The latest in Apple's line of "Killer Apps", which includes iMovie2, iDVD and now iTunes.

Somewhat similar in functionality to the popular mp3 cataloging/encoding/playback application Music Match Jukebox, iTunes lets you pop an audio CD into your Mac, rip it, encode it, and catalog it in a easily sortable database. In addition to this, iTunes also includes cool visualization effects, is compatible with many portable mp3 players, and lets you burn audio CDs by simply creating a playlist and hitting the burn button!

Oh yes, and best of all, it's free! Go download your copy today!

To my own shock and horror, I am going back to iTunes, even now that it has burned me twice.

The first time, it erased all of my ID3 tags when I imported my music into it. For non computer geeks, that means it erased all of the artist, title, and album information from the files so they could only be listed by filename. Then, once I replaced those manually over the course of weeks, then rated all of my songs in iTunes, its internal library corrupted, erasing all of my playlists and ratings. To someone mildly obsessive about database integrity, this was a severe blow.

Why, then, am I going back to a program that has given me some very serious headaches? Because it seems to be the only program capable of dealing with mp3's in an intelligent way, without having to go through a 2000 song library one song at a time to pick out ones you feel like hearing. As a type manager (a program that deals with a particular kind of information in a way that is sensible for that data type), iTunes really cannot be beat. Smart playlists are a blessing, so I will backup all of my music, cross my fingers, and give iTunes another go.

Apple's iTunes application is an excellent piece of software. As of November 2005, iTunes 6 provides a means to play audio (in formats as diverse as WAV, MP3, and AAC), video (any QuickTime-compatible format), download podcasts, and purchase songs and videos via the iTunes Music Store, or iTMS, currently the most successful online (legal) music store.

iTunes can be downloaded from Apple's website,, for both Mac OS X and for Microsoft Windows (2000 or above), as well as being bundled with every new Macintosh. It also forms a part of Apple's iLife suite of 'lifestyle' products, although it is the only member of the suite to have been ported to another platform. Older versions of iTunes which will run on Mac OS 9 are still available from Apple's support website, and with a little tinkering, iTunes 1.1 can be convinced to install and run on Mac OS 8.6.

When using iTunes, one imports songs and videos into a central library, which consists of a database within the current user's directory (on Mac OS X, in ~/Music). Users can play music directly from the library, or separate playlists can be made, or you can simply play randomly-selected tracks in the 'Party Shuffle' mode. This allows all users to have their own libraries of music, but if one wants to share iTunes libraries between users, there is no obvious way to do so. Thankfully, it is possible, at least under OS X.

First, make sure you're logged in as an administrator, and close iTunes, making sure it is not running. (Look under its icon in the Dock: if it has a triangle (or glowing dot) beneath, it's still running in the background. A quick Command+Q from within iTunes will ensure it's closed.) Now, move the 'iTunes' folder from the user whose library you want to share, into a directory everyone can access. (Their library will be in /Users/username/Music/iTunes, so it's this folder we want to move - put it somewhere like /Users/Shared)

We need to change the permissions of this folder, so that everybody can read and write to it. Either use the terminal, or Get Info on the folder, and under 'Ownership', set everything to Read & Write. Click "Apply to enclosed items", which will set these permissions to the folder's contents, then close the Info window.

Back in the Music folder in the user's Home, create an alias to the shared iTunes folder, renaming it back to simply 'iTunes'. When iTunes runs, it will then follow this alias to the real location of the library. All you need to do now, is to log onto every account you want to share the library with, delete their iTunes folder, and create the alias to the shared folder.

NO! NO! It's not an excellent piece of software! It's a bloated, resource-hogging, user-railroading shitheap like most of things that Steve Jobs belches out! Kill! Kill!

I should know, I've had to suffer it for five years because I was gifted a 30gb iPod in 2006 and I've recently come to the conclusion that iTunes is a hateful, hateful, application. In fact, had I known that one can "sync" (gnagh, a word I hate) one's iPod with other things I would have exorcised it summarily at an earlier date.

Firstly, it's ridiculously large. Installed on my (soon to be old) laptop, it took up about 67 megabytes. Plus another 35 megabytes for QuickTime without which it will not run, and which in turn is slow and has a habit of crashing for shiggles. And besides, you can play .movs and .3gps on VLC VideoLan if you really must. Why you need QuickTime to run iTunes (it complains and refuses to start without it) is something I have never understood. I suspect that Monsieur Jobs has taken a spot of inspiration from Realplayer on this.

And it's clunky and slow and uses too much memory - 30 megabytes on this laptop. Furthermore, opening and closing it became positively glacial and it decided to have to think about whether or not to scroll up or down to what I wanted to listen to or not when I tried to do it. That's when it wasn't outright crashing. Then, when I'd ripped myself a new CD that I'd bought, it would think about it for AGES while it decided to import the new MP3 files I'd generated into the library. If I selected an entire folder and selected "Add to iTunes library" it would only ever add three or four at random, and the last track in the album. So I'd have to go and manually double click each file at random. Fun. Try doing that with Cassetteboy's "The Parker Tapes," all 98 tracks of it. You'd be up all night double clicking, waiting while it thinks about it, imports, starts trying to play that track, thinking about it some more, and so on. Probably it's deciding if you're cool enough to play with Monsieur Jobs's executive toys and taking it's time over it. Or surreptitiously e-mailing its hipster mates and sneering at your music collection.

But then again, it's not really a music player, not at heart. It's an elaborately designed advert for the iTunes music store, where you can pay for crippled (read: DRM'd) music files in a proprietary format that nobody uses other than other iTunes users and that you can't put on any player than an iPod. iTunes also seems designed to try and trap you into opening the iTunes store in as many ways as possible. It's in the base directory of the left-hand side bar and you can't remove that link. Furthermore, the main "table" showing al your music is a minefield of little arrows next to track names that are links to the appropriate page of the store. Sorry, but no. I want a music player, not some demented version of Minesweeper where the penalty for losing is to be advertised to. And if I wanted to buy music in download format off the internets, I'd open up Firefox and, yano, shop around for what I was looking for in terms of cheapness and DRM free-ness. Or maybe I'd, yano, LEAVE THE HOUSE and go and buy the CD.

Now you may be thinking, "A-ha! But Steve Jobs has already your soul, young Hazelnut, for you own an iPod and you need iTunes to copy everything onto it, n'est-ce pas?" To which my response is, "Yaahh boo sucks to you, fanboy! I can transfer my music onto my iPod with Winamp, which is smaller (12 megabytes to download), uses less RAM (11,976 KB according to Task Manager), faster to actually put things into, and doesn't foist you with QuickTime and other assorted bollox that you don't want, nor does it try to sell you things." And not only that - with Winamp you can transfer FROM your iPod or other music player to your computer, so if your hard disk explodes or you get a new computer, you don't lose everything as your iPod is a suitable backup. It's absolutely astounding, I must say, that the official Apple software for your iPod does not do this. I suspect they were terrified of being sued because then people could just use their iPods to pirate everything willy nilly by plugging and unplugging into everyone's computers willy nilly, sort of like a human-powered Bittorrent stream.

And that's why I fundamentally dislike iTunes. There's free, faster, smoother, and more functional programs that do exactly the same thing, they just don't have the slick design to them.

Kind of a metaphor for Apple as a whole, really.

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