Excuse me, iTunes needs your attention

little avatar A true story

ALEX: Excuse me, iTunes needs your attention.

USER aka “Me”: What does iTunes want, Alex?

ALEX: It’s not my job to tell you.

USER: Punk. I’m not using iTunes right now. Why is iTunes open?

ALEX: I don’t know. (beat)If you’re not using iTunes, why do you have headphones on?

USER: I was going to listen to a podcast I downloaded with Safari before deciding whether or not to subscribe to it. I’ll probably delete it when I’m done. It doesn’t need to go into iTunes. iTunes will add it to Music and Recently Added (so I’ll always have something fresh to listen to).

It was during this exchange with Alex that I discovered what caused iTunes to open silently in the background. It was turning on Bluetooth headphones that did it. I had turned off every auto thing I could think of and even “deleted” iTunes Helper, which deleted nothing and, as far as I can tell, had no effect. It kept opening quietly in the background. Still does, but at least I know what’s causing it.

So, if iTunes was opening quietly and without notice, how did I come to realize what was happening and Alex telling me iTunes needed my attention? That was another bit of bizarreness about iTunes. If pressing the option key when starting iTunes allows the selecting and opening of an external iTunes library, wouldn’t it seem normal when not pressing the option key iTunes would default to opening the iTunes library installed on the computer? It would, I think, but it doesn’t.

Otherwise, iTunes 11.4 is almost perfect (except for the continuous play when you want to listen to only one thing). iTunes 12 is another story altogether. The reason I had plugged in another library (on the computer with iTunes 11.4) was to test it after using it with iTunes 12 on my other Mac with Yosemite and iTunes 12 installed. It happens that iTunes 12 reassembles an iTunes library such that it won’t play on a computer with an earlier version. This is an iTunes library that I’ve had since the beginning of iTunes-time, 2001. The earliest “date added” items are dated 2003 because that was when I first switched to OS X from OS 9. I had a backup, so I wasn’t devastated.

I read an article that gave instructions on returning iTunes 11 to a computer that was already upgraded to iTunes 12. I didn’t really want to do that. I had one of each and the other computer doesn’t get online very much, but something in the article piqued my curiosity. Something about deleting a file with an itl extension and letting iTunes create a new one. I was going to try that, but external iTunes libraries don’t have itl files (there was one in the Previous iTunes Library folder which did not have an effect). I looked into some other files. I found two that had simple iTunes version numbers. I changed them to 11.4. Tried the library in iTunes 11.4. After a long pause, iTunes said it would open the library and call it Damaged. So be it. The library opened, all the media was there but the artwork, the playlists, the album assignments were, not all, but largely messed up. I made a backup of the iTunes 12 version of the library before messing with it too.

I wrote this to let you know and maybe save you some time and energy. Eddy Cue is busy, like Santa Claus, with Apple Pay, which will probably become known as the best thing to happen to commerce since the invention of the coin. Maybe some elves will stay behind and fix things up for him, like maybe separate out some services, say iOS management, into its own app. That’s my suggestion.