Microcosmographia by William Van Hecke

iTunes 11 for People Who Love Albums

Update Update: Turns out you can still get the big album art window by Command-clicking the art in the status view at the top of the main iTunes window. You can’t get at it from the MiniPlayer. Kind of a pain, but better than being completely gone!

Update for iTunes 11.0.3: The newly-released version of iTunes makes this post obsolete. It removes the album art window, and instead inserts an expanded album art view into the MiniPlayer itself. That album art view has a maximum size of 400 points, which seems to be the largest you can see album art in iTunes anymore. Perhaps it’s time for me to relearn Cocoa and build an app that’s nothing but a resizable album art window.


The original post, preserved for posterity, follows.

It took a few days, but with some experimentation and some help from friends, I think I have arrived at an iTunes 11 workflow that respects and enshrines albums as much as I want it to. Adapting to a new major version of an app that you care about can be tough, especially when it deals with something as personal and emotional as music. But I think I may come to love this way of listening even more than my old ways.

0: Forget about the cool-looking but ultimately fragile and distracting tracklist view. The currently-playing album just gets jumbled up with a bunch of other quite tiny album covers, the cover in the tracklist is defaced with fadey effects, and it often forgets your scroll position if you switch away.

Forget it

1: Give iTunes its own space. show Mission Control by swiping upward with four fingers, then drag iTunes into a new space (at the upper-left corner).


2: Set up your album-browsing view. Switch to the iTunes space, switch to Album view. (I also like to make it sort by year, using View Options in the View menu.) Here you can scroll around to find something to listen to, and start playing an album by double-clicking it.


3: Set up your listening view. This was the big revelation for me today (thanks to @dmosan for the nudge I needed). Put iTunes into MiniPlayer mode by clicking the rectangley button in the upper-right corner of the window. Expand the Up Next queue by clicking the list-looking button, then show the album art window by clicking the album cover in the MiniPlayer. Yay! Huge album art! While you’re listening, you can use the chevron button in the MiniPlayer to rate the current song. You can also hit the clock icon to look at previously-played songs. (If you have full keyboard access turned on, make sure you tab away from the player controls so that they fade out and show you the current song info.)


4: Queue up more music. If you already know what you want to listen to next, you can hit the Search button and find it right there in the MiniPlayer. From here, click the chevron on an album or song to add it to the queue. If you want to browse around, switch back to the full window and, again, use the chevron to queue it up, then switch back.

Queue up

This workflow might not work perfectly for everyone, but I hope it helps some of my friends I’ve seen complaining out there. It helps to remember that iTunes 11 revolves around that Up Next queue, which wasn’t made especially obvious in the design. Let me know how it goes!