Saturday, August 16, 2008

iTunes - How to play current album

Warning.... before I let you know how to get to the album or artist of the currently playing song.... you will have to go through a few paragraphs of my rant against iTunes...... Skip to the end and the tip is there!

Oh! how I love to hate iTunes! Steve Jobs loves to make money by thinking of his users as being the dumbest lot on this planet..... I hate iTunes.... If I don't like iTunes, why do I use it you ask? Well I just bought me an iPhone and the damn thing wants to only talk to iTunes......

I also hate the way the iPhone treats me like an idiot and doesn't allow me to do anything with it.... I cant copy a song directly to it. I cant copy PDF files onto it. I cant drop mp4 files or make albums of them..... BUT! boy does it have an awesome screen and interface. For just those 2 things, I am willing to stick with the iPhone..... I hope in 2 years (when my contract ends), Windows Mobile has a device that has a screen that is just as cool. (I checked many of the new WM phones - not one in my opinion is close.... but I just love how customizable those machines are)

Anyway's..... so I am stuck with iTunes, at least for the next 2 years. Most of the time I put turn shuffle on and listen to my 3,500 songs and when I hit something that catches my fancy for that day, then I like to go from the currently playing song to the album (or artist) and play all those songs. Seems like a very basic function that all music players should have..... but NOOOOOO, iTunes doesn't have a way to go to the currently playing song! You cannot click on the current song's album to go to a list of all the songs in that album. I was getting very, very frustrated.....


The above image shows how a currently playing song looks in the iTunes list. You cannot click on anything except the arrows in the list. And when you do click on the arrow it takes you to the iTunes Internet store. (Why in the world would I want to go to the iTunes store if I already have the song - this is what happens when sales and marketing folk start calling shots on a software, instead of users) It is almost like the developers themselves don't use iTunes to play their songs... otherwise a feature like this would surely have made it into the software over the years.

How to play the songs based on the currently playing song's album or artist:

As I said before - the interface was making me very frustrated and while just randomly hitting keys I found out that if you press "CTRL" and then click on the arrow that normally takes you to iTunes store, iTunes will take you to the browser window with the search criteria filled out. (So it seems, the iTunes developers probably do use the software and have hidden these useful commands from the masses.)


If you then play a song from the browser window - iTunes will play all the songs that show up in the list. Not the most intuitive interface.... but it is exactly what I need.

(if you don't see the arrow next to the currently selected/playing song, go to Edit -> Preferences -> General Tab and make sure "Show Links to iTunes Store is checked)

image image

The one thing that I didn't realize is that iTunes, just like Windows Media Player, supports plug-ins/add-ins. So I might just be able to find the right stack of plug-ins that will make iTunes a good media player.

A list of features I am currently looking for:

  • Monitor a list of folders for new songs
  • Remove dead files from iTunes

Do you know of any?

In a later post..... what I love and hate about the iPhone. (the screen, drool, drool, did I say how wonderful it is!)

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