watch folders: What Winamp, and most other media players do, is allow you to select a folder, or multiple folders, for it to scan for changes at selected intervals (i.e. at startup and then every so many minutes/hours). For instance, if I told Winamp to watch my MP3 folder and its subdirectories, at the interval I selected Winamp would rescan those directories for changes and would automatically add new media to my library. It would also delete any media from the library that no longer existed in the watched folders. I wouldn’t have to do a thing. What a beautiful concept!

  4. December 25th, 2008 at 11:54 | #4

    The beauty of what WMP and Winamp do is they let the user decide where things should go. The Apple community for years has said, “We’ll tell you where things go, don’t worry about that scary technology, we’ll love you.” You pay an exorbitant price for that. A price WAY higher than it’s worth.

    Two to three times higher is too much for me. And the ease of use is not there. I know. I currently write this from a Mac that I have loads of issues with. It freaks out when I plug in a USB mouse. I have iTunes on it.

    Here’s the scenario. I have a large volume of music at my house. I have kids that independently buy music. We all have agreed to share the music. Therefore the music must be on a server. I can’t spend the $1000 or so to have a specialized and limited Mac music server. I have a used PC that I store my music on a HUGE hard drive. The folder structure has been there way before iPods were invented. I’ve invested in the thousands of hours of time and effort and money to keep the music up to date. How do you do that.

    See, a Mac user can’t answer that. A Mac can’t do that. A windows PC can. WMP and WinAmp let the user decide if they need to that a folder needs to change.

    Let’s say you rip a CD and it rips it to “XYZ Band”. You know you already have a folder called “The XYZ Band”. For WMP or WinAmp to recognize the songs you just ripped you either move the files or rename the old folder or some combination. When WMP or WinAmp starts up, it notices the changes and the files are now available. Not so on iTunes.

    iTunes gives me a nice little traffic sign. What the …

    Or let’s say you have to move the location of your library to a different drive. Simply pointing to the new location gives you DOUBLE entries in iTunes. In WMP or WinAmp, you point to the new location and tell it to remove old entries.

    Done and done.

    Let’s face it, iTunes is inferior in the whole environment it created as are it’s fragile and overpriced computers. If it had not been for the iPone and iPod, Apple would be gone. You would have been relinquished to give up and LEARN Windows – the #1 operating system world wide – or learn the totally complicated world of Unix.

    Knot

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