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OS X - Apps and Games Discussion of applications and games available for Mac OS X.

Loathing iTunes. Will an Applescript fix this problem ?


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Doug b

 
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I was going to post something rather wordy a few days ago, but I let it go, calmed down and simply have stayed away from the Macbook Pro in terms of my "problem" since then.

A short synopsis on my daily computing habits: I use Linux. Currently using Kubuntu, and I hate to say this but, as far as day to day work flow's go, Linux is a lot faster and efficient for me. I'm still learning with OS X, but seeing what things it has to offer in terms of speed and tricks for getting apps in and out of the proverbial door (so to speak), I'm left feeling that I see what limitations there are, imposed by the confines of what OS X wants me to do with things, rather than the other way around. If I wanted, I could have an media player app in Linux work much like iTunes, but it's not what I like. Here's an example of how I work, and what I NEED out of iTunes, but isn't being offered to me:

1. I rip a CD. The folder produced by the ripper either contains just the artist's album name, OR, if the artist's main folder doesn't already exist (band name) then it creates it, with a sub folder that contains the albums name and subsequent files in it. That takes a click or two to set up.

2. I tell the ripper what directory to place the album one time, and bam, all albums go there from now on, or until I change the location for whatever reason. (this is a one time step, so can be kind of excluded from the list)

3. I open my version of Finder, cut (rather than copy) the album from its current location, then paste it inside of the main Music folder, and within its respective slot amongst the artist's folder etc..

4. It must be understood that there is a pre-made "Music" folder within my home directory, and within that, I have sorted my artist's folders in some hierarchal fashion. What's important is that it's all alphabetical (of course) and that my Media player of choice is going to be told which folder on my HD to search out new music folders, much like how iTunes has the "iTunes Music" folder as its default go-to folder.

5. So, now that I've dropped some new albums into the "music" folder, upon opening my media player, it is automatically set to scan that folder for new music, and then automatically adds said files to its database, and refreshes its main playlist window. If only iTunes were this simple. But it's not.

Here's what frustrates the heck out of me w/iTunes. I know that it uses the iTunes Music folder to copy folders to, but should I choose to physically drop folders or files there, the playlist will only utilize those files if I manually choose to "Add" them. Yet, at the same token.. All I have to do is drag folders in to the actual iTunes window and said files will be copied to that very same folder and will now populate the playlist window. Um, redundant ? Not only redundant and disfunctional (imo) but now I have to physically delete the other set of files which were copied, which is time consuming for one, and takes up resources, secondly. That's just one gripe.

Secondly, should I choose to delete a folder from the iTunes Music folder, I'm still going to see those files in the playlist window. This is very problematic in the case that I have tons and tons of files, and delete a lot of them, and now have to search out those which I've gotten rid of, just to physically remove them from the playlist. More redundancy, inefficiency and a waste of time. I mean, iTunes follows a database's way of working, so why would these things be so hard to make work better ?

Third: And probably the worst pet peeve. I only have a 180 gig HD in my MBP (well, it's technically a 200 gig drive but you know.. ) and only about 160 gigs left on it, and would rather not use it to store all of my music since it's quite much. Here's where streaming from an external HD would be the plan. So, I have my 250 gig HD which was being used for my older Linux box, but took it out of there. I figured it would be as simple as directing iTunes to the music directory of that HD and away it would go ! But alas, Apple doesn't want me doing this for some reason, and would rather tell my external drive to populate its self with the same exact files it already has, only to consolidate them when finished, and then leave me to delete the original files.

Um, stupid. First off, I don't even have enough room to do that. Secondly, why would this be necessary in a logical world ? Yes, yes.. it's the way it does it, and I "have to deal with it" so I've heard, but that doesn't stop it from being totally illogical and ridiculous, right ? I had thought of so many terrible things to say about the programming done on this application, but I'll save it for my own private amusement.

I've had co-workers (Mac users) tell me that I'm too picky, want too much, am anal retentive etc.. which perhaps is true, but when I hear things like, "oh, you'll love it. It's so user friendly and you can do so much with it etc.." I cringe. I understand Apple wanting to be "different", but couldn't that be done without spiting its self and cutting off it's stem ?

Ok, rant OVER. Now what I'd like to know is this:

I've heard that it MIGHT be possible to write an Applescript which would enable iTunes to do those things that I want it to do, as noted above with my notes on usage of Linux etc.. Though It may be, I'm also guessing that it's NOT possible, due to how the file structure is set up and having limited parameters to work with. I'm totally gangbusters on buying a good book in order to learn how to work with Applescripts, but I want to know if I'm wasting my time ?

