Since upgrading to iTunes 11, I find that Plays and Last Played dates don’t change when I play songs. I’ve gone through the preferences, but can’t find anything to change to make this work correctly. Do you have any ideas?

We’ve had lots of emails about this, and many users have encountered this problem, although it hasn’t happened to us. This is especially annoying if you create smart playlists based on the Plays or Last Played date, as we explained earlier. We have to assume it’s a bug, and hope it will be fixed soon. In any case, there are no settings or preferences to alter that affect this.

At the bottom of the iTunes window, I used to see the number of songs and combined play time of all those songs, and now I don’t. Can I get this back?

What you’re talking about is called the status bar. iTunes 11 turned off the status bar by default, but you can turn it on again by choosing View > Show Status Bar. This displays the total number of files, time and size for the items displayed or, if you have selected one or more items, for the selection.

I use iTunes 11 on an iMac, and my library resides on a networked Mac Pro. In my iTunes folder, I have a folder named iTunes Music that contains most of my iTunes library, but there’s also an iTunes Media folder that contains some recent content. Is this normal?

There was a time when the folder containing the files in your iTunes library was called iTunes Music. When Apple released iTunes 9, in the autumn of 2009, the company changed the name to iTunes Media, to more correctly reflect the fact that it didn’t only contain music.

If you have just the iTunes Music folder, iTunes should work correctly, but in your case, it has somehow decided to also create the newer folder. If you want to get all your content in the iTunes Media folder, you can do this.

First, back up all your content, just in case. Then, choose File > Library > Organize Library. In the window that displays, tick Consolidate Files, then click OK. iTunes will copy all of your files to the correct folder – iTunes Media – and the appropriate subfolders. If you have a lot of content, this could take a long time.

When this is finished, you should find that your iTunes Music folder is empty, but if you find any files still there, check in your iTunes Media folder to see if there are copies. If not, add them to your library.

In iTunes 10, there used to be an Artists column next to the sidebar at the left of the window, but it’s no longer there in iTunes 11. How can I get it back?

It sounds like you’re talking about the Column Browser, which, in iTunes 10, let you choose to display it either above your content or on the left. In iTunes 11, the Column Browser is only visible in certain views – Songs view, or playlists in List view – and only at the top of the window.

You can view artists at the left by clicking Artists in the iTunes header bar when you’re in your Music library.

Before version 11 of iTunes, I could always highlight subsets of my playlist to see how much time all of the songs would take to play. With version 11, I can’t work out how to display subsets of time. The total time of the playlist is visible at the top, but that’s not adequate. Is there any way to get this information?

Yes – but by default, iTunes 11 has hidden it. In iTunes go to View > Show Status Bar. Select some tracks in your playlist, and look in the status bar to see their total time.

The iTunes Status Bar shows the total time of any tracks you select, whether in a playlist or in any of your libraries.

Is there any way to display the bit rate of music files in iTunes 11?

iTunes 11 has changed many things in the way it displays information about files. In the default views, the bit rate of music files isn’t visible, but in Songs view, or in playlists, you can choose to display bit rate. To do so, open the previously mentioned View Options window and select Bit Rate under the File section.

With iTunes 10, I could play all my music in shuffle mode by clicking on the shuffle icon in the lower-left corner of the iTunes window. Can I do this with iTunes 11?

There is, but it’s a bit different. Display your music in any of the views you want. Click the Play button (the big right-pointing arrow) at the top left of the iTunes window. Then click the shuffle button in the iTunes LCD, or choose Controls > Shuffle > Turn On Shuffle.

In the picture on the left, the shuffle button in the display at the top – it’s the old familiar ‘crossed arrows’ icon – has turned blue. The button turns blue to indicate that shuffle mode is on: now your music will play in a random order. To turn shuffle off, just click the shuffle icon again, or choose Controls > Shuffle > Turn Off Shuffle.

Another thing that’s different with iTunes 11 is that turning on shuffle won’t change the display order of your tracks, but iTunes will skip around your library when in shuffle mode.

Bugs & Fixes for iTunes 11

While iTunes 11.0.1 appears to have fixed most of the bugs reported in the application’s initial 11.0 release (including those we covered in a previous column at bit.ly/XBtY8N), a few lingering issues remain.

AirPlay bug

One bug that continues to generate heat in Apple Support Communities concerns AirPlay. Numerous users find that, after updating to iTunes 11.x, content streamed to an Apple TV (or other AirPlay device) can stop playing unexpectedly. This can occur as early as the middle of the first played song or as late as an hour into a film.

Evidence points to iTunes as the ultimate cause, as people report that the symptom affects some or all of their AirPlay devices. As a few users have pointed out, media can stop playing if your Mac or PC goes to sleep. However, most users note
that unwanted halts occur independent of sleep.

A usually successful workaround is to go to iTunes’ AirPlay menu and shift to the Multiple, rather than Single, option. If your AirPlay device connects via ethernet, another potential workaround is to switch from the wired connection to a wireless one. This is reminiscent of a switch that remedied an inability to install the Apple TV 5.1.1 update.

Hotspot bug

An iTunes-related Personal Hotspot issue dates back at least as far as iTunes 10.7. The symptom is a failure of the USB Hotspot option, when connecting an iPhone or iPad to a Mac. Unfortunately, the bug is reportedly still present after updating to version 11.0.1 of iTunes.

The most frequently recommended workaround is to use Kext Utility to replace the currently installed AppleUSBEthernetHost.kext file (located in /System/Library/Extensions) with a prior version as obtained from the web. Precise details on how to do this can be found in an Apple Support Communities thread: bit.ly/XBuKmm

Yet another forum thread implicates iPhone Configuration Utility as a co-conspirator. Postings here advise deleting the Utility (as well as its receipts file, accessed via Terminal) before removing the aforementioned kext file.

Although the fix should allow USB tethering to work again, it’s not an ideal solution. First, the next time you update iTunes and/or OS X, the replacement file may be wiped by the newer install, with the symptom returning. Second, any custom modification to the content of the Extensions folder is risky. 

Older replacement files may turn out to be incompatible with other aspects of the current operating system, resulting in unpredictable problems separate from whatever you are trying to fix. However, until Apple addresses the ultimate cause, kext replacement may be worth a try. Just make certain you have backup copies of any removed files, in case you need to do a restore.