Eleven Reasons Why iTunes Sucks

I recently bought my first iPod, which I love. However, iTunes leaves a lot to be desired as a media player, at least on the Windows OS. As I see it, Windows Media Player 11 (WMP11) provides a much better user experience and has a plethora of useful features that iTunes lacks.

  1. When I double click on cover art, iTunes doesn’t automatically begin playing the entire album. Instead, it plays only the first song on the album, then switches to the next “selected” song instead of continuing to play the album. Of course I have songs selected to sync to my iPod, but that doesn’t mean I want to play only those songs. I simply want to double-click the cover art and play an entire album straight through---something that is, for me, somewhat the point. Yet in iTunes I have to select all the songs if I want to play them.
  2. Clicking the cover art doesn’t automatically select the album. If I want to see if iTunes has the cover art for an album, I expect to right click the cover art, bring up the context menu, and select “Get Album Artwork”. But right-clicking the cover art—or the place-holder for the missing cover art---doesn’t work if I have anything else selected, by which I mean that any song is highlighted in blue. In this scenario, I get the cover art for whichever song is selected instead of the cover art for the album I right-clicked.
  3. The iTunes store only supplies cover art for albums it sells. Since albums like Linda Ronstadt’s Blue Bayou or John Anderson’s Seminole Wind are missing from the iTunes library, their respective cover art is as well. With WMP11 I can find the cover art online and copy and paste it into WMP11. With iTunes, I have to find the cover art, save the cover art somewhere, select “Get Info”, select the “Artwork” tab, click “Add”, and browse to wherever I stored the cover art. Next I have to manually delete the cover art from my computer so it isn’t clogged with extraneous images. How is this better than the WMP11 experience? (BTW, Cover Flow is very cool, and is a feature that WMP11 doesn’t have. Still, all the missing album art makes it less useful.)
  4. The iTunes store does a poor job of recognizing certain ID3 tags. I’ve used MusicBrainz to clean up the ID3 tags on most of my collection. I’ve even used iTunes to convert my some tags into a proper ID3 format. Still, iTunes doesn’t recognize the individual discs for most of my double albums like The Clash’s Sandinista, Fountains of Wayne’s Out-of-State Plates, or Nine Inch Nails’ The Fragile. Somehow iTunes doesn’t recognize albums like Radiohead’s OK Computer, AC/DC’s Back in Black, orthe Beatles’ White Album. Simple things like a trailing space can throw iTunes off. Sometimes the iTunes store sells the album, the tags are correct with no leading or trailing spaces, but iTunes can’t find the album anyway.
  5. The context menus, which are brought up by right-clicking an item, are less than helpful. For example, why is there no “Edit” function? Instead, you have to click “Get Info”, then click the “Info” tab. This is not exactly intuitive. Is this an artifact caused by the Apple mouse not having both right and left buttons? Are Apple users simply unaware of the power of context menus, and is Apple unfamiliar with using them? I don’t know---all I know is the implementation of context menus in iTunes leaves much to be desired.
  6. Editing tags is not always a simple process. iTunes forces you to click “Get Info”, then click the “Info” tab. In WMP11, I can right click and bring up the context menu which provides me the edit option. Or I can left click the particular tag I want to change, then left click it again. This makes that particular tag editable. Why doesn’t iTunes allow this?
  7. Why doesn’t iTunes have some sort of discovery function such that I can ask it to Find Album Info, whereupon iTunes searches its database and comes up with a match? And if for some reason it didn’t find an exact match, why couldn't it present several similar albums for you to choose from? And if it diddn’t recognize some of the individual song titles, why couldn't it give you the option of selecting which songs on the album are a match? After all, WMP11 does provide exactly this user experience, and it even corrects your tags in the process.
  8. Why does the iTunes visualizer consume so many CPU cycles? With the visualizer off, iTunes uses a parsimonious 1% of my CPU; with the visualizer on, iTunes consumes over 30% of my CPU cycles, with spikes up to 60%. I am not fond of the iTunes visualization and I hate the way it slows down my computer, so I don’t use it. But I do use the visualizations available with WMP. WMP11 uses far fewer compute cycles for its visualizations; in fact, I notice no change in CPU utilization whether I have the WMP visualizations on or off. Moreover, WMP11 comes with a great many more visualization options, and provides quite a few more via a free download.
  9. Why is there no “Stop” button on the iTunes media player? Maybe I don’t want to pause; maybe I actually mean to stop.
  10. Every time I connect my iPod, it brings up iTunes and asks me to register all over again. How many times to I have to register the same iPod? And maybe I don’t want to use iTunes; maybe I want to use the more familiar Windows Media Player.
  11. I hate the close relationship between the iTunes store and the iPod. I don’t ever plan to buy music from iTunes: why do I have to set up an Apple ID, set up an iTunes account, and provide Apple with my credit card information---all so I can use my iPod?

Thanks to the great engineers and designers at Apple for making the iPod a great mp3 player. But why wasn’t the same care and attention to detail lavished upon the iTunes experience, especially as Apple seems to insist that the iPod is simply a hardware extension of the iTunes store? How can the iPod be insanely great, and iTunes suck so badly?