My other thought is that it CAN be done. If anybody has seen or used the Music player called Cog, you'd know that this is how a music app should handle playlist population and such. It's too bad that Cog doesn't support iPod integration, because if it did, I'd wipe iTunes from my MBP in a second.

Thoughts, suggestions and help all wanted.

Thanks much.

Doug
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Doug b

 
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Ok. So I take it that I'm not getting any answers because either:

My tone was received as being harsh and with a bad attitude or it's simply that no one really knows. I'd kind of understand the former, because I know how defensive my friend's who have been Mac users from day one can be when I say something adverse to the common belief that everything on a Mac just works, and works well.

Believe me, I meant no offense and was simply letting off steam due to wanting to find some middle ground with OS X and its more popular applications, but not seeing any compromise on its part.

I was just in Barnes and Nobles reading an Applescript book (Applescript for Beginners) and I didn't get any definitive answer to my own question about whether or not I'd be able to produce something to help those procedures along. The author did note its short comings and limitations, as well as other programming language limitations. I doubt I'd have the patience to learn a hardcore programming language, but who knows I guess.

I'd also like to know what you guys would recommend in terms of a book to learn OS X inside and out. Not just its bigger programs, but the internal workings, tricks and hacks etc etc.. Not just how to learn to use iLife, iTunes, etc..

Anyway, have to go. Sushi is ready.

doug
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I can't help you, but it's not just you this is bugging!
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To the OP:

Hey, it's ok. It just takes a little time sometimes for people to work out what to do with problems discussed here. And for me I'm just thinking about your problem too. And here's my attempt to help you out.

1. Go to itunes preferences, and click on the advanced tab. The click on "keep itunes music folder organised. This will do exactly what you want. As you import the songs in they'll be put in properly names folders. I do it and it works for me. Though you might want to "get cd track names" from the net first though in the Advanced" menu.

2. Well itunes places all of it's music in separate folders as per point 1. And all of these folders are put inside another folder. In the itunes preferences under the "advanced tab" there is a lower "general tab". Select it and there you can pick a place anywhere you want for this larger itunes folder to be.

3. You have do drag and drop here. Drag the music file from the finder into the itunes folder into the right place in your music playlist. And the main master playlist will be automatically updated too. And you can select more than one file at a time if you want to also.

4. Point 1 and 2 answer this. As you can have this default folder changed so it's anywhere you would like to keep it.

5. You have to make a smart playlist. Go into itunes and the file menu and choose New Smart Playlist . . . Uncheck the "match the following rule" check box. The limit - check that box and pick any number you want. The number you choose will be the number of most recent tracks added to itunes. Next drop down box to the right, leave that as "items". And the last one to the right again, change this to "most recently added". And lastly check the "live updating box". And press ok. Then you have a playlist that will show the X number of most recently added tracks, constantly updating when you add more. And X is the number you put in above.

There is another option for this. It's not exactly what you're after but it's nice to have as well. Just make up a playlist and sort it by "date added". You might have to add in that descriptor by right clicking the area where it says album, track length title etc. That way won't have live updating. I don't like it so much cause of that but others might just though.

And to comment on the rest of your info. Yes you can have the music stored on an external hard drive. (I think). I'd assume all you'd have to do is create a folder on the external and follow point 2 and just select the folder on the external and it should work. I don't have an external but in theory it should.

About deleting songs. For me the way to go is to do a search in your master playlist and delete them from there. And it'll ask you if you want to move the original files to the trash as well as remove them from the master playlist. That'll save you the effort of manually looking for the tracks in the finder. But in saying that if you want to find a particular track from one of your itunes playlists in the finder quickly, just click on the track in itunes and press "command+r". And the finder will pop up and a folder with the track highlighted.

You stated somewhere you don't like the fact itunes copies the file to your list and it's own itunes folder in the finder. Well you can turn this off if you want to. By going into the itunes preferences and the advanced then the general tab. And uncheck the box saying "Copy files to itunes music folder when adding to library". That will make itunes look in the place where the individual file was for the song when you play it. And I'm pretty sure if you move the song, then itunes won't be able to find it to play it. But it'll let you know when this happens and you can choose to resync the file to the song.

So itunes can do everything you want it to do all within the app. No need for any apple scripts. But if you do want some, here is a great site with many to choose from.

http://dougscripts.com/itunes/index.php

And thanks for a well set out question.

