iTunes 12.7: How to cope with the abrupt changes

Glenn Fleishman
14 September, 2017
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iTunes 12.7 appeared Tuesday following Apple’s slate of product announcements, and its version number hides how much that’s disappeared and changed in this release. The iOS App Store is wiped out, as are ringtones. iTunes U and Internet Radio have moved locations. And iTunes for Windows lost its ability to manage books in iOS.

itunes 12 7 yeah right

While many people have argued iTunes’ feature creep over the years had made it an increasingly odd sack of unrelated items, this shift doesn’t come with commensurate improvements or additions elsewhere in macOS, and may cause some difficulties for people with modest internet throughput or low bandwidth caps, which can affect people across both the developed world (more the US than elsewhere) and the developing one.

The biggest hit is to the iOS App Store in iTunes, which was always a strange fit. iOS apps were in iTunes, because iTunes was once the only way to manage content. But you’ll have to adjust your behavior and find new places to carry out activities you might have before. Let’s go through the changes.

What to do about no iOS apps in iTunes 12.7

The App Store in iTunes is kaput and there’s nothing you can do about, so dry your tears and let’s move on. Apple doesn’t let it go neatly out the door, however. After updating, I found that 5GB of ‘.ipa’ files – the file format for apps – remained in my home directory (in ~/Music/iTunes Library/Mobile Applications/). You can throw those away unless you’re nostalgic.

If you were used to syncing your apps via iTunes and making purchases in macOS to sync back, that capability is now restricted to iOS. You won’t consume more bandwidth downloading an app via iOS than macOS – unless you have multiple iOS devices syncing the same apps to a single Mac.

Where it will really hurt is if and when you need to restore an iPhone or iPad. You can still perform iTunes backups, but the restore won’t transfer apps from your Mac but instead re-download them over the internet from Apple. That can easily consume gigabytes of bandwidth, depending on your app choices. Many users download few apps, or those apps that are relatively modest, and this won’t be as big a hit.

There’s no way to bypass or minimise this problem. If you have any kinds of restrictions on your internet service – whether in performance or limits – you should consider using a public Wi-Fi hotspot or the Wi-Fi of a friend without those limits. You’ll need to plan ahead when you wipe and want to restore an iOS device.

You might wonder what happened to File Transfers, a hack that Apple introduced many years ago to allow iOS apps to sync data back and forth with a Mac before iCloud Drive, Dropbox, Google Drive and other methods were readily available. It remains: with an iOS device connected, click its icon in the area below the playback bar and then click File Sharing in the navigation list at left.

itunes 12 7 file downloads

Other changes in iTunes 12.7

itunes 12 7 internet radio

Ringtones are no longer managed as purchases in iTunes, but you can find previously downloaded ones and manage those in iTunes. Apple says any downloaded ringtones are in the ~/Music/iTunes Library/Tones/ folder. And if you select your device in iTunes, you can click the Tones item under On My Device to remove and add them.

In iOS 11, coming shortly, Apple will let you re-download previously purchased ringtones and manage them directly on the device.

iTunes U content was moved to podcasts in iTunes, while Internet Radio is now part of the music library sidebar. If you’re not seeing Internet Radio, Control-click on the music sidebar, choose Edit List and check the Internet Radio box. (While there, you can opt to include or exclude other items.)

Finally, Windows users will find themselves paging through their version of iTunes, trying to find Books. It doesn’t matter how thoroughly you ruffle the app: Apple says in a bit of doublespeak, “Books on iTunes for Windows are managed in iBooks for iOS.”


3 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Hedware says:

    Apple Configurator 2 does do some of the functions now absent from iTunes. Downloadable at the Apple App Store.

  2. Mark Maclean says:

    I hated this update to iTunes. (ok maybe ‘hate’ is a bit strong, but I really really really didn’t like it.) The unannounced disappearance of the App management left me wondering how do it now? I have multiple iOS devices and yes I do have unlimited downloads, but it’s a pain having to do it separately on each device. And it doesn’t feel integrated – more disintegrated.
    Why would Apple do this?
    And how do I know ‘backup’ my apps and more specifically my iPhone / iPad setup and screen/folder config?

  3. Rod Martin says:

    IOS 11 and iTunes – the Good and the very Bad.

    Although I appreciate Apple adding new features to existing Programs (Apps) and occasionally completely redesigning an App to modernise it, over the last 17 years in my case, I don’t understand why Apple constantly removes extremely useful features.

    Removing any management of IOS Apps in MacOS iTunes has created a nightmare for finding, buying and updating IOS Apps on my iPhone:
    Searching for, and investigating, potential new Apps on my iPhone screen is terrible. I had just bought a new 2017 iMac (27” screen) and suddenly I can’t use it to investigate new Apps; instead I have to do it all from my tiny iPhone screen. Yes, I know I can search Apple web sites for IOS Apps and still view IOS Apps in iTunes (MacOS) but it is hard, very disorganised and with no useful search function. And I suspect Apple will deactivate this method of finding IOS Apps soon!?

    No size listed for App Updates anymore. Why on earth would Apple remove this. I need to know if an update is humungous as my monthly data limit is very small. Now I wither waste much internet data or spend ages checking the (very hidden) App update sizes. Apple staff with unlimited internet data downloads probably don’t even think about how much data might be wasted, but in the real world millions of us have limited and expensive data (My plan is US$80 / AUS$120/month for 15GB/month).

    Also chewing up lots of my internet data is if I delete an App (to free space etc. etc.) then want to reinstall it on my iPhone I will have to download it all over again instead of just syncing with the “App library” on my iMac.
    Inconsistency. It is hard to believe how inconsistent Apple operating systems etc. are. Why does MacOS now have a dedicated App (iTunes) for finding and syncing Music, Films, Movies and Podcasts, but not IOS Apps. Why would Apple remove a useful feature like this after many years, create great problems and inconsistency and try to promote it (the new IOS App Store) as a benefit?

    The management of IOS Apps in MacOS iTunes was very convenient and provided version control (an essential feature in any modern OS). I could list my Apps (by size, name etc.), delete them , hide them, move them around, restore an old version if I needed an old feature temporarily, easily find, buy and sync new Apps to my iPhone. Not now.

    Apple does so much to drive existing customers to another vendor when trying to attract new customers with “flashing light” features.

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