Lastly if you want to know OS X inside and out look for a book called "The Missing Manual" Here's a link to it.

http://oreilly.com/catalog/978059652...CMP=ILC-MMh0me

But it's available at many good bookstores too. That and the entire missing manual series too. it's a good read but just have a skim through it to see if it's exactly what you are wanting. But as always a good google search and this forum are good places to ask questions if you're ever stuck.
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Ah, hey.. that's great (if this stuff will indeed work) ! Thanks for taking the time to answer my heated questions, and trying to be really specific. It's really late now, and I'm too tired to try your suggestions but, first thing tomorrow I'm going to get cracking on it and hope for the best !

Thanks again, and I'll let you know how it works out.

Doug
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Still haven't had time to try. Had the day off of work, and my wife made me spend it with... HER ! I may attempt to try some stuff tonight if I can finish up fixing something on my Linux box. Oh do the issues ever cease !

Doug
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Just an update:

Amazingly, I JUST sat down to follow the above steps. Been a bit preoccupied with my new Linux machine that I built. (which is fantastic btw) Anyway, after directing iTunes to the directory on the newly formatted external 157 gig HD and selecting the organize feature, as well as de-selecting the copy files feature, it is now organizing all the files. Looks like it will take a while, but it looks like progress.

Quote:
3. You have do drag and drop here. Drag the music file from the finder into the itunes folder into the right place in your music playlist. And the main master playlist will be automatically updated too. And you can select more than one file at a time if you want to also.
Is all you are trying to say, that when I put more folders/files into the place that I have iTunes directed to look at (my external drive) it will just update its self ? Sorry if I'm misunderstanding.
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What a nightmare. So after doing its thing, I see that in the playlist window a whole bunch of songs have exclamation marks to the left of them, meaning that iTunes couldn't locate the actual songs. And we're talking a LOT of songs here, not just a few.

Then, I go to finder and browser my music folders, only to learn that iTunes has magically separated random and various folders and created new ones for random artists, sometimes putting music files in them, and at other times it would only put album art in them. The folder structure looks disgusting now, a total mess ! Why would iTunes do this ? I'm absolutely perplexed at its illogical behavior.

So then I figured that I'd just delete the songs from the library (keeping the files of course) and start over, once I had tried to fix the mess in my file structure that iTunes had created (which is going to be a job and a half !)

But then I realized that no matter what I do, the library isn't refreshing its self no matter what I do. I go back into preferences and changed the directory for where iTunes should get music, just like before but it's not doing anything. Why would this be ? I'm going to try some other stuff, but can't believe that a media player could be this troublesome ! I'm still standing by my initial feelings about iTunes. Horribly written piece of software IMO.
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OK. I'm trying to be as calm as possible. I finally moved all the folders and files back into their rightful places, which I have to say was a task and a half thanks to the really inefficient UI which you're forced to use in order to drag stuff around rather than cut/pasting because Apple thinks its users are retarded. Seriously, how insulting.

I went back into preferences, reset the default location for where files should be read from and clicked ok. iTunes said the library refreshed its self. Nothing happened, as it shouldn't have because there are no folders in the iTunes music folder. So I redirected iTunes to the music folder in my external HD and clicked ok. It said it refreshed again, but it did it in 0 seconds and nothing happened, again. Why would this be ? I thought that iTunes was going to automatically scan the folder I set it to and build the database off of that ?

Honestly, this has got to be the most frustrating experience I've had with any OS, ever. I'd really appreciate some help with this.
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I downloaded and installed the xiph file across the entire computer, but I thought that it was going to enable FLAC playback, but it doesn't. Ogg playback is good to go, but now the problem is that none of my album files play or are listed in the right order. If I select the "organize" feature, it makes a total mess of my file structure, and I really don't want to deal with that.

Also, iTunes doesn't just detect new music and add it to the library, as I had to physically choose add to playlist. Though, I have yet to create a smart playlist because I'm trying to get all my files to be recognized. As a "switcher" I have to say that Apple isn't really interested in its user base as much as they are in making people think that there's only one way to do things, and tying everyone down. No native Ogg and FLAC support built into iTunes is really unfriendly for switchers. Do they think that AAC and ALAC is gods gift to audio ? But more importantly, do they think that people are going to get rid of gigs and gigs of Ogg and FlAC files only to have to either re rip to Apple's chosen formats, or better yet.. I bet they hope people will download crappy encoded files from iTunes store ? Pretty big turn off.
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Being a LONG time Unix and Linux user and admin I learned there are just different ways of going things on a Mac, but it isn't all that bad. I picked up a Mac because I could use programs I needed for my graduate program while still being able to use many of the Linux and Unix programs I needed for work. I HATE Wine and I refuse to run any semblance of Windows, virtualization or otherwise. I am pretty hardcore about Linux and Unix, hating anything that has graphical installation and does everything for you (including anything in the Ubuntu family, no offense), but found Mac to be a nice middle-ground. At least it has a Unix core.

You have to understand the SMALL amount of people that use FLAC or OGG, so in essence, you are preaching about a very niche market. Not saying anything about the formats, I personally love OGG, but as I need MP3's for my iPod and the data cd player in my truck, it is rather useless for me to use this format. As for the file structure of the music directory, I don't let iTunes organize my music, so I could care less what it does. If I want to rip a CD (which is very rare) I do so in the terminal and just put it on my music drive. Then if it needs to go into iTunes for my iPod, I just add it to the library without letting iTunes organize anything and keeping the files where they are.

I understand how you have almost limitless options in Linux, but you have to understand that it hasn't always been like that; I remember having to do tons of work arounds and multiple versions of programs with different options compiled in just to make something work. A lot of that is still true for Mac, at least in ease of doing so, just because it's a Mac doesn't mean it is perfect, and believe me, iTunes is FAR from perfect! I personally just use VLC most of the time, as it is more akin to XMMS / Beep (now depreciated) which I always liked more on Linux.

I know most of this was rambling, but maybe you can do some of the things the way I do it. Might make some of your frustration go away.

**Hope I didn't come off as a ****, because that was totally not my intention!

masakatsu agatsu

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You absolutely don't come off as being so. Don't worry about it. My frustrations come from working in an environment which is (IMO) far less efficient than one which is touted as being "non user friendly" in comparison. Windows ? Haven't used it in about 3 years. Nor have I been a zealot for any particular camp, and have been open to the other choices out there. Honestly though, XP was always good enough for what I wanted to do and I never got a virus or a trojan etc. Sure, there was always spyware and adware to clean on a weekly basis, but hey.. that's Windows.

I will not go into a lengthy rant here, because it throws off the topic matter. I have however, typed a long enough rant which I'll post elsewhere dealing with what you said. Likely in the Switchers lounge.

I'll try and keep on topic now though: I like VLC, and use it for video. But I don't want 3 different audio players. I want one that will accomplish all I need it to, which unfortunately boils down to also being able to sync with the iPod touch which my wife would like to use. For the amount of trouble which iTunes has caused me thus far, I'm about to swear it off for myself and just let my wife deal with it, in conjunction with the Mac's hard drive, so she can use it for the very few albums she'll be listening to, compared to the MANY upon many I listen to. I'll teach her how to rip a CD and even though she has worked in a recording studio before, (she has a keen ear) I'm sure that 160-192 kbps will be good enough for her, though I know she'd be able to tell them apart from 320 kbps files with my cans.

As far as Ogg and FLAC being niche, I respectfully disagree. Average Joe and Jane may not know these formats, but that's hardly surprising if you take into consideration that average folks, before using iTunes, were either downloading files from some paid subscription service, or not at all. Your mom and dad were using either WMP or whatever media player came standard with their PC (in general, not YOUR mom and dad) and didn't know from downloading codecs because the subscription services don't sell things which aren't playable on standard media players. But Ogg and FLAC are WELL known by internet savvy people such as ourselves and most people on this website, as well as any other alike site and such. I own several Mp3 players including 2 iRiver H120's 1 iRiver H140, (all are ROCKbox'd) and even an iPod 5th gen which I ROCKbox'd. All for the file tree, Ogg and FLAC support. And of course there are DAP's which do those things natively, Cowon, iRiver Meizu etc.. But I digress.

As far as you using iTunes just to put stuff on your iPod, that seems very reasonable I guess. I disabled the option to have iTunes organize my files, which is fine but.. What I noticed is that all of my files which I KNOW are tagged properly, wound up totally out of order when viewed as an album. I'm assuming that once the tunes are synch'd to the iPod, the files will look exactly the same. This is a probmem IMO. I might wind up selling the brand new iPod Touch we got, and give my wife something I JUST bought about 3 minutes ago. An Sansa e280 8 gig DAP. ( $60 at buy.com) I will ROCKbox it, and then she'll be able to just drag and drop and listen. I usually either use my iRIver DAP or my Sansa Fuze which is also drag and drop, but requires proper tagging.

I dunno. I guess that for the "average" user who is either buying their music from the iTunes store, or ripping their cd's with iTunes, using said program is fine. But for either the more than average user, or "power switcher" it's a nightmare. More than half of my music collection is in Ogg and FLAC, and there's no way I'd ever mess with those files just to suit Apples huge ego. What I will do, I'm not sure of.

Doug
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